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SHELTON, Washington -- (PRESS RELEASE) -- On the heels of a
massive hotel expansion, the Squaxin Island Tribe is eagerly anticipating the
opening of its newest amenity at Little Creek Casino Resort in Shelton, WA: a
championship golf course.
Four years after ground broke on the initial project, Salish Cliffs is set for a soft fall opening. Construction is progressing rapidly and industry pundits are already touting the par-72, 7,300 yard championship course as a shoo-in for "best in class" honors.
"We're striving for a probable opening this fall. Depending on the maturation process, we might push it to spring 2011 to maximize golfers' experiences," says Ray Peters, Executive Director of the Squaxin Island Tribe, which owns and operates Little Creek Casino Resort. "Golfers will find Salish Cliffs dramatically beautiful, easily comparable to famous courses nationwide."
When the course officially opens, it will be thrilling for the Squaxin Island Tribe and golf architect Gene Bates. A year after construction on the course commenced, the Tribe -- in the midst of doubling the number of the resort's hotel rooms to nearly 200 -- decided to temporarily suspend course development.
"Nobody wanted to get overextended financially," says Bates. "Once they got through the hotel and other items, they were able to come back and refocus on the golf course. The tribal elders said they were never going to give up on the idea, and a few years later, it is coming to fruition."
Other well-known Bates courses include Circling Raven Golf Club (Worley, ID) and Bayonet Black Horse (Monterey, CA), both ranked on Golf Digest's "100 Greatest Courses in America" list, as well as Soldier Hollow Golf Course (Midway, UT), which will host the 2012 USGA Amateur Public Links Championship.
Construction on Salish Cliffs re-started late last year and most of the drainage and shaping work on the front nine is complete. This spring, the project has continued developing and is on schedule with work on the driving range and front nine well underway. Production of the clubhouse – a spacious, log and cedar structure that reflects the craftsmanship of Little Creek Casino Resort and will feature a wrap-around porch overlooking holes No. 9 and No. 18 – is expected to start any day. Hole No. 13 has been seeded and could be ready to play shortly.
Salish Cliffs boasts 360-degree views of the Kamilche Valley and Bates created 16 of 18 holes encircled by lush forestry and incorporating natural vegetation. The course also features rock facings with elevation changes up to 600 feet and smooth transitions between holes.
"With its awe-inspiring natural beauty, Salish Cliffs is going to be a majestic place," says Bates. "It's going to be a stern test for highly skilled golfers, but higher handicaps will enjoy the course's scenery and fluidity."
Nearly 400 golf courses nationwide – measured in 18-hole equivalents – opened in 2000, according to the National Golf Foundation. Last year, that number dropped dramatically to 49.5. Future projections estimate between 50 and 75 openings in 2010, meaning Salish Cliffs is rare, both aesthetically and in timing.
"Salish Cliffs is my second Native American project (the first, Circling Raven) and this has been supremely enjoyable and rewarding," Bates says. "The Squaxin Island Tribal Council and the tribal members want to show off this course, when complete, and have the utmost pride in their land. It's my goal to design a course that reflects their exuberance and joy."
Little Creek Casino Resort is just 20 and 75 minutes from Olympia and Seattle, respectively, and boasts more than 900 slots and table games, as well as a poker room. The new, on-site Skookum Creek Event Center hosts business and live entertainment events for up to 2,000 people.
For more information: www.little-creek-casino.com, 800.667.7711.
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