Diversification Critical for 2019 Apple Growers of the Year

Apple Tree Golf Course in Yakima, WA

The view from the 17th tee at Apple Tree Golf Course in Yakima, WA. Note the traditional type ‘Red Delicious’ green, complete with “stem,” which serves as a footbridge to the 18th tee. The Bortons are rightly proud of their design. Not only does it reflect the character of the landscape, but the 17th is accessible to all players, with nine different tee boxes to choose from. A wide variety of pin placements are available on the 10,000 square-foot-plus green.
Photo by David Eddy

The apple business has a lot of ups and downs, so being able to diversify is critical. 2019 Apple Growers of the Year John and Bill Borton of Borton & Sons in Yakima, WA, have done that in a big way, building numerous apartment complexes and housing developments.

The company’s real estate division is managed by the fourth generation of Bortons, primarily Byron and Katie, John’s daughter. Her husband, Andy Birley, is the company’s Operations Manager.


In 1992, they even opened their own golf course, complete with a ‘Red Delicious’-shaped island green. Today, Apple Tree Golf Course is part of a master-planned development that includes housing surrounding the links.

“We took out some old marginal apple orchards in an area close to town, and thought we could design and build a golf course here,” John says. “In an apple-producing area, we thought it would be neat to carry on the theme.”