For years, Bob Hyer was an avid golfer always on the lookout to play a course designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr.
In 2013 Hyer heard about an RTJII course in Eagle Point, Ore. – which Jones designed, built and owned when it opened in 1996. Hyer not only played it, he bought the place.
“There was always something about his courses that felt like a special experience,” said Hyer, a successful financial planner from Vancouver, Wash., and now owner of The Resort at Eagle Point, which he operates with wife Chana, along with Patrick Oropallo, who doubles as head golf pro and general manager, and long-time superintendent Dave Stevens, who worked for Jones building on the course and never left.
The “mom and pop” operation obviously has been doing the right things, with The Resort at Eagle Point being named West Region Course of the Year by the National Golf Course Owners Association.
“The award is very humbling,” said Hyer, who has kept a tight 2-handicap into his 60s. “We are just a little boutique destination in a special place that people from all over the country will want to come.”
The Hyers not only restored the luster to the golf course, they saved Eagle Point before a local bank could close it down. Jones, who was Eagle Point’s original owner, was so thankful that his “orphan course” was rescued, he volunteered to help Hyer – who had zero experience in the golf business – any way he could.
“Bob Hyer is someone who loves the game, and that makes all the difference,” Jones said. “He bought the course because of his love for the game. Success like this, as well as earning recognition by golf course owners from around the county, usually happens for larger companies who control multiple golf courses. This is a marvelous accomplishment. I could not be happier for Bob.”
Jones and Hyer quickly became friends – playing golf together and rafting the nearby Rogue River, for example – and Jones has returned to Oregon to help Hyer with a benefit event for the Eagle Point high school golf program.
“I treasure his friendship,” Hyer said. “Our meeting is all very serendipitous. So many positive things have happened. Because of Bob, I have met people (in golf) that I never would have been able to meet.”
With three new chalets (12 total guestrooms) now in place, along with a new restaurant in the clubhouse, The Resort at Eagle Point now begins a new phase, which Hyer sees as attracting not only golfers, but river rafters, and serving as a retreat for tourists on their way to Crater Lake, or visiting the annual Shakespeare Festival.
“All I ever heard was, ‘Stay away from the golf business,’” Hyer said. “But here, I saw positives when everyone else saw negatives.”
As Jones puts it, “The golf course is back in the hands of a good family.”