Appeared in Spring 2014 LINKS
Born of ancient volcanic eruptions, the eastern flank of the Cascade Range is a high desert plateau where golf and microbreweries have flourished beneath snow-capped peaks. Over the past few years, dozens of courses have sprung up in and around Bend, gateway to central Oregon and, along with Bandon, one of the state’s golf capitals.
There’s more. Avid sportsmen who rise early on a fine May day can ski nearby Mt. Bachelor, tackle Class IV rapids in the Deschutes River, windsurf in Elk Lake, angle for landlocked salmon in back-country lakes, ride a bike (or a horse) along a scenic riverside path, and, if their muscles haven’t turned to jelly by day’s end, squeeze in a pre-dinner round of golf.
Due south of Bend is Sunriver Resort, a thriving 63-hole property led by Crosswater, a 7,683-yard bruiser crossed by the oxbow loops of two rivers. The Meadows, the resort’s original venue, has been recast as a retro-style layout with broad rolling fairways, while the Woodlands is an updated Robert Trent Jones Jr. design pinched by lakes and lava outcrops. Caldera Links is a fun-to-play nine-hole par-three course perfect for beginners and families.
Near the recreated Old West town of Sisters is Black Butte Ranch, an 1,800-acre resort community set in a crown of seven mountains. In the wake of a $3.75 million renovation completed in 2012, the Glaze Meadow course, routed through Ponderosa pines and aspen groves, now has grass-faced bunkers, squared-off tees, and slightly raised greens, à la Donald Ross. A second course, Big Meadow, sprawls beneath a massive cinder cone known as Black Butte.
Ten minutes from Bend is Tetherow, a visually striking design by David McLay Kidd that opened in 2009. Routed across a pair of ridgelines, this fescue-fringed Goliath, staked out by jagged bunkers, accentuates the ground game. The speedy greens resemble blistered potato chips. Except for the sagebrush and snow-capped Cascades, Tetherow could pass for a course in the Scottish Highlands. This spring, the property will debut Tetherow Lodge, a deluxe 50-unit base camp for players.
Pronghorn, originally conceived as a 36-hole residential community and now owned by Auberge Resorts, is a magnet for country clubbers. The development’s Fazio Course is private, but the must-play Nicklaus Course, routed among ancient lava ridges, gnarled junipers, and fragrant sagebrush, is accessible. Until Auberge builds a new hotel, accommodations are available in Pronghorn’s Residence Club units.
With more breweries per capita than any other city in Oregon, it figures the Bend Ale Trail has been a huge success. Don’t miss Deschutes Brewery, which offers superb hand-crafted ales and
Forget the doom and gloom. This gotta-play region hasn’t thrown in the golf towel, choosing instead to invest in the game, add new courses and places to stay, and reach out to traveling golfers. It's where to go now.
By: Brian McCallen