Big Changes Underway in Medford Golf Scene

While one of the favorite public golf courses in Medford, Ore., will soon be converted into a housing development, an all-new 18-hole course will be replacing it. In November 2004, the owners of Cedar Links Golf Club announced that they were going to close down the course sometime in 2005 for a new mixed-use development. Meanwhile, across town, construction has begun on the 18-hole championship-caliber track at Rogue Valley Manor.

The so-called Cedar Landing project will contain a mix of housing, including condominiums and retirement units. Also planned is a retail/commercial area, 25 acres of open space, and 2.5 miles of walking trails. The proposed development has yet to go before the Medford Planning Commission. But Cedar Links is located within Medford’s urban growth boundary, and is properly zoned for the projects announced by the course’s owners, the Jantzer family.

The Jantzers opened Cedar Links with nine holes in 1972. The course was built within the fruit orchards so common to this area of southwest Oregon. The play rate for the original nine was $2.50. In 1988, the second nine – designed by the late Robert Muir Graves – opened for play. Soon after, a large clubhouse with a full-service restaurant and bar opened to the public. The facility became so popular that in the early 1990s Cedar Links boasted the largest men’s club in Oregon.

But, shortly after, play levels at the course diminished due, in part, to the openings of the new nearby layouts at Stoneridge and Eagle Point. Noting the local demand for residential land, the Jantzers decided to pull the plug on the golf course and turn their attention to developing housing instead of golfers.

Earthmoving equipment is now shaping the 18 holes at Rogue Valley Manor, a retirement community on Medford’s south side. The new layout is situated between Interstate 5 and North Phoenix Road, southeast of the Manor’s original nine-hole Quail Point Golf Course. Quail Point will be retained, thus creating a 27-hole daily-fee facility when the as-yet unnamed 18 opens in spring 2006.

The par-72, 7,282-yard course was designed by John Fought, a native Oregonian and former U.S. Amateur champion who also played on the PGA Tour. Fought, who now works out of Scottsdale, Ariz., has designed – among others – such fine layouts as Cimarron Golf Course in Palm Springs, and one of the two courses at the Reserve Vineyards Golf Club near Portland.

Fought has high expectations for the new Medford course, which is expected to cost $3 million. “We are building a more classical design,” he told reporter Meg Landers of the Medford Mail Tribune. “We’re trying to use the natural contour that’s there,” he said, adding that the layout will parallel the classically designed courses of the 1920s and ‘30s. “The outside edges will have native vegetation.”

The project was approved by Jackson County earlier this summer. The parcel is zoned exclusive farm use, which permits golf courses but not homes, thus assuring that the fairways will be free of peripheral housing. The project harks back to 1996, when officials for Rogue Valley Manor, a non-profit entity, announced it wanted to add another nine holes at Quail Point. But those plans changed in 2002, when a local fruit grower, Naumes Inc., ceded 377 acres to the Manor, more than half of which are being used for the new course.