Fall Golf in Central Oregon: Amazing Course Conditions & Even Better Deals

Considering we have three of Golf Digest’s Top 100 courses and half of Oregon’s Top 10 courses according to Golfweek, there’s really no bad time of year to play golf in Central Oregon. Even in the middle of winter, courses such as Meadow Lakes in Prineville remain open for play. But for my money, fall is by far the best time to tee it up. Here’s why:

PERFECT WEATHER

September and October are usually pretty mild and a welcome reprieve from the summer heat.  Sure, the daylight might not extend as far into the evening, but there’s still plenty of time to get in 18 holes. (And if you tee off early enough, you can even get in 36.)

Sunriver Meadows Course Near Bend

CHEAPER GREEN FEES

Beyond the weather, fall golf in Central Oregon means discounted green fees. As a tourist destination, some of the resort green fees during the summer are a little steep for some folks. Come fall though, those rates go down dramatically making some of the country’s best courses more affordable. Sunriver Resort, for example, is offering an amazing unlimited fall golf package that includes 3-nights of lodging for less than $260/person.

The Nicklaus Course at Pronghorn Resort

Fall = Pacific Amateur Golf Classic

For 21 years, the Pacific Amateur Golf Classic has been the Northwest’s premier amateur tournament. The event, now held exclusively at Sunriver Resort, includes 54-holes of tournament golf with a fourth and final championship round for the top qualifiers in each of several flights. The field is limited to 300 players and is held at Sunriver’s Meadows and Woodlands courses and the famed Crosswater Club.

River’s Edge Golf Course, Bend

FEWER PEOPLE

The crowds have thinned and the tee sheets are WIDE open, making it the perfect time for that group outing you’ve been wanting to throw for your clients or office. Pronghorn Resort has a sweet deal through September for groups of eight or more. Starting at just $549 per person, you and your buddies can enjoy:

*  2 nights in a luxurious 4 bedroom Villa

* Unlimited golf on the Jack Nicklaus Signature Course

* One box lunch

* Free round-trip airport transportation

* Unlimited range balls

Crux Fermentation Project
Crux Fermentation Project, Ben

OFF THE COURSE LIFE

The “shoulder season” as we call it in the tourism biz, also means fewer crowds at some of the region’s most popular off-the-course spots. Brewpubs like Deschutes, Crux and Bend Brewing Co. can get packed during the summer, but you’re better off quickly finding a table for you and your 7 bros come fall. (Speaking of Deschutes, a brewery tour is a fun group activity after a round of golf and before dinner. )

Looking for a great golf-n-grub combo? After a round at Tetherow, head upstairs to The Row for one of the best 19th Holes in Central Oregon.

Black Butte Ranch: There Is a Place…

There’s a reason generations of families come back year after year to stay at Black Butte Ranch, well, actually there’s a lot of them. This is a place where you can play, relax, connect with nature and live life the way it was meant to be, to the fullest.

Golfing at either of the two championship courses, Glaze Meadow and Big Meadow, you’ll experience endless views, plus pristine fairways, sculpted to perfection.

The chefs at Black Butte Ranch prepare the finest food for you and your family to enjoy and there’s never a lack of new people to meet when you spend time in the comfortable communal areas.

If an authentic Oregon experience is what you’re searching for — you’ll find it when you stay here, nestled beneath the Cascades. Tucked away in Deschutes National Forest, the Metolius River at Camp Sherman is a great spot to cool off and stock up on supplies.

Just south of Black Butte Ranch is the quaint town of Sisters where the views are just as incredible. Take a stroll around town and checkout the shops and local eats. Nearby, you can bike, hike or go horseback riding at the popular trail system known as Peterson Ridge. And at Three Creeks Brewing you can get an award-winning craft beer.

After a long day of exploring, you might be ready for a little caffeine before you head back to Black Butte Ranch, so stop in at Sisters Coffee Company. Because, when you stay at here, the fun never ends.

My 11 Favorite Central Oregon Golf Courses

Central Oregon has quickly made a name for itself as a bucket list destination for true golfers from around the world. With 30 courses within 45 minutes of each other and three in Golf Digest’s Top 100, you can’t ask for much more. Throw in a zillion outdoor activities, nearly 30 breweries and perfect weather and, well, it’s a golf vacation paradise.

As a former assistant golf professional here in Central Oregon, I’ve had the chance to play just about every course here. Here are my 11 favorite tracks.

Widgi Creek Golf Club in Bend, Oregon
Widgi Creek in Bend

Widgi Creek Golf Club – Bend

I’m a bit biased as I spent the better part of five years playing this course nearly every day. But that’s the thing – it’s the kind of course that’s fun every single time you play. Tucked within the Deschutes National Forest, Widgi is tight and the Par 5s are long. Each set of tees helps create a different golf course of sorts. From the tips, none of the Par 5s are reachable in two and the Par 3s are BRUTAL. Move up just one tee and everything changes. I love it. (Named the Local’s Favorite Course more than 10 times.)

Tetherow Golf Club in Bend
Tetherow in Bend

Tetherow (Golf Digest No. 63) – Bend

A Scottish links layout in the heart of the High Desert, Tetherow is a feast for the eyes and a beast on your scorecard. But because you can play this course low to the ground, it’s actually a favorite among high handicappers and women who can get around it in decent shape thanks, in part, to very helpful forecaddies. (And on a Golfboard, just getting around Tetherow is half the fun.) After your round, The Row is one of the best spots in Central Oregon for beers, wings and other tasty dishes.

View of greens with Black Butte in the distance at Glaze Meadow Golf Course near Sisters, Oregon
Courtesy Mike Houska

Glaze Meadow, Black Butte Ranch – Near Sisters

Glaze Meadow is one of two courses at BBR (Big Meadow being the other) and choosing a favorite between the two is purely a matter of personal preference. Glaze is tucked way back into the resort, but it’s worth the winding drive to get there. A recent redesign earned it high praise from golf publications and players who appreciate the “new” classic look and feel. The new turtleback greens can be tricky – but if you play smartly from the tee and leave yourself in good positions to attack the pin, you’ll be just fine.

Pronghorn Golf near Bend, Oregon
The Nicklaus Course at Pronghorn

The Nicklaus Course at Pronghorn (Golf Digest No. 36) – Bend

By far one of the most immaculate golf courses you’ll ever play. Pristine fairways lead to the finest putting surfaces in all of Central Oregon. Beyond the green grass of the fairways and greens, the course is cut through unique lava rock outcroppings amid an ancient Juniper forest so it’s a scenic track for sure. The Nicklaus Course at Pronghorn features rare back to back Par 5s on the back 9 – both are picturesque and neither yield many birdies.

5th fairway at Quail Run in LaPine, Oregon
Quail Run, La Pine

Quail Run – La Pine

Maybe the most underrated golf course in all of Central Oregon. Quail Run is WAY off the beaten path in La Pine (south of Sunriver), so it doesn’t get a ton of play. That means you get a course that’s quiet and always in great condition. There’s nothing fancy about Quail Run. It’s just a really good golf course with some fun holes and at just $55 during peak season, it’s a huge bargain as well.

Crosswater Club, 9th Hole

Crosswater Club (Golf Digest No. 50) – Sunriver

Crosswater is hands down the most famous course in the region and for good reason. It’s hosted a Champions Tour major championship, several NCAA National Championships, the PGA Professional National Championship (four times) and was the site of a Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf match between John Daly and Fred Couples back in 1999. Crazy wide fairways are welcoming off the tee, but the course comes back to bite you with tough approach shots to shallow greens and hazards on nearly every hole. All told, Sunriver Resort has 63 holes including a fantastic short course called Caldera Links.

Juniper Golf Club – Redmond

A sneaky good course located just down the street from the regional airport in Redmond, Juniper Golf Club should be on your must-play list when visiting. Consider it “Pronghorn Light” in that it resembles the Nicklaus gem a great deal, but is packaged in a more laid-back muni-course vibe. In fact, it is the only municipally-run course in the region. Juniper was host of the 2007 and 2010 Oregon Open and a repeat US Amateur qualifier site for six consecutive years, 2006-2011.

16th hole at Lost Tracks Golf Club in Bend
Lost Tracks, 16th Hole

Lost Tracks Golf Club

Full disclosure: I also worked for a short time at this south Bend golf course so it’ll always have a special place in my golfing heart. Beyond the superb conditioning, Lost Tracks is known for the fact just about every Par 4 and 5 is a dogleg.  Also of note: the vintage railroad dining car that serves as a bridge to the island green on No. 16. Bring an extra bag tag to add to the hundreds that folks have left behind.

Broken Top Club Golf Course Sunset

Broken Top Club – Bend

Broken Top is a private club in the heart of Bend – in fact, you can see Tetherow from some of the fairways on the front 9. It’s a fun course that winds its way through the houses of one of Bend’s most upscale neighborhood. Expect a few holes with severely elevated tee boxes and lots of doglegs. You’ll get perfect putting surfaces and amazing views of the Cascades.

Bend Golf & Country Club

Bend Golf and Country Club – Bend

Bend’s oldest golf course opened in 1925. The private club has tiny greens, tight fairways and an undeniable charm. It’s absolutely one of my favorite tracks because it feels like a throwback golf course. Subtle elevation changes throughout create an interesting routing.

View of lake, greens and Cascades in Sisters, Oregon
Aspen Lakes, SIsters

Aspen Lakes – Sisters

Arguably Central Oregon’s most scenic golf courses as its situated in the shadows of the majestic Cascades. Aspen Lakes is known for its red cinder bunkers and challenging design with water coming into play on half the holes.

Black Butte Ranch – The Place for Winter Adventure

black butte sleigh

Black Butte Ranch has a saying – “There is a place.” One long weekend there this winter and you’ll know exactly what they’re talking about.

It’s a place that becomes a peaceful escape for folks stuck in the hustle and bustle of city life just 147 miles from Portland and 30 miles from the airport in Redmond. (Home to direct flights from SLC, LAX, PHX, DEN, SFO, SEA and PDX.)

It’s a place with wide open spaces in the shadows of snow-covered mountain peaks that seem just a stone’s throw away. It’s a place for the adventureous with plenty of room to Nordic ski or head out for a starlight campfire and snowshoe excursion.  It’s a place for the romantics with live music in the Aspen Lounge and Vino Thursday all winter long. And it’s a place for the kids with fun arts and crafts at the Lakeside Activity Center.

(Cross country ski and snowshoe rentals are available at the Glaze Meadow Rental Shop. A sledding hill is located west of the Glaze Meadow Golf Course parking lot on Ponderosa.)

You don’t have to go far to enjoy fine dining.  The award-winning Lodge Restaurant is the highlight of the Ranch, providing a relaxed, fine dining experience with some of the most spectacular views of the Cascade Mountains. The new Lakeside Bistro features coffee, espresso and bakery offerings in the morning and savory food options and beverage selections for the remainder of the day.

The Aspen Lounge, perched high atop the 3rd floor of the Lodge, offers a scenic vista and special retreat to enjoy regionally inspired house-made cocktails, wine and draft beers, and a casual meal

Cross Country skiing near Black Butte

It’s also a place so close to much more. Sisters and its Old West vibe is just a few minutes away. Check out the locally made craft beer and amazing menu at Three Creeks Brewery or some down-home dining at Cottonwood Cafe.

Skiers looking for “steep and cheap” have to look no further than Hoodoo, just 15 miles west of the ranch. Hoodoo is a no-frills, all-fun ski area that’s been a local’s favorite for generations. What’s more – by the time the lifts stop turning at some resorts, Hoodoo just flips on the lights for some of the most fun night-skiing in the West.

Making turns at Hoodoo Ski Resort near Sisters, Oregon
Hoodoo Ski Area

Not into the adrenaline of downhill skiing or snowboarding? How about the family-friendly Autobahn Tubing Park? Just enough speed to make the kids feel like they’re flying…tame enough for thrill-dodging parents to have some fun too. Black Butte is the official lodging partner for Hoodoo, so they have some great stay-and-ski packages.

hoodoo tubing hill 2
Autobahn Tubing Park at Hoodoo

Another winter adventure option is located right across the highway from the Hoodoo entrance road. Santiam Sno Park is a popular sledding area with nearby trails for skiers and snowshoers. Ray Benson Sno Park, about one mile from Hoodoo, offers a variety of trails for winter sports. Dog teams, snowmobiliers, skiers, snowshoers and skijorers all enjoy this popular winter sno park. All parks require sno park permits, available at Black Butte Ranch, Hoodoo and other Sisters locations.

Plan your trip to Black Butte Ranch today and discover a place you’ll never forget.

—–

Here’s a rundown of some of Black Butte’s holiday/winter happenings through January.

NOVEMBER

24      Thanksgiving Day Plated  Brunch, 10:30 – 4:30 pm
541-595-1260

26      Annual BBR Turkey Trot & Fun /Walk, 11am 541-595-1282

26      Sisters Christmas Parade, 2pm

DECEMBER

2       BBR Tree Lighting Ceremony, Lodge, 5:30 pm

10      Holiday Open House at Big  Meadow Golf Shop, 10am
541-595-1545

15      Vino Thursday & Artist
Reception, 5 – 7pm

16      Live Music in the Aspen Lounge, 6:30 – 8:30  541-595-1260

17     Holiday Open House at Glaze Meadow Sports Shop,
10am-3pm 541-595-1258

17, 18  Breakfast with Santa,  Lodge Restaurant, 9am 541-595-1260

21          Sisters High Desert Bell Choir at the Lodge, 6-7pm 541-595-1260

22, 26, 28  Snowshoe & Bonfire Adventure, 2-4pm or 5-7pm 541-595-5879

23          Live Music in the Aspen Lounge, 6:30 – 8:30

23, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 1/1  Lodge Restaurant Plated Brunch, 10am – 2pm
Regular dinner service, 5pm-Close 541-595-1260

24, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 1/1  Carriage Rides, 11am – 3pm, $10 (Kids under 5 are free) 541-595-1252

25       Christmas Day Plated Brunch, 10:30 – 4:30 pm, 541-595-1260

30       Live Music in the AspenLounge, 6:30–8:30 541-595-1260

31       New Year’s Eve Dinner at theLodge Restaurant, 4:30pm 541-595-1260

 

Hiking Black Butte – Central Oregon’s Iconic & Majestic Cinder Cone

Black Butte

From a distance, Black Butte looks like it doesn’t quite match the picturesque alpine mountains that surround it. The volcanic rock that emerges above the tree line gives the impression of a hill constructed with loose stones that was carelessly dropped in the middle of the woods.

Unlike the Cascades that puncture the horizon to the west and north, Black Butte can be hiked and enjoyed in under four hours. The hike is fairly steep, and with an elevation gain of 1600 feet from start to summit, the two-mile accent is a great workout. The Butte might be small in comparison to the surrounding mountains, but the panoramic view offered from both trail and summit is impressive and unique.

Black Butte is only a short drive from Sisters; from Sisters, head west on Hwy 20 for approximately five and a half miles, then turn right onto Green Ridge Road (indicated by a sign for Indian Ford campground). Follow Green Ridge road for about four miles and turn left on Forest Service road 1110, marked with a Black Butte Trailhead sign. Continue along this rough and winding road for about five miles to the trailhead. The road dead ends in a parking lot that is situated about half way from the valley to the top of the Butte. The only available restrooms are in the parking lot, and no drinking water is accessible, so you will need to bring enough water for your hike. Also remember to bring a sweatshirt or light jacket, as the temperature might drop considerably when you gain elevation.

The Black Butte Trail
The Black Butte Trail

The trail begins with a steady climb through old-growth ponderosa pine trees, so massive in scale that they almost shade out the forest understory completely. Splashes of sunlight pour down from gaps in the canopy of these western yellow pine to bathe the giants, various shrubs and underbrush, and the downed trees that litter the forest floor. As you gain elevation, the temperature becomes cooler, and the green umbrella overhead begins to recede, allowing the first breathtaking views of the valley below. As the valley opens up and the trees recede, the golf course, meadows and forest of Black Butte Ranch spread out below, dwarfed by the enormity of Broken Top and South Sister mountains.

After a little more than a mile, the trail winds through a treeless brush field, lit with the color of beautiful wildflowers in the spring. The view of the plains below expands as the meandering trail wraps around, and low flora give way to a weather-beaten forest of lodge pole pine and subalpine fir that cover the top of the butte. To the east, miles of evergreen forest unfold below, unobstructed by the charred trunks that stand testament to the wildfire that raced up this side of the Butte in 2009. Looking up the mountain, you will see the silhouette of the modern fire lookout tower rising over 60 feet into the sky. The trail continues under the tower to the summit, and ends at the entrance of the Butte’s first permanent fire tower.

pressprich - black butte
Courtesy Elena Pressprich

The all-encompassing 360 degree view from the pinnacle is magnificent, and on a cloudless day you can see 10 mountains with astonishing clarity. To the west, Broken Top, South Sister, North Sister, Belknap Crater and Mt. Washington create an impressive skyline; while looking out toward the northeast, Hayrick Butte, Three Fingered Jack, Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Adams span into the distance all the way to Washington state! The crest of Black Butte is a great place to enjoy a snack or lunch, take photos, or simply bask in the beauty of your surroundings. And when you’re finally ready to leave, the trip down is along the same trail, with awe-inspiring views that you might have missed on the way up.

Golfweek Rankings Highlight Central Oregon Courses

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View of greens and Black Butte near Sisters, Oregon
Aspen Lakes Golf Course

The accolades for Central Oregon’s golf courses continue to pour in. Last year, Pronghorn, Crosswater and Tetherow were listed among Golf Digest’s 100 Greatest Public Courses. This year, five of the 10 best courses in the state are in Central Oregon according to Golfweek Magazine. 

Joining our “Big 3” in Golfweek’s rankings are the Big Meadow course at Black Butte Ranch and Aspen Lakes Golf Course in Sisters.

Recently updated in 2007, the Big Meadow course stretches over 7,000 yards from the championship tees and features expansive fairways, sweeping cape and bay bunkers and elevated green complexes to challenge golfers of all skill levels.

Immaculately maintained bent grass fairways and multiple tees combined with red sand bunkers create a playing experience unique to Aspen Lakes.

With amazing views of eight different Cascade mountains, Aspen is both challenging and breathtaking, easily one of the most scenic in Central Oregon.

The stellar collection of courses is just part of the Central Oregon Golf Trail, 30 diverse courses within 45 minutes of each other.

You’ll want to play all the golf gems of the Trail, from the high mountain courses at Black Butte, Aspen and Widgi Creek, to the High Desert tracks of Juniper and Crooked River Ranch, and everything in-between, you will find unmatched quality, diversity and value in our famous course designs.

Looking for a way to sample some of the best courses? The 21st Annual Pacific Amateur Golf Classic in September features 54 holes of net, stroke-play competition on Sunriver Resort’s Meadows and Woodlands Coures and the famed Crosswater Club. The top four players in each flight earn a spot in the winner-take-all Championship Round at Crosswater. Visit the PacAm website to learn more, register and find great stay-and-play deals.

Fairway on Big Meadow Golf Course at Black Butte Ranch in Central Oregon
Big Meadow Course at Black Butte Ranch

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Bend Area Golf Season Begins with Central Oregon Shootout

View of lake, greens and Cascades in Sisters, Oregon
Aspen Lakes Golf Course

No need to wait until summer to get those competitive juices flowing. In fact, one of the most popular golf events in Central Oregon is fast approaching. From April 28-30, hundreds of amateur golfers will descend upon Aspen Lakes Golf Course in Sisters, the Glaze Meadow course at Black Butte Ranch, and Eagle Crest near Redmond to play in the 14th Annual Central Oregon Shootout.

As is always the case, available space is quickly disappearing to play in a tournament that typically tees off with a full field. What draws so many to the Shootout year after year?

View of greens with Black Butte in the distance at Glaze Meadow Golf Course near Sisters, Oregon
Glaze Meadow at Black Butte Ranch/Courtesy Mike Houska

The 54-hole tournament owns a unique format, for one. Two-person teams play one round of scramble, one round of best ball and a final-round Chapman spread over three weekend days. The tournament also includes one gross division, four net divisions as well as ladies net and gross payouts. Best of all, each golfer is guaranteed to play a round at all three of Central Oregon’s favorite golf courses: Aspen Lakes, the Eagle Crest Resort Course and Glaze Meadow.

The $600-per-team entry fee is a particular value, too. The fee includes three rounds of competitive golf, with cart, of course. More than that, golfers receive a tee prize, merchandise, a welcome reception, and a daily lunch and continental breakfast. In addition, the prize payout is expected to be more than $20,000 in-kind, meaning a third of the field can expect to cash after the tournament.

View of pond & greens at golf course in Redmond, Oregon

The deadline to enter is just a month away on April 16, that is if space remains available. Already more than 83 teams have signed up. All entrants need is an official handicap (maximum of 36 for men, 42 for women) and a maximum six-stroke differential between partners.

For more information or to register, download the information flyer and registration form here.

Can’t make it to the Shootout? The 21th Annual  Pacific Amateur Golf Classic comes around again in late September. It includes three days of net, stroke-play competition. The top four in each flight qualify for a winner-take-all Championship Round at the famed Crosswater Club. As many as eight Central Oregon golf courses will be in the rotation this year and we’re expecting another great turnout!

Bend Area Golf’s Best of the Rest – Beyond the Top 100

crosswater 12th hole
Crosswater Club, 12th Hole

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.

widgi no. 13
Widgi Creek Golf Club

Widgi Creek Golf Club

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.

View of lake, greens and Cascades in Sisters, Oregon
Aspen Lakes Golf Course

Aspen Lakes Golf Course

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.

lost-tracks
Lost Tracks Golf Club

Lost Tracks Golf Club

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.

View of greens with Black Butte in the distance at Glaze Meadow Golf Course near Sisters, Oregon
Black Butte Ranch Glaze Meadow Course/Courtesy Mike Houska

Black Butte Ranch

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.

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Juniper Golf Course

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.

Black Butte Ranch’s “Cool” New Look is a Hit – Lakeside Pool Now Open

With it’s majestic mountain views, two world-class golf courses and multitude of outdoor activities, Black Butte Ranch near Sisters has long been a favorite family vacation destination.

So when the resort opened a new lakeside pool area, bistro and rec center during the summer of 2015, it was just adding to an already spectacular setting.

Black Butte Ranch
Black Butte Ranch lakeside pool

Spectacular indeed. The pool boasts a view unlike any other in Central Oregon – so close to the Cascades that it’s as though you can reach out to touch them while sitting beneath your umbrella sipping a fruity drink.

To read more on the revamped resort, check out this story from The Oregonian.

Black Butte Ranch
Black Butte Ranch lakeside pool bistro

Central Oregon Golf: Best Par 3s

Lost Tracks, 16th Hole

Play a good golf course and chances are that when you’re back at the 19th hole, you’re talking about the Par 3s. The short one you made double on. The bear where you snaked in a 20-footer for your only birdie all month. They’re the “short” holes that can make or break a round. Some of the signature holes on the Central Oregon Golf Trail are Par 3s. Here’s a look at some of the best.

8th hole on The Fazio Course at Pronghorn in Bend, Oregon
Pronghorn (Fazio Course,) 8th Hole

Pronghorn #8 (Fazio Course)

Perhaps the most memorable Par 3 in Central Oregon is found on the Fazio course at Pronghorn where a combination of geography and determination conspired to create this downhill Par 3 that is flanked by a pair of giant lava caves. The yawning entrances are located in a deep swale between the tee box and hanging green. A quick pit stop to stop and explore the large tunnels is mandatory for all first time players. (Provided you don’t hold up the group behind you.)

Landscape of 17th hole at Tetherow near downtown Bend, Oregon
Tetherow, 17th Hole

Tetherow # 17

Dubbed the “Pumice Pit” hole, this dramatic hole at Tetherow in Bend finds golfers staring down to a green that is nestled in the belly of a natural pumice pit. Club selection is a matter of taste here. The hole plays shorter than the yardage and offers players areas to bail out both left and long where the steep walls tend to feed slightly wayward shots onto the multi-tiered green.

River’s Edge #16

At 210 yards from the middle tees, this hole at River’s Edge plays another 150 feet downhill. The resulting tee shot feels like you’re hitting a ball off the top of a building to a flag that is located on a green in an adjacent zip code. Take a moment to breathe in the Bend skyline and distant view of Smith Rock State Park, take at least one less club than the distance would suggest and make a confident swing. The good news is that if you go left, the steep bank will feed everything down to the green below.

Sunriver Resort Meadows Course #6

The signature hole on the Sunriver Meadows golf course is a classic mid-iron Par 3. Designer John Fought used not only the natural terrain but also the skyline to create this memorable hole where the green frames a perfect postcard image of nearby Mt. Bachelor. While not overly long, the superintendent and crew are fond of tucking the pin just behind the front right bunker, just goading players to be overly aggressive.

Bend Golf and Country Club #3

Bend’s original gof course was designed by the renowned Oregon amateur golfer and architect H. Chandler Egan who laid out the front nine holes in 1925. The parkland style layout winds through the soaring pines on the property. Among the many memorable holes in the design is the Par 3 third. A forced carry over water to a dramatic multi-tiered green evokes some of the other classic courses of the era. (Think a certain course in Augusta, GA) Keep your eye’s peeled for a resident fox that’s been known to dart across the green and snatch up the occasional Titleist without so much as a courtesy mark.

Pronghorn Nicklaus Course

Pronghorn #7 (Nicklaus Course)

Jack Nicklaus didn’t so much build a golf course at Bend’s Pronghorn resort as construct an amazing piece of landscape architecture upon which golf can be played. Emerald greens and fairways contrast with an ochre and sage desert landscape creating a bent grass oasis of sorts. The Par 3 seventh hole is no exception. Here players face a short forced carry to a shallow green, placing a premium on club selection and accuracy.

Black Butte Ranch Glaze Meadow #5

The newly redesigned Glaze Meadow Course at Black Butte Ranch opened last summer to universally positive reviews. A classic mountain style golf course, nearly all of the holes at Glaze Meadow are lined by towering pine trees and you’re likely to see more deer traffic than vehicle traffic around this track.  One of several water holes on the course, the fifth is a medium length Par 3 guarded by water right and left that calls for a confident tee shot. A small bridge crossing over a creek completes this scenic shotmakers’ hole.

View of lake, greens and Cascades in Sisters, Oregon

Aspen Lakes #8 (Sisters)

The indigenous red sand bunkers and verdant fairways contrast beautifully with the looming Three Sisters peaks at this phenomenal track outside Sisters. The second Par 3 on the front nine at Aspen Lakes plays just 145 yards from the middle tees, making this a great scoring opportunity as players close out the front side. However, it’s not so much the shot as the view of the nearby glacier clad peaks that makes this such a memorable hole.

Eagle Crest Resort Course #7 (Redmond)

During charity golf events, this hole is a favorite among organizers to serve as the big hole in one prize. I’ve never heard of anyone driving away with a new car, however. There’s probably a reason for that. Most casual golfers have better luck finding the water than they do the green on this picturesque Par 3. Club down at least one loft and make a good swing. Anything within 30 feet is a great shot.

Widgi Creek Golf Club #5

One of the shortest on the list, but also one of the toughest. When the pin’s in front left location, this little 140-yarder appears tame enough. But with a cart path and OB dangerously close left, a double trunked tree long and a steep slope to the right, the margin of error here is minimal. When they throw the pin in the back portion of this “L” shaped green, the hole can play as long as 160 yards. The landing area closes in from front to back there, leaving only about five paces to the right and five paces to the left to cozy the ball up close. Two-putting here might be the highlight of your round.

Black Butte Ranch Big Meadow #17

Playing 211 yards from the middle tees, this tough set-up hole was designed to tilt your scorecard away from par. Short hitters might opt to pull out a hybrid here to give themselves a chance at par. Whatever, your handicap anything on the green is a good result. Make your two-putt and move onto the finishing hole.

View of snow covered mountains from Juniper Golf Course in Redmond, Oregon

Juniper Golf Club #3

Before his untimely death at 53, John Harbottle III designed some of the most interesting and acclaimed golf courses in the Northwest including the often overlooked Juniper Golf Club in Redmond. Winding through lava rock outcroppings and dotted with its namesake ancient junipers, the golf course is a stern test of golf at every turn. The Par 3 third isn’t among the most difficult holes, but a deep green can drastically affect club selection and anything left short or right will find a deep green side bunker where it can be tough to get up and down. This is a birdie hole where par still feels like a good score.

16th hole at Lost Tracks Golf Club in Bend
Lost Tracks, 16th Hole

Lost Tracks #16

Reminiscent of the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass, the 16th at Lost Tracks requires a only a short iron shot to an island green. That doesn’t stop most casual players from leaving it in the drink. A wet Titleist isn’t the only thing most players leave behind. A repurposed railroad car serves as the walking bridge to the island green. Inside the old sleeper car you’ll find literally thousands of bag tags from courses around the world left behind by previous players as a memento of their round.

Meadow Lakes Golf Club, Prineville
Meadow Lakes Golf Club, Prineville

Meadow Lakes #13 (Prineville)

Designed by renowned Canadian Architect Bill Robinson, Meadow Lakes serves dual purposes. It’s one of Prineville’s premier recreational draws hosting tens of thousands of rounds each year as well as numerous amateur golf events. But the course has a more practical function. The more than dozen ponds around the course are part of the city’s wastewater reclamation process. If you’re thinking, ‘wow, what a stink.’ Well, you’re wrong. The water has already been treated before it reaches the ponds that serve as settling areas. Thankfully, you don’t have to worry about whether to fish your tee ball out of the hazard on the Par 3 13th hole. It’s mercifully dry, but plenty challenging at 180 yards. Soaring rimrock canyons overhead, the Crooked River on your flank. Can’t think of a better place for a birdie. Can you?

Crosswater #13

Dubbed “Osprey” by course designers John Fought and Bob Cupp, this short par 3 hole is famous for the namesake nest near the tee box. Depending on the year, it can be occupied by either an osprey or bald eagle nesting pair. Golfers are likely to get a glimpse at these majestic birds of prey before they let their tee shots fly. Add in mountain views, multiple crossing of the little Deschutes River and it’s no wonder why Golf Digest has consistently named Crosswater a Top 100 course.

Greens at Widgi Creek Golf Club in Bend, Oregon
Widgi Creek Golf Club, 11th Hole

Widgi Creek Golf Club #11

This is one of the toughest in the region. From the front men’s tees it’s a 166-yard shot to a 3-tiered green guarded by water and a huge bunker in front.  Miss left and you’re in the trees with a tough pitch to an elevated green.  Miss short and you might roll back into the drink. A par here is a worth raising a pint when the round’s over.

The 13th Hole at Awbrey Glen Golf Course in Bend, Oregon

Awbrey Glen Golf Club #13

A solid mid-iron shot plays slightly downhill to a green that is hemmed in by a lava rock outcropping and guarded by a pair of white sand bunkers. This gem of a par 3 is the signature hole on the course but just one of many memorable shots on this fun course at the foot of Awbrey Butte.