Among the forests and hills of the Willamette Valley, Highway 58 Golf Range fills with the staccato pops of launching golf balls as golfers there practice every aspect of the game. Guests tee their range balls up year-round on either natural-grass tees or covered mats, sending the balls soaring toward Mount Pisgah in the distance. A short-game area allows for focused practice of near-green finesse, complete with a putting green, a chipping area, and a bunker where golfers perfect saves and practice guessing how many grains of sand are in a jar to win it.
Seventy-five years separate Watson Ranch Golf’s front and back nines, which billow across an undulating parcel of wooded terrain just east of the Coos River. Known as Coos Country Club when it opened for play in 1923, the course’s original nine holes were designed by H. Chandler Egan. A successful amateur golfer himself, his idea of a proper introduction was welcoming players with a pair of stiff par 5s. While Mr. Egan would go on to redesign the famous Pebble Beach Golf Links just six years later, Watson Ranch Golf remained a 9-hole course until 1998, when it sprouted a back nine. Today, the 18-hole course also incorporates a driving range, a chipping area, and two practice putting greens where golfers can limber up before acquainting themselves with Mr. Egan’s opening holes.
Course at a Glance:
After wrapping up a five-year career for the University of Oregon men's golf team, Justin St. Clair knew he was destined to dedicate himself to golf. A bona fide ace by nearly every standard—he won the 2009 Pacific Northwest Pro-Am and was named an All-Pac 10 Honorable Mention in 2005—Justin couldn't quite ascend to golf's highest ranks, opting instead to channel his passion for the game by opening his own golf school.
Today, Justin presides over the practice facilities at Emerald Valley Golf and Resort, correcting swings with advice relayed in simple terms. Justin can help golfers sharpen swing mechanics at the driving range, where he enlists high-speed video to dissect swings and locate heckling poltergeists, he can improve course management with a playing lesson, or he can determine his clients' ideal clubs with club- and driver-fitting services.
In 2011, Brandon Richardson became a Class A PGA Instructor and a nominee for the Oregon Chapter PGA Teacher of the Year award. These prestigious accolades did not come easily; they were the culmination of more than two decades of teaching and professional play that included stints on the Nationwide Tour. As Golf with Freedom’s founder and director of coaching, Brandon's coaching style allows golfers to grow and develop as a golfer within an environment free of judgment or evaluation, creating a sense of calm toward misbehaving 9-irons. His programs—which range from private coaching classes to small-group and women-only workshops—aim to increase one's ability to self-coach by making swing adjustments on the fly or subbing in a stunt double for help with a particularly difficult lie.