By Michael Carman
Peninsula Daily News
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I came away excited for the future of this venerable course after a mid-month meeting with course General Manager Randy White.
The Hurtado family, which previously had owned a percentage of the course, bought out the now-retired Mike Asmundson last August.
Patriarch Nicolas Hurtado had owned a portion of the course, but he has now involved his sons Tomas and Nicolas Jr. in the operations
Simply put, the family loves golf and is committed to the future of Discovery Bay.
On their Chilean ranch, the Hurtados operate their own nine-hole course, letting neighbors and friends come and play for free.
They also are active in growing the game of golf in their home country through a First Tee program.
White related that when the Hurtados visited in August, he was a little concerned about what they had in mind for the course.
After the sale, the Hurtados treated White to a round of golf over at Cedars at Dungeness in Sequim.
Seeing the level of service and the quality of the Cedars course, Nicolas Hurtado asked White what it would take to bring Discovery Bay up to the level of excellence displayed by Cedars.
White's an honest guy, and he let Hurtado know that it would take a great deal of work and an investment of capital, starting with the purchase of operating equipment to get the course moving in an improved direction.
The Hurtado family has stepped up, investing more than $300,000 in the golf course, with much of those funds going to purchase new equipment, such as a new Toro fairway mower, aerator, a greens mower and a new John Deere ProGator with a Turfco top-dresser attachment.
The course, clubhouse and grounds themselves have been shifted quite a bit since I last played a round.
What I witnessed
The old clubhouse has a more welcoming and homey entryway, complete with a small covered front porch over the front door.
Golfers no longer have to pass through an empty dining area as the front of the clubhouse is now the pro shop, complete with a merchandise area.
Gone is the wall-to-wall carpeting, which, when removed, exposed some beautiful original wood flooring.
I'm a sucker for and old-plank style wood floor, so this is a huge improvement in my eyes.
The Mexican-food eatery is no more, with plans to open a more streamlined and traditional course cafe with easy for a golfer-on-the-go menu items like hot dogs, hamburgers, sandwiches or sandwich wraps.
White said Discovery Bay is planning on getting its alcohol license to be able to serve beer and wine in the dining room and out on the course.
The former pro shop area is still a work in progress, but the old fireplace is still functional, and there's potential (and a pingpong table) in that space.
Both the men's and women's locker rooms have been remodeled, thanks to the efforts of Men's Club president and tradesman Greg Lee.
He has put down some nice tile work in the men's locker room, and the ladies area is welcoming and inviting for the club's female members and guests.
The clubhouse has a great deck overlooking the first tee box, and more events and use of this area is planned.
White and I took a tour of the course via cart and he pointed out the numerous fixes and improvements that have been made or are set to start.
A redesigned putting green awaits players on the par-4 first hole.
The green was moved back about 65 yards and you can still faintly see the location of the flatter, former green in front of the new green.
Long gone is the par-3 No. 2 hole, famous for the “hanging” tower golfers would climb to hit their tee shot.
The second hole is now a shorter par-4, with the tee box shifted down and to the right of the former No. 2 green.
This teebox is under construction and should be open later this spring or summer.
“It'll be a go-for-it 320 yard par-4 and there's a bunker on the front left that will make it tough to reach,” White said.
Its green is now located in the former fairway of the No. 3 hole, which was converted into a shorter par-3 playing from 166 to 145 yards.
The old No. 3 was the wettest hole on the course so a lake/drainage basin was added to collect all that liquid.
New tee's have been built for No. 4, which in the past has been a par-4 and a par-5, but is now back to being a par-4.
“Nobody liked playing it as a par-5 because you couldn't see the landing zone,” White said.
“It's such a beautiful hole, you can look down at the cattails around the lake and the oak trees back behind.”
I agree. I love how the trees frame the right-hand side of the tee boxes and how the pond comes into play on your approach shot.
It doesn't hurt that I have a little sentimental attachment to that hole, as my dad helped do the design work on the pond way back in the mid-1990s.
The fifth hole hasn't seen many changes; it's still a tough uphill par-5.
No. 6, the hole that hugs Discovery Road, has had its fairway widened a bit on the left for those wishing to cut more yardage off the tee.
The green was rebuilt just after the turn of the century but still slopes down toward the road and the growing lake that formed at the bottom of the valley.
That unnamed lake has grown so much in the past 10-15 years, I can remember when it was really just a seasonal pond.
Now it's so big it really should be named, but it provides two things for the course: it gives players a nice view from No. 6 and a part of No. 7 and keeps houses from being built on that land which would cut into the value of the view.
The par-5 seventh hole has had a great deal of drainage work put into it, especially the landing zone off the tee.
Crews excavated much of the fairway, adding drainage with more lateral drains to come.
White would like to do something about the slope on the seventh green but that's not a this-year project.
They are working on a new tee box for the eighth hole as the present tee box faces toward the location of the old green, formerly prime territory for daisies. A new sprayer has already started to take care of those daisies.
The new tee will square players up with the newer green and will help that hole make more sense visually.
A new teebox is also in the works on No. 9, and some trees to help shield the seventh green from any wayward drives.
Seton Construction of Port Townsend is providing some locally mined sand for top-dressing on the course.
Not a lot is different on the Forest Nine.
The 11th-hole teebox has been moved a bit to make the hole a dogleg right.
“[With the old teebox] the hole sloped down to the right so much that the ball would go right into the trees,” White said.
Some more changes are in store, but those will come when the long-planned 48-home development above the course comes to fruition.
The Hurtados still plan to offer lots (the great majority of which would be hidden from view or shielded much like Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish.
I really think things are in good hands with White running the day-to-day operations, Dan Swindler providing lessons and golfing expertise as the club's year-round professional, and the Hurtado family investing in the course's success.
Oh, and I can't forget this as the Seahawks prepare to cap their/our championship year on Sunday: Go Hawks!
Golf columnist Michael Carman can be reached at 360-417-3527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.