Alpine Meadows prepares for April 1 opening

<p>Danielson Enterprise resident Chuck Haines prepares to hit a drive during a recent practice round at Alpine Meadows. Haines, who volunteers at the course, is a member of the Eastside Senior Golf Association.</p>

Alpine Meadows golf course officially opens Monday, April 1. Shane Homan, clubhouse manager, will be in the pro shop to welcome golfers at sign-in.

Unofficially the course has already shown a lot of activity. Folks have taken advantage of nice warm days in March and used the course for a crisp morning or afternoon walk, a snowy-day cross-country ski trek, or to simply hit golf balls.

Other than the few who do venture the fairway paths for fresh air and exercise the course is usually a deserted, lonely place, but the past two months of 2013, with the pond project underway the course has been anything but tranquil. Along with digging, the trimming of older black birch trees and regular spring cleanup the place has resembled scenes out of the ‘80s comedy sports film, “Caddyshack,” depicting a crazed assistant groundskeeper using explosives to rid the course of pesky gophers.

Gregg Sturtevant, Alpine Meadows greens superintendent, and his crew – far from the likes of the Caddyshack characters – have worked long hours to get the course in shape for play. Although improvements on some tee boxes, and “berm” landscaping will continue during the early months of the season, Sturtevant is confident the remaining work will not interrupt, but will enhance the game.

Alpine Meadows, ragged as it was decades ago, leaped to new life in the ‘60s with the help of dedicated businessmen who strongly believed Wallowa County would benefit from a golf course.

Before 1950, the dormant course served the community as a football field, an airport, and a landing strip for the B-24 bomber in 1944. In recent times, besides golf, it’s been the place of weddings, cross country runs and an overnight stay for Cycle Oregon.

Today, the public nine-hole course with its well-groomed fairways and greens, its distinctive Wallowa Mountains backdrop with Trout Creek ambling through, and a bit of wildlife such as a doe and fawns, is ideal for the game of golf. (It’s therapeutic, too.)

The club offers many activities. There is a men’s and women’s group, senior golf along with high school teams, and junior golf seminars. Events include scotch ball, couple’s tournaments and barbecues. Shane Homan will answer any questions, so give him a call at the clubhouse, or check the Alpine Meadows website.

Golfers help care for the course, not only through volunteering, but finding ways to make money for improvements. A first-time “golf swap” Friday and Saturday, April 5 and 6, will be held at the clubhouse from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The organization asks for golf clubs and golf paraphernalia to be offered for sale either through donation or consignment. Monies will go toward a clubhouse “front entrance” presentation – including landscaping, new pavement, plants and shrubs.

Alpine Meadows invites everyone to have fun using one of the county’s great recreational assets while discovering the joys and frustrations of golf. If nothing else, people can enjoy viewing the Wallowa Mountains from a golfer’s angle.

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