One of the area’s most interesting finishing holes - the 18th at MeadowWood Golf Course - has undergone a major facelift.
And not everyone is smitten with the new look.
“It’s just not much of a golf hole anymore,” said Joe Trembly, the secretary of MeadowWood’s men’s club. “It’s been made quite a bit easier by the new design.”
Not everyone shares Trembly’s sentiments, but most of those who play the county’s newest course on a regular basis have strong opinions about the redesign, which was done to appease homeowners, who have erected expensive dwellings along the right side of the 18th fairway.
The hole, which was originally designed by noted golf course architect Robert Muir Graves, is a downhill, dogleg right that used to offer long hitters the option of trying to carry their drives over the trees that line the right side of the fairway.
The reward was a chance to drive the green on the 382-yard, par-4, but too many tee shots found their way into the trees and onto the back decks and private properties adjacent to the fairway.
A couple of homeowners, according to Spokane County golf manager Mike Kingsley, filed formal complaints with the county, claiming their houses were getting hit with golf balls and that golfers were trampling their shrubs in search of errant tee shots.
The county responded by moving the out-of-bounds stakes down the right side of the fairway closer to the cart path, widening the left side of the fairway and constructing a tee box to the right of the original teeing area.
The minor changes, Kingsley explained, were made in hopes of enticing golfers to aim their tee shots down the left side of the fairway, away from the houses.
But the new tee box was undersized and groundskeepers were unable to keep grass growing on it because of heavy foot traffic. As a result, some golfers started using the old tee boxes again, bringing the houses back into play.
“We thought we had done everything within reason to mitigate the situation,” Kingsley said, “but then our (legal) people told us we needed to go beyond reasonable.”
To do that, the county removed even more trees from the left side of the fairway, covered the newly exposed rock outcroppings with mounds of dirt, sodded the mounds and removed the largest of two trees standing in the middle of the fairway.
Dirt has also been hauled in to expand the new tee box.
“Your view is even farther to the east now, so you really avoid the houses,” Kingsley said. “The hole kind of redesigned itself, and now the left side really looks open.”
The length of the hole will remain about the same, according to head professional Kaye Walker.
“But it’ll be a more sweeping dogleg,” he added. “I don’t think it’s going to ruin the hole or anything.”
Trembly, in a letter to the editor that was published in The Spokesman-Review last month, pointed out that the county had paid Graves more than $100,000 to design the course, and Trembly made it clear he was unhappy that the county had buckled under pressure from the homeowners and “raped the 18th hole beyond recognition.”
“We certainly haven’t raped it,” Kingsley said in response to Trembly’s letter. “The 18th at MeadowWood has always been kind of a different hole. You play 16 holes that are basically wide open and heavily mounded, but when you come to the final two, they’re suddenly tree-line and narrow.
“I think with the (new) mounding and widening of the fairway, we are kind of marrying the design of the 18th hole with the others on the course. It’s still going to be a great finishing hole.”
Kingsley said the county received numerous complaints once word of the redesign surfaced. But he added most of them centered around the out-of-bound stakes that were moved from the homeowners’ property line out to within 10 or 15 feet of the fairway.
The stakes, Kingsley explained, were moved temporarily as a quick fix to the problem and will be moved back to their original spots next to the property lines now that the fairway has been widened.
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