Golf Club Atlas

GolfClubAtlas.com => Golf Course Architecture => Topic started by: Tony Dear on September 02, 2016, 03:53:21 PM

Title: Gearhart
Post by: Tony Dear on September 02, 2016, 03:53:21 PM
I'm looking for history on Gearhart Golf Links in Oregon, and trying to add to what the club's web site is giving me. I'm intrigued by the place because I was fortunate to play it recently, and couldn't believe I'd read so little about it. It would justify its place on any list of hidden gems I think. Apparently a handful of Scots began playing there in 1888 and Chandler Egan redesigned the course in 1932 (although a couple of people warned me to take that with a large pinch of salt). I know Bill Robinson also made some changes in the late 1990s.
Forrest Goodling, the superintendent, removed all 400 or so trees a couple of years ago, and the results are magnificent. He told me it took a while for visitors and members to like it, but they came around. The turf is fantastic, and it really does have the look, smell, atmosphere, and run of a genuine links.
But does anyone know the club's story? Who designed the original course, and did Egan indeed make some changes?
Title: Re: Gearhart
Post by: Sven Nilsen on September 02, 2016, 10:07:58 PM
Tony:


Gearhart's history is a bit confusing.  There are reports of golf being played in the area going back to the 1880's, but its highly unlikely whatever they played on survived into the current course.  In 1922 it was reported that the first seaside course in Oregon was installed at Gearhart in 1911.  Perhaps this all occurred on the same ground, perhaps not.


In 1914, it was reported that an 18 hole course was to be laid out by George Turnbull.  A. V. Macan (not Egan) is noted as having worked on the course in 1932.


If there's more out there, I'd like to see it.  At the very least, a course that dubs itself the oldest course west of the Mississippi should be able to support the claim.


Sven



Title: Re: Gearhart
Post by: Tony Dear on September 03, 2016, 01:05:12 PM
Thank you Sven. Have you played it? I did a bit of digging and discovered that besides designing Portland GC, Turnbull was also the first pro at Fircrest and played in three US Opens. I'd love to know who actually commissioned him to design Gearhart. Who owned it at the time?
Title: Re: Gearhart
Post by: Sven Nilsen on September 03, 2016, 01:11:59 PM
Tony:

Here's the March 15, 1914 Oregon Daily Journal article I referenced above.  My best guess is that the course was instituted and used by Portlanders escaping to the coast in the summer.  I'm still looking for something that verifies that the course predates the 1911 date I noted above.  It does not appear in any of the early annual guides, and in the later guides it is given dates of formation ranging from 1912 to 1892.

Hope this helps.

Sven

(http://i1211.photobucket.com/albums/cc435/snilsen7/Gearhart%20Plan%20-%20Oregon%20Daily%20Journal%20March%2015%201914_zpsm4g00fzp.png)

(http://i1211.photobucket.com/albums/cc435/snilsen7/Gearhart%20-%20Oregon%20Daily%20Journal%20March%2015%201914_zpszixmyxll.jpeg)
Title: Re: Gearhart
Post by: Pete_Pittock on September 03, 2016, 01:56:15 PM
Sven,
You might want to look through "Oregon Coast Invitational". If I remember correctly that tournament was held at Gearhart prior to moving up to Astoria G&CC.  Astoria probably has some early history of the tournament which is not on their website. 
Title: Re: Gearhart
Post by: Tony Dear on September 05, 2016, 01:32:38 AM
Sven,
Can you tell me where it was reported in 1922 that Gearhart had first been laid out in 1911?
Tony
Title: Re: Gearhart
Post by: Sven Nilsen on September 05, 2016, 10:23:49 AM
Oregon Daily Journal, Oct. 15, 1922

(http://i1211.photobucket.com/albums/cc435/snilsen7/Seaside%20-%20Oregon%20Daily%20Journal%20Oct.%2015%201922_zpskvlcyvly.png)
Title: Re: Gearhart
Post by: Tony Dear on September 05, 2016, 03:09:32 PM
Great, much appreciated Sven. So, have you played it?
Title: Re: Gearhart
Post by: Sean Ogle on September 06, 2016, 11:49:41 AM
Interesting to see this topic come up here. I live in Portland, and still have yet to make it out to play.


Was just playing with someone recently who told me that Tim Boyle of Columbia bought it a few years back and has been putting quite a bit of money into it in order to really make it something special.


Sounds like they've gotten rid of hundreds of trees, cart paths, and added some bunkering.


Have heard that it's improved greatly in the last few years. Need to make the trip over the coast soon and see it for myself.
Title: Re: Gearhart
Post by: Tony Dear on September 06, 2016, 02:53:20 PM
Sean,
I've seen pictures of the place from about 100 years ago when there were no trees. It's hard to fathom why anyone would have wanted to put them there. It's such a lovely, fun course now - great turf, some really interesting holes, and the wind is definitely a factor. I recommend you get out there as soon as you can.
Title: Re: Gearhart
Post by: David Davis on September 06, 2016, 03:28:07 PM
I drove past Gearhart a couple years ago just to take a look on a day when I went out to play Astoria. The only thing it was lacking was the firm and fast as far as I could tell. Astoria then was playing as firm as about any links course over here (Europe/UK) which was really awesome. Maybe they've decided to crack down and firm things up, if so it would be super fun to play there and I'd even go as far as to say outside of the Bandon courses, Astoria and Gearhart would be some of Oregon's best. Especially if they get them playing like the links courses they are.
Title: Re: Gearhart
Post by: Tony Dear on September 06, 2016, 08:13:16 PM
David,
I suspect two more years of improved drainage, exposure to sunlight, and better air flow have had a marked affect on the turf which was running beautifully when I visited a few weeks back.
Title: Re: Gearhart
Post by: Tony Dear on September 06, 2016, 08:23:27 PM
Sven,
I saw today the Northwest Hickory Players list Jack Astbury as one of Gearhart's early designers (http://nwhickoryplayers.org/northwest-hickory-players/courses/). They say he worked there in 1901. I know nothing about Astbury other than he was a member at Waverley in Portland. I suspect he did little more than mow the grass and replace the tin cans in the ground.
Title: Re: Gearhart
Post by: Sven Nilsen on September 06, 2016, 09:40:16 PM
Tony:


To answer your question, I haven't played Gearhart.  I've seen it, and I hope to play it soon.  The course runs a caddie tournament every spring (the Lucky Looperchan) where a bunch of Bandon caddies participate.  Couldn't make it the last two years, hoping to next year.


I've never heard of Jack Astbury, and really don't know what to make of the early history of the course.  I had always thought it was one of the oldest west of the Mississippi, but the article I noted above discussing the dates of the first course on the Oregon coast added a wrinkle into the story.


Sven
Title: Re: Gearhart
Post by: Tony Dear on September 17, 2016, 01:03:41 AM
Sven,
Not sure you'll see this, but just wanted to thank you for your comments. I finished the article I was working on, and posted it here http://bellinghamgolfer.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=561:gearhart-golf-links-the-gem-that-wont-stay-hidden-for-long&catid=43:travel&Itemid=105
Cheers,
Tony
Title: Re: Gearhart
Post by: Garland Bayley on September 17, 2016, 11:27:35 AM
David,
I suspect two more years of improved drainage, exposure to sunlight, and better air flow have had a marked affect on the turf which was running beautifully when I visited a few weeks back.
A good chance it would still be running in September. When I played it last November, all I was getting were large pitch marks and no run. It seems the topsoil is too rich. I had one ball embed in the ground.
Title: Re: Gearhart
Post by: Sven Nilsen on October 13, 2016, 08:48:06 AM
An early article on Gearhart, noting a course was laid out by R. Livingstone of Portland.  It doesn't give any credence to the 1892 date, but it is possible golf was played on the site before a formal course was laid out in 1896.  It is also possible this course was short-lived and replaced or rebuilt at a later date, resulting in the claim above that the first seaside course in Oregon came about a bit later.

Daily Morning Astorian - July 7, 1896

(http://i1211.photobucket.com/albums/cc435/snilsen7/snilsen7017/Gearhart%20-%20Daily%20Morning%20Astorian%20July%207%201896_zpsgdegzqsk.png)
Title: Re: Gearhart
Post by: MCirba on October 13, 2016, 11:59:08 AM
Terrific find, Sven. 
Title: Re: Gearhart
Post by: Pete_Pittock on October 13, 2016, 01:54:45 PM
Judge Jenkins and I played Gearhart a week ago in some wind and rain, not near as much as is forecasted for the next few days. The lodge has a book about Gearhart reminisences. It mentions a 1901 course, and said that Scottish immigrants have been on the Clatsop plains since the 1840s, and one of them, Robert McEwan settled at Gearhart in 1848. So the seed was there. The book continues that local legend asserts that his descendents established a four hole course in 1886, but does not provide any documentation. Marshall McKinney became enamored of golf during a trip to California in 1900 and had a nine hole course laid out in 1901.

Conditioning was fine, I took a divot that would make Garland proud, and could see his point, but must mention that the embedded ball marks he was complaining about could be eliminated with proper, lower ball flight. I was picking up 35 yards on a 10 knot downwind  shot.
Title: Re: Gearhart
Post by: Garland Bayley on October 14, 2016, 02:12:36 PM
...
Conditioning was fine, I took a divot that would make Garland proud, and could see his point, but must mention that the embedded ball marks he was complaining about could be eliminated with proper, lower ball flight. I was picking up 35 yards on a 10 knot downwind  shot.


As I am sure Pete knows, hitting downwind and landing on an down slope certainly aids with proper ball flight and landing, but still less than a yard of role after the pitch mark doesn't indicate a propensity for typical links course roll out.


It is getting wetter here in the northwest. However, it is far from as wet as when I played Gearhart last November. We got 2 inches of rain yesterday here in the Portland area. I checked the runoff channels on my property. They were not running with any water, because the ground has not saturated as it will as the season goes along. The ground will get considerably softer at Gearhart as the season changes more.

Title: Re: Gearhart
Post by: Sven Nilsen on October 15, 2016, 12:27:31 PM
Judge Jenkins and I played Gearhart a week ago in some wind and rain, not near as much as is forecasted for the next few days. The lodge has a book about Gearhart reminisences. It mentions a 1901 course, and said that Scottish immigrants have been on the Clatsop plains since the 1840s, and one of them, Robert McEwan settled at Gearhart in 1848. So the seed was there. The book continues that local legend asserts that his descendents established a four hole course in 1886, but does not provide any documentation. Marshall McKinney became enamored of golf during a trip to California in 1900 and had a nine hole course laid out in 1901.



Pete:


Here are a few images of the book you mentioned.


(http://i1211.photobucket.com/albums/cc435/snilsen7/snilsen7021/IMG_2174_zpszbakgpyd.jpg)


(http://i1211.photobucket.com/albums/cc435/snilsen7/snilsen7021/IMG_2172_zpsdxcnob1u.jpg)


(http://i1211.photobucket.com/albums/cc435/snilsen7/snilsen7021/IMG_2173_zpszmjpbxon.jpg)
Title: Re: Gearhart
Post by: Pete_Pittock on October 15, 2016, 12:40:04 PM
Sven,
That's the one.  I didn't have a camera and they didn't have a functioning copy machines.
Title: Re: Gearhart
Post by: Sven Nilsen on October 17, 2016, 10:42:12 AM
Here's a map of the Gearhart area taken from the July 7, 1907 edition of The Sunday Oregonian.  Either the numbered street names were adjusted at some point, or the course previously covered ground south of where it currently lies.

(http://i1211.photobucket.com/albums/cc435/snilsen7/snilsen7024/Gearhart%20-%20The%20Sunday%20Oregonian%20July%207%201907%201_zps96asqmw0.png)(http://i1211.photobucket.com/albums/cc435/snilsen7/snilsen7024/Gearhart%20-%20The%20Sunday%20Oregonian%20July%207%201907%202_zpsc3hd59xi.png)
Title: Re: Gearhart
Post by: Tony Dear on October 17, 2016, 02:01:01 PM
Wonderful finds gents, and thank you for adding to the knowledge. I'm assuming the course Kinney played during his trip to California was Del Monte.
Title: Re: Gearhart
Post by: Sven Nilsen on October 17, 2016, 02:04:26 PM
Wonderful finds gents, and thank you for adding to the knowledge. I'm assuming the course Kinney played during his trip to California was Del Monte.


Tony,


I wouldn't take too much from that Kinney statement in the book.  We already know there was a course as early as 1896, so it is more likely he discovered golf at Gearhart or in Portland than anywhere in California in 1900.


Sven
Title: Re: Gearhart
Post by: MCirba on February 13, 2022, 02:42:14 PM
Came across this earlier today which indicates golf was played at Gearhart as early as 1907.   


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/51878838877_d9be24e40c_o.jpg)
Title: Re: Gearhart
Post by: MCirba on February 13, 2022, 02:49:21 PM
And here's one from July 1897 to complement Sven's 1896 find posted a few years back.   


(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/51880472010_36dde5ed9f_o.jpg)
Title: Re: Gearhart
Post by: Joel_Stewart on February 13, 2022, 04:40:41 PM
Isn't the restoration of Gearhart attributed to Tim Boyle who bought the club 10 years ago? 


Tim is an avid golfer and lover of links golf is the CEO of Columbia sportswear. 
Title: Re: Gearhart
Post by: JohnVDB on February 13, 2022, 07:42:15 PM
The boys from No Laying Up did an episode at Gearhart about a year ago https://youtu.be/bXYuDtLwCg4 (https://youtu.be/bXYuDtLwCg4)
Title: Re: Gearhart
Post by: MCirba on May 23, 2022, 08:48:54 AM
Hoping to play Gearhart this fall during a trip to Bandon.   In doing a bit of digging, I came across this well-researched article that may help answer some questions and raise others.


Early-History-of-Gearhart-Golf-Links-1892.pdf (nwhickoryplayers.org) (http://nwhickoryplayers.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Early-History-of-Gearhart-Golf-Links-1892.pdf#:~:text=Gearhart%20Golf%20Links%2C%20likely%201sttee%20%28located%20approximately%20500,is%20the%20oldest%2C%20but%20others%20are%20less%20certain.)
Title: Re: Gearhart
Post by: Tony Dear on May 23, 2022, 01:14:27 PM
Not seen that before. George Eddy was an interesting one. English-born pro, emigrated to Oregon then moved to Seattle and built Foster Golf Links which opened in 1925 - a really fun 4,804-yard Par 68. Eddy invented the fairway vacuum cleaner, a large, odd-looking contraption that vacuumed up leaves.
The part about Macan working at Gearhart doesn't really help shed any light does it? "The Colwood, Inglewood and Gearhart links are of his (Macan) brainwork and handiwork.” (Seattle Times 7-22-1922). The suggestion is that Macan had done renovation work at Gearhart although it is unclear as to when and to what extent." This is by far the most detailed article about Gearhart I've seen, but Macan's role remains uncertain.
I think you'll really enjoy the course, Mike. Last time I was there I was a bit disappointed to see the fairways and green surrounds were quite lush, dark green and spongy, so hopefully you'll get it following a dry spell and before they turn the water on.
Title: Re: Gearhart
Post by: Connor Lewis on June 06, 2022, 08:04:32 AM
I used to live in Oregon and I am a huge fan of Gearhart. That being said I feel like there is more myth than fact to when golf was played there. I have heard dates throw around from the 1880s, 1892, 1912 and a couple of dates in the 1920s.



There is a strange push for those states West of the Mississippi to claim they are the oldest (West of the MS). There was a course in the or around the Sand Hills of Nebraska in the 1880s, there was a course in Burlington, Iowa in the 1880s, but I have found nothing viable beyond that in Oregon or California. Others may know more than me on this subject, but one of the contenders with evidence for oldest west or the MS is Fairfield Golf & CC in little ol’ Fairfield, IA founded in 1892.


What I like to tell clubs from around the country who ask me…“listen if your club or course was built in the 1890s, you have something very special. If you have a public course built between 1895 and 1905 same.”

Title: Re: Gearhart
Post by: Dan Herrmann on June 07, 2022, 08:59:26 AM
One of my biggest regrets is never having played Gearheart while I lived in Beaverton for 9 years.    Dumb move on my part!
Title: Re: Gearhart
Post by: Garland Bayley on June 09, 2022, 11:09:42 AM
One of my biggest regrets is never having played Gearheart while I lived in Beaverton for 9 years.    Dumb move on my part!

No smart! Their own website touts an article which calls it an "uninspiring money loser" from that era. I found it to be uninspiring when I played it. My understanding is that Columbia Sportswear CEO has been instrumental in vastly improving it to create some inspiration.

I may have to give it another go now.
Title: Re: Gearhart
Post by: Garland Bayley on June 09, 2022, 11:18:45 AM
Further reading the article linked from their website reveals that they are or have implemented suggestions from Jim Urbina after having invited him to look it over.
Title: Re: Gearhart
Post by: Sven Nilsen on June 09, 2022, 11:17:27 PM
One of my biggest regrets is never having played Gearheart while I lived in Beaverton for 9 years.    Dumb move on my part!

No smart! Their own website touts an article which calls it an "uninspiring money loser" from that era. I found it to be uninspiring when I played it. My understanding is that Columbia Sportswear CEO has been instrumental in vastly improving it to create some inspiration.

I may have to give it another go now.


Garland, it sounds like you haven't been there in a while.



Tim Boyle is an Oregon legend, as is his mother Gert Boyle.  His stewardship of Gearhart had been a model for the rejuvenation of what was once a pretty tired piece of property.  The course may not be a pure example of links golf, but it is a ton of fun to play and is always presented in excellent condition due to the hard work of Forrest Goodling and his team.  And you'd be hard pressed to find a better pro than Jason Bangild.


We play up there every year for a tournament in March, and you couldn't ask for more gracious hosts than the good people in Gearhart.  And the course itself is no pushover.  From the "stones" the course can be a beast, especially if the north wind is up.  The 18th alone at 640 yards into the breeze can break your heart.


Sven
Title: Re: Gearhart
Post by: MCirba on June 10, 2022, 06:48:23 AM
Really looking forward to getting there this fall.  Seems right up my alley.
Title: Re: Gearhart
Post by: Garland Bayley on June 10, 2022, 01:24:48 PM
One of my biggest regrets is never having played Gearheart while I lived in Beaverton for 9 years.    Dumb move on my part!

No smart! Their own website touts an article which calls it an "uninspiring money loser" from that era. I found it to be uninspiring when I played it. My understanding is that Columbia Sportswear CEO has been instrumental in vastly improving it to create some inspiration.

I may have to give it another go now.


Garland, it sounds like you haven't been there in a while.



Tim Boyle is an Oregon legend, as is his mother Gert Boyle.  His stewardship of Gearhart had been a model for the rejuvenation of what was once a pretty tired piece of property.  The course may not be a pure example of links golf, but it is a ton of fun to play and is always presented in excellent condition due to the hard work of Forrest Goodling and his team.  And you'd be hard pressed to find a better pro than Jason Bangild.


We play up there every year for a tournament in March, and you couldn't ask for more gracious hosts than the good people in Gearhart.  And the course itself is no pushover.  From the "stones" the course can be a beast, especially if the north wind is up.  The 18th alone at 640 yards into the breeze can break your heart.


Sven

Right Sven, haven't been there in awhile. I thought perhaps that would be clear by indicating my understanding that Tim Boyle had be resurrecting the course from the doldrums and that I might have to give it another go.

My point was that Dan lived in Oregon when the course was in the doldrums, was choked with trees, and it wasn't a big deal that he had missed it.