Sunday, August 28, 2022

Oregon Trip

I spent one of the best summers of my life working in Oregon when I was in college.  I was trying to decide on a summer internship, and was looking through the book of places available to Professional Golf Management students at Campbell University, and noticed Crosswater in Sunriver, Oregon.  I contacted them and was hired for a summer internship.  

Bandon Preserve

I drove to Oregon from Virginia with my mom and drove back with my dad, creating wonderful memories with both of them.  While I was working at Crosswater, I asked my boss if he could get me on Bandon Dunes.  He was happy to do it, and I made the five hour drive to Bandon one afternoon.  I played Bandon Dunes in the afternoon, spent the night and played Pacific Dunes in the morning.  At the time, that was all that existed at Bandon Dunes resort.  

Bandon Trails

Twenty-one long years later I returned to Bandon to check out the four courses that were built since I was last in Oregon.  My trip also took me to some wonderful courses in Portland, Bend, and the high desert of Eastern Oregon.

Sheep Ranch

My trip began in the western suburbs of Portland at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club, recent host of the controversial LIV Golf Tour.

Both courses at Pumpkin Ridge were designed by Bob Cupp.  I began at the publicly accessible Ghost Creek course.  The par threes are the strength of the course.

Pumpkin Ridge Ghost Creek, Par three 7th hole

I headed over to the private Witch Hollow course after my round at Ghost Creek.  Witch Hollow is the course that hosted the US Women's Open in the 90's, and the recent LIV Tournament.  The course relies on narrow fairways and thick rough to create its difficulty.

Pumpkin Ridge Witch Hollow, Par three 2nd hole

Day two of the trip began in Portland and would later take me to the coast.  I started the day at the Heron Lakes Golf Club.  This incredibly busy (678 rounds on the day I played) thirty-six hole facility features two courses designed by Robert Trent Jones II, Great Blue and Greenback.  I played the longer and harder Great Blue course.  
Heron Lakes Great Blue, Par three 4th hole

After my 6:00 am round at Heron Lakes, I made the hour-and-a-half drive over the mountains to the coast of Oregon.  Gearhart Golf Links was my next destination on day two.  Gearhart claims to be the oldest golf course west of the Mississippi and was restored about ten years ago.  The restoration was a big success and now the small town can claim an amazing golf course that brings people from all over.  The course features one of the toughest 18th holes I've ever played.  Straight up hill, into the wind, 600+ yards!
Gearhart Golf Links, Par five 18th hole.

I rounded out my brief trip to the northern coast of Oregon with a visit to Astoria Golf & Country Club, one of the most fun courses I have ever played.  
Astoria G & CC, 1st green in foreground, Par three 17th hole in background

Many of the holes are laid out between giant ridges creating a tunnel like effect.  
Astoria G&CC, Par four 3rd hole

Day three of the trip took me back to the Portland area.  I began at The Reserve Vineyard & Golf Club.  The Reserve has two courses and I was there to play the championship South course designed by John Fought in the late 90's.
Reserve Vineyards, Short Par four 5th hole

I headed to the southern part of Portland next.  I found myself with a little over an hour of time to kill before my next scheduled round, so I decided to stop by Eastmoreland Golf Course, a municipal course designed by Chandler Egan in the 1920's.  Egan is more well known for his redesign of Pebble Beach.  As I walked into the golf shop, I noticed there was nobody on the 10th or 11th holes as they are right in front of you as you walk from the parking lot to the clubhouse.  I went in the shop and asked if it was possible to play the back nine, as I didn't have a lot of time.  They were very kind to let me jump out and experience this wonderful municipal course.
Eastmoreland Golf Course, Par four 18th hole

After my quick tour of the back nine at Eastmoreland, I headed just two miles south to one of the highlights of the trip, Waverley Country Club, also designed by Chandler Egan and restored by Gil Hanse in 2012.  Waverley sits on a wonderfully undulating piece of property next to the Willamette river.  The course climbs up and down the ridges so perfectly it's amazing they were able to build this course in the early 1900's.
Waverley Country Club, Par five 12th hole

After my round at Waverley I embarked on the lengthy but beautiful drive to Bandon.  Day four of the trip was everything I could possibly want in a day of golf.  I played four courses, walked three, and got to be the first person out on what turned out to be one of the best courses in the country.  
Old MacDonald, Par four 1st hole, Double Plateau

This was Old MacDonald, designed by Tom Doak and Jim Urbina as a tribute to the designs of Charles Blair MacDonald and Seth Raynor.  They give you a piece of paper before you tee off at Old Mac that describes the template and what holes inspired it.  I really applaud Bandon for doing this because it educates the general public about the architecture of some of the best designers in the world.

Old MacDonald, par four 7th hole, Ocean

My tee time at Old MacDonald was 7:30.  I knew Bandon started tee times at 7, so I expected there to be a few groups in front of me, and I figured I would be paired with people.  When I pulled into the parking lot I didn't see any other cars.  When I checked in I was told I was first off by myself and I could go whenever I was ready.  It was a wonderfully dark and misty morning, and I was in absolute heaven by myself on a course where the template holes that I love so much are absolutely nailed by Doak & Urbina.  The Short 5th hole pictured below was my favorite.  The green goes above and beyond the typical Short hole with the thumbprint in the middle of the green into something completely original, and yet set in the past.
Old MacDonald, Par three 5th hole, Short

I walked Old Mac in a little over two hours and the wonderful people at Bandon Dunes were able to move up my time at Bandon Trails several hours so I pretty much got off as soon as I got over there.  This became very important for the rest of the day.  Bandon Trails was designed by Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw.  I remember when I was at Bandon in 2001 they were talking about the next course, which would become Bandon Trails.  The course features one of the best short par fours in golf, the 14th.  I was shocked reading how many people disliked the hole.  To me it's the perfect driveable par four.  If you don't pull off the low percentage shot that gets you on the green, you are appropriately punished with a tough second shot that doesn't guarantee you birdie, let alone par.  I hit it just right of the green off the tee and had to hit a great shot just to keep it on the green.  Wonderful hole.
Bandon Trails, Short Par four 14th hole

I wrapped up my round at Bandon Trails around 2:30.  As some of you know, the third round of the day at Bandon is free, so since I was right there, I decided to play Bandon Preserve.  The wonderful staff got me out in front of a group of 16 and I had a great time on one of the best par three courses in the world.
Bandon Preserve, Par three 9th hole

Even though I had just walked 49 holes of golf, I still had some energy left so I headed a few miles down the road to the Dan Hixon designed Bandon Crossings, which thankfully allows carts!  Crossings offers a great break from the Bandon courses for those that can't walk 36 holes a day.  The course may be a slight step down from the resort, but it is still a very solid course.
Bandon Crossings, Par four 13th hole

After a wonderful night stay at the Lodge at Bandon, I started my morning with a visit to the Punchbowl putting course located at the Pacific Dunes Clubhouse.

Golf on day five of the trip began at the newest course at the resort, Sheep Ranch.  Designed by Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw, Sheep Ranch replaced the original Sheep Ranch course which was a sort of choose your own adventure course, with 12 greens and multiple routing options.  The new course by C&C doesn't have any bunkers due to the very windy site.
Sheep Ranch, Par three 16th hole

The 2nd improvised course of the trip was next up on Day five.  I had originally planned on playing Bandon Preserve in the afternoon but because of my good fortune with pace of play, I played it the previous day so I was able to visit Bar Run Golf & RV Resort on my afternoon drive from Bandon to Bend.  Bar Run just opened the last eight holes of the design after having ten holes open for a year.  The course is a Dan Hixon design.
Bar Run Golf & RV Resort, 17th green in foreground, 12th in background.

The sixth day of my trip saw a brief return to the area where I spent a wonderful summer in 2001.  The Sunriver/Bend/Redmond area is one of my favorite places on earth and one day I hope to spend significant time there, but today I was there to play Juniper Golf Club in Redmond, before I headed to Eastern Oregon.  Juniper is a public course designed by John Harbottle near the airport.
Juniper Golf Club, Par four 4th hole

After my early morning round at Juniper, I headed three hours east to Seneca, Oregon and the wonderful and unique Silvies Valley Ranch.  Silvies is a working cattle ranch that built a unique set of golf courses a couple years ago.  The main attraction is the unique reversible course with the routings named Craddock and Hankins.  You must stay overnight to play both routings, which allowed me to experience the wonderful resort in it's entirety.  The resort also has a nine hole par three course called Chief Egan, and a very unique seven hole challenge course called McVeigh's Gauntlet.  
There is very little margin for error on the McVeigh's Gauntlet course at Silvies Valley Ranch

First up for me was the Chief Egan par three course.  All courses at the facility were designed by Dan Hixon.  Egan is a very casual and fun walking course that is a good way to warm up before a round on the big course.
Silvies Valley Ranch, Chief Egan course, Par three 2nd hole

Next I embarked on the very tough walk that is the McVeigh's Gauntlet course.  The course has five par threes and two par fours.  The walk is so arduous that they reward you with a cooler of beer on the third tee for making the climb.
Silvies Valley Ranch, McVeigh's Gauntlet, Short Par four 6th hole

I caught my breath for a few minutes after my walk around McVeigh's and jumped in my golf cart for a round on the big course.  Today I was playing the Craddock routing.  Each routing features fourteen holes played in reverse of the other routing, with each course having four unique holes.  
Silvies Valley Ranch, Craddock Course, long Par three 7th hole

After a light dinner at the clubhouse, I tried out the Claire Owens putting Course.  

Keeping with the theme of the big course, the putting course is also reversible.

After a wonderful night sleep at the resort, the final day of my trip began at the Hankins course at Silvies.  Hankins is the more scenic of the two courses, which probably explains why it ranks higher in the various magazine rankings.
Silvies Valley Ranch, Hankins Course, Par three 15th hole

I headed back to Portland after my round at Hankins.  I crossed over the Columbia River, that serves as the border between Oregon and Washington, for a round in Vancouver, Washington at Royal Oaks Country Club.  Designed in the 1940's, Royal Oaks relies on tree-lined fairways for its challenge.  Tight courses play to my strength as an accurate driver of the ball so I didn't mind so much.
Royal Oaks Country Club, Par three 5th hole

I can't even begin to tell you how big a thrill it was to get back to Oregon after a 21 year absence.  Bandon Dunes really is dream golf and is a must for anybody that loves the game of golf.  I have always dreamed of the Bend area as a possible retirement or working destination and after visiting again, I will be working hard to make that a reality.



Thursday, July 7, 2022

Florida May 2022 Trip

I know what your thinking Florida again?  Really?  Wasn't your last trip write up Florida?  Why don't you go someplace else?  Well this time I had a very good reason to make the relatively short trip down to Florida, golf course #2000.  I also made the mandatory stop at Streamsong as well as playing some very good courses in South Florida.

Everglades Club, biarritz par three 14th hole

The trip began, as most Florida trips do for me, at Streamsong Resort.  This was my 17th visit to Streamsong and I love the Red & Blue courses more every time I play them.  This time I teed it up on the Tom Doak designed Blue course.  One of my favorite courses that has one of my all time favorite holes: Top 18

Streamsong Blue Course, par four 4th hole

When I left for Florida I had played 1998 courses so I needed to play somewhere in Central Florida for #1999 before I headed to South Florida for the big 2000.  The course that was chosen was based on availability on a Sunday afternoon and really nothing else.  The Country Club of Sebring is a Ron Garl design that had one decent hole pictured below.

CC of Sebring, par four 12th hole

Day two of the trip began with golf course #2000, The Everglades Club in West Palm Beach.  I wrote a very long explanation of how Everglades came to be #2000 that I will not repeat here.  Check out my instagram or Facebook if you want the long explanation.  
Everglades Club, Punchbowl par three 8th hole

Everglades is a Brian Silva design that sits very near the property of an old Seth Raynor course.  Silva renovated the course in a Raynor theme and installed most of the Raynor templates.  
Everglades Club, the Redan par three 4th hole

I had an interested spectator for my birdie putt on 4.

Everglades is also in the top five of most interesting tee markers I have seen:

After my wonderful morning round at Everglades, I stayed in West Palm for a round at the Tom Fazio designed Emerald Dunes Club.  

Emerald Dunes Club, rear view of the par three 4th hole

Day two concluded with a quick trip around the par three St. Andrews Club in Delray Beach.  A Pete & Alice Dye design.  It features everything you like about Pete Dye designs yet is still very playable.
St. Andrews Club, par three 12th hole

Day three of the trip began in the Boca Raton area with a visit to Boca Rio Golf Club.  Recent host of an LPGA event, the course was originally designed by Robert Von Hagge in the 1960's.  A recent renovation by Ron Forse and Jim Nagle breathed new life into this design.  The course features well over 100 bunkers and I was very proud of the fact that I was only in three all day!

Boca Rio Golf Club, par three 3rd hole

I headed back to the West Palm area for my next round at Banyan Golf Club.  The course was originally designed by Joe Lee and was recently renovated by Kipp Schulltes.

Banyan Golf Club, par three 13th hole

Day three wrapped up with a visit to Sailfish Sands Golf course and their brand new reversible nine hole course designed by John Sanford.  I played the Black course with the Gold being the other option.

Sailfish Sand, Black course, par three 5th hole

The last day of my quick trip to Florida began in Stuart at Floridian National Golf Club.
Floridian, par three 2nd hole

Floridian, par three 8th hole

Floridian, short par four 17th hole

Before I began my long drive home, I checked out the par three course at Floridian, named the Harmon after it's designer, Butch Harmon.  Known to many of us as the #1 ranked teacher in golf for the past twenty years.  Harmon has a teaching school at Floridian and did a wonderful job creating a fun course on a very small and tight piece of property.
Floridian National, Harmon par three course, 8th hole


Oregon Trip

I spent one of the best summers of my life working in Oregon when I was in college.  I was trying to decide on a summer internship, and was ...