Ashland golf course subcommittee hopes to keep Oak Knoll Golf Course open

The entrance to the Oak Knoll Golf Course at the southeast corner of Ashland. Ashland.news photo by Bert Etling
May 2, 2022

Recent rains slightly improved course prospects; parks commission to discuss Wednesday

By Holly Dillemuth, Ashland.news

Ashland’s Oak Knoll Golf Course should be kept open long term, the Golf Course Subcommittee voted last week in deciding to recommend that the Ashland Parks & Recreation Commission look at ways to maintain the more-than 90-year-old course as one of its recreational amenities.

The motion, seconded by subcommittee member Nancy Rothermel at a meeting on Thursday, April 28, passed with significantly more optimism than previously weighed options, which included making a recommendation to close the course due to extreme drought and staffing shortages. 

“We’re coming up on our 100-year anniversary and I certainly don’t want to be the one sitting there as we close the golf course permanently,” said subcommittee member Bret DeForest.

Ashland Parks & Recreation Commission Director Michael Black emphasized to the public that the course is operating and functional.

“People are fighting to keep it open,” Black told subcommittee members. “We would like to see it stay open.”

Mother Nature has lent a hand in that regard thanks to the past rainy month.

Prospects for water availability from Talent Irrigation District (TID) have improved slightly for this season, thanks to a significantly wet April. The wet weather makes Black optimistic of having at least 20 days of irrigation water for use at Oak Knoll, though no decision has yet been made by TID. 

“We’re feeling optimistic about the weather as we’re experiencing it now,” Black told members of the city’s Golf Course Subcommittee last week.  “Obviously we don’t have a pond big enough to save up all this water.”

In April, Black wasn’t counting on receiving any water from Talent Irrigation District. As of April 11, the district said the three reservoirs that generate the district — Emigrant, Hyatt, and Howard Prairie Lake respectively — were still 3,300 acre feet below what they should be. But with added precipitation since then, that could still mean a short irrigation season that could help keep Oak Knoll Golf Course open this season.

“I’m really excited about that,” Black said. “It just goes along with our goal … to keep the course open as long as possible.”

Black emphasized that drought impacts are being felt all throughout the West during what has been described as the deepest megadrought in 1,200 years.

The TID Board of Directors is set to meet in person at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the TID office for their monthly meeting, which is open to the public. TID provides irrigation water to Oak Knoll Golf Course as well as Southern Oregon University, in addition to orchards and farms throughout the Rogue Valley.

Ashland Parks & Recreation Commission is scheduled to meet in a public study session via Zoom at 6 p.m. Wednesday. Agenda items include plans for a new park on East Main Street as well as discussion of golf course options.

APRC could vote on options related to the future of the course as early as its regular meeting set for May 11.

Reach Ashland.news reporter at hollyd@ashland.news.

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Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.
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