Bill Lam's Backyard Golf Links
Supplement to the "Whidbey News Times," June 1980
When planning camping trips to Deception Pass State Park make sure to bring along those beloved golf clubs.
Just half a mile south of the park's main entrance is a golf course the likes of which most have never seen.
The course is small, a nine-hole affair with a par of 28, but tougher than it appears from the road.
The sign near the highway proclaims the area to be "Lam's Links" and invites those considering themselves members of the public to stop by.
Lam’s Links does not fit the description of a normal par-3 layout.
There is one par-4 which measures 250 yards, while two of the par-3's are 190 and 162 yards.
From the highway, the course looks like it might be a piece of cake, but that notion quickly dissipates when a golfer reaches the first tee.
From a slightly raised tee, it is a straight shot to the gently sloped green 190 yards away.
And that is just the beginning. What follows are eight more holes, none of which could be called "gimme."
The distances vary from 96 to 250 yards, and there are three different ponds to keep golfers guessing.
The eight-year-old course has been well-designed to utilize every bit of the 18 acres it occupies.
Owner-designer-builder Bill Lam said his love of golf drove him to turn his what was once poultry farm and what was once hay and grain fields into his own little paradise.
"I get a kick out of playing myself, only thing is I don't get enough time because there are so many things to do around here," said Lam.
Born and raised on Whidbey Island, Lam bought the property in 1941 and started a chicken farm. The current clubhouse is a former chicken coop.
After he lost interest in chicken farming, Lam rented his property out while he headed for Oregon to take up logging as a way of life.
He came back to Whidbey in the mid-1950's and started working for Krieg Construction where he worked for 20 years or so mostly as a bulldozer operator.
It was while working in construction that his dream of building a golf course on his property developed.
Lam was part of the Krieg crew which built the first nine at the Useless Bay course on the south end of the island and helped with the original nine at Whidbey Golf and Country Club, so Lam had experience in golf course construction.
The real plans for his course were drawn up by Lam and Bob Ronhaar in their free evenings while they were staying east of the mountains on a job for Krieg.
The golf course was not created overnight but was a two-year chore Lam performed in his sparetime while working for Krieg.
He did most of the earth-moving with rented Krieg equipment and built the course mostly himself.
"I had it sketched out on paper, but most of it I had in my head, and I knew what I had to do and just did," said Lam.
"When I opened up I realized I might be my own best customer," joked Lam.
Lam's Links is one of the few courses with an honor-system pay booth, which leaves Lam free to perform the never-ending work needed to keep it in top shape.
Fees for the course are considered cheap in today's inflationary times with weekday rates as low as $2 for nine holes of escape from gathering firewood or walking the beaches in search of seashells.
The low score on the course belongs to Bill Lam, and he shot his 1-under-par 27 on the same day he hit a hole-in-one the 111-yard third hole, which features a tricky water hazard.
"There's been a couple other 27's, and I think we've had something like 13 holes-in-one over the years. Fred Meinhardt and Paul Fakkema have each hit two holes-in-one," said Lam.
He built the course due to his own love for the game, but he likes to have people come out and make up their own minds about it.
"I enjoy seeing people come out; it gives me a chance to visit with some pretty nice folks," said Lam.
For the campers who forget to bring their golf clubs, Lam has a small assortment of rental clubs available.
"For the first few years, most of the campers didn't know it was here, and they had to rent clubs, but now they come back with their own clubs," said Lam.
People playing golf makes Lam happy, and Lam's Links makes people happy.