Because it is a beloved, historical part of our community which has been of personal value as a golf course,social setting and open space to Neskowin residents and visitors for 83 years. The Neskowin Beach Golf Course(“The Jewel”) was designed and completed in 1932 by Ercel Kay, who originally started Salem Golf Club in Salem in 1928. Our course is among the oldest in Oregon and worth preservation. Its continued operation will maintain stable residential and commercial property values, as well as unmatched scenic beauty, enhanced by the changing seasons.
With community ownership, the golf course can creatively expand the use of its facilities, offering a variety of activities throughout the year, as well as bringing back a charming snack bar. Most importantly, this unique historical heart of the community would be preserved for future Neskowin generations.
The Shaping of My Life NESKOWIN BEACH GOLF COURSE
By Lana Kowalski
NESKOWIN BEACH GOLF COURSE….. The words conjure up magical memories in my life.
From the age of three, when I practiced my golf swing by using a sawed off 5 iron to cut the grass along our fence on Sheridan Avenue, …. until today when I’m still swinging the dumb-bells in the gym in hopes of staying limber enough to join the ladies on golf day….. the Neskowin Golf course has been shaping my life.
Born in Tillamook and living a block from the first tee, golf in Neskowin was just a given for my family. Mabry Ogle, my dad and Beth, my mom took up golf after traveling to Oregon from Texas on their honeymoon. I remember dad’s set of wood handled left handed clubs, and mom’s proper, genteel, southern belle golf swing. Matt Sandage owned and operated the course in the early days, and we were lucky enough to have a family season ticket every year.
In the 50’s, my parents built a small cottage next to our house so that my Grandaddy from Texas could come to visit and play golf. When my father became a pilot and bought a Piper Cub airplane, Matt allowed him to land the plane on the center strip of fairway between the 1st tee and the 5th green. What a sight to see as golfers watched him land and walk across the fairway to our house!
As we became teenagers, the golf course became a challenge for night activities. Borrowing the flags and placing them in unusual spots was a favorite . Later, when Meadow Creek filled with mud, night wading and gathering golf balls and hoping not to get caught was a exciting event. I never liked wearing shoes (still don’t) so of course I golfed barefoot and learned how to drive the ball on #2 fairway so as to not encounter prickly weeds ( only #2 fairway had prickles).
My dad was a rodeo cowboy and one summer he brought 2 of our horses down to the empty sand lot by our house. It was my sister Jo’s and my responsibility to ride, feed and care for them while they were staked out on the sand. One day my little brother Damon and our cousin Larry Hodge (age 4 or 5) decided to take the horses for a ride, but the horses got away, took off and headed for the golf course! They ran down the first fairway, down the second fairway, jumped the creek on #3 and traversed the green leaving great horse shoe divots! They saw the trail going up to the 7th hole high tee and took it. Golfers teeing off turned around to see two horses standing there with Jo and I bringing up the rear. Getting them back down was a lot harder then going up! After assessing the damages, I believe Dad paid more money to have the horses in Neskowin then he had planned.
When Al and Vi Hughes owned the course, my babysitting money was spent on Vi’s famous tunafish sandwiches. They were the BEST! I still have the golf card after my lowest score ever at age 13. Vi signed it with the words “Lana’s first “45”… A year from now it will look terrible”. She really knew how to make tuna sandwiches and how to make a young girl feel special!
After marriage and starting a family, Mike and I moved back to Neskowin for a new job venture for Mike and so that Darren could attend Neskowin Valley School. Bill Martin now owned and operated the golf course and he hired a young Darren to wade the creek each evening to gather golf balls from the deep mud . It was back breaking work but after cleaning and selling them back to Bill for 25 cents, over several summers, he managed to buy the 3 wheeler he so coveted.
Every summer for many years as our children were growing up, we hosted the Risski Classic Golf Tournament with our good friends, Bob and Sally Rissel. It was a scramble for mainly relatives and friends and it ended with a pot luck and homemade Polish Sausage. One year Philip Rissel re-enacted the Mabry Ogle fly-in by landing his helicopter in Mabry’s favorite spot on the fairway so he could attend the Risski. Surprise!!
When Darren was a junior in high school,Bill Martin suggested that Darren apply for the Evans College Scholarship for golf caddies. Bill became Darren’s professional sponsor and his biggest cheerleader. A year of application information, interviews, letters of recommendation, essays and encouragement led to Darren becoming a Evans Scholar. What an honor it was for him and what a gift of “a Village” full of support. He attended 4 years at Oregon State with full tuition and almost half of all housing paid by this award. Bill Martin… Darren’s Hero and our dear friend. We still miss him so much and we recognize how much he added to the legacy and the spirit of the Neskowin golf course.
Neskowin Beach Golf Course….. the little gem that helped make Darren’s big dreams come true. It shaped my life and it deserves to be around for the dreams and enjoyment of all the young lives still to come.