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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Central Oregon is the perfect getaway when temperatures in Vegas spike

Beat the Heat

Central Oregon is the perfect getaway when temperatures in Vegas spike

Story by Ted Taylor

Photography provided by Central Oregon Visitors Association


When Tom O'Brien called the Central Oregon Visitors Association last year to get some help planning a golf getaway for himself and some buddies from Nebraska, he was on a mission—to see what all the fuss was about Central Oregon golf.

He'd seen the stories and photos in national golf publications and had heard of Sunriver and Black Butte Ranch—just two of the golf resorts in a region where 30 courses lie within 45 minutes of each other.

His goal? “To have a memorable golfing experience. One where we go home thinking 'I can't wait to go back,'” O'Brien said.

The Central Oregon experience—both on and off the course—is memorable indeed, whether you spend a week there with your buddies, a long weekend with the family or are just passing through and have time for only a quick 18.

For O'Brien and his pals, the experience included setting up shop in the luxurious Tetherow Lodges and squeezing in six rounds in four days.

The high desert that is Central Oregon (known as the sunny side of the state) has quickly made a name for itself in golf vacation circles. In fact, the region is home to three of Golf Digest’s 100 Greatest Public Courses (Pronghorn No. 33, Crosswater No. 51 and Tetherow No. 54). And Golf Magazine has called it one of the top 25 golf destinations in the world.

What’s more, Golf Magazine has named Pronghorn a Top 25 Golf Community, Sunriver has been ranked among Golf Digest’s Top 10 Family Golf Destinations, and Central Oregon is home to five of Oregon’s Top 10 courses according to Golfweek Magazine. Accolades of the region as a golf vacation destination continue to build.

The attraction? Central Oregon’s collection of courses and recreational opportunities offer a diversity not found anywhere else.

The region features courses designed by some of the game's greatest architects. Tetherow, David McLay Kidd's Scottish links masterpiece on Bend's west side, has been getting rave reviews since it opened in 2008 and was named the nation's Best New Course You Can Play by Golf Magazine.

Set against a backdrop of Cascade mountain peaks, Tetherow would fit right in with Kidd's better-known courses along the shores of the Pacific Ocean. Tetherow's knobs, knolls, fescue and tufts are as scenic as they are potentially penalizing to a scorecard.

The lodges at Tetherow have turned the resort into a true base camp for those looking to experience all the other adventures possible in this outdoor recreation paradise.

At Pronghorn just east of Bend, the Jack Nicklaus and Tom Fazio gems are part of a true luxury resort experience. The Nicklaus Signature Course cuts through lava rock outcroppings and offers amazing views of the mountains while the private Fazio course design includes a hole built around an ancient lava tube. The resort offers an air of true exclusivity without feeling uppity.

Like all Central Oregon golf resorts, the vibe is laid back and enjoyable. And they’re all looking for new ways to attract players. Pronghorn, for instance, offers players the chance to use Golfbikes—a modified mountain bike with an attachment to hold your clubs, balls (and beer, of course). Tetherow and others offer Golfboards—a motorized skateboard designed to surf the turf on golf courses.

Sunriver Resort, just south of Bend, is home to 63 holes of world-class golf, including Crosswater Club, former host of the JELD-WEN Tradition, a Champions Tour major; Meadows, the site of several NCAA championship events and Caldera Links, a short course perfect for an emergency 9 or afternoon with your kids.

With 40 miles of paved bike paths, multiple pools, a spa, numerous dining options, shopping village and more, Sunriver Resort has been entertaining generations for generations.

Want to play them all? Sunriver is also the official host site of the Pacific Amateur Golf Classic.

The 54-hole, net, stroke-play tournament celebrates 20 years in 2016 with some 400 players participating on seven Central Oregon courses. The top four players in each of 18 flights (from scratch players to 36 handicappers) earn a spot in the winner-take-all Championship Round at Crosswater. The event includes three guaranteed rounds, nightly 19th-hole events, lunch, cart and all the delicious local craft beer you can drink and still swing a club.

Beyond the Top 100 courses, Aspen Lakes in Sisters has been named one of Golf Digest’s Top 15 Courses in Oregon while Black Butte Ranch’s Glaze Meadow Course has been redesigned to rave reviews. Black Butte Ranch has long been a fun family vacation destination offering two championship courses, horseback riding and kids activities all summer—all in the shadow of the snow-capped majestic Cascade Mountains nearby.

O'Brien and his group even threw in a round at Widgi Creek, a popular track within the Deschutes National Forest that locals voted Bend's favorite golf course for 10 years in a row.

Still, that's just the beginning.

The Central Oregon Golf Trail features 30 courses including the historic Bend Golf and Country Club, which opened in 1925, Lost Tracks Golf Club and its historic railcar bridge, and Crooked River Ranch and its gigantic canyon views. Every golf course here has its own story, and there's a track every player will enjoy.

Off the course, the Bend/Sunriver area is the adventure capital of the Pacific Northwest. With more than 300 days of sunshine, 300 miles of mountain bike singletrack and hiking trails, high alpine lakes and a wild and scenic river running through town, it’s a perfect escape from the Las Vegas summer heat.

In fact, Mt. Bachelor, the 5th largest ski area in the U.S., has one of the longest ski seasons in the country. It’s typically open Thanksgiving through Memorial Day, which means you can play golf and ski on the same day in the fall and late spring.

Smith Rock State Park in Terrebonne, just 30 minutes from Bend, is one of the 7 Wonders of Oregon and a true geologic gem. Sheer cliffs of tuff and basalt rise vertically from the Crooked River canyon, creating massive red rock walls for world-class climbing. Numerous hiking trails and endless photo opportunities await at this majestic site.

Drive just a few miles more to take a tour and have a tasting at Maragas Winery, Central Oregon’s only grape-to-bottle winery.

Kids and families love The High Desert Museum. This natural “living” museum just 6 miles south of Bend presents the region’s natural and cultural history with live animals, including an astounding Birds of Prey exhibit, as well as dioramas and breathtaking western exhibits and Native American art.

Shopaholics can overdose with tax-free shopping at big name stores like GAP, American Eagle and Victoria’s Secret or pop into one of our unique, boutique shops in downtown Bend for high-fashion items and accessories.

And craft beer lovers won’t know where to begin with our 26 breweries scattered throughout the region (including nearly 20 in Bend alone on the much-followed Bend Ale Trail).

As O’Brien and his buddies happily discovered, a Central Oregon golf trip is much more than golf.

It’s where golf buddies go to create stories for life. It’s where families go to create memories for life. It’s where everyone goes to truly experience life. Central Oregon: Adventure Calls.


Central Oregon Visitors Association

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