Tag Archives: golf

Film project about the Fir State Golf Club and the Jefferson Park Golf Course seeks Kickstarter backers

Fir State Golf Club, a primarily Black golf club, chose to call themselves Fir State after Washington’s state tree. To them, the evergreen fir tree was a symbol of strength and the ability to weather many storms. The club was established in 1947 to provide nonwhites an opportunity to learn and participate fully in the sport of golf. Up until that time, and in most places around the United States, including Seattle, clubs and tournaments were not open to golfers of color.

Regardless of their abilities, they were left out of opportunities to compete, gain recognition and acquire the economic rewards afforded to other quality golfers. This was true and condoned legally throughout the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. At a time when Rosa Parks had not yet been arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a public bus and the 14th amendment to the US constitution, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, was still 17 years away, these determined golfers became some of the earliest heroes in the fight for equality and racial justice in Seattle.

As the pursuit for equity in sports continues, Out of the Rough celebrates the Fir State Golf Club for the historic role they played in opening up opportunities for all people to be able to participate fully in the sport of golf. There are only 3 days left to donate to help finish the film. Please consider making a donation at the Out of the Rough Kickstarter page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1200799877/out-of-the-rough-stories-from-fir-state-golf-club.

The Fir State Golf Club’s home course is the Jefferson Park Golf Course on Beacon Hill. For more information on the history of the Fir State Golf Club and the Jefferson Park Golf Course:


Construction starting this month at Jefferson Park Golf Course

South view of the new Jefferson golf clubhouse.
South view of the new Jefferson golf clubhouse.
Construction on the changes at Jefferson Park Golf Course is planned to begin later this month, to be completed in December 2014. The project includes a new two-story modern-style clubhouse, a double-deck driving range, and improvements to paths and parking.

The course will remain open, though temporary facilities for the pro shop and food service will be located across Beacon Avenue, behind the existing first tee.

For more information about the project, see the website or email project manager Toby Ressler. Previous posts about the project on the BHB may be seen here.

97 years ago today…

Sherwood Gillespy (1853-1912) was an early advocate for municipal golf in Seattle, and is commemorated by a statue in front of the golf clubhouse in Jefferson Park. Photo by Wendi Dunlap.
On May 12, 1915, the Jefferson Park Municipal Golf Course opened here on Beacon Hill. It was the first municipal golf course in Seattle. 97 years later, the golf course still operates, and still draws golfers from throughout the area to enjoy a bit of Beacon Hill.

You can read a HistoryLink.org essay about the course here. Here’s another essay with more detail about the course.

Thanks to neighbor Corinna Laughlin for pointing out this anniversary to us.

Jefferson Park Golf renovation proposal presented to Design Commission

A proposed design for the new Jefferson Park Golf Clubhouse, as viewed from the Beacon Avenue side.

Bassetti Architects has recently presented a version of the development concept for the Jefferson Park Golf Course renovation to the city’s Design Commission. You can view it here (PDF). It appears to be a PowerPoint-type presentation, so it’s a bit sparse.

This graphic shows the existing driving range lighting (top) and the proposed new lighting (bottom).

The general project page is here. Most of what is in the new presentation was also in the December 15 public meeting presentation. (If there are any substantial changes I missed, please let me know!)

The current Jefferson Park Golf Clubhouse, which would be torn down and replaced with a new two-story clubhouse under this proposal, was recently nominated for landmark status. The City of Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board will hold a public meeting to consider the landmark nomination on next Wednesday, February 15 at 3:30 p.m. in the Seattle Municipal Tower, 700 5th Ave., Suite 1700. All interested may attend. If you can’t attend and still wish to comment, you can comment by email to beth.chave@seattle.gov, or by regular mail to the address in the previous post.

Jefferson Park Golf Clubhouse nominated as landmark

The 1936 golf course clubhouse building. Photo by Mark Holland.

The City of Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board will hold a public meeting on Wednesday, February 15 at 3:30 p.m. to consider the landmark nomination of the Jefferson Park Golf Course Clubhouse.

All interested are invited to attend and comment. Written comments are also welcome, and should be received by the Landmarks Board by February 14 at 5 p.m. Comments may be mailed to:

Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board
Dept. of Neighborhoods
P.O. Box 94649
Seattle WA 98124-4649

The landmark nomination application includes an extremely detailed description of the building as well as a summary of Beacon Hill and Jefferson Park history, and may be viewed here (PDF link), as well as at the Beacon Hill Library.

The clubhouse, which was built in 1936, has been nominated by Bassetti Architects, the firm that is involved in a development project which would tear the building down and replace it with a larger facility. It is not uncommon for sites to be nominated as landmarks by their owners or representatives before a development project can begin.

The February 15 meeting will be held in the Seattle Municipal Tower, 700 5th Ave., Suite 1700. Further information about landmark preservation and the nomination process may be found at the Department of Neighborhoods website.

Opinion: Golf course plans aim in wrong direction

by Frederica Merrell

Bassetti Architects is designing a new golf clubhouse in historic Jefferson Park on Beacon Hill. The project is funded through City bonds. In a meeting on December 15 to discuss the plans, participants were left wondering: who is Bassetti designing the new golf facilities for?

The 1936 golf course clubhouse building. Photo by Mark Holland.
Local golfers are unhappy that the first hole on the short-nine course will be eliminated to build a parking lot. Golfers also don’t like the loss of the historic putting greens to a replacement that is only 60% of the size. There will be no more men’s and women’s locker rooms at this historic municipal facility. Instead, the operator, Premier Golf, will get a big banquet room that they can rent out. Exactly how the new facility will be run and who will get to access to spectacular views from the driving range, second floor balcony, banquet room, and new restaurant will all be left up to the private contractor to decide in the future.

The current clubhouse was built by the WPA in 1936. The golf community in Southeast Seattle calls Jefferson its home course and they are proud of the history of its diverse membership and activities, including teaching youth how to golf. The building, landscaping, and putting greens all reflect the Olmsted design and are a strong reminder of the history of the place. Recently reconstructed, Jefferson Park itself features Olmsted style curved pathways and many other nods to its history.

The new clubhouse design boasts green engineering (if they can afford to build it), 50 driving range stalls, better lighting, and a new restaurant. It also features boxy modern design, and strong angular walkways, reminiscent of a suburban office park. The overall impact of the two-story facility is very much out of character with the historic setting and important functional features are lost. Attendants of the meeting voiced these concerns. They were less impressed with trendy green features (rain gardens, passive HVAC, potential solar power generation and water collection systems) and more concerned about preserving functional pieces, like the historic putting greens, pedestrian paths, trees, and the nine-hole golf course.

The Interbay golf course clubhouse, of similar size and scale to the planned new clubhouse at Jefferson Park. Photo by Mark Holland.

It seems clear that the project is not being designed for the local golf community at Jefferson but for the private operator who hopes to bring in more money from people with deeper pockets than the south end neighbors. Putting greens don’t generate revenue for the operator and the nine-hole probably doesn’t contribute either. This explains the lack of emphasis on the historically important putting greens and nine-hole where kids and amateurs alike learn to use a club and the elders can gather, sit on the bench, and place side bets on the action. There is too much parking lot in the design, which makes one think perhaps the private vendor anticipates a revenue source there in the future.

Range Rover parked on pathway near the clubhouse. Parks plans to cut down three trees here and move the fence and pathway to install six parking spaces right where this SUV is parked. Photo by Mark Holland.

This design needs to be less about Premier Golf and Parks Department fanciful dreams of generating greater revenues by glitzing up municipal golf courses on the surface. It needs to be more about the Jefferson Park golf community, the history of the facility, integration with the surrounding park, maintaining functionality, and issues of longevity (including decrepit maintenance facilities visible inside the new park and completely unaddressed in this very expensive project).

There are many potential benefits of improving the Jefferson golf course facilities but this design is not endearing. Bassetti will not be producing an acclaimed facility if they recommend spending money on gimmicks like expensive solar collectors over building better putting greens. They won’t be applauded for removing locker rooms and replacing them with private banquet facilities, nor for bringing in tourists and failing to keep the local golfers on the home course.

Frederica Merrell was the North Beacon Hill neighborhood planning co-chair from 1998-2000, and is the co-author of Seattle’s Beacon Hill, featured in the sidebar of this very blog.

Public invited to Jefferson Park Golf improvements meeting

The skyline from the Jefferson Park driving range. Photo by binarymillenium in the Beacon Hill Blog photo pool on Flickr.

The second public meeting to discuss improvements to the Jefferson Park golf course is scheduled for next Thursday, December 15, at 7 p.m. at the Jefferson Park Golf Course Clubhouse, 4101 Beacon Ave. S. All interested community members are invited to this meeting to meet the design team and comment on the planned design.

The current proposed schematic design includes a two-story clubhouse with a banquet hall, café, pro shop, and teaching space; a double-deck driving range with improvements; a modified cart barn; modified cart paths; and parking modifications. Lead design firm for the project is Bassetti Architects, and other sub-consultants include The Berger Partnership and Nuzzo Course Design.

The budget for the renovation project is a total of $7,283,686, funded by the 2011 Multi Purpose Limited Tax General Obligation Debt, Ordinance #123442. The design process is scheduled to run until May 2012, and completion of the project is scheduled for April 2013.

Find out more about the project at the project website.

Golf Course renovation project seeks your input

Seattle Parks and Recreation invites all interested neighbors to participate in a public meeting October 13 at 7 p.m. at Jefferson Community Center to discuss the Jefferson Park Golf Course renovation project. The design team and Parks staff will present design options for the $7,000,000+ project, which will include a new clubhouse and banquet room, expansion of the driving range to add a second deck, a new electric cart barn, improvements to pathways, and possible parking expansion and landscaping renovations.

Bassetti Architects have been hired to lead the design team. The design phase of the project is scheduled to continue until next spring, with construction planned for May 2012-April 2013. For more information about the renovations project, see the project page at the Seattle Parks website.

Jefferson Community Center is located at 3801 Beacon Ave. S.

Golf balls on the grass at the Jefferson Park driving range. Photo by binarymillenium in the Beacon Hill Blog photo pool on Flickr.

An evening at the driving range

Golfers practicing drives under the bright lights of the Jefferson Park Driving Range. Photo by Tim Ripley.
They don't all reach their target. Photo by Tim Ripley.

These are two of the many interesting and wonderful photos you can find in the Beacon Hill Blog photo pool on Flickr. Thanks to Tim for posting them!

(Editor’s note, 1/18: The top photo is slightly different today as Tim pulled the original photo from Flickr and replaced it with this one, so we replaced it here on the blog as well. The original photo contained two golfers.)

Beacon Bits: Tunnel views, golf memories, and closed wading pools