The Morning: Highlands Golf Club, Gearhart, Ore.
1,794 yards, par 31
It wends its way through an upscale waterfront neighborhood, its five par-3s and four par-4s up tight to the houses. It’s short and narrow, and long on challenge.
They take care of the golf course at this club, and the whole place feels a lot like a bigger 18-hole course. Highlands can hold its head up in the same town as Gearhart Golf Club, the iconic coastal course that lays claims to being the oldest course in Oregon.
All but one of Highlands’ par-4s are driveable by moderately long hitters … the Roadie Steve Mildenberger earned a two-putt birdie on 243-yard No. 7 when his tee ball found all air through a big evergreen tee left of the fairway and rolled on the green … a feat tempered a little by a three-putt par on the 241-yard No. 8 when he drove the green again.
No. 5 is only 91 yards long, and it drops 50 feet down to the green. Don’t be left … it’s a lost ball in the heavy stuff on the hillside. Don’t be right, or long, or you’ll in somebody’s front yard … or front room. It’s more fun than it sounds … club selection is the key.
The whole feeling on the grounds, clubhouse and golf course at this tidy property is of great care and attention to detail. Take care that you make the turn into Highlands on your next coastal road trip.
The Afternoon: Lewis & Clark Golf and RV Park, Astoria, Ore.
2,738 yards, par 36
Let’s not mince words: This is novelty golf. It’s putt-putt golf without the windmills, water features and clacking clown mouths; it might fit among the Pasture Golf vibe, but it’s too jokey even for the loose parameters of that loosest of lists.
It would exist as an average country golf course, affordable and reasonably well-groomed, if it weren’t for the greens. That they are green — vivid green — is the only quality they share with real putting surfaces. Seven of the nine greens are made of sand-over-Astroturf-like material … teensy, slick-quick, with unreadable breaks, and forgot about stopping an approach on them. The best way to get on is bounce it close, then use your putter to get over the lip and onto the green.
“If you’re good, you’ll love ‘em,” the RV park proprietress said. “If you think you’re good, you’ll hate ‘em.”
I thought the rooster crowing by 5 and 6 and grazing horses near the fairway were kind of country-charming. This course isn’t awful … it’s just the greens.
The greens don’t need any chemicals, which the Lewis and Clark Website boasts, and they use only organic products on the course, which is commendable. But be warned: your money would be better spent 10 miles down the road at Highlands. And you’ll have more fun.