There’s something to be said about playing a round of golf on a course where the owner (1) is out cutting the grass when you call, (2) answers the clubhouse phone on your follow-up call, (3) greets customers at the front desk wearing a well-worn T-shirt, (4) waters the flower pots on the course, and (5) has essentially built a shrine in memory of his father, the longtime, well-known veterinarian from Monroe, Doc William A. Smith.
Ernie Smith, 52, is one of those locally grown guys who stayed true to his roots by investing his heart and soul into this quaint, somewhat quirky, and very inviting Blue Boy Golf Course located “just thirty minutes from Everett,” as Ernie quickly points out.
From the moment one arrives and sees the refurbished old white barn with the distinctive blue sheet metal roof, along with the Smith homestead where Ernie lived since 1969 when he was in the fourth grade, you realize there’s absolutely nothing pretentious about this nine-hole 2,199 yard par-33 Blue Boy Golf Course. It’s as homespun as old Monroe.
Just walking into the barn-converted-to-club-house-and cafe, you get the sense that Blue Boy is not about the Callaways, Pings, and Izods. This is about used golf balls for sale. This is about golf carts with questionable brakes. This is about a father and his 7-year-old son enjoying a round together while playing ahead of me and going so slowly that I could play three balls and spend extra time putting on every green — and I enjoyed every minute of it. This is about connecting with the simple bucolic life that is in the air out at Blue Boy and feeling undisturbed and unhurried.
As I chatted with Smith before my round, I could see the twinkle in his eye as he wove story after story about the history of Blue Boy including the inception of Blue Boy Golf Course over 30 years ago when his dad constructed the original three-hole course for the inaugural Blue Boy Open to honor the passing of three of Doc’s close friends.
Smith also shared how one of his own friends, who is a supervisor of a local golf course, once came to consult on the Blue Boy course, took one look at hole No. 2 with a large stump covered in ivy right in the middle of the green and stated that the Smiths should remove the stump, to which Ernie replied, “That’s bull——.”
After playing hole No. 2, I agree with Smith. To eliminate “The Stump” would take away from the experience of Blue Boy. In fact, I rank hole No. 2 as one of those unique signature holes in the area.
But there are other special features on this course, including separate swamps on No. 6 and No. 7 that swallowed up two of my approach shots.
There’s a vintage Augusta-like look on the cart path approach to the tee on No. 8 complete with a draping willow and ivy lacing the trunk, as well as purple and blue hydrangeas on the back perimeter of the tee box.
And at the other end of No. 8, there sits a deep ravine that is at least sixty feet deep hugging the front of the green.
From No. 8 one walks through a tunnel of a classic 50-feet long, 15-feet high, 12-feet thick hedge.
As Smith accurately put it, “This is more than nine holes of golf; it’s an experience.” With the right frame of mind, going to Blue Boy truly is an experience you won’t forget.
You get the sense that Ernie Smith’s life’s work is to pay homage to his father’s legacy. It’s one that Smith articulated very clearly to me when he explained, “What I care about is making them (the customer) happy.”
And he has spent a lifetime establishing his rapport with people who appreciate his selfless efforts to give them that great experience. I met 104-year-old, Inga Carlson, who golfed at Blue Boy until just four years ago and still comes from Redmond to visit Smith simply because, “I just like to come out to see Ernie. He takes good care of people.”
It was with that expectation of simplicity that I ventured out on a solo round of nine holes and had the highlight of my short golfing career. Granted the greens weren’t perfectly manicured, but they were quite adequate. Perhaps every tee box didn’t have well-maintained descriptor signs, but it didn’t matter.
What matters is one can relax at Blue Boy. One can work on the short game and make mistakes. One can feel as if nothing else really matters except for an easy swing and no pressure from a course marshal to keep the pace going.
Ernie Smith has polished the diamond his dad started years ago. His father would be proud.