The Middlefield Golf Course opened in 1991 as a challenging executive course on the front and a reasonable regulation course on the back. The City of Cottage Grove purchased Middlefield in 2006, but not because they wanted to run a golf course.
Steve Zeek, General Manager at Middlefield and a City of Cottage Grove employee explained. “The City needed the water, the course has access to lots of effluent water. It was cheaper for the City to purchase the course than it would have been to get it from somewhere else.” The City purchased the course for $850,000 and Steve estimated that accessing the water from another location would have cost the City between $1 million and $1.2 million. “So, it just made sense for the City to buy the course.”
After purchasing Middlefield, Cottage Grove was delighted to have access to the water from the course. Suddenly however, the City found itself in the golf business. I asked Steve if Middlefield was self-sustaining or if it was subsidized by City funds. “Usually the course runs a profit, the last few years were pretty bad with the economy, but running the course isn’t a liability for the City.”
Because Middlefield provides water to the City it doesn’t have to make a profit to be useful, it only needs to cover its expenses. The lack of pressure on Middlefield to be a profit center allows the course to keep its greens fees low. The low fees and good conditions make Middlefield an excellent value. This allows the course to attract a wide range of players. Steve believed the player makeup at Middlefield was mostly blue-collar guys, construction workers and mill workers, and he sees Middlefield as a working-man’s course. The perception seems right because of the price, conditions and difficulty. The course is challenging, but when the par is only 32 on the front it’s relatively easy for even the occasional golfer to “break 50.”
Middlefield also gets a lot of RV’s. The course is right off the freeway (or left if you’re traveling south). The sirens call of golf snags many freeway-goers during their I-5 drive. When traveling through Cottage Grove drivers see golf on both sides of the road. Golfers actually walk under the freeway to access the 3rd and 13th holes going out, and walk back under the freeway for the 9th and 18th coming in. Middlefield is unique, if for no other reason than players get to walk through a legitimate tunnel to finish their round.
The City of Cottage Grove purchased Middlefield for its riparian rights, so you’d expect to see quite a bit of water, right? The course doesn’t disappoint. The Row River borders the course on its north and the views from the 13th fairway are excellent. Several large ponds are prominently featured and small streambeds weave throughout. The City even maintains a water facility located just off the 10th fairway. There is a chance that your ball could end up in water on nearly every hole. However, it’s a small chance. The only holes where water felt like a real concern during my round were 4 and 17, which both border the large pond on the west side of the freeway, 15, which crosses several small streambeds, and 18, which borders the large pond on the east side of the freeway. Finding water on any other hole will require a very errant shot.
For a course with lots of water, a housing community and a freeway running right through the middle, I expected it to feel a little cramped: it didn’t. Middlefield felt very open, which made my round feel relaxing.
Middlefield has strong ties to the community. The City allows access to several of the paths for non-golfers to take a walk through the woods or by the river. It was fun and refreshing to see people on bikes or couples taking a walk with their dog.
The course holds a tournament nearly every weekend during the summer for some local group. The Creswell sports programs are hosting their annual “big dawg” tournament on August 24th, the Pleasant Hill boosters are holding a charity tournament on September 8th, and several other tournaments will be occurring throughout the summer. Check Middlefield’s website for a full listing of tournaments if you’re in the mood for some charity golf or a good old-fashioned shotgun start.
Middlefield does everything well. The fees are reasonable, the fairways, greens and rough are all well maintained, the course plays fairly, the community has a home for charity golf tournaments and the City has access to essential water. All of this makes the course a great value, very accessible to the lay golfer and an excellent investment for the City of Cottage Grove.