The once-foreclosed course on Kitsap Peninsula in the state of Washington has been given a $700,000 shot in the arm designed to make it friendlier to average golfers.
When White Horse Golf Course opened in 2007, it received rave reviews. By 2010, however, it had gone into foreclosure, in large part because improper maintenance and aeration made it difficult for the course to hold shots.
“If you take a sand-based green and compact it year in and year out, it’s going to be extremely difficult to hit a golf ball on it,” Director of Golf Bruce Christy told the Kitsap (Wash.) Sun. “You could actually hear the ball hit the green from the fairway and watch it bounce into the back bunker.”
“Would you be interested [given those conditions] in buying an annual membership or looking into our Players Club?” Christy added. “People weren’t thinking long-term, because they didn’t know what was going to happen out here.”
Port Madison Enterprises, the business arm of the Suquamish Tribe, bought the White Horse course in February of 2010 and gave it a $700,000 remodel designed to make it friendlier to average golfers.
Touchstone Golf was hired to manage the course, and golf course architect John Harbottle III, whose work includes the award-winning Olympic Course at Gold Mountain Golf Club in Bremerton, Wash., was hired to soften it.
Changes to White Horse include removing 62 of 137 bunkers, ousting twelve sand traps on the 3rd hole and cutting down over 200 trees. Dye McGarey, niece of famed course architect Pete Dye, originally designed the course.
“I didn’t come in here and try to put my stamp on the golf course,” Harbottle said. “I tried to make sure everything is sculpted out there like it blended with what [McGarey] had to begin with. You’ll be hard-pressed to go out there, and say, ‘They built a bunker here, and did this there.’ I think the work went seamlessly with the original design.”
Harbottle has designed 20 courses by himself, worked on teams for about 15 others, and conducted renovations on over 50 courses. He recently attended the national convention of the American Society of Golf Course Architects, where much of the discussion centered around making shorter golf courses that can appeal to a broader range of players.