About six years ago, Chehalem Park and Recreation District board member Don Loving began pushing Superintendent Don Clements to build a putting course at Chehalem Glenn Golf Course.
After moving the tee for hole No. 12 forward to shorten it to a par 4 four years ago, there was ample space on the course for it and last spring Clements finally worked the project into the district's budget.
Waiting for it to be installed over the past year may have been tougher for Loving than the preceding five, but it appears to have been worth it after the course opened in mid-July.
"It's fantastic. I love it," said local Jon Fong, who brought his 5-year old son Coby out for a few rounds on Friday. "I think it's a great addition to the course and community."
An avid golfer, Loving saw the success of the 18-hole putting course at Eagle Crest Resort in Redmond, where his family has a timeshare, and thought it was a no brainer for CPRD.
"I just thought it would go over well in our community," Loving said. "We've got a bazillion churches, they've all got junior high and high school youth groups and they're always looking for stuff to do. We have a lot of families just right up here (in the Greens) that can walk down here. I think our community is sort of easy-recreation poor and this is something that I think people will enjoy."
A relatively new idea in golf and recreation, putting courses are basically a combination of miniature golf and a putting green. Instead of artificial turf, walls and contrived obstacles, players putt on genuine grass greens that are shaped into holes, complete with turns and undulations. Each hole is surrounded by a ring or collar of slightly taller grass and rough, which is considered out of bounds.
There are a handful of them across the state, including a nine-hole course in Sunriver and at high-end courses like Bandon Dunes. Loving said the goal was to build a course that wasn't quite as opulent as Eagle Crest, but that was more interesting and challenging than the one in Sunriver, which is mostly flat and basically plays back and forth.
"This has all sorts of contours to it," Loving said. "The idea is that you can play it in either direction, move the tees down and play back, so it's reversible."
So far, CPRD has not publicized the course ahead of its planned grand opening from 1 to 3 p.m. Aug. 12, when play will be free, so typical use has been limited to a group or two at a time during the day, with it getting a little busier in the evening.
That was the case Friday, as there were just two groups on the course in the afternoon, but both played the course three to four times each.
That included the trio of Tigard resident Chad Feusler, his 10-year-old son, Grant, and Sherwood resident Gavin MacClure.
"It's easy and laid back," Chad Feusler said. "We're enjoying some sunshine. Flip flops and golf, you can't beat that."
The course seems to have hit the mark in terms of being family friendly, as MacClure said he will definitely bring his own kids back, with the added bonus of being a more manageable introduction to golf for younger players, like Grant.
"I thought it was fun, but it does take some strategy," Grant Feusler said.
Growing the game of golf was also a part of Loving's vision for the course.
"You're going to have kids out here to do this with their dad or mom and it's the kind of thing where, 'Hey. When I grow up I want to play real golf.' So I think we'll see an investment return on this in the form of real golfers, so to speak, 10 to 15 years from now."
Although Loving notes that Eagle Crest's putting course is "always packed" despite charging $10 per round, CPRD wanted to make the amenity widely accessible to the community, so it's charging just $5 for a full-day pass. For now, users should bring their own putters, but rentals are expected to be available soon.
"We didn't do this to make money because if we had done that we'd have been real smart," Clements joked. "It's about recreational opportunities and long term getting kids involved in golf."
The course is adjacent to the driving range, which required installation of a large net to protect users on the putting green.
Loving noted that the CPRD will now make use of a trailer it received from the Newberg Booster Club both to charge admission to the putting course and to provide concessions.
"So people will check in here and it will relieve some pressure on the clubhouse because we're going to sell sandwiches and pop at the turn out of here," Loving said. "Then they won't all have to troop into the clubhouse to do all of that."
Work on the project, which cost approximately $125,000 and was done in house, began last summer with excavation and drainage work. The greens were seeded in October, but the wet winter prevented any significant growth until late in the spring.
"It was hard to get it to grow and get everything to fill in," said ground supervisor Casey Creighton, who teamed up with landscape coordinator Bryan Stewart and course employee Andrew Stice to do most of the design and installation work.
"I think the guys did a really great job," Loving said. "Once we get everything finalized as far as how we're going to mow it and so forth, we'll turn Bryan loose and let him fancy it up with some landscaping with some little trees, shrubs and flowers just to pretty it up and make it a little more aesthetically appealing."