Bayou's big year
Fifty years ago, Yamhill County lay in the midst of a golf boom.
While a course was built on land owned by Frank Michelbook, a new course was opening up to the south of McMinnville.
Bayou Golf Course sits on acreage adjacent to the South Yamhill River owned by Dr. and Mrs. B.A. White, who lived in a white Colonial-style home on the property. Course designer Bill Sander conceived nine long holes that measure out today to 3,221 yards and scores par-36. Another set of nine holes, all short par-3’s, was built further south of White Manor, which became the Bayou’s clubhouse; plans for nine more holes were included into the framework, but the holes were never built.
“Every hole is unique – no cookie-cutter holes,” said Greg Brown, Bayou Golf Course’s owner and resident professional. “The greens are more in line with how long the holes are. On the long course, a 70-yard hole would have a 5,000-square-foot green. On the par-3 course, a 70-yard hole might have a 700-foot green.”
Changes to the course have been, at most, cosmetic in the 50 years since the course’s debut, seven of which have come under Brown’s care.
“We’d like to say it’s in good shape,” Brown said. “Over the years we’ve seen our share of damage due to flooding; that’s always a struggle. It happens just about every year.”
Brown cited the 2012 golf season as the worst during his tenure – Bayou was completely underwater on six different occasions, he said. Bunkers are washed away and silt stacks up on fairways and greens, compounding the course’s drainage issues, when the South Yamhill River overflows its banks.
“The integrity of the holes has pretty much stayed the same,” Brown said, “although there weren’t as many trees and now they’re all over. It’s fairly user-friendly. It’s a large amount of acres for nine holes.”
Dr. and Mrs. White’s former home has since been transformed into The Mansion at Bayou Golf Course and is gaining a reputation as a wedding and event space. The addition of outdoor spaces and manicured gardens allow for parties of as many as 200 guests to enjoy events beyond the links.
In recent weeks, the Bayou has introduced a membership sale – $177 for three years of golf, as much as one can stomach. Brown says that the promotion is “working pretty well” for the course.
“People are very interested,” he said. “The economy has been a little stagnant. It’s been a little tough for people.
“Golf, as everyone knows, is struggling. It’s kind of spendy to maintain a golf course. It’s not an easy task.”
And yet, come hell or high water, the Bayou endures.