Heron Lakes Golf Club – Greenback Course


3500 N. Victory Blvd.
Portland, OR 97217

Course Reviewer – Ian Favre
Course Review Date – 9/21/2012

Tucked away in a flat somewhat industrial area of Portland between the Columbia and Willamette Rivers sits Heron Lakes Golf Club, a 36 hole double feature designed by Robert Trent Jones II.  We’ve heard about this place off and on for the past couple of years, our friends at Golf Today Magazine – Northwest seem to have a lot of tournaments out there, but it always seemed random to me that Portland had a lightly priced, RTJ II, 36 hole facility right smack in the middle of the city.  Shame on me I guess for not getting my butt down there earlier to play and write about this place.  Day one found us playing the Greenback Course, which by price and reputation is the least regarded of the two golf courses.

Heron Lakes Greenback Course Hole #3
One of the awesome tee shots on the Greenback Course is this water carry knee knocker on the Par 3, 3rd hole.

The Greenback Course at Heron Lakes comes in at 6615 yards (71.4 rating/124 slope) from the back tees and plays out to a pretty traditional tree lined, Pacific Northwest style of golf course.  It’s also a very obvious Robert Trent Jones II design style featuring many holes of well placed fairway and green side bunkers.  Honestly, the Greenback course isn’t much of a knee knocker when it comes to challenging tee or approach shots.  It’s not a golf course that is going to require you to shape the ball a whole lot and anyone that keeps the ball the ball in play for the majority of their round should find themselves posting a pretty solid score at the end of the day.  Most of the challenging golf out there will be on water carry par 3’s (hole number 3 in specific) and avoiding lateral water hazards (about half the holes feature water somewhere).  Not a lot of hidden shots or guessing games out there as Greenback plays pretty much right in front of you the whole way.

Heron Lakes Greenback Golf Course 1
Living up to its name, a large blue heron frozen in a pond on the back 9 at Heron Lakes Greenback Course.

This is a guess, but I’m assuming a RTJ II course at this price gets a significant amount of play because the ball marking on many of greens was downright horrible.  The greens themselves seemed healthy and all rolled pretty good considering, but man, that’s easily the most ball marks in a green I have seen in quite some time.  Come on people, lean over, fix the ball mark and roll the putt.  Don’t be “that guy” (or gal) who doesn’t fix their damage.  I actually enjoy fixing them because when I’m playing like crap, I never have to….I’m never hitting greens.    Sorry, soap box moment.  The 3rd green, the water carry par 3 is just hammered.  All the ball marks made it feel like we were putting on a Chinese checkers board.  It wasn’t quite auto two putt bad, but it was pretty darn close.

Heron Lakes Greenback Course Fairway
One of the many slightly elevated greens protected by heavy green side bunkering

Minus the ball marks the course was in very solid condition and at a $38 prime time rate for a RTJ II golf course it’s a screaming deal.  It’s not going to hit you with much a wow factor but it is certainly worth every red cent of your greens fees.

Golfchops.com rating: 17/25
Customer Service: 2
Condition of Greens: 2
“Perceived” maintenance level of course: 4
Value: 5
Amenities: 4

Rating Notes: 
- Ok, I’ve been taking jokes for 20+ years on my last name, but to say my parent should have named me different?  Eh, you might be pushing it skipper.
– Healthy greens that didn’t roll terribly, but the heavy ball marking did affect putting and was too much to overlook.
– Course was obviously maintained well and while the ball marking of the greens stood out, it did not overshadow the condition of the practice facilities, teeboxes and fairways.
– $38 for a Robert Trent Jones golf course?  Yeah, that’s a screaming value we’ll enjoy time and time again.
– Ok, they could seriously use an upgrade in the clubhouse department (it’s basically a large shack).  Driving range might be the biggest we have ever seen and the large putting green has plenty of space to accommodate a heavily trafficked golf course.  Restaurant makes a super greasy, hangover curing breakfast sandwich and alcohol prices are very reasonable.

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