Little River Inn has the only golf course on the Mendocino Coast. The nine-hole course presents unexpected challenges to golfers. It may be that the stunning ocean views distract first time players, but more often than not the folks in the Pro Shop hear them say how tough the course is.
Building a golf course at Little River Inn was Ole Hervilla’s personal “challenge.” Watching Arnold Palmer play on TV one day in the ’50s, he decided a golf course here would draw even more guests. The old-timers told Ole nobody would play golf on the coast. But he was determined. He consulted three golf architects, each one more expensive than the other. After talking to the third pricey expert, he said, “Thanks, you just made a golf course architect out of me.” And so, working with local contractors, he opened the course in 1957. With three placements and dual greens on 7 and 9, the nine-hole course can play like 18.
But part of the history of the course (and our recycling effort) actually begins 100 years before it even opened . . .
The tee markers in use today represent 150 years of Little River Inn history. They are made from lumber milled from the huge cypress trees that once lined the north driveway of the Inn. We reluctantly removed them in late 2001 for safety reasons after they had exceeded their life span – several had already fallen over.
Planted as a windbreak by the Coombs family who originally settled on this land 150 years ago, the cypress trees provided protection for the home’s residents. The graceful trees took on a new role in 1939, welcoming guests to Little River Inn after its founding by Ole and Cora Hervilla. For over half a century the trees – and the Inn – grew, beckoning guests with their massive outstretched limbs. Although they are missed, the stump of the largest tree lives on as the Ole Hervilla statue and bench located on top of the north driveway. Special thanks go to Richard Berta who shaped the wood.
Our “Re-Use and Recycle” mentality has taken on even more importance in the current day. Little River Inn Golf Course is a Chapter Winner in the 2006 Environmental Leaders in Golf Awards (ELGA). The course was one of only two Chapter Winners in the Resort Course Division.
ELGA honors achievements in five areas of golf course management: resource conservation, water quality management, integrated pest management, wildlife/habitat management and education/research.
Environmental management accomplishments at Little River Inn Golf Course include increasing habitat for wildlife and establishing wildlife corridors as well as dramatically reducing pesticide and water use. Improvements also include the naturalization of water features and an extensive recycling program. In fact, a portion of the pro shop staff’s trip to Anaheim to accept the award was funded by selling recycled materials from the golf course operation. We are understandably proud to have received this award, and kudos go to Terry Stratton, our Golf Course Superintendent.
As if this weren’t enough, Little River Inn Golf Course has achieved designation as a “Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary.” Certification is awarded by the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary System, the educational division of Audubon International. Little River Inn is only the 35th out of approximately 925 golf courses in California to receive this honor.
“The Little River Inn Golf Course has shown a strong commitment to its environmental program, they are to be commended for their efforts to provide a sanctuary for wildlife on the golf course property,’ said Shawn Williams, Environmental Technician for the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program (ACSP). To reach certification, a course must demonstrate a high degree of environmental quality by implementing projects and policies in six different categories: environmental planning, wildlife & habitat management, outreach & education, water quality management, chemical use reduction & safety and water conservation.
Little River Inn Golf Course is proud to achieve this honor and remains committed to the environmental practices encouraged by the ACSP. Significant achievements include: working with local Eagle Scout candidates to install an osprey nest platform; working with and helping fund a program by the Mendocino Cancer Resource Center and local schools to place owl nest boxes throughout the area helping to eliminate rodenticide use on school grounds; installing owl and duck nest structures on the golf course; creating wildlife habitat and naturalizing corridors which protect animals from prey, among other things; limiting of irrigated turf areas providing a wildlife-friendly course and reducing water use by replacing old sprinklers, significantly reducing the amount of pesticides applied to the course, instituting use of organic turf fertilizers to enhance soil health and increase natural resistance to pests.
Little River Inn Golf Course is also committed to mentoring the next generation of environmentally-conscious golfers. In 2006 we hosted an environmental field event for local high school students, and another field trip is schedule for October of this year. Teacher/golfer Tobin Hahn’s Fort Bragg High School classes will tour the links taking in aspects of the environmental program at the course.
Highlights will include discussion of efforts to reduce pesticide use, conserve water and enhance wildlife habitat. Students will observe golf course features such as natural waterways, wildlife corridors and native plantings – all designed to accommodate wildlife. Other points of interest will be nesting structures built for ducks, owls and osprey.
Ole would indeed be proud to see the changes that have taken place on “his” golf course. To play Ole’s masterpiece, call the Little River Inn Pro Shop for your tee time. 707- 937-5667.