Gamble Sands

Gamble Sands shined in 2014

Golf 2014 was a pretty big year as it relates to the Pacific Northwest. Ryan Moore narrowly missed the Ryder Cup team, Abbotsford, British Columbia’s (and UW Alum) Nick Taylor won in just his 10th PGA TOUR event as a professional and the David McLay Kidd designed Gamble Sands made waves as 2014’s best new course.

Back in January, I made 3 (not so) bold predictions for the year that was 2014. Let’s take a look and see how I did.

Northwest Golfers will Win 3 PGA Tour Events:

This year I think Ryan Moore (with one victory in hand at the CIMB Classic) wins one more time and Kyle Stanley or Michael Putnam win at least once.

Time for the victory strut. It was a close call, but with Ben Crane‘s triumph in Memphis, RyMo defending in Malaysia and Nick Taylor winning the Sanderson Farms, that makes 3 2014 victories by the Cascadia contingent. This of course doesn’t include the wins by Seattle area vets Andrew Putnam and Andres Gonzales, or the two wins from BC’s Adam Hadwin on the Web.com Tour. With the aforementioned Putnam, Gonzales, Hadwin and Taylor all joining the TOUR full-time in 2015, we could easily see this total matched or exceeded.

 

Gamble Sands is a massive success:

A trip up to the Okanogan Territory is a must this Summer, and I predict Gamble Sands to be named the #1 course in the state in the next set of rankings.

The jury is still out on this one, but let’s take a minute to talk about it anyway. Gamble Sands, as I noted earlier, was named the “Best New Course” in America by Golf Digest. The design, which was intended to be player friendly, has sparked some of the more spirited debate, at least since the recession, by the golf architecture community. I’m on record in saying it’s the best course I’ve ever played, and as my “played” list closes in on 200, it still rings true. The latest state by state rankings that include Gamble Sands aren’t yet out, but it looks like it’s still possible that it overtakes the mighty Chambers Bay in the next set.

 

Pacific Gales loses out:

with Mike Keiser’s new “Bandon Muni” project getting Gil Hanse on board and with other up and coming names being kicked around for the second 18, I just don’t know that Pacific Gales is timing this project right.

So, this is a tough one to call either way. At last check (March of 2014), Pacific Gales received a conditional use permit that would allow them to move forward on construction. I have a request for an update out to the developer, but as of this time I haven’t heard back. One would guess that things are moving along with shaping and irrigation, while grass, I suspect will have to wait until the warmer spring weather. At this time in 2013, Pacific Gales was the hot name on the tongue of all journalists. But as I suspected, the project has sort of fizzled out as news about the site grew more sporadic and other new projects simultaneously picked up steam. As I said in the prediction piece, I hope Pacific Gales is a rousing success, but now, it looks like another stalled golf course project in this post recession world.

 

State of the Region:

 

According to my scoreboard, I didn’t embarrass myself. Baby steps, I guess. But where do we as community go from here? 2014 was a memorable year. This could be the year we look back on, a decade from now, as the year that the turnaround really began. David McLay Kidd ushering in a new era of playability in course design (right in our backyard), the Gebbers using golf as the centerpiece of a community, the Pacific Northwest establishing itself as a hotbed for golf talent.

As a lifelong Seattleite, and general aficionado of all things Cascadian, I’m pretty smitten with the golf year 2014. But what really gets me going is how great 2015 could be. In case you’ve been living under a rock, or in Eastern Washington, the U.S. Open is coming to Tacoma, and Chambers Bay, in June. The Web.com Tour is now firmly entrenched in the Northwest with dates in Portland and Boise. The Pacific Coast Amateur will be at the historic Eugene Country Club and both the Universities of Oregon and Washington should enter the year ranked and ready to compete for the NCAA Championship.

Stay tuned for my 2015 preview and predictions, which should hit early next week.