AN OFFICIAL OPENING

June 27, 2001 11:00 pm
TEE WITH A VIEW: The city of Union and the Grande Ronde Valley lay out before the Rev. Mark Schlessman at the tee on Buffalo Peak Golf Course's fourth hole. (The Observer/JEFF PETERSEN).
TEE WITH A VIEW: The city of Union and the Grande Ronde Valley lay out before the Rev. Mark Schlessman at the tee on Buffalo Peak Golf Course's fourth hole. (The Observer/JEFF PETERSEN).

By Pat Perkins

Observer Staff Writer

With about 10 months of play behind it, the Buffalo Peak Golf Course is set for its grand opening Friday and Saturday.

The 18-hole course in Union is drawing rave reviews for its beauty and views of the Grande Ronde Valley, and that was before the finishing touches of construction this week.

Weve got $14,000 worth of huge rocks that will sit at the beginning of every hole, showing what the hole is and the yardage, and theyre going in right now as we speak, golf pro Fadel Nahle said Wednesday afternoon.

Saturday afternoons ceremony will introduce the courses new golf pro, Dave Spurgeon of Walla Walla, and honor the architect, Bill Phillips.

The ceremony starts at 2:30 p.m. and will be preceded by a complimentary barbecue at 1:30. Green fees Saturday are being reduced to $20 for 18 holes, but the course will be closed Saturday morning for an invitational scramble tournament.

Free golf clinics will be offered Friday, with 18-hole green fees reduced to $16. A juniors clinic, for ages 8-17, will be from 10 to 11 a.m. A womens clinic is being offered from 1-2 p.m., and a mens clinic from 3-4 p.m.

The need for a new wastewater treatment system led the city of Union to pursue the golf course in the first place. With the plan of using water from the citys treatment facility to irrigate the course, a bond measure was overwhelmingly passed in September 1997.

The golf course sits in the southeast corner of town, behind the Union Cemetery. An extension of East Fulton Street now runs to a newly paved parking lot in front of the clubhouse.

The course plays a lot different than the nine-holer at the La Grande Country Club. For one thing, there is only one tree, a tall snag in front of the green on the right of No. 8. The terrain may seem the most daunting aspect, especially for those who have to walk the steep climb up to No. 1.

Two ponds come into play on Nos. 6, 7 and 15, and the par-5 No. 16 features a steep hill up to the green.

The par-72 course has four par-5s and 10 par-4s. The longest hole is No. 2, 525 yards from the professional tee to the center of the green. The shortest comes next, No. 3, at 135 yards.

The rough features tall grass, brush and rocks and gobbles up golf balls like candy. But that has changed in the past few days, Nahle said.

The rough off the fairways has been mowed down and weve made the area twice as wide as it was, Nahle said. Were trying to remedy some of those things and make it more playable.