Golf dream nears reality for Gebbers

World-renowned course designer calls location a ‘perfect 10’

— Twelve years in the making, a concept to bring a world-class golf course to Brewster is nearing completion.

The construction of Gamble Sands Golf Club, located south of state Highway 17 on the Colville Indian Reservation, is finished. Now, all that can be done is wait for better weather and the course’s projected August 2014 opening.

“The golf experience will be nothing like we have in the Northwest,” said Tory Wulf, one of the project managers for Gebbers Farms. “It’s just a true golf experience, and we believe it’s good enough to bring people in regionally.”

The course is owned by the Gebbers family and will be managed by OB Sports, a golf course management company based in Phoenix.

Wulf said two highly-regarded golf course architects were invited out to the site several years ago to see if it had any potential.

“When both of them said ‘We’d cut our rate and we’ll put you at the front of the list,’ we found out we had a pretty good site.”

One of those architects was David McLay Kidd, who gained international acclaim for designing Bandon Dunes in Bandon, Ore.

Bandon Dunes is regarded by many in the golf world as the top course in the U.S. and among the best in the world.

Kidd said calling the Gamble Sands location “pretty good” was an understatement.

“It was a perfect 10 out of 10 site,” he said.

Kidd said he’s been fortunate to work with several “perfect sites” in his career, but most golf course designers never have the opportunity to work with a site of Gamble Sands’ caliber.

“If you don’t start with a good site, you have very little chance of making something spectacular,” he said.

“I hope I’ve done the site justice,” he said.

Kidd first visited the location in 2008. He said his love for the future Gamble Sands site was almost immediate.

He said it took “between 10 and 30 seconds” to realize how perfect the site was.

There are several reasons behind the location’s perfection.

The views of the Columbia River and the Cascade Mountains are spectacular, he said.

He also pointed out the course is built entirely on a base of sand.

“Sand makes a massive difference,” he said.

“Everything else is really an imitation of sand.”

Wulf said part of the objective for the Gebbers family to build the course was to help boost the local economy.

He and Kidd have both drawn parallels between Bandon Dunes’ impact on its surrounding community and the potential for Gamble Sands to do the same for Brewster.

Bandon was a “broke logging town” until the golf course was put in, Wulf said.

Bandon Dunes “completely transformed Bandon,” Kidd said. “It transformed the town economically and in the eyes of the locals.”

Brewster Mayor Lee Webster said he sees the course could positively impact the area’s economy.

“From that aspect it’s great,” he said. “We’ll see what happens... I don’t know much about it. I look forward to learning more about it in the spring and summer.”

David Christenson, an employee of OB Sports, will serve as the general manager.

He has high expectations for its impact both for the quality of golf and for what it could do to the town for a tourism draw.

“I think it’s going to put Brewster on the map,” he said.

Future plans could include a hotel and stay-and-play cabins, Wulf said.

There’s also the possibility of installing a second course — Gamble Cliffs — which had three holes constructed before the project was delayed.

Regardless of what happens, Wulf said the Gebbers family will always put agriculture first in line.

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