Some avid golfers will do anything to lay a club on a ball, even playing on sand tamped down with crankcase oil.
It took special golfing breed to play Tri-City's sand traps
By Ted Escobar
Published on Dec. 22, 1972
The recent snows probably kept area golfers off the course but some old-timers might say it shouldn't have.
They had it rough 40 and 50 years ago, but yester-year's golfers never gave in to adversity.
Adolph Newman, owner of the Pasco Clothing Co. said during the '20s and '30s people couldn't afford to keep grass courses.
Pasco and Kennewick had sand courses, Richland didn't have a golf course.
Newman said there was a course where the Pasco airport is now. But the Pasco course had to be moved around because of mother nature.
The problem was the surge of Russian Thistle where sagebrush was removed. It would grow faster than it could be destroyed, so the courses were moved.
They were called greens, but all the putting areas were just sand tempered with crankcase oil. Any other oil, said Newman, would dry. It was later found that the residue at the bottom of locomotive tanks could do the job, so it was used also.
Being able to play the Pasco course didn't mean the Kennewick course would be a whiz. The Pasco course was soft.
The Kennewick course, on the hill just above and to the west of the current Tri-City Country Club, was hard, said Newman.
Newman noted when the wind was with the player at Pasco, he lofted the ball and let the wind take it, because the ball wouldn't roll much in the Pasco sand. On on-windy days, a low trajectory shot was desired.
The "greens" were fast and a shot directly on them would normally keep going.
"We shot short and tried to make the ball roll onto the green," said Newman.
Once on the "green," golf balls and walking did a lot of damage, he said, so "greens" were swept every time before putting. They were oiled and leveled about every month to six weeks, he remembered.
J.C. Pratt said the Kennewick course was done the same way. The crankcase oil came from the Ford garage.
When the course was carved, all that was left was enough sagebrush to mark the fairways.
There were problems, the biggest was finding the ball after a few strokes, he said. "After a while, the ball was the same color as the dirt," he chuckled.
"Oh, we enjoyed it, that's all we had."
"Golfers are a special breed," commented Newman. "I've seen men golf in 10 degree weather."
Newman noted the courses were regulation in length, but rules were relaxed so a golfer could improve his lie, except when he got into the rough.
"If you landed close to a tuft of grass," he said, "you'd just pick up the ball and put it on the grass."
The game has improved, he noted. When Newman played, there was a driver, a brassy (about a 4 wood), a midiron (2 iron), a mashie (5 iron) and a putter. The midmashie and others came later.
Emil Behrman, owner of Behrman Jewelers in Kennewick, and who played the Kennewick course noted his game improved quite a bit when he started playing the grass courses.