By Mathew Brock

Pilot Sports Writer

With the warmth of spring rolling in and the rain dying down for the season, it’s the perfect time to start exploring Curry County’s local recreation options. Whether you’re an avid golfer or a casual hiker, there’s one location you shouldn’t overlook.

A short and scenic drive down South Bank Chetco River Road sits Salmon Run golf course, an 18-hole course owned by the City of Brookings and run by locals Gary and Val Early of Early Management Team. While the course fell into disrepair several years back, the Earlys have made tremendous strides in restoring and maintaining it for two years since taking over.

An eight-minute drive from downtown Brookings, the course itself sits in a small valley just off the Chetco River along Jack Creek. Surrounded by forested hills and mountains, the scenery alone can be worth a visit to the course, whether it be for a day of golf or a hike on the course’s many interwoven trails.

The course hosts practice for the Brookings-Harbor golf team and will host the team’s only home meet of the year, the Brookings-Harbor High School Invitational, on April 30.

Golfing

Salmon Run is widely considered a good quality, but difficult course with many elevated tees and water obstacles creating portions that will challenge even experienced players. The elevation varies from high hilltop tees to more flat water and creekside holes with trails and bridges crossing streams and creeks to lead from one section of the course to the next. Salmon run has something to offer for golfers of all skill levels, with a relatively high ceiling of difficulty.

The course clubhouse provides a pro shop and Professional Golf Association teaching staff, as well as the Fairway Cafe restaurant, offering both lunch, breakfast and full bar service.

Salmon Run also hosts several golf tournaments throughout the year, catering to a variety of skill levels and age groups.

Rates are relatively low at only $34 for 18 holes and nine holes for $24 . Shared carts can be added by upping the price to $49 and $34 respectively. The course also has a driving range with $2 and $4 ball rentals and $15 club rentals.

Specials and membership rates can be found at salmonrungolf.com/course/rates/.

Recreation

While primarily a golf course, Salmon Run’s rural mystique makes it a prime spot in the county to hike. Many paved paths throughout vary in elevation; making for both leisurely strolls along green fields and steep inclines to the top of wooded hills.

Salmon Run can be considered the largest city-maintained park in Brookings, with the grounds open to visitors during normal operating hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day.

The course can be booked for events as well, often hosting weddings, graduation parties, and local benefit functions.

Cart rentals are also available for non-golfers who might not want to tour the course on foot. Leashed dogs are allowed on the course and can ride along in rental carts as well.

The course management does ask that visitors take a moment to check in at the clubhouse and be aware of proper golf safety and etiquette when the greens are in use by golfers. The course grounds are also regularly visited by deer, elk, occasional bobcats and various other wildlife, so visitors should stay respectful of their boundaries, especially if accompanied by dogs. Last summer even saw a mountain lion driven near the course by the Chetco Bar fire, but it was later removed by the State Wildlife Management.

History of Salmon Run

The 182 acres that make up Salmon Run were originally given to the city by South Coast Lumber in 1982 specifically for development of a golf course. It was later developed into an 18-hole course in 1998 and finished in 2000 by The Claveran Group, a limited liability corporation, that managed the course for 14 years.

After the economic turmoil of the late 2000s led to a decline in profits and maintenance efforts, the course eventually found its way into the the hands of Wild River Golf Management in 2014, which had been taking on general management duties from The Claveran Group for some time.

Less than two years later the city repossessed the course and all its assets from Wild River Golf Management when it failed to make property tax payments and failed to fulfill several contractual obligations, which the burden of then fell to the city. When all was said and done, combined repair costs, bill payments and taxes cost over $208,000.

Gary and Val Early of the Early Management Team then took over the course in April 2016 and are contracted to do so until April 2019. The Earlys have made great strides in improving the quality of the course, which is now in one of its best maintained states in the last decade.

Some of the Early’s current projects includesanding the fairways and developing the course to a point that it can sustain playable conditions over the winter season.

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