There’s been a lot of grass growing under Gordon Griffin’s feet since he retired for a second time from the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District and purchased the Kenai Golf Course. Something that has been greatly appreciated by local golfers and duffers alike who are quick to proclaim that the course has never looked better and the condition of the greens is truly at tournament quality, “It’s been a nice summer but what’s amazing is that at the beginning of the year we added a new blend of grass that included a red fescue that is a creeping grass that germinates quickly and you can see even by looking at the practice green that everything filled in nicely and is really in perfect condition,” said Griffin. As director of the Kenai and Soldotna auditoriums for the school district Griffin earned a reputation of being a creative visionary who always got the job done even when he had to pull the proverbial rabbit out of the hat.
Kenai Golf Course Head Pro Don Moock aims for the backhoe bucket where the new chipping green is being built.
Today Gordon’s not designing sets for musical theatre productions, but a new chipping green at the Kenai Golf Course, “We had the land here so we thought we’d make use of it for everybody so the golf course will be more playable for the average golfer. We are now creating a new practice facility with about a 60 foot green that will have bunkers around it that simulate the actual bunkers on the course so that everyone can practice all their short game shots that they actually hit when playing on the course itself,” said Griffin.
Other changes are also apparent to anyone driving by the course. There is a new openness to the course and stumps that formerly lined the back and sides of the eighteenth and ninth holes have been removed, “It was funny when we dug up that one area and got ride of the underbrush we found over a hundred golf balls, it was like a Kenai River snag for fishermen. There is just nothing more frustrating for a golfer than losing a golf ball, so the course is becoming more user friendly and now you’ll be able to hit in there and not loose your golf ball or your temper, so the language should be a little sweeter out here as well,” laughed Griffin. Some of the trees that were close to greens have also been removed, “See that stump over there?” pointed out grounds superintendent Bill Burtram, “The roots of that tree extended all the way over here and under the green where it just sucked up all the nutrients,” he said.
Although the shoulder season is underway Griffin plans to keep the course open as long as the weather permits, “We’re going to play on this course as long as we can, one thing you don’t want to do is get caught by that final snow fall and freeze up with out having your tarps down, so it’s kind of a guessing game. We may keep one nine open and gamble while we shut the other down, but we’ll stay open as long as possible so folks can keep their game in shape for playing those Hawaiian golf courses,” laughed Griffin. “I have to admit that I am enjoying this a lot, I have some goals and we’ve gotten a lot done this summer but I want to continue to work and do something to improve the golf course every day that I’m here,” said Griffin. And when old man winter finally does arrive the course will transition to a destination for cross country skiers. “The course is used extensively through out the winter, they groom and put out markers for the trails and it’s a very popular facility for skiers and families in the winter time,” added Griffin. The Kenai Golf Course & Café is located at 1420 Lawton Drive past the Peninsula Oiler’s Ball Park, for information call 283-7500.
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