Ten holes of a new golf course designed by Dan Hixson will open for preview play this summer in Roseburg, Oregon, and will eventually become the centrepiece of a boutique resort that will offer ‘tiny-house’ accommodation and host travellers with recreational vehicles.
“The site is very different from any of the new courses I have designed,” said Hixson. “This is a reclamation project of an existing sand-and-gravel quarry. The property was shaped through thousands of years as a floodplain of the South Umpqua River, with deposits of sand and gravel.
“It has a somewhat typical rolling-flowing topography of a floodplain with about 25 feet of elevation change. However, much of the site had been altered through removal and filling of material after years of mining. About half the holes will play through native trees — but not tree-lined fairways, just scattered stands.”
The architect’s challenges for this site were dictated by the size and shape of the property, the river border, and large ponds that were created from former excavations. “The owners, myself and everyone who works on the project have continually heard, ‘OK, how are we going to make that happen’,” said Hixson. “I love working on projects where the answers are not obvious at first. I feel I have to trust my own abilities, and everyone involved, to figure out the best solutions.
“The site was conducive to golf, it just was not obvious the first time I stepped on it. Having owners who knew every square of the property really helped. Eventually the theme and feel of the design evolved around much of the look left by the mining operation. Sharp-pointed berms, near-vertical cut banks, haul roads, swales, even how material is piled and stored became inspiration to how many of the design elements came together. The site itself has dictated much of the style.”
Construction of 10 holes (three on the front nine and seven on the back) was completed in autumn 2020. The remaining eight holes and driving range will be completed this year with construction resuming on 1 April. Four of the holes have already been rough shaped.
“The routing plan has been very flexible since I became involved, and still is today,” said Hixson. “We have filled in portions of the excavation ponds to make fairways and even green sites, and that is ongoing. The base routing of corridors will not change, but tees and green sites can still shift. Jokingly, the owners think I will finish the routing when the last seed hits the ground.”
The course will be a walkable par 70, with four par fives and six par threes. The back nine is all par fives and threes until the final two holes.
“It will not be a long course, mainly because of having that many par threes, but there is enough variety to have a really fun playing experience,” said Hixson. “It is scorecard short but has plenty length. I think the beauty of the course and how it sits within the bigger valley will surprise people if they think of a typical mine site. Our bridges will be another pleasant surprise to the golfers as well.”
Hixson has been working alongside contractor Milroy Golf Systems, shaper Norbert Painter, and grow-in superintendent Troy Russell, as well as others that have been working on mining operations.
A Rain Bird IC irrigation system is being installed and the course is being seeded with Jacklin/Barenbrug CSI ryegrass for the tees and fairways, fescue for the rough, and Pure Seed bentgrass for the greens.
“I am very excited about the course, and really enjoy the sporting feel of the holes,” said Hixson. “I certainly cannot be objective but seeing the faces of guests who have visited the site leads me to believe we are working in the right direction.”
A competition has taken place to name the club, replacing the original project title of Callahan Ridge. The new name is now being selected and is expected to be announced in early April.
Hixson expects 18 holes to be open for play in summer 2022.