It’s not every day that one of our own is recognized among the best in their field, so when they are — whether it’s a Seattle-area pro winning a PGA TOUR event, a Washington course earning high honors from a national magazine, or, as in this case, a CG writer held up as the best in the industry — we make sure to trumpet their success far and wide.
This fall, CG contributor and international golf writer Tony Dear was presented with the Distinguished Service Award by the Northwest Golf Media Association. Voted on by NWGMA members, the honor is given annually to an individual who has made significant contributions during their careers to promote golf in the Pacific Northwest.
As NWGMA members ourselves, we have a vote, and when the ballots came out and we saw Tony’s name, it was a no-brainer — not only because his byline has appeared in almost every single issue of Cascade Golfer dating back to Vol. 1, Issue 1, but because we’d be hard-pressed to find a local writer who has done more to grow the game in our region.
“Tony has become one of the most prolific and accomplished golf writers based in the Northwest,” said NWGMA founder Jeff Shelley, who presented Dear with his award. “We’re lucky to have him, and it’s very rewarding to see how he’s carved out one hell of a career here.”
Originally from England — being a Southampton fan prepared him well for the constant frustration and disappointment that comes with a life in golf — Dear relocated to the U.S. in 2001, and now lives in Bellingham with his wife and two children. A savvy stick as well, he played collegiately for Liverpool University, and dabbled with life as a teaching pro in the London area before putting down the putter and picking up a pen.
And thank goodness he did — since moving to the Northwest, Dear has contributed to more than 40 publications worldwide (including all of the major Seattle-area golf magazines and websites), written five books, launched his own website (BellinghamGolfer.com) and earned the trust and confidence of some of the country’s most well-known golf architects, who appreciate Tony’s deep understanding of the game.
One of his closest relationships is with Scotsman David McLay Kidd, the creator of Bandon Dunes, Tetherow and the Castle Course at St. Andrews, among others, who confided with Dear in 2012 about a project he was developing in Central Washington. The course was being built quietly, under the radar, partly to avoid building false hope (during the recession, only a small percentage of courses ever made it all the way from planning to completion) and partly to allow the course to be unveiled to the public in its full, final form. One of the few individuals that Kidd confided in was Dear, who, when discussing the course-to-be with Kidd, suggested the name “Gamble Sands,” a double reference to the last name of the ancestor of the property owner, and the risk-reward qualities that Kidd sought to create.
We first heard about the Gamble Sands from Dear at an NWGMA meeting in early 2013 — by the end of that year, his article for Cascade Golfer would announce the course officially to the world. Four years later, our readers would name it the No. 1 public golf course in Washington state.
In his more than two decades as a golf writer, Dear has received 25 writing awards from the International Network of Golf (ING), and two award nominations from the Golf Writers Association of America (GWAA). He says, though, that he is most grateful for the friends he’s made, and “to have played some of the greatest courses in the world.”
In our December issue — which you should receive later this month — Dear takes us on a tour of some of those courses, from Palm Springs, to Vegas and Utah’s Red Rock Golf Trail. He may feel lucky to play them, but we’re lucky, too, that through the power of his words, he can take us all along.