Golfing at the Old City Dump in Remote Alaska

Melissa Cook at the former Thorne Bay, Alaska Dump with fog coming off the chip covered groundMelissa Cook at the Old Thorne Bay, Alaska Dump

My husband and I enjoyed golfing on the old dump in Thorne Bay. I wrote about our Alaska golfing experiences a few years ago: “Okay, so hitting golf balls in Thorne Bay wasn’t quite the same as, let’s say, Tucson. We drove a mile outside of town, made our way through a fast-growing red alder grove, and climbed a long hill to the former dump. The sourdoughs of the island called it Kmart, back when residents went to the dump to find items they needed. Anything with potential worth was not merely tossed into the pile but set aside in case someone else could use it. The area made for fabulous bear viewing opportunities too.

Golf clubs set up on the old Thorne Bay dump in Alaska
Thorne Bay, Alaska Dump – AKA – Former K-mart

Years ago, the city had thrown wood chips over the dump. Trees and vegetation now grew on top of the chips. The constantly wet climate encouraged peat moss growth, which made for slippery conditions when plodding through there.

Evergreen trees lined the perimeter of the wide-open space surrounded by mountain peaks. The Thorne River skirted the edge of the mounds, and on some days, a heavy fog hung over it.

The Joy of Golfing on an Old Alaska Dump

At the top of the hefty climb, we set out the golf mat, dropped a few balls, and began swinging. Each round, we hit thirty to forty-five balls, depending on how many we had left in our stash. Retrieving them included hiking down the hill and up the next mound of covered trash. It was futile to search for balls that landed in the woods. Did I mention the goose poop? The geese used one area of the hillside as their personal toilet! I avoided hitting a ball toward that spot to escape searching for it later. We lost one in three balls to the rotting debris or forest.”

Now, for the rest of the Alaskan story.

“We putted on fake grass strips in the hallway at home throughout the winters and practiced swings and chips on the covered trash heaps in the spring and fall. We also watched plenty of golf on TV. What can I say? We were hard up for a game of golf.”

This post is an excerpt from my memoir, The Call of the Last Frontier. If we weren’t striking golf balls at the dump, we were putting them down the hallway, chipping into a net in Elgin’s classroom, watching tournaments on TV, or playing golf on vacations in the lower 48. Since our retirement in 2016, we seldom golf and never watch it on TV. We are busy doing all the things we couldn’t do in the Last Frontier, but golf was once a significant part of our Alaska lives.

Other Life in Remote Alaska Posts

A Simple Alaska Life – Dock life is a huge part of most remote Alaska communities on the coast, including Thorne Bay, where I lived for two decades.

Southeast Alaska Life – A Typical Day – See the details of what I see as a resident in the remote community of Thorne Bay, Alaska, as a floatplane lands in the bay.

Uncover an Alaska Mine of the Past – We hiked to and explored the Salt Chuck Mine at least once a year; it is a fascinating place that changed over our twenty years. New access made the hike easier, and buildings were taken down and removed for safety.

Unique Alaska Snowman on Prince of Wales – Alaska’s Tongass National Forest is a rainforest that affords unique opportunities for creating snowmen.

Elgin Cook stands at his golf mat with a club at the old Thorne Bay, Alaska dump
Elgin Cook at the Dump in Thorne Bay, Alaska
Melissa Cook Golfing at the Dump in Thorne Bay, Alaska
Melissa Cook Golfing at the Dump in Thorne Bay, Alaska