June 6 – D-Day and B-Day. Today is the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Even though my father was not on the beaches of Normandy (he was working on B-24’s in Italy), my thoughts were partially on him and the sacrifices of those brave men. Closer to home, today is Karen’s 60th birthday and my thoughts were also of her sacrifices she has made being married to me for 37 years. Her special gift (to deflect her mind from turning 60) was to watch me play golf at the 9-hole Highlands Golf Club in Gearhart, OR.
What more could she ask for? Her birthday wish was to carry my bag and enjoy my company on a 9-hole course with ocean views. What a gal!
Hole #1 started in the shade with a cool breeze blowing off the Pacific Ocean; proceeded to the sunny, wide, undulating fairway; and ended with a bogey as the bright blue, cloud-drenched sky met the first green. Is this heaven? It was for one hole as a double-bogey at the second hole turned it into something else. How can a shot of 106 yards go so wrong? Well, to relive the horror: pushed a pitching wedge way right into and through the white fence along the fairway; stubbed a wedge that trickled five yards to the green; and averted a triple by sinking a twenty foot putt.
The craziness continued at the par 4 third hole. I yanked my tee shot left this time finding the fence bordering a home’s back yard. Luckily the ball caromed off the fence and back into a somewhat good lie. There are homes on each side of this fairway and even though the landing area is tight, it’s not that tight! Hole #4 is a long par 3 of 195 yards. the fairway slopes right to left as your ball approaches the green. A great landing spot is the green! Once again homes on both the left and right squeeze this hole.
Hole #5 is a very short par 3 of 91 yards (from the tips). If the flag is up front (as it was today), you need to lob your shot over the trees and have it land softly on the green. If you are long (as I was today), a three putt is likely on this treacherous green. Another narrow par 3 at Hole #6 at which I recorded my first par of the day.
Geez, another tight fairway at Hole #7! Houses and trees line the landing strip but at least both sides slope to the middle so there is room for error (unless you hit the large tree in the middle). Ditto for Hole #8 minus the middle tree. I realize this par 4 is only 241 yards from the blue tees, but it was the first time I have ever hit my drive through the green on a par 4. Lifting weights has really paid off! Putting for eagle; settled for par!
I must have been distracted by the ocean view on the ninth tee box. It’s a long par three of 199 yards with a bunker guarding the right entrance to the green. I was right of the bunker (too far right lands on the 1st tee box) but at least I had the correct distance.
Rating – Birdie: The greens and fairways were in excellent condition. The pace of play was also excellent. It wasn’t too busy, so we completed our round in about two hours (even with my poor play). I thought the course was tight for the high handicap golfer. If you are wild off the tee, there can be house trouble all around the course. That being said, it should create a challenging round for the low handicap golfer. You do get a few distant views of the Pacific – from the 5th and 9th teeing areas and the 9th green. Most of the holes are fairly straight, so the challenge does come from those tight fairways. Make sure to bring your walking shoes – no motorized carts here. There are so many things to do along the Oregon Coast that a fast, fun 9-hole round may be just what you are seeking. However, on your wife’s 60th birthday, it may not be the smartest move!!
If you are staying in Gearhart, another adventure would be staying at the McMenamins Gearhart Hotel followed by an 18-hole round at Gearhart Golf Links and a stop by the Sand Trap Pub. Since it was Karen’s birthday, we motored up the coast to Astoria for a “bakery and beer” tour. Side by side stand the Blue Scorcher Bakery & Cafe and the Fort George Brewery + Public House. We are both happy!
This visit to Astoria we stayed at the Cannery Pier Hotel and Spa. An awesome spot to sit back (with wine in hand), relax by the Astoria-Megler bridge and watch the sea traffic navigate the Columbia River.
Whew, this day in Astoria and the subsequent trip to Portland more than made up for me making her tend my bag on her 60th!
33260 Highlands Lane, Gearhart, OR 97138; 503-738-5248; www.highlandsgolfgearhart.com