In a time of COVID-19, when social distancing is a consideration in all things, including recreation, there’s the question of where to go and what to do.
Right now, trails into the high country are still snowed in. Trailhead parking areas are off limits. Iwetemlaykin is closed. It might be time to consider golf.
The Alpine Meadows Golf Course is tucked out of sight, and for many, out of mind on Golf Course Road, past Safeway and the state highway department and beyond the Enterprise water treatment plant at 66098 Golf Course Road, Enterprise.
Established in 1926, the 9-hole Alpine Meadows Golf Club boasts about 150 members, according to clubhouse manager Marvin Gibb. The club has evolved from a place where the greens were just sand to handline irrigation, to today’s more sophisticated system of automated sprinklers and a greens keeper who mows, irrigates and ensures that the course is ready for its seasonal debut each year on April 15 — and every day thereafter. The club remains open through Oct. 15, Gibb said.
The course is 3,030 yards long with three different sets of tees for different skill levels. Visiting golfers rate the 9 hole course as “Challenging, but with the best views ever.”
In a normal year, golfers can rent clubs and purchase balls and other equipment at the clubhouse. There’s also lunch, beer and other refreshments.
But this, Gibb pointed out, is not a normal year. The social distancing requirements have shuttered the food services and halted equipment rentals.
“It’s bring your own clubs now,” Gibbs said.
Rules in effect until the shutdown ends include keeping at least 6 feet between individuals, don’t rake the sand in the bunkers, and either walk the course or have only one person in each cart. “If these rules are not followed the course will be closed,” reads the stern red type beneath all the warnings.
There’s more to see on a golf course than just other golfers and that water hazard where your ball just disappeared. Grounds manager Greg Oveson has seen lots of deer, ducks, geese and fox on the links. More surprisingly, there are occasional visits from elk — and even moose — he said.
In the spring, about about six years ago, Oveson saw what he thought was a really large dog scampering across the fairway. When it got closer it was apparent that it wasn’t a dog. It was a bear.
“He ran up the slope towards where the big log Forest Service building was,” Oveson said. “I didn’t see him after that.”
Deer often choose the rough-hewn edges of the course to have their fawns, and on early mornings in June the course can have a number of mothers and fawns exercising and browsing on the fairways.
“I really love coming out here at 5 or 6 a.m. on the early summer when its quiet and watching the wildlife,” Oveson admitted.
You don’t need to be a member here to stroll the grassy fairways, club(s) in hand. You can play nine holes of golf for just $25, or even play 18 holes for $20 after 4 p.m. on weekdays. No guarantees that you’ll be golfing among the bears and moose, but there’s plenty of fresh air and extraordinary views of snowcapped peaks at Wallowa County’s oldest (and only) golf course.