A Guide to Golfing in Oregon

Oregon has over 200 golf courses and over 100 courses are opened to the public.  Many of the courses are members of the Oregon Golf Association where you can find information on 50 or so of the courses.  Another site to visit is Oregongolf.com which also tracks courses in Southern Washington.  Oregonlive tracks golf news and has a golf forum.

Golf Digest ranked two of Portland’s courses — Eastmoreland Golf Course and Heron Lakes Golf Course — among the nation’s top 75 public courses. Heron Lakes hosted the 2000 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship.  Pumpkin Ridge’s Ghost Creek in North Plains (west suburban community) course has been ranked among the top five courses by Golf Magazine.

Golf is Getting Greener

StoneCreekGolfCourseAcross the United States, but especially in the Pacific Northwest and particularly in the Portland area, golf courses are adopting environmentally sustainable practices. They are using far less water, fertilizer and weed-killer than before and employing grass varieties that can thrive without meticulous care.

Nineteen Oregon golf courses are certified as sanctuaries by Audubon International. The certification process examines wildlife management and habitat, water conservation and quality practices, chemical use and community outreach, among other tests.

Stone Creek (photo above) has emerged as an environmental model for courses across the country. The course won Environmental Leaders in Golf merit and regional awards from Golf Digest magazine from 2004-07, and in 2008 was named the nation’s best public course in the same award category. Stone Creek is a public course owned by Clackamas County.

Bandon on the Coast

Bandon Dunes, opened in 1999, is ranked 74th in the world by Golf Magazine and Pacific Dunes, opened 2001, is ranked 19th in the world by Golf Magazine.  Bandon Trails opened in May 2005 and it was designed by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore.  Visit the Bandon golf Web site.

Oregon Courses Ranked by Ten Panelist

Ten panelists (pros and ardent players) ranked Oregon golf courses in early 2002.  Here is their top fifteen courses: Pacific Dunes, Eugene Country Club, Bandon Dunes, Columbia-Edgewater, Ghost Creek, Astoria G&CC, Running Y Resort (see below), Waverley, Portland GC, Crosswater, Witch Hollow, Riverside, Eastmoreland, Sandpines, and Illahe Hills.

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Oregon’s Top Ten Golf Courses

From The Oregonian

The Coast 

Pacific Dunes 

oldmastheadThe setting:  When Pacific Dunes opened as the sister course to Bandon Dunes, it immediately became one of Oregon’s most sought-after courses to play. Holes four, 10, 11 and 13 are only an errant tee shot from the Pacific Ocean. First-rate in every way, the resort’s twin 18-hole courses are a national draw. Those who play Pacific Dunes and Bandon Dunes rate them with the best courses of Scotland and Ireland.

At Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, you’ll find five distinctly different courses built on a beautiful stretch of sand dunes perched 100 feet above the Pacific Ocean. Bandon Dunes and Pacific Dunes feature a dozen holes that run along the bluff overlooking 23 miles of sweeping, undisturbed shoreline. Bandon Trails begins on a massive dune, works its way through open meadows and upland forest, and then finishes in the dunes. Old Macdonald moves through dune to ocean revealing breathtaking views throughout. 

Location:  Four miles north of Bandon on U.S. 101

Address:  57744 Round Lake Drive, Bandon, OR 97411 Phone: 888-345-6008 

Web:  www.bandondunesgolf.com 

Green Green fees for 18:  $140 for lodge guests, $175 for those staying elsewhere; $55 for Oregonians and lodge guests in shoulder season, $80 for out-of-state golfers; $35 for a caddie, plus gratuity; carts allowed only for golfers with special needs (one cart a day at Pacific Dunes, four carts at Bandon Dunes). 

Ranking:  Golf Digest ranked Bandon Dunes (sister course of Pacific Dunes) 41st nationwide in its 2001-02 list of “America’s 100 Greatest” courses.  They have not ranked Pacific Dunes as of early 2002. 

Quote:  “A beautiful course — very challenging. If Bandon Dunes is a nine on a scale of 10, Pacific Dunes is a 12. It’s the equal of the best courses in Europe.” — Bill Neumann, Vancouver, Wash. 

Staying nearby:  The Lodge at Bandon Dunes has 21 rooms on the first tee. A 48-unit cottage complex is a short walk from the courses, with 18 more cottages due to open July 1. An entrance gate controls traffic into the 2,000-acre resort, so this is one of the quietest spots on the coast to spend a night.

Eating out:  The resort’s Gallery restaurant offers fine dining, while a Scottish-type pub serves traditional pub fare, Northwest microbrews, and classic single malt scotches.  It is the “the perfect place for the endless debate about which course really is the best.” Bandon offers further dining options. Life after golf: Resort guests enjoy wildlife watching (deer, raccoons, seals), hiking trails to the beach and relaxing with a $15 Macanudo cigar in the sports bar.

Salmon Run

The setting: Golfers may catch a whiff of salt air, but Salmon Run is far enough inland from Brookings to be outside the summer band of fog that often blankets the beaches. Owned by the city and opened in early 2000, the course is tucked inside the Jack Creek valley. The fourth hole has an island green, with 7,000 square feet of putting space that usually has the pin tucked away in some inaccessible corner.

Location: From U.S. 101 in Brookings, drive east along the south bank of the Chetco River inland from the coast for three miles. 

Address: 99040 S. Bank Chetco River Road, Brookings, OR 97415 Phone: 541-469-4888. 

Green fees for 18: $60, including a cart ($45 in winter) 

Web: www.salmonrun.net 

Quote: “During the spring salmon run, you will be lining up a putt and hear chinook salmon slapping the water as they spawn.” — Mike Beckley, Brookings 

Staying nearby: The course has stay-and-play packages with the Best Western Brookings Inn (541-469-2173). Pacific View B&B (800-461-4830) has a great sunset view.

Eating out: The course’s outdoor grill serves lunch. Chives has moved its restaurant from Brookings to Gold Beach, but Brookings still has good food at Great American Smokehouse, Coffee Breakers, O’Holleran’s and Smugglers Cove.

Life after golf: The question should be, is there time for golf? Brookings is located on one of the most beautiful stretches of coast in the world. Come prepared to fish for salmon, surf, hike, beachcomb, fly a kite, etc. They had to build a great golf course because the competition is so tough.

Willamette Valley (South of Portland) 

Diamond Woods

The setting: Tucked away in the southwest corner of the Willamette Valley, Diamond Woods has an idyllic rural location. Perched just above the valley floor at the base of a low range of hills, the course offers scenic vistas of the rich agricultural land that drew settlers to the Oregon Trail more than 150 years ago. The course opened in 1997.

Location: Three miles south of Monroe on Oregon 36, a 25-minute drive south of Corvallis or northwest of Eugene Address: 96040 Territorial Road, Monroe, OR 97456 Phone: 800-559-4653

Web:  www.diamondwoodsgolfcourse.com 

Green fees for 18:  $27 weekdays, $35 weekends 

Quote: “It’s a very long course for someone who doesn’t play all the time — like me. It was still lots of fun, but very challenging.” — Denise Coleman, Salem

Staying nearby: This is one part of the Willamette Valley where strip malls have yet to appear. The nearest lodging is in Junction City, Corvallis and Eugene. The course refers lodging inquiries to Eugene’s Valley River Inn (541-687-0123). 

Eating out: Recognizing its rural setting, the course’s restaurant service is being upgraded this spring to serve meals from breakfast through early dinner.

Life after golf: The Benton-Lane Winery (541-847-5792) is one mile north of the course. Call to arrange a pinot noir tasting. Fern Ridge Reservoir, 12 miles south of the course, has fishing, camping and water sports.

Trysting Tree

The setting: The Scottish links-style course uses mounds and swales to vary its flat Willamette River flood-plain location. A for-profit corporation owned by the Oregon State University Foundation, Trysting Tree has three of its 18 holes bordering the river. Others are next to a university farm that grows hops, pears and other crops. The name comes from a cutting of a poplar tree that was used a hundred years ago on campus for romantic encounters between students. The course opened in 1988.

Location: Across the Willamette River from downtown Corvallis, just north of Oregon 34

Address: 34028 Electric Road, Corvallis, OR 97333 Phone: 541-752-3332 

Green fee for 18: $30 (cart is $24); special rates for ages under 17: $5 Monday through Thursday and $9 Friday through Sunday 

Quote: “It’s pretty long, and the fairways are wide, but I’ll be playing here as long as I get the great rate. $2.50 for nine holes isn’t bad.” — Jesse Van DeVelder, Crescent Valley High School student in Corvallis

Staying nearby: The Holiday Inn Express (541-752-0800) opened last year right across the river, giving Corvallis a needed boost in moderately priced lodging. 

Eating out: Michael’s Landing, housed in a converted railroad depot, is across the river from the golf course. Other choices for fine dining include Gables and Big River.

Life after golf: Corvallis is one of the fittest towns in Oregon. Rent a bike for a ride on the city’s numerous bike lanes and paths, or take a hike on nearby Marys Peak, the high point of the Coast Range at 4,097 feet.

 

Central Oregon 

Aspen Lakes

The setting: The course was designed to blend with its beautiful ponderosa pine forest. The signature feature is the crushed red lava rock that fills the sand traps. Owned by a local family, the first nine opened in 1997, the second in May 2000, and a third will open when needed. 

Location: Four miles east of Sisters, on the north side of Oregon 126 Address: 16900 Aspen Lakes Drive, Sisters, OR 97759 Phone: 541-549-4653 

Web: www.aspenlakes.com

Green fee for 18: $50 ($40 spring/fall)

Quote: “It’s one of the nicest laid-out courses in Central Oregon. The greens are superb for such a young course.” — Dusty Kline, Medford 

Staying nearby: Conklin’s (800-549-4262) and Rags to Walkers (800-422-5622) offer bed and breakfast accommodations, while the Best Western Ponderosa Lodge (800-893-5354) is a quality motel in Sisters. For golf course homesite information, call 800-866-3981. 

Eating out: Popular choices are the Gallery, a home-style restaurant in Sisters, and Tumalo Feed Company, a highway roadhouse on the way to Bend. For an international flavor, try the Royal Thai Cafe or the El Rancho Grande, both in Sisters. The clubhouse is a temporary facility (acquired from Crosswater at Sunriver) and serves a lunch menu. 

Life after golf: Alder Creek Ranch (541-549-3019), adjacent to the golf course, has guided and nonguided catch and release fishing, plus hunting for pheasant, chukar, deer, elk and bear.

Lost Tracks

The setting: Opened in 1996, Lost Tracks has 18 holes and a driving range bordered on two sides by the ponderosa pines of the Deschutes National Forest. Designed by desert course architect Brian Whitcomb, Lost Tracks has quickly become a favorite among Central Oregon’s 23 courses. The name comes from railroad equipment unearthed during course development.

Location: In southeast Bend. From U.S. 97 south of town, turn east on China Hat Road, cross Knott Road and continue straight ahead to the golf club.

Address: 60205 Sunset View Drive, Bend, OR 97702 Phone: 541-385-1818

Web:  Lost_Tracks

Green fees for 18: $55, or $68 with cart 

Quote: “Fairways are in excellent condition, the course has lots of lava and water, and the scenery is gorgeous. The atmosphere isn’t as stringent as a country club. Lost Tracks is our favorite in Central Oregon.” — Larry Sundin, Vancouver, Wash. 

Staying nearby: The entire array of Central Oregon lodging is within driving distance. South Bend’s commercial strip looks a lot like anywhere else in Oregon that has lots of new development. The closest motel is La Quinta Inn (541-388-2227). Course-side real estate is handled by Sunriver Realty (541-322-7000).

Eating out: The clubhouse has sandwich service with a full bar. The outside deck barbecue overlooks the course. The south part of Bend offers Kayo’s Restaurant, where fresh Copper River salmon is on the menu in season.

Life after golf: If your golf score makes you feel like crawling into a hole and hiding — don’t worry. Just continue driving east on China Hat Road to explore a half-dozen of Central Oregon’s famous lava tubes. 

Southern Oregon

Myrtle Creek 

The setting: Tucked into the rolling hills of Douglas County, only a mile off Interstate 5, Myrtle Creek Golf Course is too convenient and interesting for travelers to pass up. The course was built in 1997 by the city of Myrtle Creek as a way to dispose of its treated sewage water during the summer irrigation season. The course is known for its undulating greens and restricted sightlines on the fairways. Golfers don’t always see where they are aiming. 

Location: At Exit 108 off I-5, drive east on Riverside for one mile to the golf course entry on Neal Lane.

Address: 1316 Fairway Drive, Myrtle Creek, OR 97457 Phone: 888-869-7853 

Web: www.myrtlecreekgolf.com

Greens fees for 18: Weekdays $42 for 18 and $25 for 9; Weekends $47 and $30.

Quote: “It’s a nice course, but it’s a little challenging when you’re not familiar with it. It doesn’t smell like some other courses that use treated sewer water.” — Lee Stringham, Cottage Grove

Staying nearby: The course has stay-and-play packages with Seven Feathers Hotel and Casino (800-548-8461), plus three more lodges in Canyonville (10 miles south) and Roseburg (15 miles north).

Eating out: The golf club serves grilled sandwiches. The best restaurant nearby is Kelley’s Steakhouse, five miles south of the course at Exit 103 on I-5.

Life after golf: Myrtle Creek is centrally located among the many tourists attractions of Douglas County. Nearby are covered bridges, waterfalls, a casino, the Cow Creek Scenic Byway and Wildlife Safari.

Running Y

The setting: On the south shore of Upper Klamath Lake, the Running Y is south-central Oregon’s premier destination resort. The property has a mix of homes, nightly rentals and time-share units. Opened in 1998, the 18-hole course was created by the Arnold Palmer Course Design Company. 

Location: Seven miles northwest of Klamath Falls at 5500 Running Y Road, Klamath Falls, OR 97601 Phone:  541-850-5500

Web: www.runningy.com

Green fees for 18: $75, plus $36 for a cart

Quote: “The Running Y is designed for every golfer to either play high risk for high rewards, or to play smart and be safe. Every shot gives you that choice.” — Dusty Kline, Medford

Staying nearby: For anything from a four-bedroom house to a motel unit, call the Running Y Hotel at 541-850-5500. Klamath Falls, which is a short drive to the east, has more options.

Eating out: There’s no need to head for town to eat, with the Sugar Pine Cafe open for breakfast and lunch at the resort. The Ranch House serves Western cuisine for dinner.

Life after golf: The Running Y has a fitness center, swimming pool, bike trails, an equestrian center and canoe rentals. Bring binoculars for outstanding bird-watching on Upper Klamath Lake.

Eastern Oregon 

Buffalo Peak

The setting: A Scottish links-style course, where golfers driving from the back tees rarely see the greens they are aiming for. The tees, greens and rough get irrigated during summer, while the native grasses and wildflowers of spring turn brown and die. The contrast is stark. Owned by the city of Union, the course opened in September 2000.

Location: On the southeast edge of Union in the foothills of the Wallowa Mountains. Turn east on Fullton Street.

Address: Union, OR 97883 Phone: 541-562-5527

Green fees for 18: $26 on weekends and $22 on weekdays ($23 and $19 for ages 18 and younger). $25 for seniors, including cart. 

Quote: “You don’t want to hit it in the dried grass,” said Ron Moschkau, La Grande. His son, Craig, 12, concurred: “This course is killing us for lost balls.” 

Staying nearby: The Union Hotel (541-562-6135), a 1921-vintage hotel, has been painstakingly remodeled room by room. The hotel is the only inn in town, but it’s as much fun as the golf course. Each room has a unique themed decor. 

Eating out: Nellie Jean’s, inside the Union Hotel, serves lunches made from fresh ingredients. Foley’s Station, across from City Hall in La Grande, has the best food in the Grande Ronde Valley. The golf clubhouse, a temporary double-wide trailer, serves snacks. 

Life after golf: The Cove Pool, a natural warm springs with a concrete swimming pool, is eight miles north of Union in the neighboring town of Cove. Bring binoculars to watch wildlife in the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area 10 miles west of Union.

Wildhorse

The setting: Rolling wheat fields and the hazy, rounded tops of the Blue Mountains form the backdrop of Eastern Oregon’s top golf resort. Opened in 1997, Wildhorse Golf Course is a traditional Scottish links-style course with lots of bunkers and tall grasses. The adjoining Wildhorse Resort is one of two casino golf courses in Oregon (the other is Kah-Nee-Ta near Warm Springs). 

Location: Exit 216 from Interstate 84, six miles east of Pendleton Address: 72777 Highway 331, Pendleton, OR 97801 Phone: 800-654-9453, Ext. 4

Web: www.wildhorseresort.com

Greens fees for 18: $30 weekends, $25 weekdays

Quote: “It’s well-maintained, average size and plays like a Western Oregon-type course — except the ball rolls a long way, and it can be windy. The trees are babies and will take some years to mature.” — Colin Tucker, Canby High School student

Staying nearby: Wildhorse’s 100-room hotel is as convenient as it gets for course-side lodging in Oregon. The Red Lion Hotel (541-276-6111) in Pendleton, one of several motels just off Exit 210 of I-84, has more of those marvelous views of the Umatilla County wheat fields.

Eating out: The Clubhouse Grill serves hungry golfers. Other restaurants at the resort are the Kinship Cafe and the casino snack bar and restaurant. Raphael’s in Pendleton ranks among the best restaurants in Eastern Oregon. 

Life after golf: The casino is open 24 hours a day. Tamastslikt Cultural Institute, the only Native American-owned interpretive center on the Oregon Trail, is part of the resort. Walla Walla’s wine country begins a 30-mile drive to the north. The Oregon Trail Interpretive Park, at Exit 248 atop the Blue Mountains, is a good place to escape summer’s heat.