As a kid growing up in Portland, Jeff Fought remembers fondly his annual family golfing vacations to Central Oregon.
Home to fledgling Sunriver Resort and Black Butte Ranch, the High Desert region was hardly the something-for-every-golfer destination that it is today. The Meadows at Sunriver and Big Meadow at Black Butte Ranch were fun, recalls Fought, now 60. But after redesigns decades later, both are significantly better.
“The developers of Sunriver Resort and Black Butte Ranch were visionaries,” said Fought, who serves as Black Butte Ranch’s director of golf, a role he’s held for 20 years. “Who would’ve thought that Central Oregon would become what it is today? Now you have the choice of 30 courses within 30 miles of each other, and the diversity and quality is unmatched.”
Sunriver Resort turned 50 in 2018. Black Butte Ranch turns 50 in 2020. What has come since their births—the golf courses, destination resorts, beer, food and thriving arts and culture scene—is nothing short of remarkable. Sunriver Resort is now home to four courses, including Crosswater Club, one of three Golf Digest Top 100 courses in the region. Black Butte Ranch is home to two player-friendly courses, including the John Fought-redesigned Glaze Meadow.
Once all alone, they have plenty of company now. Pronghorn brought another Golf Digest Top 100 course, the High Desert gem Jack Nicklaus Course, and added the striking Fazio Course.
David McLay Kidd, who famously designed Bandon Dunes, gave Central Oregon its first taste of Scottish Heathland links-style golf with Tetherow, another Top 100 gem. Brasada Ranch rolls through the desert hills east of Bend offering one of the most playable designs in the region.
Despite its 50-year evolution, the qualities that made Central Oregon so appealing to those early visionaries are still in play today.
“I spent my life traveling all over the world,” said Kidd of relocating to Bend after designing Tetherow. “I worked in Pakistan, Nepal, Africa, Fiji, Central America and all over Europe. Bend was the most beautiful place I had visited. It had everything that I wanted to live, and it didn’t have much traffic. It was big enough not to be a little village and small enough not to be a city.”
Some things in Central Oregon never change.
To plan a golf trip to Central Oregon go to centraloregongolftrail.com.