In the heart of North Central Washington lies the award-winning Gamble Sands golf resort. This spectacular golf getaway offers a links style experience while maintaining particular attention to land and water stewardship. A sophisticated blend of great golf and environmentally conscious design is what I found most remarkable.
A beautifully designed golf course weaved into the natural wild surroundings, Gamble Sands has established itself as the premier golf resort and destination in Washington State. The Gebbers family owns the resort and are well-known farmers and apple orchardists in the area, with operations based in Brewster. The property has two golf courses, lodging, pro shop, and a charming rustic clubhouse, Danny Boy Bar and Grill.
Gamble Sands was designed by award-winning golf course architect David McKlay Kidd who is a Salmon-Safe Golf Course certification assessment team member. His thoughtful golf course design and environmental innovation stand out at Gamble Sands, making this course an excellent candidate for Salmon-Safe certification. The golf course was built on a strip of sand amongst the rock outcroppings and required minimal earth movement while preserving much of the shrub-steppe habitat. The site abounds with arrowleaf balsamroot, sagebrush, Mule deer, Osprey, and hundreds of wildlife species that use this critical habitat.
I was lucky enough to spend a morning touring with Josh Truan, Golf Course Superintendent, and his nine-month-old dog Penny. We played the new 14-hole par 3 Quick Sands course together while learning about his low-input management techniques. It became apparent that Truan has a deep connection to the course, his staff, and the environment. He explained the turfs treatment, which is only fertilized twice a year with no glyphosate to ensure its health and longevity.
The two golf courses were seeded using fine fescue grass, which provides perfect fairways and greens that are smooth, consistent, and fast. Fescue grass is environmentally friendly, grows slower, and in turn requires less mowing and water use. There are only four other courses in the country with all fescue grass, furthering the unique experience of playing Gamble Sands.
The course staff make their bunker and maintenance sand on-site using a screener, eliminating the need to import sand, further reducing their carbon footprint. The course is watered using a state-of-the-art computer system and moisture sensors that inform Truan and the management team if certain areas need watering adjustments. The course uses less than six-tenths of an inch of water every three days during summer months.
The comfortably chic lodging is also thoughtfully hidden below a bluff with an 18-hole putting course outside the backdoor of your spacious room. The putting course backdrop boasts a breathtaking view of snowcapped Cascade mountains with the mighty Columbia River meandering through a vast gorge below.
Gamble Sands is a clever golf course that cares for the land and offers golfers and non-golfers a special place to relax and enjoy life. Wine tastings, nature walks, poolside relaxation, and birdwatching are amongst the options for those who prefer not to golf. The staff at the resort are friendly and attentive to all your needs. This golf resort should serve as an inspiration for future courses in the country. It is truly a first-class experience that is loads of fun and creates lasting memories for anyone lucky enough to have come here.
Written by David Burger, Executive Director at Stewardship Partners