Meet America’s Funkiest Golf Facility
America’s funkiest 32-hole golf facility is in Troutdale, Ore., about a 30-minute drive east of downtown Portland. Yes, it’s also likely America’s only 32-hole golf facility, but if there were another option, it would not rival Edgefield Golf Course, purveyor of mountain views, hippy flair, 100-plus years of history and a dizzying array of locally-sourced booze. Informally, Edgefield is known as the Pub Course — it’s right there on the scorecards — so that is what we shall call it.
There are actually two courses at the Pub Course: the East, which has 12 holes and green fees of $14, and the West, which houses 20 holes and costs $22. There are no bunkers nor a drop of water. The longest of all the holes — the closer on the West — is an 84-yard monster, which tells you these courses are short. You might be tempted to call them pitch-and-putts but that doesn’t do them justice. Pitch-laugh-drink-pitch-again-breath-in-the-fresh-Oregon-country-air-pick-some-apples-drink-again-and-putt would be a more apt moniker. Dress code? Please. Turtlenecks, tank tops, whatever’s in your closet will work just fine.
The Pub Course’s laissez-faire vibe first hits you in the golf shop, which doubles as a watering hole. Or maybe it’s the other way around. There’s a loaner bin full of wedges and putters; a wood box filled with pencils and scorecards; and a row of beer taps behind a bar serving IPAs with names like Sunflower and Nitro, plus two types of cider. On a wall hangs a rendering of the Pub Course’s de facto mascot, Seamus MacDuff, Shivas Iron’s bearded mentor from Michael Murphy’s cult classic, Golf in the Kingdom, which locals will tell you inspired the Pub Course. That’s wholly plausible because the place has a mythical quality to it.
The first permanent inhabitants of the hilly property arrived in 1911, when the county built a “poor farm” here, a social-welfare construct that was “based on the belief that the poor could enjoy fresh air and country living while growing their own food,” reports Sharon Nesbit, founder of the Troutdale Historical Society. Later that same year the county opened a prison on the farm and brought in more than 200 inmates, many of whom helped work the land. Over time, though, the communal-farm concept lost its effectiveness and by the mid-1960s the main building on property had been converted into a nursing home. Over more time, the entire property fell into disrepair. Its future looked grim; without a spirited fight from local preservationists, the buildings on-site would have been destroyed.
That campaign gave Portland hoteliers and restauranters Mike and Brian McMenamin enough time to see the value in the property. The brothers acquired the land in 1990 and transformed it into what is today: a rustic trippy funtopia, with a hotel, brewery, winery, distillery, gardens, concert venue, and, yes, 32 golf holes.