Alaska’s Newest Course Enjoys Bright Future

The newest course on the Kenai Peninsula opened for play in August 2001. The semiprivate Cottonwood Country Club is the brainchild of Tom Hall, who used part of the 80 acres behind his house to array a testy par-3 nine-holer. As expected, the layout is a bit rough around the edges, but Hall says that will change as the track matures and his offspring learn more about golf course maintenance.

Hall lives on the property along with his five children and 10 grandchildren, most of whom drove around the course in four-wheelers with tools to help prepare the course prior to its opening. The peninsula’s fourth public course, Cottonwood originated last year when Hall drove a bulldozer onto his parcel and began clearing the fairways. The result has drawn excited reviews from golfers.

“There’s a lot of buzz about it,” Gordon Griffin told the Anchorage Daily News. “It’s something else in town. A par 3 is something we don’t have around here.” The new track in Nikiski costs $10, a tariff local golfers are more than happy to pay. The tee boxes and greens need a lot of work, but the fairways and distances are good, said Curt Morris of Nikiski. “There isn’t another place like it around here. There’s dips, doodles, valleys, trees and up-and-down hills. It has potential.”

Hall’s plans for Cottonwood are quite different than those of most golf course proprietors. In the future, Hall, who owns H&H Industrial, a Nikiski electrical contracting firm, wants to bring in animals like buffaloes, llamas, pygmy goats, reindeer and ducks. He will fence off the fairways to keep his menagerie safe from the slings and arrows of unfortunate golfers. Hall will build a permanent clubhouse and, perhaps, apartments for senior citizens. He may also make Cottonwood Country Club a year-round facility, installing a tow rope for a snowboard hill and cross-country ski trails.