Players at the inaugural Gamble Sands Hickory Championship.
The first-annual Gamble Sands Hickory Championship was a thrilling experience for everyone involved. Held in early October, conditions were brisk, to say the least. 30-mph gusts greeted players as they arrived for the first round, and only grew in strength as the day progressed. However, the sun shone and the troops (including two foursomes from Southern Wine and Spirits, all new to hickory) marched on. The conditions lent themselves to the true Scottish links feel of the miraculous David Kidd design (in Brewster, Wash.) that opened in August 2014.
Jim Von Lossow, a Washington-based golf professional, won his third northwest hickory title in as many weeks. On Sept. 19, he won the inaugural Pacific Northwest Hickory Championship over the historic Foster Golf Links in Tukwila, Wash. On Sept. 26, he claimed the Washington State Hickory Open title on The Home Course in Dupont, Wash., in the process setting the modern hickory course record of 75. He capped off his three-week run with the current victory at Gamble Sands, shooting a brilliant 76.
Club professional David Christenson and his wife, Jennifer, led an expert team of support staff, from their celebrated chef to the caddie team and wait staff – amazing, all. Gamble Sands created gorgeous decanter-trophies for winners in three divisions: Open, Senior, and Ladies. The course has an auld-school layout, with nine holes out and nine back. This meant prevailing winds for the front nine and head winds coming in! The vistas from the 300-acre site are spectacular. Other foursomes on the course often paused to watch in awe as distant teams played their approach shots.
Massive green complexes included steady and vexing subtle breaks, making the all-fescue experience reminiscent of Chambers Bay for many players. Scores on Day One averaged in the low 90s, making von Lossow’s 76 quite impressive. The Captain, in response to the wind, set tee markers at 5,600 yards on Saturday, and 6,200 yards on a fairly calm and sunny Sunday morning. High points of the weekend included a top-shelf dinner and extensive Scotch tasting and discussion coordinated by our friends from Southern Wine and Spirits in Seattle as the sun nestled into the mountainous surroundings. (Southern Wine and Spirits is one of the nation’s largest distributors of spirits and has offices in the Pacific Northwest.)
A thoroughly generous affair, awards for the Gamble Sands Hickory Championship included the net winners of each division, as well as prizes for first-time players. An assortment of raffle items included a $300 Steuer & Jacoby Model 50 golf club carrier (won by John Quickstad), a custom-etched flask set won by a member of the Scotch contingent (fittingly), and more.
As though things couldn’t possibly improve from the first day, players were rewarded with a presentation by author Tony Dear after Sunday’s round and the debut launch of his new book, The Story of Golf in Fifty Holes. Dear joined Christenson and von Lossow in the presentation of the trophies to a receptive and sated group who were clearly anticipating a return to this stunning course for the 2016 reprise of the event.
As with many NWHP events, we had a strong showing from our friends in Oregon and we all joined in celebrating Port Townsend pro, Gabe Tonan’s 41st birthday on Sunday. Tonan and Robert Birman gave the new “golf boards” a whirl at the course, but admittedly, there is something disjunct about the knickers and surf boards! Tim, one of Gamble Sands’ caddies, played both days with a total of three clubs and broke 100 each day. Many competitors were cajoled into putting from the 120-135-yard tee boxes on several par threes, which was entirely do-able due to the fine conditioning of the fairways and greens.
In the pantheon of hickory events, this has the strong potential to become one of the greats in the Northwest. We thank the owners and operators of Gamble Sands for their warm embrace of our traditions and look forward to topping the inaugural effort in 2016!
Congratulations to Open champion, Jim von Lossow; Senior champion, Martin Pool; and Ladies champion, Liz Keeler, for their fine play!
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From left: Tony Dear, author of “The Story of Golf in 50 Holes”; Jim von Lossow, Gamble Sands Hickory Championship victor; and Gamble Sands head golf professional David Christenson.
Planning for a lay up, Rob?
Magnificent scenery along the interior holes at Gamble Sands, a David Kidd design.
Scotch tasting was sponsored by a local office of Southern Wine and Spirits.