Holmes Harbor golf course opens

Evert Olkonen and Ken Porter seizes the opportunity for a hole at the newly opened Holmes Harbor Golf Course Thursday morning. The course was packed with all but two of the 22 carts on the greens.  - Photo by Celeste Erickson
Evert Olkonen and Ken Porter seizes the opportunity for a hole at the newly opened Holmes Harbor Golf Course Thursday morning. The course was packed with all but two of the 22 carts on the greens.
— image credit: Photo by Celeste Erickson

The Holmes Harbor Golf Course is officially open.

Operator Craig Moore, who is bringing the facility up to par, opened the course for play Friday, July 26, several days earlier than planned.

More than 150 players had already teed off prior to the official opening. Several just happened to stop by not knowing the course had been closed.

All but two of the 22 golf carts were out Thursday morning, the scheduled opening day.

Moore put in long hours getting the 18-hole golf course ready, regularly staying until dusk. Moore said the community has been amazing helping him rejuvenate the course. He’s received calls to volunteer and help with the website and maintenance.

“I was enthusiastic about the course I thought it would be a good asset to the community. I had no idea so many others did too,” Moore said.

On July 18, Moore signed an interim contract with the Holmes Harbor Water and Sewer District to operate the course temporarily.

South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District board has also been in talks to take over operations in the future, which would require an additional levy for the district.

If the parks district decides to move forward the board would seek a 9-cent property tax levy to generate the estimated $360,000 needed to operate the golf course.

If the area is operated as a general park the board would ask for a 4-cent levy for $160,000.

The course has struggled over the years to find an operator, most recently with Seattle resident Patrick Kent.

Kent backed out of an operating deal in May.

The course is now open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. or later if people are still playing. Moore made the decision to lower the rates as the course is not in pristine condition.

The weekend rate with a cart is $28 and during the weekday with a cart is $25. Moore has a staff of seven, not including volunteers.

The course’s pro shop is also in need of work. It is currently being stocked by Moore.

The Roaming Radish, a catering business from Freeland, moved into the restaurant space and is planning to open to diners by November, said Radish owner Jess Dowdell.

Dowdell said the catering business was in need of a larger kitchen.

Dowdell is currently renovating the space to include a pub-style bar space along with outdoor seating.

Moore said the course is run like a “mom and pop operation” — his family has helped him really get this off the ground.

“This is a locals’ golf course, run by locals, with a local mentality,” he said. “I’m blessed the community has been so helpful.”

With the preliminary plays he asked golfers to jot down a few things he could work on.

Moore said the course feels like a different course every time its played.

“I’m surprised how good of shape the course is in,” said Evert Olkonen from Clinton.

Olkonen was part of a group of 18 that played on Thursday in a family and friends tournament. The group played on the Holmes Harbor course many times before it closed.

Connor McGee, of Langley, said he is glad the course is open again because it’s hard to get in Useless Bay Golf & Country Club.

McGee played the Holmes Harbor course as a child, but had never played the full course until now. He said he waited for the course to reopen so he could finally play the full course.

Moore said he plans to eventually form a non-profit group and establish a junior golf program.

He is also in the process of re-certifying the course with the United States Golf Association.

Moore said he wants to ensure the stability of the course for it to be around for a long time.

“This has been a top-notch course in the past and it will be again,” he said.

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