Big changes to Olympia Country and Golf Club draw rave review

Staff writerMarch 20, 2014 

A year of construction is complete at Olympia Country and Golf Club and the results easily represent the most sweeping changes to the venerable club since its inception in 1926.

Opposite the clubhouse that overlooks Budd Inlet, and that has a commanding view of Mount Rainier on a clear day, now stands a parking garage for 160 vehicles, including an elevator and golf cart storage.

There’s more on top: a courtyard for future events, a pro shop, a restaurant — which will be fully operational Saturday — outdoor seating, practice putting green and the first tee.

“It is spectacular,” said Kevin Ekar, a 25-year member of the club, who also noted that all the utilities were put underground to protect views.

The club is off Cooper Point Road, not far from The Evergreen State College, and the course slopes to waterfront property where the clubhouse sits.

“She’s done a nice job with it,” Ekar said about Dr. Angela Bowen, a longtime club member, physician and philanthropist, who bought the club last year at a time when it needed a helping hand following the recession.

“The club needed a breath of fresh air,” Ekar added.

In the year since construction began, the club membership has stabilized at about 400 members, half of them golf memberships and half of them social members, Bowen said this week.

Bowen joined the club after moving to Olympia in the late 1960s. Those connections helped establish her as a doctor in the community — she’s a longtime endocrinologist — and she later decided to step up and purchase the club.

The first phase of construction focused on parking because members were previously forced to park along Golf Club Road.

During a tournament or event, cars would line the road, making access and parking difficult.

The next phase of construction, though, which would have focused on the original clubhouse is on hold for the moment, Bowen said.

“I’m ready for some time off,” she said, though she added she has enough energy to make some minor changes to the clubhouse, including a new men’s room and changes to the kitchen. The new restaurant above the parking garage will replace the restaurant in the clubhouse, except for when food service is needed to serve events there, Bowen said.

Bowen practiced medicine until 1991. She’s also the founder of the Western Institutional Review Board, a research organization that she sold to a Boston-based private equity group in 2007.

WIRB was sold again in 2012 and then that ownership group elected to relocate the organization and about 200 employees from Olympia to Puyallup at the end of 2013.

In addition to investing in the club and its future, Bowen stays busy with Angela Bowen & Associates.

The business manages various assets, including the golf club, but also recently signed a memorandum of understanding with several universities in Thailand to provide training in ethics in research.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403

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