Bend Area Golf’s Best of the Rest – Beyond the Top 100
Avid golfers across the country are no doubt familiar with Central Oregon’s “Big 3” courses – Tetherow, Crosswater and the Nicklaus Course at Pronghorn are annual members of Top 100 lists in virtually every golf publication out there.
But Central Oregon is home to 30 golf courses and each one of them has its own charm, challenge and character.
Here’s a rundown of a few of the courses in the region that might not get a lot of publicity, but are definitely worth adding to your Central Oregon golf vacation.
Full disclosure: I worked at Widgi Creek for five years. But if someone told me I could only play one Central Oregon golf course the rest of my life, I would want that course to be “The Widg.” Locals agree – Widgi was named “Favorite Golf Course” nearly 10 years in a row in an annual poll conducted by the alternative weekly newspaper. It sits within the Deschutes National Forest and is a tree-lined beauty. None of the Par 5s are reachable in two from the tips, the Par 3s are among the most challenging in all of Central Oregon and there’s enough variety on the Par 4s to keep your round interesting.
Located in Sisters at the base of the Cascades, Aspen Lakes is easily the most scenic golf course in Central Oregon, Aspen Lakes was ranked by Golf Digest as one of the Best Courses in Oregon in 2015. The red cinder bunkers are a hazard you won’t find anywhere else and one you actually hope to find yourself in just so you can snap a cool picture. The gently rolling terrain is challenging enough to have hosted state tournaments, but playable for folks of every skill.
Another locals’ favorite, Lost Tracks is the closest Bend golf course to Sunriver. The golf course is bordered by national forest land and carved out of a stand of Ponderosa and high desert pine trees with lava rock outcroppings. The gently rolling terrain and old-style design (short walks from greens to tees) make it a perfect course for walkers. Highlights include the old rail car bridge to get to the island green on No. 16 and the pro shop filled with unique Ryder Cup and other PGA memorabilia.
Take your pick – the Glaze Meadow or Big Meadow courses at Black Butte Ranch are among the top courses in the state. Glaze Meadow has been getting all the pub recently after a nearly $4 million redesign by John Fought in 2012. The course plays longer than 7,000 yards now and features new green complexes and tees. Like Aspen Lakes, Black Butte is one of the most scenic courses in the region.
This Redmond golf course is as challenging as it is beautiful. Consider Juniper a municipal course version of the upscale Pronghorn Nicklaus course. Ancient juniper trees and lava rock situated throughout the course are a treat for the eye, but penalizing for the scorecard. Juniper is always in great shape and one of the few courses in Central Oregon that is open year-round. It’s hosted several big-time tournaments including the Oregon Open for many years. And because it’s located just two-minutes from the Redmond Airport, it’s the perfect course to kick off your Central Oregon golf vacation.