Gearhart Golf Links

The refreshingly little-known Gearhart Golf Links and Resort, along the northern Oregon coast, is the second oldest golf course in the west (it opened in 1892 with four holes).  Over the years a number of designers—including the renowned Chandler Egan—left their mark on the course.  In 1999 the links received a full make-over at the talented hands of William Robinson, who replaced all tees and bunkers as well as several greens, installed new irrigation, and otherwise pepped things up.  The new 21,000 sq. ft Victorian clubhouse recalls the original 1900-era hotel.  Even better, it has a McMenamins’ bar and restaurant, which Oregonians already know all about, and visitors will be thrilled to learn about.

Gearhart is a true links course that rolls and dips among moundy, grass-covered dunes. The ocean only provides subtext here, remaining just out of sight, although you can hear and feel it.  The 6218-yard layout is charming and subtle.  The front side careens along nicely if uneventfully until the fine number five, a 372-yard dogleg left with a narrow landing area.  Even a slightly mishit drive may leave a difficult approach over a pond to a small green.  Number ten, at 341 yards, also excels, with angled cross bunkers creating a landing area that widens farther from the tee, an enticement to long hitters. Throughout the course, narrow ridges and other topographical features carom balls every which way, so consider where you want them to end up.  Gearhart provides a breezy adventure in classic links golf.

The sleepy town of Gearhart is perfect for beach walks and gallery browsing, the kind of place Portlanders have retreated to for over a century—these days to rent weathered Cape Cod style beach houses where they read and cook fresh local seafood.  Elsewhere along this part of the scenic coast—tucked between crashing surf and Pacific forests—you can tour the Tillamook cheese factory (503-815-1300), glide through the Air Museum (503-842-1130), visit lighthouses and Lewis-and-Clark historic sites, fish, kayak, hike the headlands of a number of state parks, or visit kitschy shops and chowder houses before retreating to a bed and breakfast.  The north coast’s attractions are quiet and understated.  Down Highway 101 in Seaside and Canon Beach the action—in the form of skee ball arcades, a good bookstore, and a long promenade from the turn of the century—climb a notch.

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One Response to “Gearhart Golf Links”

  1. John Strawn

    Twenty years or so ago I had the most extraordinary experience at Gearhart Golf Links. I was on my way to the Long Beach Peninsula and took a detour south to get in a quick round on a beautiful mid-week summer day. I joined one other player on the first tee, who was pulling a beat-up trolley with a Goodwill assortment of club peeking our from the bag. After I hit I noticed a little dog walking along the right side of the fairway, keeping up with my playing partner. When we got to the green the dog ambled up near to the hole, positioning himself well off the line of either putt but close enough to see the action. He watched both balls into the cup, then headed to the second tee. Same routine for a couple of holes, but then he started taking short cuts, heading from the greens to the turning point of the next hole, like a good forecaddie. What’s up, I asked? His master said that dog had probably walked a thousand rounds with him. He used to run around a bit but he’s gettting old so he focuses on the part of the game he likes most, which is watching the ball fall into the cup. Perhaps he imagines fetching it. After 9 holes, the dog departed. “He can’t play 18 anymore,” his master said. “We’ll have a drink together when I get home. He gets a little beer in his bowl.”

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