PORT TOWNSEND, Wash. — The front nine at Discovery Bay Golf Course looks like a couple guys got together, took a walk through the land and laid down a golf course. It was the early 1920s, and they weren’t professional architects, and they did a damn good job.
The back looks different. It looks like a pro with international design experience trained his eye on the rural sprawl and carved out nine holes as good as any on the Olympic Peninsula. That, in fact, is what happened, in 1997, and it turned a representative country golf course into a destination experience.
Which, by rights, it should be. But the industry of golf wheels slowly up here.
Jeff Kent, the affable head PGA professional at Discovery Bay, was on front desk duty Saturday. He was asked if he had a pretty active men’s club. Nope, he said – if he gets 20 guys for events, that’s a pretty good number. And it’s not likely to explode any time soon … the men’s club is old and getting older. Young people aren’t coming up behind.
We Roadies did nothing much to lower the average age of players on the course Saturday, though we did clock in younger than the guy celebrating a birthday round with his buddies – “75 and still playing golf,” he said. I’ll drink to that.
The front nine, the Farm Nine, opened in 1925. which they say around here makes it the oldest public course in Washington state, and lived as Chevy Chase Golf Club for almost 80 years. The back nine, the Forest Nine, was the work of Mike Asmundson, who was commissioned to design it and later, in 2004, bought the golf course and changed the name. The locals call it Disco Bay.
Asmundson sold it a couple years ago, Kent said, and returned to Phoenix. His Facebook page boasts numerous examples of his skill as a painter of mostly Southwest scenes, and he’s a poet and a raconteur and, at 71, an aficionado of things fine and rare, to judge by his profile picture (look it up) with a cigar as big as his forearm hanging from his face. I’ll drink to that.
Early on the front you encounter the elephant under the green, front right, on No. 2. Hippo? Humpback whale? Whatever, it’s hard to putt around or over, and is early warning that the first nine might not be as innocuous as it looks.
There are lots of lovely deciduous trees on the front nine, which is more like parkland than forest.
The back nine’s different. Every hole feels like a sudden clearing in the woods. Make a point, if you’re there, to grab a look from any green back toward its tee. It gives a clean new perspective to the designer’s art.
Not that I ever lack for an excuse. But I’ll drink to that.