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How the OGA came to Woodburn

by: OREGON GOLF ASSOCIATION - Oregon Golf Association brought this 18-hole golf course to Woodburn in the mid-1990s, and it's a popular site for golf enthusiasts.Back in the late 1980s, a small group of Woodburn business men were brainstorming ideas about the possibility of building a nine-hole golf course on land north of Highway 214 that one of the men owned. It was pretty well concluded that a nine-hole golf course would be a hard sell.

But, as additional landowners between North Boones Ferry Road and Front Street joined in the conversation, it became a doable dream to build an 18-hole golf course surrounded by upscale homes.

Then the principals suddenly came face to face with the knowledge that they didn’t know the first thing about building a golf course, much less how to operate a successful golf operation.

Nevertheless, they hired golf course architect John Fought to design a nine-hole golf course just to get an idea of how a golf course could complement a housing development (The actual design and building of the golf course was done by noted golf architect and builder Bill Robinson).

Enter the Oregon Golf Association, the body that regulates all things golf in Oregon and Southwest Washington, from championships to handicaps and control of the sport of golf.

The OGA had been interested in building its own OGA golf facility, like most of the rest of the states in the nation, but acquiring land, getting zoned properly and having the financial wherewithal to undertake the project were daunting tasks.

It is likely that several people made the OGA aware of what the Woodburn group was considering and the two parties sat down to some serious discussions. This resulted in the Woodburn group now known as Tukwila Partners, agreeing to deed 130 acres to OGA at a value, according to title records, of $l.3 million.

In return, OGA agreed to construct a nine-hole golf course that would be ready for play within 30 months and would be expanded to 18 holes in five years. If the OGA succeeded they would acquire the land free. If OGA failed, Tukwila Partners could reacquire title to the land and the golf course improvements.

Golf course construction was begun in 1992 and the first nine holes was playable in 1994. The OGA attracted play from Portland and the upper Willamette Valley, complemented by local play. Awash with success, the OGA went to work on the second nine and it was ready for play by 1996. Done deal for both parties.

The housing development for Tukwila Partners didn’t move quite as fast, according to Tukwila spokesman Bob Withers, who was a key player in the development. The partners had to come to grips with the cost of getting a Planned Unit Development approved and then there was the small matter of the cost of infrastructure (roads, curbs and sidewalks, street lights, street signs and undergrounding of utilities). Development came in several stages, but it came.

Only one small parcel of land for development remains. The six Tukwila partners hope to be ready for expansion when the housing market recovers. Ideally located about halfway between Salem and Portland and easily accessible to Highway 99E and Interstate 5, Tukwila serves young couples who commute in two directions to their jobs. They put very few children in school, but make a tremendous contribution to the property tax base. According to the Marion County Tax Assessors office the figure is $101,439,200. Haul out your 2013-14 property tax statement and do the math. It’s a pretty good chunk of property tax for schools and other government entities.

Tukwila (Chinook jargon for hazelnut or filbert) and the OGA Golf Course have been a tremendous asset to Woodburn. Fellow Woodburnites owe Tukwila Partners a debt of gratitude for being visionary in the development of Woodburn.

Lucky, indeed, are we golf nuts who live in Woodburn. We have two l8-hole golf courses and a nine-hole sand green course to play at very affordable rates. Barbara Trammell, the OGA chief executive officer, is quoted in the February issue of Northwest Golfer Magazine as saying the OGA’s mission is “promoting golf to benefit the communities and people of Oregon.” Obviously, she thinks OGA is doing a good job of that in Woodburn. We golf nuts wholeheartedly agree.

I learned to play golf at Woodburn Sandgreens Golf Club, maintain a membership at Estates Golf and Country Club and have golf privileges at the Tukwila OGA Golf Course. Woodburn has more golf holes per 1,000 residents than any city in Oregon. Fore!




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