Open spaces outdoors, distance between players, tee times booked in advance and long, leisurely games—it’s hard to envision a more pandemic-friendly sport than golf. This spring, as everything from gyms to trailheads closed to the public, Oregon’s golf courses were, for the most part, carrying on, with resorts offering a safe, luxurious respite from the chaos of the world.
In fact, business at many resorts remained steady or even grew, as old fans of the sport re-emerged and never-ever players gave a club a swing for the first time, according to Zack Hall, vice president of the Oregon Golf Association and a Bend resident. “For me, I have a 9-year-old daughter, and I’d been meaning to teach her the sport,” Hall said. “Because of the shutdown, I had a little more time to actually get the clubs in her hand.”
After a peak in the Tiger Woods era of the early 2000s, golf’s popularity decreased, but had been on the rise for the last two years prior to 2020, Hall said. Whether the golf bug already bit you this spring or whether a safe, distance-friendly getaway of some kind is on your mind, a fall retreat to one of Central Oregon’s luxury resorts might be the perfect option. And while resorts are a golf lover’s paradise, these destinations are also home to amazing dining offerings, spa and wellness amenities, pools, access to outdoor recreation and high-end lodging that will leave you thankful to be in peaceful Central Oregon. Not to mention they’re only a short drive from Bend. Unsure what destination best suits you? Here are five options across the region worth exploring.
A golf development set on 700 acres in west Bend, Tetherow’s sprawling new homes can be spotted on the right as you drive south on Century Drive toward Mount Bachelor. The highlight of Tetherow is the 18-hole links-inspired course by award-winning course architect David McLay Kidd, who seamlessly fit 18 holes into a landscape previously ravaged by wildfire. For lodging, Tetherow offers a 50-room luxury hotel and vacation rentals.
Black Butte Ranch
In recent years, Black Butte Ranch homeowners invested in the resort’s transformation, supporting a nearly $4 million remodel of the Glaze Meadow course. That, paired with a new pool and bistro in 2015 and new general store this year have positioned Black Butte Ranch to thrive as a golfing community and getaway destination for years to come. In 2020, the ranch north of Sisters celebrates 50 years—get in on the celebration with fall staycation packages starting in early September and $50 walking rate green fees at select times in October.
Since golfing at Brasada Ranch is open only to residents, their visitors and lodging guests, a staycation of sorts would be in order to experience Brasada Canyons, an 18-hole oasis of greenery among the high desert landscape in Powell Butte, northeast of Bend. The 1,800-acre resort offers both hotel suites and vacation rentals. Settle in for a stay and enjoy a private round on the course, where no two holes run parallel.
For lively, family-friendly resort vibes, head to Sunriver Resort. The community south of Bend is known for its many activities, in addition to the resort’s four courses—Crosswater, Meadows, Woodlands and Caldera Links, together offering a wide variety of holes for a mix of challenge and playability. Crosswater was recently ranked the No. 2 Golfer’s Choice course in Oregon by Golf Advisor.
Ample vacation rentals in Sunriver mean you can finish a day of golf (or fishing or floating) with a beer around the firepit among family or a group of friends. Crosswater members are eligible for a variety of perks, including lodging discounts, and the resort plans to offer stay-and-play lodging packages this fall.
Nestled into an area of undeveloped high desert sand north of Bend is a 640-acre area that’s been transformed into Pronghorn Resort. Pronghorn boasts two 18-hole courses, opened in 2004 and 2006 among lava rock ridges and outcroppings. The resort recently opened the 104-room Huntington Lodge, and there are a variety of stay-and-play packages offered for visitors this fall. Looking for a lesson? The resort’s Director of Instruction Jeff Ritter is also a regular on the Golf Channel, where he’s lead coach for the Golf Academy program. Golf Digest has also ranked him the No. 1 coach in Oregon.