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 – 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 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.
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.
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.
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 (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.
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 – 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 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.
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.
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.
* 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
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 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.
The Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show is one of the most popular annual events in Central Oregon – in fact, it celebrates 41 years this weekend. And while the event draws a pretty good mix of men and women, we know there’s a lot of husbands being dragged to Sisters for the event.
In this story from the Aspen Lakes Golf Course website, golf writer Zack Hall talks about how the golf course has become a happy haven for husbands over the weekend.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.