Tee it Up in Central Oregon

Photo Courtesy of Jonathan Kingston

Whether you’re in the mood for a rugged outdoor adventure, a perfectly crafted beer or simply to unwind next to the pool, Central Oregon has long been a hotspot for Northwest travelers. Golf, of course, is one of the region’s prime fair-weather attractions with 30 courses. Stay in one of this high desert region’s six golf resorts, and all of what has made Central Oregon such a memorable destination will be at your fingertips.

Sunriver Resort, Sunriver
The largest resort in Central Oregon, Sunriver Resort’s philosophy to appeal to every member of the family has not changed much since it first broke ground in the late 1960s. Golf Digest recently ranked Sunriver among the nation’s top destinations for family golf trips because of all it offers.

Sunriver has 54 holes of championship golf in addition to Caldera Links, a nine-hole par-3 course that is a blast to play for golfers of any age. Placid Crosswater Club, a 7,683-yard gem that has hosted PGA Tour events, is Sunriver’s crown jewel. But Sunriver’s 7,012-yard Meadows Course and 6,933-yard Woodlands Course have made great strides in recent years. In fact, Sunriver has spent millions upgrading its three championship courses, including the replacement of all 54 greens.

Sunriver gives guests little reason to leave the resort. It’s home to miles of paved bike trails, a full-service spa, waterpark, pools, boat launch and unending outdoor activities to entertain every family or group. And Sunriver’s town center teems with bars, restaurants and shops to help guests wind down after a long day of play. sunriverresort.com

Black Butte Ranch, Sisters
Nestled in the shadow of the Cascades just west of Sisters, Black Butte Ranch has for decades been a summer draw for family travelers. Even its 36 golf holes—Big Meadow and Glaze Meadow—were designed with families in mind. The 7,007-yard Glaze Meadow is a classically inspired layout that ranks among the most playable in Central Oregon. The 7,002-yard Big Meadow course boasts a different feel, but is just as welcoming with its straightforward design and majestic views of the Cascade Peaks.

If Sunriver Resort is a bustling hub of family activity, Black Butte Ranch and its 120 vacation rentals is its quieter sibling with its own pristine setting and unmatched natural beauty. The $11.5 million Lakeside Bistro, pool and activity complex, which opened in 2015, acts as the center of activity on the Ranch. And, spread over 1,800 forested acres, Black Butte Ranch has seemingly endless paved bike trails, multiple pools, award-winning restaurants, horseback riding and boundless outdoor recreation opportunities right outside the door. The resort’s summer golf calendar is filled with events for kids, including weekly putting contests and educational fun. blackbutteranch.com

Eagle Crest Resort, Redmond
In a region with resort courses that can wreak havoc on even a tour professional’s round, the 6,927-yard Ridge Course at Eagle Crest Resort can be a breath of Central Oregon fresh air. Ridge, one of three courses at Eagle Crest, is not easy. Rather, it does feature open fairways that are loosely lined with juniper trees, designed to reward aggressive players and to be welcoming to the rest of us. Eagle Crest Resort’s 6,704-yard Resort Course requires more precision than Ridge, with tight fairways and small greens. And the Challenge Course, an 18-hole, 4,160-yard executive course, is true to its name despite its short length.

Both on and off the course, Eagle Crest feels unique among the region’s resorts, especially compared with the resorts closer to Bend. Located just west of Redmond, about 20 minutes north of Bend, Eagle Crest is an affordable alternative to some of Central Oregon’s luxury resorts. Its 100-room lodge is a Holiday Inn Resort, and its inventory of dozens of vacation rentals comes in all sizes and price points. Family-oriented by design, Eagle Crest offers multiple pools, tennis courts, sports centers, a spa, restaurants, an equestrian center and easy access to the Deschutes River. eagle-crest.com

Tetherow, Bend
Since opening in 2008, Tetherow has dazzled golfers with its dramatic appearance and confounding design. This 7,298-yard links-style beauty was etched out of a burned-out clearing of forest, and has been a darling of national golf publications ever since. The firm, fast fescue turf, moonscape-like topography and a young-at-heart take on the game—after all, this is where the GolfBoard got its start—make Tetherow a decidedly different experience than your father’s country club.

The closest golf resort to downtown Bend, the course only begins to tell Tetherow’s story. After surviving the recession, Tetherow has come of age, recently adding a lodge with 50 luxury rooms and a variety of rental homes with enough room for a few buddies or the whole family. Tetherow is also home to two of Bend’s most popular restaurants, a golf academy, event pavilion and a brand-new pool that sports cabanas, water features, a wine café and hot tubs.

Set at the gateway to the Deschutes National Forest, Tetherow is an ideal launching point for Central Oregon’s most popular outdoor recreation sites, including Mount Bachelor. tetherow.com

Pronghorn Resort, Bend
Located just east of Bend’s city limits and 20 minutes from downtown, Pronghorn feels as if it is in a world all its own. Yet, spend a sunset with friends on the patio of one of its luxury vacation rentals while enjoying a fire, a local craft beer and the panoramic views of the Cascade Range, and perhaps no other resort embodies all that makes Central Oregon such an appealing destination.

Pronghorn teed off in 2004 with the 7,379-yard Jack Nicklaus Signature Course. Its $10 million, 104-room Huntington Lodge is under construction and will add a
luxury hotel to what is already one of Central Oregon’s poshest resorts.

Pronghorn is known best for its golf, and save for Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, no course in Oregon has enjoyed more fanfare than Pronghorn’s Nicklaus Course. Named for the golf legend who designed it, Nicklaus takes golfers on an emerald-green journey through the surrounding scraggly brush and lava outcroppings of the High Desert. The course can be hard on struggling golfers, but it’s difficult to find a better-conditioned golf course anywhere. pronghornresort.com

Brasada Ranch, Powell Butte
The golf at Brasada is unquestionably excellent with panoramic views of the distant Cascade Range that alone are worth the visit. Brasada challenges even the greatest players, especially with its slick bentgrass greens and elevation changes, but with large, forgiving fairways, even hackers will enjoy their rounds here. This is no walking golf course, though. The 7,295-yard course, which is only open to resort guests and members, is spacious as it wends through the desert hills.

Set in sleepy Powell Butte, roughly 25 miles east of downtown Bend, Brasada was not built with proximity to Central Oregon’s most notable outdoor attractions in mind (though famed Smith Rock State Park is but a chip shot away). Part luxury resort, part rustic ranch, Brasada is designed to be a quiet getaway where the city can be left behind. The restaurants are top notch, the vacation homes are luxurious and the non-golf amenities—the spa, pool, waterslide and, of course, horseback riding—can keep everyone in the family occupied for days. brasada.com

Pacific Amateur Golf Classic
The Pacific Amateur Golf Classic (pacamgolf.com) draws golfers from around the country to take on Central Oregon’s finest courses. This 54-hole, three-day, net, stroke-play tournament is open to any golfer with a USGA handicap. Now in its 22nd year, the PacAm will be held at Sunriver Resort, September 23-27, 2018, with rounds guaranteed at all three Sunriver courses.