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Enumclaw Golf Course appears in good hands

By WALLY DUCHATEAU Enumclaw Courier Herald Columnist
July 22, 2013 · 3:22 PM
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Let’s get one thing straight at the outset: I’m not a golfer. Never have been and never will be. The sport just doesn’t work with me.

Nevertheless, I have a lot of friends who are avid golfers and, through the years, I’ve listened to their complaints about, and their interpretation of, the history of the Enumclaw course.

Back in the day, the county owned the fairgrounds and fairways and kept both in pretty good condition. Then the nation’s economy snapped and the county couldn’t afford to keep them so, eight or nine years ago, it bailed out and Enumclaw took over.

Of course, local government officials didn’t necessarily know much about running a golf course; consequently, they hired someone to do that. Right from the start, nothing went well. Given the recession, the new manager couldn’t fulfill his contractual obligations with the city. He complained that the city’s cut was too large. He tried to negotiate a new lease and, when this proved unsuccessful, he simply waited for his contract to expire and walked away. The grass wasn’t adequately mowed, fairways weren’t treated properly, the pro shop and cafe went downhill and the green at the second hole turned into a swamp because steps weren’t taken to improve the drainage.

Then, five months ago, the city signed a five-year lease with a new manager, Bob Gelinas. Bob had played the professional mini-tours for a few years and, prior to his arrival here, had managed several other golf courses in the Northwest region.   Contrary to what I assumed, he doesn’t receive a salary from our city. Instead, his income is derived solely from green fees and cart rentals, so the more golfers he attracts the more money he makes. Enumclaw takes a certain fixed percentage of this.   Bob quickly points out that the city has always been very cooperative and easy to work with.

Today, he has 14 people on his staff, most of whom, as you’d presume, manicure the golf course. The maintenance crew is often mowing the lawn at 4 a.m., so the fairways are ready for a 6 a.m. tee time. Bob has leased the café to Kimberly Seymour and Brandi Vanderlaan.

He recently purchased and received 200 tons of sand, of which 140 tons were used to aerate the fairways. Drainage has always been a serious issue. Solving this problem involves placating state and federal environment agencies that, understandably, want to protect the fish and salmon runs in Boise Creek, which meanders through the course. To further exacerbate the situation, the creek tends to flood a portion of the grounds every other year or so. Bob’s currently trying to redesign the irrigation system and this fall will tackle the drainage problem around the 18th hole. Eliminating the “swamp” surround the 11th hole – traditionally the second hole until the numerical order was changed – will be the most difficult challenge.

Be that as it may, a number of my golfing friends ardently agree that Bob, in a mere five months, has the course looking better than at any other time in the last 10 years.   Congratulations are in order!

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