YOU CAN GPS IT – 11900 Hunter Road SW in Rochester, Wash. – and you still might miss the sign that says,“Gate Ranch Golf Course.” It’s a tiny sign, and when the Google voice says,“Your destination is on the right,” you won’t see anything like a golf course. Only when you park up the driveway, climb to the porch and look around for the pro shop does the view open to a sprawl of green at the foot of a broad timbered ridge Bill Dunson calls the Chehalis Cut. How this favored ground came to be a golf course, compact and country-charming, is best told by Dunson, 89, its resident proprietor and co-founder. It all began on a day of golf 1,150 miles to the south, in the middle of 56 holes of play with his younger brother Jim on a 9-hole course at River Lodge Resort near Parker Dam, which straddles the California-Arizona border. Jim, who was down from Rochester to visit his snowbird brother, said on that day in 2000: “Bill, we could build a better course than this, right there at the Gate Ranch.” And Bill responded,“You’re right.” The brothers had bought the 17.5-acre property earlier that year from the children of their older brother, LA. When Bill returned to the ranch from what turned out to be his last snowbird migration, Jim showed him a piece of paper. On it were laid out the first six holes of the golf course. Gate Ranch Golf Course, which opened for play in late 2001, now boasts nine holes, the longest of which, No. 6, is 135 yards. The shortest, the eighth, is 76 yards. Green fees are a free-will offering: Pay what you want to, or can. Dunson’s voice softens when he talks about Jim, the golf course they built together and the story Jim wrote in the voice of a misfit oak that grew to be the most beloved tree on the property. The picture tree. The family tree. “He wrote it like that tree was talkin’,” Dunson said. His brotherly pride is laced with sadness: Jim died at 79 in 2018 after a year-long fight with cancer. LOST & FOUND Glorious Gate Ranch Two brothers – Bill and Jim Dunson – built a golf course in their back yard, and it became a community gathering place and an entry point for beginning golfers BY BART POTTER Continued on page 22 20