Spokane Journal of Business

Two Idaho golf projects move ahead

One new course is almost finished; plans for second readied for county review

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Two major golf course developments, both of which will be semiprivate and designed to appeal to upscale golfers, are planned in Kootenai County.


One course, called The Links Golf Course, is being built north of Post Falls on the Rathdrum Prairie and is expected to open either late this fall or early next spring, says Emmett Burley, a retired Spokane businessman who is one of the projects developers.


The other project, which hasnt been named but for now is being called The Club at Black Rock, is proposed about 15 miles south of Coeur dAlene on the west side of Lake Coeur dAlene. Plans for that project nearly are ready to be submitted to the county for review, and construction of the course could be completed by late next year, says developer Marshall Chesrown, of Denver.


The developers of both projects say the courses are expected to have sophisticated designs similar to nationally recognized links. They anticipate charging greens fees that are much higher than the fees at most Spokane-area and Coeur dAlene courses, which range generally between $15 and $25.


Neither Burley nor Chesrown would disclose the costs of their projects.


At the 200-acre Rathdrum Prairie course, the building permit value of the 11,000-square-foot clubhouse, which involves renovating and connecting four existing buildings, is $240,000, Kootenai Countys building department says.


The Black Rock course would be built on 650 acres and would include extensive country-club amenities and nearby upscale homes and condominiums.


Developers of Blue Heron Golf Course, a slightly smaller project north of Spokane that would include a golf course and home lots on 480 acres, estimate that projects costs would be between $7 million and $9 million, not including home construction costs.


The Links


The Links LLC, which is developing The Links and is owned by Burley and his wife, Helen, and Richard and Lynn Baiter, all of Spokane, has planted grass seed on most of the fairways and greens of that new course and expects to complete seeding early this month. Burley says the owners might allow some play at The Links this October. Regardless, the course, which is southeast of the McGuire Road-State Highway 53 junction, will open by April of 2000, he says.


Burley designed The Links with the help of golf course architect Keith Hellstrom, of Spokane. The 18-hole course is fashioned after British golf courses, which he says have long, narrow fairways and wide-open spaces.


At a projected 7,500 yards long, The Links would be the longest course in the Spokane-Coeur dAlene area. It would include a 749-yard, par-six hole, which Burley claims would be the only par-six hole in the Pacific Northwest. Plans call for pot bunkers, which basically are deep sand traps, and tall grasses skirting the fairways to substitute for the traditional American golf course obstacles, such as water hazards and wooded areas.


The experience a guy gets coming here would be like if you played in Scotland, Burley says. Its a different concept of golf for around here.


Burley says he adapted some of the designs for greens from famous golf courses nationwide, including at least one green from Pinehurst Resort & Country Club No. 2 in Pinehurst, N.C., which hosted this years U.S. Open.


Renovation of the buildings that will be used in the clubhouse is under way and should be completed in the next couple of months. Burley bought the buildings in Spokane about five years ago and transported them to the east end of the golf course.


The clubhouse will include a pro shop, snack bar, banquet room, private den for club members, and about 1,100 square feet of outdoor patio space.


Burley says the courses owners will sell 50 charter memberships and 10 corporate memberships, but he declines to disclose the prices of the memberships. He says they will consider converting the course into a private club if there is enough interest.


Burley already has acquired a fleet of golf carts and says he hopes to employ caddies. Greens fees will be about $45.


A retired businessman, Burley founded Spokane-based Quarry Tile Co. in 1965, selling it some years later to his current partners in the golf course development, the Baiters. The Baiters still own the custom tile manufacturing business.


Black Rock


At Black Rock, which fronts on Lake Coeur dAlene at Rockford Bay, preliminary plans are firming up for an 18-hole, 7,300-yard-long golf course and surrounding housing developments.


Chesrown, a Denver businessman who established a company called CAG Investments LLC to develop the course, says the design work on the golf course is finished, and he hopes to apply to the county for a rezone of the property before year-end.


Ideally, Chesrown says he would like to break ground at Black Rock next spring. If that happens, the course would be ready to play in the spring of 2002 at the latest, he says.


The course architect is James Engh, who designed The Sanctuary golf course near Denver, which Golf Digest magazine tabbed as the Best New Private Course of 1997. Chesrown describes the Engh design as challenging.


The development would include a large country club-like clubhouse and other country club facilities, such as an equestrian center. Chesrown says he hasnt set greens fees yet.


While homes and condominiums are planned at Black Rock, the course will be constructed before any lots are sold. Thus, the development isnt contingent upon successful real estate sales, he says. He declines to disclose the number of living units that will be proposed there until that information is filed with the county.


A Spokane native, Chesrown has lived in the Denver area for the past 20 years, but he also has owned a vacation home on Lake Coeur dAlene for several years.

Linn  Parish
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Editor Linn Parish has worked for newspapers and magazines since 1996, with the bulk of that time being at the Journal. A Montana boy who has called Spokane home for some time now, Linn likes Northwest trails, Deep South foods, and lead changes in the ninth inning.

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