Spring 2019

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"It would be a sign on Highway 1 that says, 'Best Course For 50 Miles,'" cracked Terry Stratton, who has been taking care of the grounds and the course at this endearing, family-run resort for more than 30 years. Technically, Stratton is off by a few miles. Sea Ranch GC is 45 miles south via a laborious, tricky and at times dangerous Highway 1; Ukiah Valley GC is 58 miles east. But that really is not why you find yourself playing the LRI-9 in this stunning region 150 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge. You're here because you want to be here. For starters, the jagged bluffs and coastline remain virtually unchanged since the Russians were pelt-hunt- ing sea lions and otters in the 1700s. And, this region played a significant role in the development of the Golden State. But most of all, you get a reboot from modern life, aka "getting away from it all." A shipwreck led to the settling of Mendocino, or "Mendo," a town of less than 1,000. In 1850, a sailing brig named the Frolic, holding Chinese silks, porcelains, paintings and silverware, among other items, ended its 6,000-mile journey from China by cracking into the rocks near Point Cabrillo just to the north. The captain and some of the crew eventually made it to San Francisco, and their miraculous story was published. A year later, San Francisco businessman Henry Meiggs convinced Jerome Ford, who ran a sawmill in Bodega Bay, to scour the area for scavengable goods. Forget Chinese silks, Ford saw something much more valuable – hundreds of acres of redwood and fir. In short time, lumber became the "gold" of the region, and at its peak there were about two dozen sawmills from Point Arena to Fort Bragg just north of Mendocino – a stretch of about 45 miles. The redwood and fir enabled the population boom during the height of the Gold Rush and also went into rebuilding San Francisco after the devastating 1906 earthquake and fire. That industry has slowed down considerably but the lingering charm found in the remaining Victorian- style buildings that now house quaint B&Bs and first- rate restaurants – all set upon miles of open land and those stunning bluffs – have made tourism a major industry of the region. The Little River Inn's buildings straddle Highway 1 about three miles south of Mendocino. It started as a house dating to 1857 and third-generation occupants D I V I N E N I N E L eave it to a course superintendent to come up with a distinctive marketing angle to promote the picturesque 9-hole layout known as the Little River Inn course on the Mendocino County coast. Above, top: The 9th fairway with ocean view; The 18th (circle) is one of two holes on the 9-hole-layout with a bonus green that make up the course's 18-hole route; Opposite page, above: First green with No. 2 in the background; Lower right: The 8th fairway. Feeling Mendo at The Little River Inn By Ted Johnson Photography by Leah Johnson 70 SPRING 2019 | NCGA.ORG

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