Regional Review – Oregon

The Top 10 Courses I’ve Played Here:

(These are personal rankings based on my overall experience at each course—condition, layout, value, service, etc.)

  1. Pumpkin Ridge (Ghost Creek), North Plains http://www.pumpkinridge.com/
  2. Bandon Trails, Bandon http://www.bandondunesgolf.com/pages/bandon_trails/51.php
  3. Pacific Dunes, Bandon http://www.bandondunesgolf.com/pages/pacific_dunes/50.php
  4. Bandon Dunes, Bandon http://www.bandondunesgolf.com/pages/bandon_dunes/49.php
  5. Salmon Run, Brookings http://www.salmonrun.net/
  6. Salishan Resort, Gleneden Beach http://www.salishan.com/golf/
  7. Sandpines Golf Links, Florence http://www.sandpines.com
  8. Eagle Point Golf Club, Eagle Point http://www.eaglepointgolf.com/
  9. Gearhart Golf Links, Seaside http://gearhartgolflinks.com/
  10.  Myrtle Creek Golf Course, Myrtle Creek http://www.myrtlecreekgolf.com/

The Top 5 Courses I Still Want to Play:

  1. Old Macdonald, Bandon http://www.bandondunesgolf.com/pages/old_macdonald/96.php
  2. Sunriver Resort (All Courses), Sunriver http://www.sunriver-resort.com/sunriver-oregon-golf.php
  3. Running Y Ranch, Klamath Falls http://www.runningy.com/
  4. Stone Ridge Golf Course, Eagle Point http://www.stoneridgegolfcourse.com
  5. Bandon Crossings, Bandon http://www.bandoncrossings.com/

Anybody who knows me will tell you I have a special place in my heart for Oregon golf. The state itself has such beautiful and diverse natural resources, it only makes sense it would provide some truly great golf destinations. Pacific Northwest weather is not always ideal for golf, but sometimes it can add to the charm of a round. And on those days when you do get perfect weather, there’s nothing quite like it. Oh, and for my money, the drive up the Oregon coast along the 101 Highway is as beautiful as it gets.

Nowadays, when people think of Oregon golf, they immediately think of the Bandon Dunes Resort. It has earned many accolades, and rightfully so. Having played three of the four courses there, there is definitely a special feeling you get when you are on those unique links style courses.

In my mind, though, Oregon Golf still starts with Pumpkin Ridge, which is really Oregon’s first big time golf destination. I had the opportunity to play the Ghost Creek course there in 2007 (the sister course, Witch Hollow, is private) and really enjoyed my experience. Lush conditions (maybe the nicest condition course I’ve ever played), a ton of trees and an excellent layout all add to the beauty and challenge of this course.

Pumpkin Ridge (Ghost Creek) Pictures from 7/1/07:

Then there’s Bandon, which is as great as people make it out to be and worth the trek. Situated on the stunning Oregon dunes, it’s a sight like no other in golf. Conditions can be treacherous if you get a really windy or rainy day, but it’s all part of the fun. I’ve played summer rounds that were cold and windy and winter rounds where it was 70 degrees and sunny. At this point, I’ve played the first three courses to open (Bandon Dunes, Pacific Dunes and Bandon Trails) and look forward to getting to play Old Macdonald as soon as possible.

It’s difficult to rank the Bandon Dunes courses as they all have their own distinct charm—it’s more or less a three-way tie (probably four way when I get to play Old Macdonald). In my eyes, Bandon Trails is the most interesting layout. As the inland course, it has a lot of trees, some elevation changes and a better variety of hole designs than the other courses. Pacific Dunes is the most beautiful of the three, with a lot of great oceanfront holes and a very rugged natural look. It is also the most challenging, if you ask me. Bandon Dunes is the original (which has got to be worth something) and has the most true “links” design. Pot bunkers, wide fairways and massive greens will test you in a variety of ways. 

Regarding Bandon, I have never stayed at the resort. I have, however, heard nothing but good things about it from those who have stayed there. My hometown is just a two-hour drive away from Bandon, so I’m lucky to be a short drive away when I go up north to visit family and friends. That said, it isn’t cheap to play there, so I haven’t visited as much as I’d like to.

Bandon Trails Pictures from 7/3/06:

Pacific Dunes Pictures from 12/28/01:

Bandon Dunes Pictures from 12/26/02:

The next course on my list is one nobody really knows about, but is a personal favorite. It’s called Salmon Run and it’s in the southern-most coastal Oregon town of Brookings. This course was not there when I was growing up just a half-hour away, but I look forward to playing it now almost every time I visit back home. It’s a mountain-side course with a ton of elevation changes, plenty of tight fairways and big, undulating greens. Not super long, but a definite “shot makers” course that will challenge you on all levels. I am just hopeful this course can survive the poor economy.

Salmon Run Pictures from 7/6/06:

Signature Island Green Hole #3 (aka “Lombard Street” because of the zig-zagging path up to tee boxes)

SIDE NOTE: If you are ever in the Brookings-Harbor area, stop at Wild River Pizza & Brewing Company. Best pizza in the world (at least in my opinion) and great sides (battered potato “chips” and fried chicken). Order the Smokehouse Special and thank me later! There are other Wild River locations in the Southern Oregon (more inland) towns of Cave Junction, Grants Pass and Medford, but the Brookings location is the best.

The next two courses on my list take you further up the coast, well north of Bandon. The first, Salishan, is an exceptional course. It is part of a resort, so it’s a bit overpriced. But like Bandon, you can play golf without having to stay at the resort. I really enjoyed this course with lots of trees, some good elevation changes and plenty of beautiful views. What I like about this course is every few holes, the feel of this course changes. It’s hard to explain, but it’s a good thing in this case.

Salishan Pictures from 7/5/09:

Sandpines is just in between Bandon and Salishan in the town of Florence. It is another course that has gotten a bit overshadowed by the Bandon Dunes Resort. Also built on a dunes landscape with more of a links feel (but with more trees), this course is great. It should tell you how good Oregon golf is when this only makes #7 on my list and there are still a number of great courses I still haven’t played (Old Macdonald, Sunriver, Running Y…). I would definitely recommend it to any fan of golf.

Sandpines Pictures from 7/7/02:

Now, we venture inland. Eagle Point is just outside of Medford. There are two great courses here, but I’ve only played one. Eagle Point Golf Club is a great track and worth the stop if you are in the area. Stone Ridge is supposed to be just as nice (if not even more preferred by most locals), so I hope to play there soon.

Eagle Point Picture from 7/4/05:

While we’re talking inland, I will jump to #10 on my list and mention Myrtle Creek. It’s in the heart of the Umpqua Valley and a nice course. I honestly don’t remember a ton about this course, but I remember liking it overall. [Sorry, no personal pictures from Myrtle Creek.]

Going back to #9, we go back up the coast (way up the coast, in fact) to Gearhart Golf Links in the small town of Seaside (just south of Astoria and the Columbia River, which is the border between Oregon and Washington). Gearhart has historical significance as one of the oldest (if not the oldest) known courses on the West Coast. The first three holes opened in 1892 and later expanded to a full 18. It is also a true links style. Not as dynamic or breathtaking as Bandon, but feels very true to its roots. I’ve never had the pleasure to play in Scotland, Ireland or England, but this course felt the most like I feel it would over there for the common golfer. A sleepy little seaside town with a quaint golf course for the locals to enjoy. I played there in some rainy/windy conditions and that definitely added to my personal experience.

Pictures of Gearhart from 7/6/09:

If you are ever in Oregon, there’s plenty of great golf to explore. I hope you find this review helpful and enjoyable.

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