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Preliminary planning consent for new Oregon golf course

The sandy clifftop site for Pacific Gales (pic: Brian Oar)

The proposed Pacific Gales golf course on the coast of southern Oregon could start construction this summer, with preview play as early as autumn 2015, after the Curry County Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve the developers’ request for a conditional use permit, the first stage in the planning process.

The proposed course will be built on a portion of the privately-owned Knapp Ranch near the village of Port Orford, and around 30 miles south of the Bandon Dunes golf resort. The development team is led by Jim Haley, who worked as a shaper on the original Bandon course, and Troy Russell, the Bandon resort’s first superintendent.

Chicago-based golf architect Dave Esler, who is slated to design the course, and is also a partner in the development, said: “We believe the Planning Commission recognised the positive effect Pacific Gales will have on the area and our proactive approach to protecting the environmental assets of the land while restoring native habitat.”

The course is planned for a 354 acre site, including several holes on the bluffs above the Pacific Ocean. A clifftop double green is planned for the ninth and eighteenth holes.

Pending final approval by the Curry County Board of Commissioners, work on the site could begin this summer. Weather permitting, preview play could be possible in late 2015, with a grand opening anticipated the following spring.

“The routing is intentionally choreographed, constructed as theatre really. We set the hook early, move away from the edge, build the drama again with long views, intimate peeks and anticipation of what’s ahead — the spectacular finish. We’d be pretty fortunate to be able to do that with one of the nines, but after a good bit of work, we’ve found a routing that provides that drama on each of the nines,” said Esler. “We recognise we have a lot of work ahead of us and this is an important first step. We are grateful and humbled by the overwhelming support we've received from the folks in the Port Orford area – and we’re hopeful and excited to become a vital member of their community.”

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