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Gearhart Golf Links: The Not-So-Hidden Gem – 131 years and gaining momentum!

When Tim Boyle and his family bought Gearhart Golf Links (GGL) a dozen years ago, the goal was clear: “Polish the Gem.” Sometimes an overused moniker, it was a perfect fit for GGL, and the effort has been welcomed by members and guests alike, who have long considered the links a special place in their hearts. As the course enjoys its 131st year, there are no signs of slowing down, as improvements to the property happen continuously.

Social media has been kind to Gearhart, with the crew from “No Laying Up” and “The Golfer’s Journal” paying several visits to GGL and posting fun and exciting content on Instagram, Facebook and online podcasts. Author Tom Coyne (“A Course Called Ireland” and “A Course Called Scotland”) wrote fondly of his time in Gearhart in his latest book “A Course Called America.” This notoriety has intrigued golfers from all over the U.S. and Canada to take maiden voyages to the Northern Oregon Coast and play golf at Gearhart.

If you have visited that area in the last few years, be you a golfer or not, you will have noticed quite a change in the center of the sleepy, tiny town of Gearhart. The 131-year-old GGL has undergone an extensive restoration, once again placing the course amongst the best in the state.

Improvements of note include massive tree removal, multiple new tees added for variety and length, fairway reshaping, and improved drainage resulting in faster, firmer greens. And that is just the golf course.

The property has a resort identity now, with McMenamins operating the 34 hotel rooms on property, including 16 rooms in the adjacent Annex building. The Annex also houses a fitness center and virtual golf training room playfully called the “Swingers Lounge.” A 9-hole putting course called the “Clam Bed” is tucked between the first green and ninth tee, complete with its own signature small pub, “The Sand Bar.”

The town of Gearhart appeals to all sorts of people for all sorts of reasons. The golf links are similar, in that beginners will find more fun than frustration chasing their ball over the gentle dunes, where accomplished players will agree that the small fast greens are tough to hit, and a ball off line can result in all sorts of challenges. Forrest Goodling, head superintendent, and his crew of greenkeepers consistently keep the greens running above 12 on the Stimpmeter.

The staff at GGL has been tasked to “Polish the Gem,” and that can be felt in the attention to customer service, as well as the tournament offerings throughout the season. Jason Bangild, general manager and PGA director of golf, and his team always seem to have something around the corner on the event calendar at the course.

“The Gearhart Summer Championship” was reincarnated in 2020. Originally contested at GGL in the summer of 1910, the event had not been held since 1950, but was successfully hosted again the last three years, and again this past June. The inaugural champions were Mr. W.B. Mixter on the men’s side, and Mrs. Richard Koehler for the ladies’ division. There are several flights to accommodate the most

serious amateurs, as well as those looking for a little help on the Net side of things. This is a 3-day stroke-play event, with a cut made after 36 holes. Medals and prizes are awarded to the top finishers.

Perhaps the crown jewel, or signature event, at GGL is the “Whiskey Road to the Final Four.” Their version of a Member-Guest, this is a 1-day, 27-hole, Team Match Play event. As competitors, you and your partner play three 9-hole matches against three other teams in your flight. First match at 9:00am, second at Noon, and third at 3:00pm. Between each match, you return to the clubhouse to repair with specialty cocktails and snacks, before receiving your next scorecard, and meeting your next opponents. At the conclusion of the three matches, the team with the most points advances to a one-hole playoff against the winners of another flight. In the end, the teams that did not advance gather around the 18th green to watch the Final Four teams play the dramatic par-5 to determine the champion. Win or lose, it is a lot of great food and drink, plenty of golf (but not too much), and most of all, a ton of fun.

Whatever the reason, you need to get to Gearhart Golf Links! Visit their website, follow them on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for updates and upcoming events