The sun hadn't broken over the tops of the hills surrounding Salmon Run golf course when a hand-picked foursome teed off of on the first hole at the beginning of what would be the longest day of golf ever.
The challenge was to play all four courses - Salmon Run golf course, Kings Valley Golf Course, Del Norte Golf Course and Cedar Bend Golf Club - within an hour's drive of Brookings in one day.
A hearty group of golfers including Salmon Run General Manager Ed Murdock, Brookings-Harbor High School baseball coach Keith Wallin, Salmon Run Men's Club member Mike Gross and Curry Coastal Pilot Sports Editor Jef Hatch undertook the challenge and started the first round at Salmon Run at 6 a.m. Wednesday morning.
The format for the group was a two-man scramble with Murdock and Hatch on one team and Gross and Wallin on the other. Speed of play was a bigger concern than quality of shots, but with each member of the group an experienced golfer, the quality kept pace in a timely manner.
The weather for the day was Goldilocks-perfect (not too hot, not too cold) and all of the courses were in superb condition.
"I think they were great," Murdock said. "They are fun courses, each of them had their strengths. You just have to go out and enjoy each course for what it is."
Salmon Run golf course
Salmon Run is the only true 18-hole course among the four locations and is located seven miles east of Brookings on South Bank Chetco River Road.
With the holes nestled deep in the woods, Salmon Run is the most peaceful of the courses and many times the group found itself alone with nothing but the woodland creatures to keep it company.
Carts are almost a necessity at Salmon Run with the climbs to tee boxes on a number of the holes and the length of the course - 6,274 yards. The course took approximately three hours for the group to complete playing the scramble format.
The grounds crew has been working hard on the course all season and, according to members of the Men's Golf Club on the course that morning, the course is looking and playing the best it has in years.
Kings Valley Golf Course
When course owner Mike Stanovich answers the phone at the course office he opens with, "Thank you for calling Kings Valley, future home of the Ryder Cup." And right from the booking of tee times the course is a blast to play.
A short - 1,259 yards - nine holes, the executive course is perfect for honing the short game and just having fun.
Located just five miles from downtown Crescent City on Lesina Road, Kings Valley is the perfect course for anyone looking to learn golf and have fun.
"It's supposed to be fun," Stanovich said. "We get a lot of beginners and older people. We also get a lot of people who are working on their short game. It's perfect for that."
The first tee box is just feet from the parking lot and while it is a turf surface on a deck, trying to hit over a pond on the first hole provides a mental challenge that sets the stage for a course with great character and challenging par-3 holes.
"I've always enjoyed Kings Valley," Wallin said. "It's the first course I played growing up. My grandpa brought me out and it brings back old memories. I really enjoy hitting my wedges and putting, so that kind of course fits into my game."
Del Norte Golf Course
Del Norte is also a nine-hole course that stretches 6,117 yards, but each hole has two tee boxes that allow golfers the opportunity to challenge themselves over a complete 18 holes.
Located 11 miles from Crescent City on Highway 197, Del Norte is wide open and really allows golfers to break out their driver and hit the long ball.
"It's always nice to swing the long clubs," Wallin said. "It was a nice course and the weather was great while we were there."
Del Norte offered a lunch special burger with seasoned fries that was some of the best small-kitchen golf course food the group had ever eaten.
Cedar Bend Golf Club
The final course of the day, Cedar Bend Golf Club is located a winding seven miles northeast of Gold Beach on Cedar Valley.
A nine-hole course spreading 3,000 yards over some beautiful property, Cedar Bend offers some challenging holes mixed with easy holes to allow beginning golfers the opportunity for fun.
End of day
After 54 holes of golf - 18 at Salmon Run and Kings Valley and nine at Del Norte and Cedar Bend - the group was exhausted.
"That is the most holes of golf I've ever played in a day," Murdock said. "I'm tired. I'm glad we didn't golf any more today, but it was certainly fun."
Fun - and the challenge of trying to do the near-impossible - is what this project was all about.
"It was a lot of fun," Gross said. "I think that is what is great about golf; you get to go out with your friends, play golf, laugh and have fun. It's enjoyable."
The day wound up with a superb dinner at Spinner's Seafood and Chop House in Gold Beach.
"I had a lot of fun," Wallin said. "I'd do it again, not for a while, but it's something you don't do often and it was fun.