Desert Canyon Gets New Life

By: Bob Spiwak

Once nationally known and the pride of Eastern Washington golf, Desert Canyon Golf Resort fell on hard financial times in recent years. After being managed by Century Golf Partners for General Electric Capital, the company that got the property at auction following its bankruptcy, diminished conditions were noted by regular players. The once-vaunted GPS systems were removed from carts, staffing was down, customer satisfaction was, to be kindly, not too satisfactory.

This was more a factor of budget cuts, it seems, than personnel: The pro shop people remained friendly and helpful but the ancillary staff - cart boys and bag-loaders, for example - was no longer around.

All that's changing now. The place has been bought by Homestead Northwest, Inc., and will be managed by Bill Chrysler for owners Jim and Carol Wynstra of Lynden, Wash. Among the Wynstra's other properties is Moses Pointe Golf Resort near Moses Lake, Wash.

The Desert Canyon resort manager is Coron Polley. He came to the course in 1999. Some regulars may remember him as the assistant to then-head pro Von Smith, who now fills that capacity at Bear Mountain Ranch, just south of Lake Chelan.

Polley, who's married and with two children, oversees lodging and food and beverages at the resort. He's also involved with the water utility that services the facility. Working hand in hand outside the resort's lodge and restaurant with PGA professsional Robby Beckstead, the two are trying to change the face of the place.

The building that once housed the pro shop has been vacated and will now be used for banquets and meetings, said Polley. The pro shop will be relocated to the conference room in the restaurant, and the snack bar will move to the open patio on the south side of the restaurant. Other changes involve making the first hole on the back nine the opening hole of the Jack Frei-designed course. A secondary practice green now serves as the cart and bag-drop area.

Opening for play on April 4, the carts will again be outfitted with GPS systems, upgraded from the original technology. This is according to the 29-year-old Beckstead, who is starting his third year as the head pro. Married and with two children (the youngest just 10 weeks old), Beckstead worked as a circuit-riding assistant pro for American Golf, which managed 46 courses in the San Diego area. He began his career at Desert Canyon for Century Golf Partners, which ran the facility while its financial ailments were being ironed out. Before then Beckstead was the pro at Three Lakes Golf Course near Wenatchee.

Under the new regime, Beckstead says there will be a "large commitment for maintenance; new equipment will be either purchased or leased." Still on board after many years is superintendent Kevin Smith.

Until the end of April greens fees are $59 before 2:00 and $40 after that Monday through Thursday. Friday through Sunday the rates rise to $69 before 2:00 and $50 afterwards. During the summer season, rates will top out at $89 on weekends prior to 3:00, and drop to $59 after 4:00.

Beckstead noted there will once again be marshals on the course, and starters will help control traffic. The hope for Desert Canyon is that it will rise from the ashes to regain the mantle of glory it possessed during its early years.

For more information or a tee time, call 509/784-1111 or visit      

Bob Spiwak took up golf in 1953 as a respite from the rigors of selling bibles door-to-door in North Dakota. Though suffering a four-year lapse, he's back to being a fanatical golfer. Now a contributing editor for Cybergolf, Spiwak has written articles for almost every golf magazine in the Western world. Bob's most treasured golf antiquity is a nod he got from Gerald Ford at the 1990 Golf Summit. Spiwak lives in Mazama, Wash., with his wife and several pets next to his fabled ultraprivate Whispering Rattlesnakes Golf & Flubbers Club.