CLAREMORE — Every town has hidden gems, and Claremore is no different.
With the COVID-19 coronavirus shutting down most entertainment hubs around the state, including movie theaters and retail stores, discovering these diamonds in the rough is essential to keeping the extrovert in all of us alive during these trying times.
The Gordon Golf Course, located about 3 miles east of Route 66 at 11755 E. 530 Road in Claremore, is one of those underrated and undervalued destinations.
According to manager Will Gordon, the land has been in the Gordon family since statehood and has been used as a golfing attraction since 1999. However, some local connoisseurs of the sport discovered its existence only recently.
That is no surprise given its rural location, though. It is about a 10-minute drive south on Muskogee Avenue from Downtown Claremore.
“We’ve been out here for 20 years, but we’ve had so many people say, ‘I didn’t even know you were out here’ or ‘My friend told me about it,’” Gordon said of the course that reopened for spring on March 14. “It’s really just kind of different from your average golf environment. We don’t have tee times, and we don’t have dress codes.
“You can be brand new at it; we have a lot of people who bring their kids out here.”
That is just one of the course’s standout qualities. There is no pressure to be a star.
This nine-hole course consisting of mainly par-3s and some par-4s allows for nice relaxing rounds thanks to its laidback environment.
Because most of the surrounding land is private, distractions are at a minimum. There are no housing editions, and the traffic that comes along with them is nonexistent.
There is also no waiting or hole crowding.
“What our golfers like most about it is that it’s not busy,” Gordon said. “It’s a place where people go to relax; it’s not necessarily about the golf at all. It’s not a long course, but we’ll have people out here who have never swung a club before, and they’re just trying to figure out what they’re doing, so we don’t really have anybody out here who is seriously playing competitively. It’s all about how laid back it is.
“If they want to go around twice, we have certain tee boxes with different locations on them, so they can play the greens from a different standpoint on the course.”
The venue’s main attraction is its lighted driving range.
On any given Wednesday, Thursday, Friday or Saturday night, this event allows both individuals and groups to enjoy perhaps one of the cheapest nights out in all of Green Country.
A large basket of 55 balls costs only $5.50, and a small basket of 25 balls for the less ambitious is only $3. Don’t wait too long, though, because 10 p.m. is the cutoff for purchasing balls.
Refreshments and snacks will also be on sale, so filling up is not a necessity before heading out to the driving range.
Gatorade ($1.50) and water ($1) are available at a low price, and soft drinks are also an option to pair with chips, crackers or candy bars. Upon an I.D. check, adults 21 and over can purchase a six-pack of beer for $12 or individual cans for $2 each.
Gordon said the course supplies mainly Coors Light, Bud Light and Budweiser, but patrons can request other brands as well.
Gordon said the inexpensive fun that Gordon Golf Course provides is a key crowd-drawer, especially now that most of the already limited nightlife options in town have been greatly reduced.
“I’m from Claremore, my family is from Claremore and it’s a struggle to find anything to do in Claremore, Okla., after dark,” Gordon said. “It’s going to cost you $20 to go to a movie, so we wanted to make something that people can afford to do that they can bring their kids to and still have a good time. Our large driving basket is going to last your average golfer 45 minutes to an hour.
“It’s something that’s going to be available to people when the nights get a little bit warmer and maybe they want to get out of the house in the evening time after work. You might be able to get two baskets, a beer and some soft drinks for less than $15.”
Of course, Gordon Golf Course doesn’t cater only to night owls.
Early birds can hit the links as early as 8 a.m. and play nine holes for $14 per person on a weekday, and that includes a golf cart. On the weekend, that excursion rings up at $16.
Kids aged 14 and under get in free.
Management has changed prices only one time in 20 years, so don’t expect any surprise charges, either.
Even in the madness of an ongoing pandemic, golfers of any experience can enjoy the peaceful serenity of a beautiful spring day at Gordon Golf Course.
“You might come out here when it’s a really nice day and not see anybody,” Gordon said. “You might be all by yourself.”
Know of any other hidden sporting gems in Rogers County? Send your suggestions to Progress sports editor Kevin Green at email@example.com.