300 Days of Sun and Golf
By Katharine Dyson
One-time stomping ground for "Rooster Cogburn", the grizzled, eye-patched aging deputy marshall, aka John Wayne ("The Rooster & the Lady"), a 640-acre tract of rugged high desert landscape 10 minutes from Bend, Oregon, has morphed into a classy playground in the High Sonoran Desert called the Pronghorn Club & Resort.
Buffered by the craggy Cascade Mountains, Pronghorn's climate which averages about 78 degrees with 300 days of sun, is ideal for those who love the outdoors. Not too far away, you can ski on Mount Bachelor and fish for trout, Kokanee, Coho salmon and bass.
Evoking a sense of grand national park architecture - think The Ahwanee in Yosemite - Pronghorn's architecture makes ample use of timber, slate, iron, clay tiles and stone. The Clubhouse features 30 ft. stone stone pillars which rise to meet lofty timbered ceilings while lights from chandeliers cast a saffron glow over the rubbed carved wood furniture and polished wood floors.
Pronghorn's two courses, a 7,379 yard Jack Nicklaus Signature course opened in 2004; a Tom Fazio 7,456 yard layout opened in 2006. The courses are so perfectly manicured, the thought of taking a divot cuts to your heart. And your drives roll forever. The day I played Nicklaus the fairways - the FAIRWAYS - were running 10 1/2 on the stint while the greens were running 12, slipperier than a quick draw from Marshall Cogburn.
From the tees, possibilities look diabolical limited by native volcanic rocks, 100 year-old juniper trees, bunkers, water and desert arroyas. But if you hit out and hit it straight, often as not, you'll find a nice wide landing area as the course is deceptively forgiving. The altitude at close to 4,000 feet, doesn't hurt either when it comes to distance.
A unique feature on the Nicklaus course is the "ghost trees" which stand starkly gray-white, leafless against the green of the grass and blue of the sky. Hitting off the tee of the 18th, a ghost tree could just spook your ball.
While the Nicklaus course is available to members and guests, the Fazio course is for owners only. When constructing the 8th hole on the Fazio course, the diggers unearthed a set of ancient lava flow tubes on the 8th hole They have been integrated into the holes with the green sitting atop the ground above them. You hit down to the green.
On site is the Tour Academy, a large practice facility, the Chanterelle restaurant, Cascada lounge and Trailhead Grill as well as tennis courts, spa, kids camp, and a recreation center offering adventures like white water rafting, a power yoga series and bike trails.
Sixteen miles south of Bend, at The Sunriver Resort you can bunk into a ski-lodge-style hotel or rent one of the many houses or condos in the area most reflecting a sense of the rustic outdoors with four-poster pine beds and natural muted-colored fabrics.
In addition to more than 30 miles of paved bike pathways, two pools and 23 tennis courts, Sunriver has three excellent golf courses: Crosswater, a heathland-style track located on 600 scenic acres of woodlands and preserved wetlands; The Woodlands, designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. and set against a backdrop of the mountains and outcroppings of lava rock; and the Meadows where seven holes border the meandering Sunriver.
When Crosswater opened in 1995, this Bob Cupp-designed course with serious carries over the Deshutes River and grassy wetlands, raised the bar for golf in Sunriver. With the Cascade Mountain Range looming in the distance, the track plays a whopping 7,683 yards from the tips - and heaven help you if the wind is blowing. It's the elite play in the area for public play.
The Woodlands Course as its name implies, winds through the tall pines while John Fought's Meadows layout and is a bit more serene.
Revised: 05/29/2012 - Article Viewed 21,435 Times
Written By: Katharine Dyson
Katharine Dyson is a freelance golf and travel writer, author, and columnist for several national & international publications and websites as well as guidebook author and blogger. Realizing that a golf and travel writer is the most underpaid, over privileged profession on the planet, she embraces the life style traveling all over the world to play golf and check out resorts. She is a member of the Golf Writers Association of American, Golf Travel Writers of America, the Society of American Travel Writers, and Metropolitan Golf Writers Association.