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.

Sunriver Resort Set to Host 21st Pacific Amateur Golf Classic

crosswater 12th hole
Crosswater Club, 12th Hole

Registration is now open for the 21st Annual Pacific Amateur Golf Classic, held this year exclusively at Sunriver Resort.  The 3-day/54-hole/net/stroke play tournament will take place Sept. 24-28, with 300 players from across the country expected to participate.

We’re thrilled to announce that in 2017, every registered participant is guaranteed one round of tournament play on Sunriver Resort’s nationally renowned Crosswater Course, ranked in the Top 100 Courses You Can Play by both Golf Digest and Golf Magazine. The remaining two rounds will be played at Sunriver’s award-winning Meadows and Woodlands courses. A fourth, championship round at Crosswater awaits the Top 4 finishers in each of the tournament flights.

$850/double occupancy
$950/single occupancy

* Tournament entry (Three rounds guaranteed and a fourth round for qualifying players)
* Gift bag valued at over $200
* 4 nights lodging at Sunriver Resort
* Admission into the Sunday Evening Welcome Reception and Dinner
* Box lunch and cart during tournament rounds
* 20 percent discount at all Sunriver Resort retail outlets
* 20 percent discount at Sage Springs Spa
* Complimentary access to Sage Springs Fitness Center
* Complimentary access to The Cove at Sunriver Resort

Sunriver’s Woodlands Course/Patrick Koenig

Tournament activities begin on September 23rd with check in and the exclusive Titleist/Foot Joy store. Players can use their store credit to buy drastically discounted clothes and equipment from two of the biggest and most trusted names in golf. You can pick up your registration packet, learn final course assignments and the final schedule of events.

Meanwhile, Titleist will show off their latest and greatest equipment during the demo day out on the Meadows Course driving range. You can try out clubs and have your set custom built on the spot. Packet pick-up, the Titleist store and demo day continue through 4 p.m. on Sunday the 24th. The Caldera Links Short Game Challenge happens on Sunday as well, with prizes awarded for skills contests on each hole.

The Welcome Reception and Dinner will be held on Sunday in the Backyard, behind the Meadows golf shop, adjacent to the putting course. It’ll be a fun event with great food and drink where you can meet with fellow participants and share stories of years past or goals for the next four days (hopefully) of competition.

The Reception Dinner at The Pac Am/Patrick Koenig

The competition happens Monday through Wednesday with a 10 a.m. shotgun start at Meadows, Woodlands and Crosswater courses. After your round, check out the days’ scores and enjoy food and drink specials in the Backyard or Twisted River Tavern from 4:30-6:30. Thursday, the Championship Round will be a 10 a.m. shotgun start at Crosswater.

About Sunriver Resort:

Sunriver Resort, A Destination Hotel, is integrated into an environment endowed with natural beauty and endless activities. Located just 15 miles south of Bend, Ore., Sunriver Resort is a 3,300 acre all-seasons getaway destination and conference center known for its renowned golf, award-winning spa services, recently transformed Northwest restaurants and outdoor pool facility.

The historic property features lodge-style rooms, suites, vacation homes and condominiums offering outdoor activities and adventure year round. Sunriver Resort is one of those unique locations that truly provides something for everyone; families, corporate events, couples, sport enthusiasts and more. Whether guests stay for a day, a week, or a lifetime, they are sure to find an escape filled with relaxation, inspiration and ultimately, unforgettable memories.

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.

Central Oregon Golf: Toughest Par 4s

Fairway on Crosswater Club golf course in Sunriver, Oregon
Crosswater Club’s 5th Hole

No. 5, Crosswater Club, 460 Yards – Sunriver

Take a deep breath and think happy confident thoughts before jamming your tee into the ground on this beautiful but cruel par 4 at Sunriver Resort. Clocking in at more than 450 yards from the back tees, Crosswater’s 5th opens with a difficult tee shot with a forced carry over the little Deschutes River. If you do find the fairway, you’ll face a long second shot into a huge, but difficult green where par is more than a good score.

10th hole at Tetherow Golf Club in Bend, Oregon

No. 11, Tetherow, 466 Yards – Bend

There is no shortage of challenging holes on David McKlay Kidd’s links style masterpiece. However, the 11th hole at Tetherow stands out as a particularly stern test. A sharp dogleg right means accuracy is more important that distance off the tee. Wherever you play from, you’ll face a difficult approach into a multilevel and heavily contoured green. It’s the kind of hole that illuminates why Tetherow recommends that new players bring a forecaddie to navigate the quirks of this amazing, but sometimes confounding design.

Fairway 15 on Rivers Edge Golf Course in Bend, Oregon
River’s Edge No. 15

No. 15, River’s Edge, 461 Yards – Bend

A local’s favorite, River’s Edge requires players to create all different kinds of shots around this eclectic layout in the heart of Bend. But on the challenging 15th hole it’s a matter of grip it and rip it. The tee shot plays dramatically uphill to a fairway that slopes right to left. Play a high fade and leave yourself a mid iron into the elevated green, but be aware: the uphill approach plays nearly a full club longer than the yardage.

widgi no. 13
View from fairway, Widgi Creek No. 13

No. 13, Widgi Creek Golf Club, 363 Yards – Bend

Put the driver away. This is one hole at Widgi Creek that requires strategy off the tee rather than blind power. A mid to long iron drive can leave you anywhere from nine iron to a five iron approach, depending on where your tee ball is placed on this severe dog left left hole. The approach shot plays over a deep ravine to a green guarded by a well trafficked bunker on the front edge.

No. 16, Black Butte Ranch Glaze Meadow, 441 yards – Black Butte

A recent renovation by Crosswater designer John Fought has revealed a dormant mountain golf masterpiece at Black Butte Ranch’s Glaze Meadow. This classic golf course isn’t short on scenery or shotmaking. Case in point, the difficult 16th hole where golfers must drill a precise tee shot on this long dogleg left hole. But even a well placed drive doesn’t guarantee anything. Golfers face a difficult approach shot to a crowned green guarded by a large bunker. Can you say blow-up hole?

lost tracks 4th
4th Green at Lost Tracks, courtesy Lost Tracks Golf Club

No. 4, Lost Tracks Golf Club, 458 Yards – Bend

If you made it out of No. 3 without a major catastrophe on your card, congratulations, but it’s not yet time to exhale. The Par 4 fourth at Lost Tracks requires two shots that are better than just good  to escape with par. The dogleg right fairway requires that players flirt with a corner guarded by several large ponderosas. If you do find the fairway, a tough mid-iron shot awaits. Smart players will lay back on the tee shot and play from a conservative position.

meadows 18th

No. 18, Meadows Golf Course, 467 Yards – Sunriver

With water lurking all down the left side, this difficult finishing hole has tanked many a round on Sunriver Resort’s showcase course. Get greedy with your tee shot and you may find yourself taking a drop from way way back in the fairway. On the flipside a shot played to conservatively will leave an impossibly long iron into a small well guarded green with water lurking on the left.

No. 5, Juniper Golf Course, 449 Yards – Redmond

Trouble looms on the left side all the way down this long par 4. Bail out right and you’ll face a long second shot to a green that is tucked behind a large rock outcropping. At that point, you’re better of laying up than trying to pull of a blind approach over the ball eating escarpment. Long and straight is the play off the tee box on this hole at Juniper. So grip it and rip it. No problem, right?