Read the Greens
BNW’s annual golf course rankings

For your golfing enjoyment, in our fourth annual BrainstormNW golf course rankings, industry professionals share their expertise on the top golf courses and holes in Oregon. From their best day on the links to the wackiest holes in the state and everything in between, the experts offer their picks for their favorite courses and greens.

Oregon offers an amazing variety of golf experiences, so it isn’t necessary to sacrifice quality for price. These courses reflect the best day of play for your money. This course may not be the top course in the state, but there’s no better place for a reliable round of good golf at a reasonable price.

1. Stone Creek Golf Club, Oregon City

2. Heron Lakes Golf Course, Great Blue, Portland

3. Tokatee Golf Club, Blue River

4. Quail Valley Golf Club, Banks

5. Eastmoreland Golf Course, Portland

6. Meadow Lakes Golf Course, Prineville

7. Aspen Lakes Golf Club, Sisters

8. Black Butte Ranch, Glaze Meadows, Black Butte Ranch

9. Sandpines Golf Links, Florence

10. Eagle Crest, Redmond

11. Heron Lakes Golf Course, Green Back, Portland

12. Meriwether National Golf Club, Hillsboro

13. Elkhorn Valley Golf Club, Lyons

14. Rose City Golf Course, Portland

15. Wildwood Golf Course, Portland
(503) 621-3402

WACKIEST HOLE Around a tree, off a cliff, over a water hazard. You just don’t know what you’ll find when you play the wackiest holes in Oregon. This is the hole you laugh about but still look forward to on the course.

1. Stone Creek Golf Club #13, Oregon City
We did mention the “off a cliff” thing. This difficult 441-yard par 4 doesn’t take you off a cliff, but it does begin with a blind tee shot over a hill. But look before you leap, because 300 yards off the tee a creek guards the fairway on the left. The second shot takes you uphill about 185 yards to a green surrounded by large Douglas firs.

2. Bandon Dunes Golf Resort #17, Bandon
You’ve heard the expression, “The road gets narrower.” By the time you get to this par 4 hole, it definitely does. A deep chasm on the right and a series of sunken bunkers on the left require a careful shot to the mid-left for survival. And this hole has the deepest green on the course, so watch that approach shot or you’ll be spending quality time with your putter.

3. Black Butte Ranch, Big Meadow #12, Black Butte Ranch
Trouble ahead, trouble behind, trouble to the left and to the right. Starting with a tough and narrow tee shot, this hole challenges the golfer’s accuracy particularly on the second shot, which leads you to the Ranch’s toughest green— elevated and sloped back to front. If it was easy, everyone could do it.

4. Awbrey Glen Golf Club #3, Bend
From 405 yards out, dramatic rock outcroppings mark the sloping green surrounded by four bunkers. But that’s not all that’s sloping. This par 4 loses 200 feet of elevation from tee to green. And did we mention the narrow fairway? Slice or hook your shots and you’ll be taking a quick hike in native forests of ponderosa pines and juniper.

5. Pronghorn, Tom Fazio Course #8 (private), Bend
While very few in Oregon may ever get a chance to play this elite course, this hole is truly one of a kind. Don’t get too distracted by the outstanding scenery out over the course ahead on this par 3. It’s the view below that truly captivates. Twin lava tubes stretch out perpendicular to the green at the bottom of a rocky abyss. It’s a good thing this club is exclusive and private — you won’t need to worry about the back-up when you take a side trip down for a tour of these geologic wonders.

Maybe it challenges your technique. Perhaps the aesthetic quality is breathtaking. Or the sporting nature of the hole demands that you weigh the risks and rewards of an aggressive shot. But this is the hole you daydream about.

1. Pumpkin Ridge, Ghost Creek #9, North Plains
Possibly the most difficult hole in Oregon, this stunningly beautiful par 4 measures 469 from the back tees and 368 from the front. Bunkers and water create lovely but treacherous diversions on the way to the slightly forgiving green.

2. Bandon Dunes Golf Resort #6, Bandon
A miss is as good as a mile on this par 3, where the only backstop to the green is the Pacific Ocean. Talk about a water hazard. Accuracy and aesthetic appreciation are requirements for this hole. And coastal winds present an additional challenge despite the short yardage.

3. Heron Lakes Golf Course, Great Blue #12, Portland
This par 5, 526-yard hole will test your game, patience and courage. With bunkers running down the length of the hole on the left side and water running down the right side, yes, you can get to the green in two big shots, but it’s narrow. Still the undulation of the layout makes your eye say, yes, yes … take the risk.

4. Eagle Crest Resort #2, Redmond
There’s no doubt about it –No. 2 at Eagle Crest is the signature hole. Designed by one of Oregon’s premier architects, Bunny Mason, the tee shot is 80 feet above the canyon below. The 481-yard, par 5 dogleg right wraps around the canyon, making for breathtaking scenery and good shot making.

5. The Reserve Vineyards and Golf Club, South #13, Aloha
This hole is a breathtaking par 4 that meanders through tall trees to the left and right. The giant greenside bunker is perfectly situated to swallow any errant shot and guards a green so large that its subtle contours are rarely noticed and often confuse the first putt.

6. Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club, Witch Hollow #18, North Plains
The 545-yard, par 5 hole is the most famous hole in Oregon — at least for television viewers. It’s the hole where Nancy Lopez lost the ’96 U.S. Women’s Open when her birdie putt lipped out. It’s also the hole that broke Annika Sorenstam’s heart in the 2003 U.S. Women’s Open when she hit her second shot into a portable toilet. Heavily bunkered on the right, you must carry the creek running in front of the green for your second shot. In the best of times it’s difficult, but under pressure it’s the “graveyard of champions.”

7. Aspen Lakes Golf Club #5, Sisters
Bordered by ponderosa pines and juniper trees, this long par 4 also has a positively breathtaking view of the Three Sisters. One of the aforementioned junipers protects the right side of the fairway along with a complex of those signature red lava sand bunkers. The approach is a challenge, with a distinctly bi-level green that slopes from front to back.

8. Stone Creek Golf Club #13, Oregon City
This difficult 441-yard, par 4 starts with a blind tee shot over a hill. But you’d better get your bearings before you drive, because 300 yards off the tee a creek guards the fairway on the left. The second shot takes you uphill about 185 yards to a green surrounded by large Douglas firs — a true Northwest golf experience.

9. Sandpines Golf Links #8, Florence
This Rees Jones 225-yard, par 3 creation is a masterpiece, just like the rest of this overlooked golf course. And, yes, it is difficult. The tee is elevated, the green undulated from left to right, the play difficult, but the setting among the dunes of Florence is worth it. Pray the wind isn’t blowing too hard.

10. Pacific Dunes Golf Resort #11, Bandon
This 148-yard, par 3 postage stamp hole at Pacific Dunes has everything. It sits on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, and it is surrounded by natural bunkers, beach grass and gorse. Tom Doak, Pacific Dunes’ designer, reached his full potential when he created this gem.

Money is no object here. Golfers set their sites on the best possible day on the links. Their considerations included course design and location, amenities, and service and management. These courses are their top choices for any day, any season.

1. Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, Bandon
On this Scottish-links design course, golfers find themselves immersed in the grandeur of Oregon’s rugged south coast, with sweeping, untamed shores and primeval grassy dunes rolling to the sea.

2. Aspen Lakes Golf Club, Sisters
Immaculately maintained bent grass fairways and multiple tees combined with red sand bunkers create a unique playing experience in the breathtaking setting of Central Oregon. This course is family-owned and family-built, a real Oregon institution.

3. Pacific Dunes Golf Resort, Bandon
This par-71, walking-only course sits along a stretch of the Pacific Ocean, offers spectacular 60-foot dunes blanketed in native vegetation, and boasts two of the largest bunker complexes in America.

4. Running Y Ranch, Klamath Falls
The championship-caliber course and Oregon’s only Arnold Palmer-designed golf course welcomes varied skill levels and showcases the natural landscape on the edge of Oregon’s beautiful unspoiled outback.

5. Crosswater, Bend
Situated on 600 magnificently scenic acres of woodlands and carefully preserved wetlands, Crosswater is threaded by the gently flowing Deschutes and Little Deschutes Rivers.

6. Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club, Ghost Creek, North Plains
Hailed as one of the nation’s premier semi-private golf courses, Ghost Creek’s layout emulates traditional golf course architecture with gently rolling terrain and a creek that reappears throughout. 7. Tokatee Golf Club, Blue River
Situated at the base of the Three Sisters Mountains in the McKenzie River Valley, Tokatee offers a challenging course in a spectacularly scenic location.

8. Bandon Trails, Bandon
Inland dunes and dramatic ocean vistas characterize this course. It’s not easy to follow in the footsteps of Bandon Dunes Resort’s other courses, but this third masterpiece blends the best of coastal forests and meadows with sand and sea.

9. Pumpkin Ridge, Witch Hollow (private), North Plains
This scenic tree-lined, Robert Cupp-designed course was ranked #86 in America by Golf Digest in 2000. Witch Hollow is the site of Tiger Woods’ third U.S. Amateur title. The course also played host to two U.S. Women’s Opens.

10. OGA Golf Course, Woodburn
In the early ’90s, the Tukwila Partners Corp. donated 179 acres of fruit orchards to the Oregon Golf Association for its own home course. Since its inception, the course has been a categorical success. Golf Digest recently gave it 4½ stars out of 5 in its annual ratings of Best Places to Play. The par 72 course plays 6,650 yards from its championship tees.

11. Langdon Farms, Aurora
This dramatic course boasts both links-style holes and more traditional American architecture in its sublimely natural setting. It plays well for any novice but also offers challenge after challenge for expert golfers, such as the par 4 fourth hole. Holes 13 through 18 offer excellent scenery and require precision with club selections.

12. Eugene Country Club (private), Eugene
Robert Trent Jones Jr. redesigned the course in 1968. Since then, Eugene has consistently ranked as one of Oregon’s best private courses. This year Golf Digest rates ECC the 64th best course in America. In 2008, ECC will host the U.S. Women’s Amateur, telecast live on The Golf Channel.

13. The Reserve Vineyards and Golf Club, South, Aloha
The South Course is a traditional American layout with mature stands of Oregon trees, naturally rolling terrain, and 114 gleaming white sand bunkers waiting to swallow errant shots.

14. Columbia Edgewater (private), Portland
Located on the banks of one of America’s greatest rivers, the mighty Columbia, Columbia Edgewater is the annual home of the LPGA’s Safeway Classic. This sequoia- lined course is an area favorite with a rich tournament history. Jack Nicklaus won the PGA’s Portland Open here in 1962.

15. Portland Golf Club (private), Portland
Its look is quintessentially Northwest, with majestic Douglas fir trees lining every fairway. And Portland Golf Club is arguably the region’s most historic course, host to both the 1946 PGA and the 1947 Ryder Cup.

BrainstormNW - May 2007

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