Vacationers and locals in Central Oregon have plenty of golf courses to choose from that range from upscale resort to tracks catering to locals with more affordable rates.
For a fun track in a different scenic location, try out Crooked River Ranch north of Redmond in Terrebonne. It’s part of the sprawling Crooked River Ranch development, the largest homeowners association in Oregon with about 2,500 dwellings. It’s celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
To reach the golf course you drive through some of the ranch and then turn down into the canyon on a steep road. Once you reach the plateau, there’s the golf course, RV park, lodging, swimming pool, restaurant and bar and other amenities.
Because the course is owned by the association, it merges public and private memberships. Homeowners can buy a year-round golf pass for $699. Last year, the course was open other than from Christmas Eve to Jan. 5.
When we played on a mid-week July day, the course was pretty full—normal for a summer day the shop reported—but we got around in about 3 ½ hours. The stated goal is four hours and there’s a marshal present to encourage along any slow groups. It’s also telling that a sign in the cart proclaims if you want food at the turn, order it from the 8th tee so you can keep up. It notes that if you miss your turn on the 10th you may forfeit the rest of your round. If you do order ahead, the prices are quite reasonable– $7.25 for a one-third pound patty melt burger on genuine marble rye with excellent double-fried French fries. Tasty.
One of the reasons that the pace is good is the course is very playable with very generous landing areas. It’s difficult, on most holes, to lose a ball from the tee and the same goes for most approach shots. To score well, simply put, hit the green and get it close. Most greens are large so you can reach in regulation and face a long putt.
From the tips (blue), it plays 5,818 with a rating of 67.5 and a slope of 116. It’s similar on the shorter tees so it’s a fun track in a scenic location—you’ve got canyon walls on both sides and holes that border the steep ravine down to the river.
The signature hole is No. 5 that plays along the ravine. Adventurous and confident golfers can take a shot at cutting the corner on the dogleg left and going for the green on the 260-yard hole. Playing it routinely is a mid-iron to the dog leg and then a similar approach shot.
The only elevation change involved is on Nos. 8 and 9—the former is an uphill par 3 at 149 yards to a narrow elevated green that slopes back to front. A precise tee shot is required here. No.9 goes back down the hill and brings the only water into play with a creek crossing the fairway to a pond guarding the green.
The back nine features six holes on the flat portion of the plateau before crossing the main road for three holes up a south-facing canyon. Included is a short uphill par 3 at only 110 yards followed by a downhill, sidehill par 4 at 386 yards. A good rip off the tee that catches the slope will leave you a wedge to get home.
Signage on the course urges using cart paths and driving 90 degrees to reach your ball. That attention shows because the fairways were in excellent condition—same goes for tees and greens. As you would expect, the greens were relatively slow—the right speed for an easy playing course.
By Tim Hunt