Gamble Sands in Washington inaugurates the second course
Gamble Sands in Brewster, Wash., has jumped onto the golf map over the past decade with its David McLay Kidd-designed course, a wide-open 18 that ranks as the No. 1 public-access layout in the state. and #46 among all modern courses in the United States Built beside a working apple and cherry farm, Gamble Sands plays firmly and fast over fescue and sand to wide fairways and greens giants.
For years, Kidd and the Gebbers family, owners of the outpost and adjacent orchards, discussed adding a second course. This moment has arrived.
Still unnamed, a new 18-hole course is part of a comprehensive resort expansion that includes nearly double the premier Inn at Gamble Sands which is frequently reached after a short flight from Seattle to Wenatchee followed by one hour drive on Highway 17.
Kidd said golf week the project is well advanced, with permits in place and construction starting points decided. He and his crew will inaugurate the ground this fall, then it’s off to the races next year, he said, with a grand opening planned for the summer of 2025.
The new course will be built just north of the existing 18 and the resort’s par-3 course, QuickSands, another Kidd creation that opened last year. Like the original 18, the new development will overlook the Columbia River with panoramic mountain views stretching for miles.
“It’s kind of a dramatic piece of land,” Kidd said of his plans for the second course. “There’s a little more to do than with the first course because they’ve grown it, so we kind of have to rehabilitate it in the wild high desert scrub. But once we get all of that done, I expect it to be a really good complement to the first one.
The first course was a prime example of the Scottish designer’s new philosophy, he said, which has evolved over the past decade.
After bursting onto the golf scene with his Bandon Dunes layout in Oregon in 1999, Kidd began building other courses with a greater emphasis on difficulty. That approach didn’t always work, and he shifted gears to open Gamble Sands in 2014 with a focus on fun for all levels of golfer on layouts where it’s hard to drop a ball. Sometimes huge fairways on thrilling terrain, big greens, bouncy shots, power slopes, extreme playability – these became his talking points, and golfers flocked to Gamble Sands as well as his Mammoth course Dunes at Sand Valley in Wisconsin.
Kidd also recently signed to build GrayBull in the Nebraska Sandhills, and he said that course might present a bit more of a challenge than many of his more open layouts in recent years. Golfers can expect the same at the new Gamble Sands course, he said, but he insisted he was not going back on scoring resistance.
“The first course (at Gamble Sands), I think a good golfer goes out on the first and thinks he can take par, even though most of the time he can’t,” Kidd said. “I think on this one we’re planning on putting him up a bit more resistance just so we have a bit of a different offer. It’s on the drawing board right now, and we’ve been talking about greens slightly smaller, maybe a few more contours around the putting surfaces, the fairway widths are probably very similar, we’ll see how it all pans out.
Saying the new greens could be “slightly smaller” than the original 18 at Gamble Sands means they’ll likely still be big enough – it’s not uncommon to face 100ft putts on the first course . It’s all part of the fun, like Tom Doak and Jim Urbina’s Old Macdonald at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort – you might hit a green in regulation, but now what?
Even with the initial plans in place, Kidd knows things are likely to change as construction progresses. Nothing is set in stone.
“You know, this all happens in the ground,” he said. “No matter what I say or what we draw, all the creativity really happens when you’re there on the ground with your team. Your ideas flow from person to person, and things begin to form before your eyes and take on a life of their own.
And there’s more on the drawing board: The Gamble Sands lodge, which features large, luxurious rooms overlooking the Columbia River Valley and a giant putting course, will grow from the current 37 rooms to 73. add a new restaurant.
“All of us here at Gamble Sands are truly excited about the next stage in the evolution of the golf resort,” said Tory Wulf, project manager at Gamble Sands, in a statement announcing the news. “Our team has worked hard to improve the experience on and off the golf course since it opened in 2014. The second full-length rendition by David McLay Kidd and his team will be fun to watch take shape and I’m sure even” more fun “playing.”