Course of the Week: Portland GC removes six bunkers in first phase of renovation

By |  March 2, 2023 0 Comments

Portland (Ore.) Golf Club recently completed the first phase of renovation to its course, led by architect Dan Hixson.

The project began 10 years ago with the removal of 75 trees throughout the course, including more than 20 around the 13th green. Hixson continued to oversee a tree maintenance program while submitting a master plan for overall course improvements.

“Out of respect to our rich golf history, the board wanted to preserve the integrity of our golf course, while improving it for the modern game,” said John Vranizan, president of the board of directors, Portland GC. “Our focus is to enhance the member experience, striving to be better from the moment a member sets foot on the golf course.”

The 7th hole at Portland Golf Club (Photo: The Henebrys)

The 7th hole at Portland Golf Club (Photo: The Henebrys)

Bunker project

The main focus of the plan was to improve the drainage, attractiveness and strategic value of the course’s bunkers. Hixson reduced the number of bunkers from 63 to 51 while repositioning 15 in doglegs and at proper distances to affect play. For drainage, Hixson also rebuilt each bunker with a Better Billy Bunker II system and filled them with new, brighter sand (S900 version from Best Sand, Ohio).

“There is a homogenized style with greatly enhanced aesthetic appeal due to improved drainage and sand quality,” Hixson said. “The bunker style is unique to Portland Golf Club based on capturing and retaining the best existing characteristics and topographical features.”

Improving the greens

The team enlarged most greens while adding flagstick positions. Hixson also expanded greens on No. 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 12, 17 and 18, while the 15th green was completely rebuilt.

“There are some very steep greens here and we didn’t want to tear into them unless it was absolutely necessary,” Hixson said. “On many, we expanded at the corners, often in conjunction with the bunker work we were doing. We’ve even gotten down on the ground and used our hands to get the new turf to lay perfectly so it looked like it’s always been there. We like to say this course was ‘hand-made.’”

New tees

Nearly a dozen holes saw tee boxes regraded and regrassed to make them more uniform. Crews also added forward tees were to No. 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 14, 16 and 18.

An irrigation infrastructure project — including the installation of new heads is scheduled to start in spring 2023. Brent Harvey, an international irrigation specialist, will oversee the installation.

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