Rogers parked our golf cart beside Salishan's eleventh hole. "Now this is a long par three with a small target," he began. "The ocean is right over those trees, so if you hit a wild slice, it's gone." He was, I noticed, scanning the very blue sky for something. I thought he was bird-watching.
"No wind," he announced. "Wind is a big factor on the coast, just like in Scotland. Pilots call the pro shop to find out about the wind here. One woman actually crashed her small plane in that sand trap over there. I was the first one there. She crawled out with a martini glass in her hand—had been drinking since Portland.
"Let's go play the last four," he said. Our cart flew past evergreens and great bonnets of beach grass gleaming in the sun. It was a beautiful day. We made a turn to the south, and suddenly there was wind, thrillingly cool and scented with sea minerals. "Look at that view!" Rogers commanded. It was hard to miss.
To the north lay miles of crenellated royal blue shallows. Long, flat and endless, the Oregon coast at its best. I was glad the ocean was behind the tee—who could concentrate?"That's Cascade Head further north," Rogers said. "The Indians used to send their braves there for vision quests." If they could have time-traveled, theywould have witnessed a miracle: From the back tee Rogers rocketed his ball over a long links-style rough and split the fairway 270 yards out. On a 332-yard par four. "I had a tailwind," he demurred.
So did I, but I barely cleared the rough. "We built that rough," Rogers said. "We built up the sand dunes, then planted the dune grass. Really the whole place is just sand dunes, sand, sea grass. Doesn't it look like it's been here forever?See how tucked in that pin is, right?" The tiny green was surrounded by sea grass and dunes, with bunkers on the left and right sides of the hole. He made the green on his second hit. It took me two more shots.
The green was fast and tricky to read. Nonetheless, Rogers putted for birdie and made it. I double-bogeyed. "All right," he said, "onward to the terrifying pro tees of the seventeenth hole." We had to hike up to them; they were set tight and steep into a terraced corner of the woods.
The target was all but invisible on this 291-yard par four from the back tees. "It's short but difficult," Rogers counseled, "because there's extremely high grass on both sides and bunkers on each side." On the right was a sod-faced bunker with a vertical face of four or five feet. "This is a ten-ball golf course," Rogers confided. "People usually lose ten balls here. One of our best junior players scored a twenty-seven on this hole." Still, Rogers parred it.