Kent golf course on par with layout changes

Construction workers are tearing up nine of the 18 holes at the popular Riverbend Golf Course in Kent. Holes No. 1 through 9 were closed Sept. 4 to be remodeled. The holes need to be changed because of the repair and expansion of two levees along the Green River by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The repaired levees are expected to help control flooding in the Kent Valley.

Pete Petersen

Pete Petersen

Construction workers are tearing up nine of the 18 holes at the popular Riverbend Golf Course in Kent.

Holes No. 1 through 9 were closed Sept. 4 to be remodeled. The holes need to be changed because of the repair and expansion of two levees along the Green River by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The repaired levees are expected to help control flooding in the Kent Valley.

The nine holes are slated to reopen by April 2009, said Pete Petersen, director of operations for the city-owned course.

“It’s short-term pain for long-term gain,” Petersen said Thursday at Riverbend.

Holes No. 10 through 18 remain open. Golfers can play those nine holes twice in order to play a round of 18.

Several of the first nine holes will be moved and others re-designed because the Narita and Myers Golf levees are being extended into the existing golf course. The Corps of Engineers plans to finish the levee project by early November, a spokeswoman for the Corps said Friday.

Petersen worked with John Steidel, a golf-course architect from the Tri-Cities, to re-design the nine holes. Steidel designed the original Riverbend course in 1987. The course opened in 1989.

The biggest challenge for Steidel and Petersen turned out to be how to squeeze the holes into less space.

“When you lose 50 feet at the edge of the course and have to move one hole, it affects the other holes,” Petersen said. “The course was very well placed to begin with. When you start moving holes around, it gets a little tight.”

But the moving of fairways, tees, greens and bunkers (also known as sand traps) will give many of the holes a new look and present new challenges to golfers.

“The original design from 20 years ago was getting a little vanilla,” Petersen said. “This will add chocolate syrup, whip cream and a cherry on top.”

By moving tees, creating new bunkers and adding slope to greens, Petersen hopes the new holes will present a challenge to the better golfers but yet remain easy enough to play for recreational golfers.

“The challenge is how to get it to play good for everybody,” Petersen said. “You want it so the recreational player does not get beat up by the design.”

Bernhardt Golf, of Beaverton, Ore., received $757,000 from the city to construct the new holes. Bernhardt expects to have its work finished in October. New sod then will be placed in preparation for the re-opening of the front nine holes next April.

Fifty-three trees had to be cut to make room for the new holes. But 250 new trees will be planted, including about 160 along the levee.

“We tried to minimize how many trees we had to cut,” Petersen said.

Douglas fir, hemlock, cedar, oak and maples trees will be added.

City officials plan a grand re-opening tournament of the 18-hole course next April when Riverbend will celebrate its 20th anniversary.

King County, which oversees the levee repair through the King County Flood Control Zone District, will pay the city an estimated $1.9 million for the relocation of the holes. The county will pay the city approximately $511,000 for lost revenue from the nine holes closed from September through March.

Portions of the Green River Trail, a popular biking and hiking destination, also remain closed along the golf course during construction on the levees. When the levees are completed, the Green River Trail will be on top of the new levee.

The par-3 course remains open during repairs of the levees. The driving range will be closed for two weeks later this fall because of levee work south of the range.

Contact Steve Hunter at 253-872-6600, ext. 5052 or shunter@reporternewspapers.com.


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