Central Oregon / Bend Oregon Golf Weekends
3 hours southeast of Portland
Golf Digest, Oct '09
Golf Magazine, Aug '09, Oct '03
T&L Golf, Sept/Oct '04
In Bandon's Shadow
Edited By Matt Ginella, Photos by Joey Terrill
Golf Digest, October 2009
Central Oregon's resort and golf-course owners must envy Mike Keiser. He has monopolized the golf buzz ever since he opened Bandon Dunes in 1999, then Pacific Dunes in 2001 and Bandon Trails in '05. And for the past two years, all anyone with a set of clubs can talk about is Old Macdonald, the fourth course at Bandon, set to open next June. No one drinks more Bandon Dunes Kool-Aid than I do. The place is perfect. Well, except for a few shortcomings: Bandon is on the southwest coast, where it rains an average of 60 inches a year. The resort is so remote you have to leave a trail of tees behind to make sure you find your way home.
There's little night life. Other than great golf, "dancing with the ones who brung you" is your only option after the sun goes down. Finally, a room and a round aren't cheap (nearly $500 during the May-October high season).
Central Oregon, on the other hand, is like the loyal old Lab in a family that keeps getting puppies. What does a good dog have to do to get a little attention around here? Chew a shoe?
It's really Central Oregon that's perfect. The weather is better than Bandon's, the average rainfall is only 12 inches a year and the ball goes farther at 3,500 feet. It's easier to reach, too. At the Bend Municipal Airport (not to be confused with North Bend airport near Bandon) you can land something larger than a 12-passenger plane carrying six sets of clubs. Plus, there's much more than golf. Locals love to brag about the Central Oregon hat trick: skiing, fishing and golf in the same day. Why? Because they can. Ski Mount Bachelor, fish one of several lakes or rivers and play golf at one of the 27 courses within an hour of downtown Bend.
I drank a few beers with David McLay Kidd and found a pint of irony in the fact that the Scot, who designed Bandon Dunes for Keiser, lives in Central Oregon. "I can live anywhere on the planet," says McLay Kidd. "I have a house in Bandon, but I can't live there." The next day I played Tetherow, his most recent Central Oregon course that, before the recession, was supposed to be private. I put Tetherow up there with Pacific Dunes, my favorite of the Keiser courses (and one of my top five in the country). Tetherow is more interesting to play than Bandon Dunes. It was built on 25 fewer acres, so there's less room to make a mistake off the tee. The look and feel of the courses is similar, but that's likely to change when houses start going up in the area. For now, Tetherow is as scenic as a supermodel. That's sort of how McLay Kidd described Tetherow's 17th, a bowled-out, 172-yard swing exam that might make or break a good round. "I don't like referring to things as 'signature holes,' " he says. "It's more like the centerfold." Tetherow is a good example of how golfers are benefiting from this recession. It's one of several high-priced courses that were supposed to be exclusive but are now opening their big, expensive wooden doors to the public. Golf at the highest levels is becoming accessible.
Like Tetherow, Pronghorn is another private club searching for Average Joe Golfer's business. Well, maybe not Joe, but the club wouldn't turn away his wealthy aunt and uncle and a few of their friends if they wanted to book one of the luxury cottages on the property for access to a strong Nicklaus Signature course. Not since walking around Augusta National have I seen a place in such great shape. In fact, I poked my finger into the greens to confirm they were real. Tetherow and Pronghorn are Central Oregon's buzzworthy courses.
But Crosswater Club, 30 miles south of Bend, hosts the Champions Tour's Jeld-Wen Tradition in August and has attracted visitors for years. As soon as the pros are done with golf, they've been known to bolt for their boats and fishing poles. The flat course was designed by Bob Cupp and intersects the Little Deschutes River seven times. I think I sacrificed seven golf balls into what looked to me like the Really Wide Deschutes River.
Crosswater is surrounded by 45 holes at Sunriver Resort and is across the street from Caldera Springs, where a cabin is the ideal lodging for a foursome on a buddies trip, two couples or a small family looking to stay under one roof. It's a great spot for golf, some peace and quiet, a hot tub on the back deck below some sweet-smelling trees and views of snow-capped mountains.
If you really want to be one with the woods, escape to Black Butte Ranch in the small town of Sisters, 45 minutes northwest of Bend airport and a popular getaway for Oregonians since 1970. Black Butte Ranch is a gated community that has 36 holes, fly-fishing, five pools, horseback riding, 23 tennis courts and 18 miles of bike trails. I played Big Meadow, which is cut among ponderosa pines and aspen groves. I'd consider it an above-average resort course, and I appreciated its cure for too many geese: fake coyotes that swivel in the wind.
With all that Bandon Dunes and Central Oregon have to offer, Oregon is becoming my preferred state for a golf getaway. Bandon is locked in as one of the ideal concentrated destinations for serious golfers. And I'd sleep in my car to be one of the first to play Old Macdonald next summer. But Central Oregon is the all-purpose, more affordable and better-weather alternative. Now pass the Kool-Aid.
To sample one-third of the Central Oregon hat trick, find Fred Foisset at Cascade Guides and Outfitters (www.cascadeguides.com). Fly-fishing season is May through October. Half a day (six hours) for two people costs $325. A full day is $450. "We stay out until you say, 'Take me home,' " says Foisset. Just show up: The equipment is included.
All In The Family
Aspen Lakes (www.aspenlakes.com), owned by the Cyrus family, is a favorite course for golfers in search of hospitality and value. You can't beat the pine lodge, red cinder-rock bunkers, elk pastrami sandwich or $75 green fee during peak season.
Schutes And Scores
Downtown Bend's Deschutes Brewery (www.deschutesbrewery.com) makes almost everything on site, including sausage, and there are 18 taps. Try the X-tap; it's Deschutes' featured beer.
Fat Guy Research: TravelGolf.com's Senior Writer Brandon Tucker digs Bend Brewing Company in downtown Bend. "I hadn’t stared blankly at the taps for five seconds before the barkeep realized I was overwhelmed and began pouring me tasters. I settled on a pint of their their IPA. Strong beers, over 6% APV seem typical around here. It seems like drinking lighter beers in Oregon is some kind of sacrilege, or at the very least like going to Omaha and ordering chicken."
The Other Oregon: Bandon might be a purist's dream, but Bend is best for families
By Joe Passov Senior Editor (Courses/Rankings)
Golf Magazine, August 01, 2009
Bandon might be the pinnacle of golf in the Pacific Northwest, but despite the array of world-class courses, it's not for everyone — mainly because it is walking-only, has unpredictable weather and lacks non-golf activities. For families that are looking for summer fun (biking, fishing, river-rafting) with their golf, try Oregon's other "B": Bend. A three-hour drive southeast of Portland and sheltered from coastal storms by the Cascade Mountains, Bend is the perfect retreat, no matter what your game.
Crosswater at Sunriver Resort
7,683 yards, par 72
Even at Bend's 3,625-foot elevation, this Bob Cupp/John Fought design will wear you out, thanks to flattish, hard-to-hit fairways that are hemmed in by bands of wispy fescues. Things don't get much easier from the short grass, with forced carries galore over ponds, wetlands, the Deschutes River and the Little Deschutes River. The strength of the layout is its collection of beautiful, if brutal, par-4s, but two gargantuan par-5s — the 635-yard 6th and the 687-yard 12th — will haunt you.
The 9th at Sunriver Crosswater
Black Butte Ranch (Big Meadow)
Black Butte Ranch, Ore.
7,002 yards, par 72
Located approximately 30 miles northwest of Bend, the Big Meadow course at Black Butte Ranch is a walkable, 40-year-old track designed by Robert Muir Graves. The layout is primarily defined by the large, shallow splashes of sand and trees that help squeeze the landing areas on many of the holes. The par-5s are noteworthy, especially the 535-yard 10th, which swings hard to the right and dares big hitters to take a shortcut over the corner. In truth, this is exactly the kind of course you want to play on the first day of your vacation, unlike its sister track, Glaze Meadow, which calls for bow-and-arrow accuracy.
Tetherow Golf Club
Bend, Ore. 7,298 yards, par 72 $90-$175 866-234-4848, www.tetherow.com
What distinguishes Tetherow from other Bend courses is a wildfire that decimated the property's tree cover 15 years ago and opened up views of nine mountains. But it's the ground underfoot that deserves your attention. Architect David McLay Kidd has infused the terrain with a staggering array of humps and bumps, both on the fairways and on the wildly rolling greens. Even so, most memorable is the aerial assault required at the 182-yard, par-3 17th, which plays to a green isolated by sand and scrub. If creative shots and skillful putting are your forte, you'll quickly warm to Tetherow.
Sunriver Resort (Meadows)
7,012 yards, par 71
There's no denying which Sunriver course reigns supreme, but there's considerable debate as to which should be considerd the second best. While the Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed Woodlands possesses more drama (lakes, elevated greens and rock outcroppings), Travelin' Joe votes for the Meadows, a 1999 John Fought redesign that plays like an early American classic, with brilliant strategic bunkering and subtly contoured greens. Neither is the equal of the superb Crosswater layout, though. Meadows' 9-hole, Fought-designed putting course, along with a 9-hole Bob Cupp-designed par-3 track nearby, called Caldera Links, makes Sunriver perfect for family outings.
Debating the second-best options here is a little like Phil vs. Padraig — both have their supporters, but it's still an argument over the supporting cast. The top dog remains undisputed....
Stellar Golf in Central Oregon
By TOM MACKIN Associate Editor, GOLF MAGAZINE
Published: October 01, 2003
A leisurely three-hour drive southeast of Portland, Oregon, smack in the middle of the Beaver State, the city of Bend anchors a region that rivals any in the country for its fine combination of public-access golf and off-course activities.
The undisputed king of central Oregon golf remains the Sunriver Resort, a perennial GOLF MAGAZINE Gold Medalist. A quick drive south of Bend, this sprawling oasis has been pampering guests for 35 years. It offers plenty for kids to do, superb accommodations and delicious food -- elegant at the Grille at Crosswater and casual at the Owl's Nest. Best of all, there are three stellar golf courses. Leading the way is Crosswater, ranked 47th on GOLF MAGAZINE's Top 100 You Can Play and just a two-minute drive from the resort. Essentially flat, this walkers' delight calls for 11 forced carries over the Deschutes and Little Deschutes rivers (hence the course's name) and has plenty of length, measuring a whopping 7,683 yards from the tips. Your round may be observed by elk, deer and ospreys, while your lost balls -- and you will be sure to lose some on this tough layout -- may be collected by river otters. The solid Meadows Course (7,012 yards, par 71) sits directly behind the resort, with a driving range that faces the facility's private airport and the Cascade Mountains beyond. Renovated in 1999 by John Fought, Meadows hosted the 2002 U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links Championship, the first USGA championship held at Sunriver. The resort's namesake provides the water hazard on seven holes, while the 536-yard 17th and 467-yard 18th offer dramatic views of the Cascades. The Woodlands Course (6,880 yards, par 72) offers the most diverse terrain of Sunriver's three layouts. This Robert Trent Jones Jr. design rises and falls over natural topography, with the back nine a bit tighter than the front.
Get a little closer to towering Mt. Bachelor by playing Widgi Creek (6,903 yards, par 72), a lovely but tight track on the western outskirts of Bend. Tall ponderosa pines lining each fairway make you feel you're playing down narrow chutes, and the greens have some of the funkiest slopes you'll encounter around here or anywhere else. That muted roar from behind the 14th green and 15th tee comes from the Deschutes River flowing 100 feet below. Play here, then drive up to Mt. Bachelor for lunch at Scapolo's Bistro.
Just north of Sunriver but still south of Bend you'll find Lost Tracks Golf Club. This 7,003-yard, par-72 layout, opened in 1996, was designed by owner Brian Whitcomb, secretary of the PGA of America. He crafted a memorable venue with more doglegs than in your average kennel. Some are 90-degree turns. Playing such severe doglegs can get frustrating, but there's relief: fantastic mountain views from the tees and fairways.
Four miles away, Eagle Crest -- a resort with three walkable courses -- enjoys a different microclimate from that of Bend or Sunriver. That means a longer golf season. Warm weather arrives earlier in the year here, and leaves later. The Ridge Course (6,927 yards, par 72), designed by John Thronson, is fairly straightforward, with large greens that break predominantly toward a nearby butte. For lunch, try the surprisingly good hot dogs in the pro shop. The Resort Course (6,673 yards, par 72) is the oldest of the trio and was crafted by Gene "Bunny" Mason. The standout hole: the 481-yard 2nd, which cuts through a canyon as it twists left and then right to a smallish green. But the Mid Iron Course, a 4,160-yard par 63, is the newest and most intriguing at Eagle Crest. This tough, immaculate Thronson design features nine par 3s (the longest is the 188-yard 10th) and nine par 4s (ranging from the 259-yard 17th to the 398-yard 4th). Be sure to check out the 18-hole putting course next to the Ridge Course. It comes complete with rough, trees, bunkers and even elevation changes, and at $8 for adults and $4 for children, it's a steal.
Aspen Lakes is William Overdorf's only design in Oregon. Overdorf worked his magic on a beautiful piece of property just outside the town of Sisters. It's hard to beat this 7,302-yard, par-72 track for natural beauty, with ponderosa pines and views of mountains almost everywhere you look. There's a refreshing variety of holes; perhaps the only downside of the routing is that the 462-yard 9th and the 583-yard 18th holes finish a half-mile hike from the clubhouse. But the course, which calls for few forced carries, is in such great shape that you won't mind the walk.
Just west of Sisters looms Black Butte Ranch, first developed as a tennis haven when it opened in 1969. Today its pair of golf courses attracts most of the attention. The original course is Big Meadow (6,850 yards, par 72), a 33-year-old Robert Muir Graves design that's fair to players of all skill levels. Glaze Meadow (6,574 yards, par 72), a Mason design that debuted in 1979, is a classic shotmaker's course. There's more water in play than on Big Meadow, and several holes are isolated in dense woods.
The toughest tee time in the area might be at Quail Run Golf Course, a 9-holer situated 15 minutes south of Sunriver. This 12-year-old layout (3,512 yards, par 36) is popular for both its affordability and quality. It offers solid, no-frills golf.
Get the real lay of the land at the High Desert Museum and Lava Lands, both off Interstate 97 between Bend and Sunriver. The spectacular topography you'll see there will give you some insight into the terrain you've been treading. And the best way to cool off might be whitewater rafting down the Deschutes. Hop in with Sun Country Tours (800-770-2161; www.suncountrytours.com ), which has been running these trips for 25 years. One run down the rapids may convince you that you belong back on the golf courses.
From Sept/Oct '04 T&L Golf article:
BEND AND CENTRAL OR
On the dry, east side of the Cascade Range, central OR enjoys upward of 300 sunny days per year. The sage-scented high desert is a paradise for hikers, mountain bikers, fishermen, skiers, white-water enthusiasts—and golfers. 25 courses lie within striking distance of Bend, though many are at stand-alone resorts. Bend is a 3 1/2 hour scenic drive from Portland. Flights from Portland, San Fran and Seattle arrive at Roberts Field in Redmond (20 minutes from Bend), served by Horizon, United Express and SkyWest.
Sunriver Resort, 1 Center Dr, Sunriver, OR; 800-547-3922, www.sunriverresort.com. Yardage: 7,683. Par: 72. Slope: 153. Architect: Bob Cupp, 1995. Greens Fees: $139–$189. T+L GOLF Rating: **** 1/2
This high-desert layout features ample bird-filled wetlands and is ribboned by 2 pristine rivers that golfers cross as many as 7 times. This 600 acre heathland-style target course—like many natural beauties—is often cranky and unfair; from the tips, it's pure carnage. Teflon greens deflect fine approaches into hazards or reroute them toward tight collection areas requiring a magician's touch to get back to the putting surface. Bluegrass and fescue in the rough nicely offset the springy bent grass of the fairways and greens, but they're also absurdly penal. Forced carries abound: Consider the 460-yard 5th, requiring a long, precise tee shot over the Little Deschutes River but short of containment bunkers and woods. The daunting approach demands another wetlands crossing to the elongated, narrow, canted green divided by a dangerous ridge. If a slope of 153 is your idea of fun, Crosswater is your playground.
Aspen Lakes Golf Course 16900 Aspen Lakes Dr, Sisters, OR; 541-549-4653, www.aspenlakes.com. Yardage: 7,302. Par: 72. Slope: 139. Architect: William Overdorf, 1997. Greens Fees: $40–$59. T+L GOLF Rating: *** 1/2
This quiet collection of holes set amid aspens, junipers and ponderosa pines outside the Western-facaded town of Sisters was the first OR course to be enrolled in the Audubon Signature Program. Bunkers filled with red sand provide a dramatic counterpoint to the rich green bent grass, glittering blue lakes and black volcanic peaks topped with white snow. Water comes into play on 11 holes. The #2 handicap 14th features double fairways laid end to end. From the back tees of this 479-yard conundrum, it's 279 yards to the end of the upper fairway and another 30 yards to the beginning of the lower fairway, with deep grass and unpredictable lies in between. You decide.
Also Play: The Challenge at Eagle Crest (Redmond, OR; $25–$45, 877-818-0286) is an artfully sculpted 4000-yard executive course unlike any other, a Mini-Me of strategic and well-crafted architectural layouts. Redesigned a few years ago by John Fought, the Sunriver Resort Meadows course (Sunriver, OR; $70–$125, 800-547-3922) wanders languorously through open land and pine forest close to the main lodge. An aesthetically appealing venue featuring Ross and Mackenzie design elements. Named for an extinct railroad, Lost Tracks Golf Club (Bend, OR; $43–$64, 541-385-1818) offers a remote collection of wild lovable doglegs set amidst lava rock and an island green reached via a bridge made from a vintage railroad car.
1 Center Dr, Sunriver, OR; 800-547-3922, www.sunriver-resort.com. Rooms: $119–$209. Suites: $159–$299. Lodges: $159–$309
Just a 30-minute drive south from Bend, this classic OR resort community nestled into a picturesque valley in the Cascade Range. The River Lodges, featuring stone wood-burning fireplaces and balconies overlooking the Meadows course, are Sunriver's best.
Pine Ridge Inn
1200 SW Century Dr, Bend, OR, www.pineridgeinn.com
Pine Tavern Restaurant
(American) Foot of Oregon Ave, Bend, OR; 541-382-5581.$$$
Overlooking Mirror Pond, Pine Tavern has been serving hearty fare to hungry locals since 1936, satisfying their protein cravings with filet, prime rib, meat loaf, sirloin, OR flatiron steaks, and pepper steak. Get a patio table.