Pumpkin Ridge Ghost Creek

Pumpkin Ridge Ghost Creek
12930 NW Old Pumpkin Ridge Rd.
North Plains, OR 97133

Review Date: 4/28/2013
Course Reviewer: Ian Favre

Having previously enjoyed the wonder that is the private 18 holes at Pumpkin Ridge (Witch Hollow), I was pretty excited to enjoy this random 70 degree weather and give the public side of Pumpkin a whirl.  Ghost Creek undoubtably gets its name from the secret squirrel creek that meanders through the majority of the golf course and without much warning decides to eat up random tee shots that you think you have delivered to a safe and happy home.  Definitely a golf course that takes a couple rounds to understand, Ghost Creek is fair while still being somewhat punishing and demands the absolute best of your short game on every hole.  Without putting a lot of thought into club selection and tee shot placement, a first timer at Ghost Creek can find quite a few issues, so take your time and pick your spots to play aggressively.

Pre-round you’re greeted with a $90 greens fee (walking) which all things considered wasn’t too bad for the quality of golf we were about to enjoy.  The fee does include range balls (thank you) and access to the practice facility which features a beautiful and very fast putting green.  On to the first tee where you are immediately distracted by what looks like a super tough water carry approach shot to the 9th green on your right.  Crafty…get me thinking about an approach shot 9 holes ahead of me.  Hit that shot in the water by the way. Ugh.   From the blue tees at Ghost Creek we were looking at a reasonable 6386 yards and a 72.1 rating/139 slope.  She really feels like two different course packed into one 18.  On one hand you get the wide open first hole where you can almost hit it anywhere off the tee and still have a reasonable approach to the green, but after that you work your way into ever tightening surroundings in the forest.  Pretty cool contrast and use of the natural landscape really.  By the time you reach the 4th hole you are playing golf in the middle of the forest.

It doesn’t take long, depending on your skill level of course, to determine that the rough is pretty damn penal out here.  According to Jason, who I was playing with, it wasn’t quite as long as the last time he was out here, but the ball definitely buried down in there and you were either stuck smashing it out as hard as your can swing or watching a total flyer explode and fly 15 yards past the green.  Basically, that rough was some difficult business, hence my previous statement about club selection.  Keep the ball in the fairway out here.  More than anything you want the opportunity to get the ball to the greens as quickly as possible because they are nothing short of awesome.  Easily some of the best public golf course putting surfaces I have ever seen.  Maybe the best.  Fast, smooth as a pool table and as healthy as you will find anywhere.  As someone who’s favorite part of the game is putting, I was in paradise.  It was the 3 or 4 shots it was taking me to get to that point that was ruining my day 🙂

Favorite Hole: Probably the previously mentioned 443 yard, 9th hole that immediately stands out from the the first tee.  Creek running up the right hand side, then cutting across through the fairway to the large water hazard awaiting your approach.  Some additional fairways bunkers to the left to keep you honest and a head wind to make sure you have about 200 in.  Jason and I both hit great drives with the wind knocking them down leaving us 210 in.  Full water carry at 210 with a head wind?  That’s a tough shot for the average joe.  The hillside that slopes from the green to the water didn’t help my cause either.  Very cool, very tough golf hole.

Click on Pictures to Enlarge:

Pumpkin Ridge Ghost Creek Putting Green Pumpkin Ridge Ghost Creek  Driving Range Pumpkin Ridge Ghost Creek  Deer

Picture 1: Putting Green at Pumpkin Ridge Ghost Creek.  Spend some time here because the greens are fast and short game is a must out here.

Picture 2: Solid driving range that is included in greens fees.  Lots of targets and yardage marked off for you.

Picture 3:  Deer all over the place the whole round.

Pumpkin Ridge Ghost Creek 3rd Hole Pumpkin Ridge Ghost Creek 5th Hole Pumpkin Ridge Ghost Creek 18th Hole

Picture 4:  The par 3, 3rd hole.  Pretty straight forward, 158 yard par 3 from the blues…depending on pin placement.  We caught the lucky day where is was placed directly behind the front greenside bunker.

Picture 5: Whew, the par 3, 5th hole.  Home of an absolute monster green and playing at 205 from the blue tees.  A slight wind and a tucked pin put it around 215-220 with the pin tucked far left.  A fun shot because it seems so easy to make such a large green, but an easy 3 putt or more when left in the wrong spot.  A really cool and wicked golf hole.

Picture 6: Teebox view of the 18th hole.  Very similar to the 9th hole, wind in your face, long iron or more in your hand to carry.  A scorecard wrecker for sure.  Another hole at Ghost Creek that demands your absolute best tee to green.

Summary: Honestly one of the better golf courses in Washington or Oregon I have had the privilege of playing.  Design was unique, challenging, and I’m always a fan of places that make you think instead of just hacking away.  The greens were in remarkably nice condition and don’t be surprised to see chips and putts rolling many feet by the cup all day long.  Tee to green the place was spotless and in tip top shape.  Pace of play was excellent for a 2 some as we rarely waited on the 4 some playing in front of us (how impressive is that).  Well worth the $90 green fee any day.

Golfchops.com rating: 24/25
Customer Service: 4
Condition of Greens: 5
“Perceived” maintenance level of course: 5
Value: 5
Amenities: 5

Really friendly staff out here.  A bit of a hard sell on the “Ghost Pass” but I guess it saves you cash out there.
– Perfect.  Absolutely perfect greens.
– Very very obviously well maintained golf course.  They’ve hosted big time tournaments here for a reason.
– The $90 tag is typically more than we like, but this was some seriously quality golf.
– Very nice practice facility featuring a good range and an excellent putting green.  Cart service on the golf course a couple times.  Chipping green and practice bunker available.

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Waverley Country Club

Waverley Country Club
1100 SE Waverly Drive
Portland, Oregon 97222

Course Review Date – 11/4/2012
Course Reviewer – Ian Favre

I’m a big fan of H. Chandler Egan golf courses so I was really licking my chops to play the private and highly regarded Waverley Country Club in Portland, Or.  Originally designed by Egan 100 years ago, Waverley recently completed a full course restoration by Gil Hanse.  According to Waverley’s website, over the past 100 years the course had lost a lot of the design characteristics and elements that Egan had originally created and Hanse aimed to reapply the original design vision from a century ago.  What they have is probably the best private golf course I have had the opportunity to write about.

At 6338 yards from the blue tees the course doesn’t play overly long, but uses trees, fairway and greenside bunkering, and strongly undulated greens as it’s protection.  The golf course isn’t overly wooded and the recent restoration removed some additional trees, allowing the course to play a bit softer from a few teeboxes.  Without debate the biggest challenges comes from avoiding the bunkers and finding a putt below the hole without 5 feet of break.  The bunkers play fairly heavy, leaving most plays short with a long, high break putt to follow.  It created some really tricky scoring holes where you hit a drive in play, barely find a greenside bunker and you’re knocking knees hoping that your ensuing putt won’t be a 20 foot sidewinder.

Waverley isn’t without it’s fair share of complete randomness either.  A few holes out there feature bunkers that are randomly completely out of play.  The 4th hole (pictured below) is a 451 yard par 5 that features a fairway bunker no more than 15 yards in front of the tee box.  Doesn’t it just seem mean to penalize the golfer who duffs a tee shot on a par 5 maybe 20 yards in front of him, only to find a fairway bunker?  Talk about insult to injury.  There’s a couple other holes out there that are like this.  A par 4 with a fairway bunker 60 yards in front of the box.  Never seen anything quite like it.

The magic of Waverley is in the 3 closing holes which minus a few holes at the Bandon Dunes Golf Resort is the best 3 hole stretch I’ve played in Oregon or Washington.  The 16th hole, the signature hole of the golf course is long (215 yards) downhill par 3 with the Willamette River and wooded hillside as the backdrop.  I’d put this hole right up there with the 15th at Chamber’s Bay as the best visual golf holes I’ve played in the Northwest.  The 17th and 18th hole run back to the club house and along the bank of the Willamette.  Both challenging, but straight forward golf holes with obvious danger right and fairway and greenside bunkering to keep you thinking.  3 truly amazing golf holes.

* A note on the course designer: Waverley’s website lists it as “1912 H. Chandler Egan and 2012 Gil Hanse.”  A bunch of third party sites I’ve looked at have it as Jack Moffitt.  Not sure what’s with the discrepancy there.

Hole Specifics (click for full image):

Picture 1 – Sneaky tough, short par 4, 3rd hole.  Only 347 yards from the blues, but heavy fairway bunkering on both sides and a triangle of greenside bunkers.  Anything but straight or short gets you in trouble.

Picture 2 – Graveyard right off the back of the second green.  Free drop off the dead.

Picture 3 – View from the 1st tee box.  A straight forward, short par 4 with a fairway bunker right and a bunker guarding the front left on your approach shot.  Only 324 yards from the blue tees.

Picture 4 –Ultra-narrow, 451 yard par 5, 5th hole.  Ob right, tight trees left and a fairway bunker maybe 20 yards in front of the teebox.  In case you decided to go gap wedge I guess.  Played as a Par 4 from the tips at 463 yards.  That is just wrong.

Picture 5 –  House in the background was incredible…had a seaplane parked at the dock.  Great view of the Willamette River from the course.

Picture 6 – November and the greens were perfect.  Not overly fast but in great condition, and very challenging.  Some serious knee knockers out there.

Picture 7 –9th hole with the clubhouse and proshop in the background.  119 yard par 3 with a horribly steep front bunker.

Picture 8 –  Par 3, 11th hole.  156 yards with a very steep false front that eats everything that isn’t hit to the back.  Anything duffed is in the drink.

Picture 9 – Tough par 3 with a brutal front bunker and a heavily undulated green.  It doable, but that putting surface was tough.

Picture 10 –Gentleman playing a shot from the 18th fairway.

Picture 11 –  Picture didn’t come out great, but this long, downhill par 3 was amazing.  One of the best golf holes I’ve ever played. 215 yards from the blues with some bunkering short to keep you honest  and the Willamette River behind the green.

Picture 12 – View from the 17th teebox which plays over top the 16th green. 16, 17 and 18 might be the best 3 hole stretch in the Northwest.

Picture 13 –The 18th Green

Picture 14 –  18th Fairway

Picture 15 – Side of 18

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

Rating Notes:
Service you would expect from an elite private club.
– Beautiful (blue grass) greens. Very challenging, but honest.  Make putts here and you can make putts anywhere.
– Fairways look like no one plays golf here.  Tee boxes, fairways, greens, hazards, bunkers, etc all in tip top shape.  This place is dialed in.
– Hard to say, anything but inexpensive.  It’s the oldest country club in the state and very highly regarded.  I don’t think you’re losing any sleep over price if you’re a member here.  The picture doesn’t do it justice, but that house across the river looks like the Taj Mahal.  It’s massive.
– A couple different putting greens, excellent driving range with side practice facility, great clubhouse and proshop.  Solid.

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.

The Reserve Vineyards and Golf Club

The Reserve Vineyards and Golf Club
4805 SW 229th Ave.
Aloha, Or 97007

Course Review Date: 8/26/2012
Course Reviewer: Ian Favre

A first for the website, writing a review on a golf course that I didn’t get to play.  Hooked up by Golfchops writer Sean Charlton, I had the opportunity to caddy for a pro or celebrity in the Regence Pro-Am, part of the Umpqua Bank Challenge hosted by long time tour player Peter Jacobson at The Reserve Vineyards and Golf Club just southwest of Portland, Or.  Ummm, caddy for a pro, add a golf course to the website that I have never played and watch a crack up of a golf clinic hosted by Peter Jacobson?  Yeah, I’m in for sure.

The North Course at The Reserve Vineyards and Golf Club – The Reserve is a 36 hole facility in Aloha, Or just Southwest of Portland.  From talking to a few of the volunteers at the tournament it sounds like they were pretty evenly split on which one of the two 18’s was better.  I had previously heard the North was much better than the South, however while on the property no one went as far as to say one was better than the other.  One thing is for sure, the clubhouse and practice facility immediately stand out when you get the Reserve.  The clubhouse is an amazing looking building that sits perched on top of a hill overlooking the 18th green and a few other holes of the golf course.   A very large driving range and nice sized putting greens for each course are available for warm up and attempting to get comfortable putting on some seriously undulated greens.

The North course is a pretty unique design dominated by rolling undulated fairways and greens.  It’s not an overly difficult driving golf course where mostly level (even though undulated) terrain and lots of room to safely miss with the driver can be found.  However, approach shot wise it’s one of the tougher tracks I have ever seen, especially if you have never played the course before.  False fronts, false backs, multi-level tiering, and slope after slope eat approach shots up and spit them out in unpleasant locations all day.  It kind of reminded me of The Home Course in Dupont where you can miss with the driver but if your iron play is poor and short game isn’t on, you’re going to have a very long day.

Overall this course was very very nice.  It wasn’t one that knocked my socks off but I would definitely recommend going and checking it out.  That said, I think its the kind of place that would eat me for breakfast 🙂  Oh, one note, I’ve trashed the 95 yard par 3 at Echo Falls before as the worst par 3 in the Northwest.  Well, I might have discovered the worst par 4.  The 13th hole is a very short (290 ish) dogleg left guarded by trees that sit very tight to the tee box.  Here’s the gig; first, there’s another green off to the right that looks reachable and looks like the green you are hitting at.  Even the pro I looped for played to the wrong green from the tee box.  The approach shot to the green is blind due to a large build up in front of the green allowing you to only see the top of the flag stick.  After playing your approach shot you discover a very narrow horizontal green that you had no chance of holding.  Basically your only chance is to blast driver all the way up there and pray.  It seemed like an after thought of a hole.  Besides the one stinker of a par 4 the rest of the course plays pretty straight forward and the places to avoid stand out pretty well.  The only other oddity to note was while I was looping I didn’t think the yardage book was as accurate as it could be.  The number seemed right, but the visual description of the greens in the book didn’t match up to well at time.

Minus the one clunker hole the course is dotted with excellent holes tee to green.  I loved the design of the closing hole, a reachable (469 yards from the tips) par 5 that is strongly protected by water that runs from about 200 yards out and goes all the way to the green.  A perfect risk vs. reward design that if played correctly is a very doable eagle and when played poorly is an easy double.  The trick to it is that with the water running up so much of the hole, even the layup has a lot of danger to it. The designer, Bob Cupp did a good job of mixing different style of golf holes into the course.  On one hand you are playing traditional tree lined Pacific Northwest Golf, with small water hazards and thick rough.  Then a couple holes of almost links style golf with rolling undulated fairways, wispy fescue in the rough areas and a large putting surface.  It was cool to see the way different golf course styles and design elements were blended together to create the 18 hole trek.  Pretty imaginative really.

All in all this is a heck of a golf facility and a track I highly recommend you get out and play.  I’ve heard many say this is the best public track in Portland, and while I don’t think I’ve played enough public golf in Portland to back that statement up, I will say it’s one of the better ones I have seen down there.

Golfchops.com rating: 23/25
Customer Service: 5
Condition of Greens: 4
“Perceived” maintenance level of course: 5
Value: 4
Amenities: 5

Rating Notes: 
– Their biggest tournament of the year at the course and maybe the biggest in Oregon all year.  Safe to say everyone had the service mojo rocking.
– Didn’t get to putt on them but they looked perfect and rolled very quick.  I liked what I saw.
– Place was in incredible condition for the tournament as you’d expect.
– $85 is their highest prime time rate and I think that is more than acceptable for the quality you are getting.
– Fantastic clubhouse and practice facility

Pictures from The Reserve…sorry I couldn’t get more, I was looping.

Persimmon Country Club

Persimmon Country Club
500 S.E. Butler Road
Gresham, OR  97080

Course Review Date: 5/12/2012
Course Reviewer: Ian Favre

Persimmon Country Club is a private golf course and country club (pool, tennis, fitness, dining, etc) set in the shadow of three mountains in Gresham, Oregon.  Easily it’s biggest calling card, Persimmon’s golf experience features the ability to see Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helen’s and Mt. Adams all at once at a couple places on the back 9.  Its a pretty remarkable back drop for a tee shot and it made me wish I had brought the nice camera instead of trying to get the visual with the stupid cell phone cam.  The country club itself is tucked away in a very nice residential neighborhood and its an easy one to drive right by and not know you missed it.  First timers are going to need a gps to find the entrance for sure.

The golf course itself is a fairly short, 6445 yard, par 71 track that uses the landscape and not distance to challenge the player.  Basically there’s danger everywhere and if you’re having a rough day this place is going to eat your lunch then steal your sister’s dessert money.  Undulated fairways, well guarded greens, ravines, water hazards, thick tree lined fairways, etc.  Its basically like someone took every possible hazard in golf, dumped them in a bag, shook the bag and then poured the bag out on the land.  There’s fricking trouble everywhere…The views on the golf course, especially on the back 9 truly are spectacular, but I was taking a beating so bad I didn’t have much left in the tank to enjoy them.  One thing is for sure, this place in the winter has to be a swamp land.  We we’re playing on a beautiful 75 degree day, it hadn’t rained for about 5-6 days, and there was still enough moisture, specifically in the rough to lose balls due to plugged lies (especially on the second hole, do not go right on the second hole).

While the layout might not have been my cup of joe, I did very much enjoy the greens.  Although top dressed with a touch of sand recently they all rolled very well with a solid speed and no jumpiness to them.  I also like the split up practice facilities they have here.  A driving range, putting green and chipping area with its own parking lot on the side of the facility, then another putting green below the clubhouse.  I thought this was an excellent way of keeping your playing area nice a quiet, away from some of the chatter a driving range and putting green might generate. Very friendly, welcoming staff out here at the club as well, which you do not always get at a private country club.  Being an outsider, playing “their” course, all of the staff and even members were very friendly and welcoming.

All in all its a pretty good golf experience out here that the majority of golfers will enjoy.  Not really the “style” I personally enjoy, heavily undulated fairways and rough with danger all over the place.  I prefer to be rewarded a bit more when I find the fairway.  Hitting a drive down the middle to find a lie with the ball 6 inches below your feet always fries my eggs.  That said, it’s very well maintained, the greens are good and a solid group of people are running the place.  One things for sure, for a first timer, it’s going to present a heck of a challenge for a course that isn’t even 6500 from the tips.  Bring extra balls and go for a beverage early so you don’t worry to much about the score 🙂

Golfchops.com Rating:19/25
Customer service: 4
Condition of greens: 4
Perceived maintenance level of course: 4
Value: 3
Amenities: 4

Rating Notes:
– Very friendly, welcoming crew at every turn.
– Top dressed with a touch of sand a the time, but still rolling very well
– As with most private facilities they have more money to put into the golf course (usually).  Thought it looked great, but the rough was a bit ragged.
– Kind of an unknown on this one.  I’ve heard you can get membership without an initiation fee right now which is a plus.
– Lots of amenities as with most private clubs.  Tennis, pool, dining, etc. Nice quiet place.

Bandon Dunes – Travel Logistics and Stuff to Check Out

Having written reviews on all four golf courses at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort last year, I thought it would be important to discuss some of the logistics with going and what you can expect before reflecting on another great weekend of golf.

Getting to Bandon Dunes:

We opt for the road trip from Seattle to Bandon, which without to many stops can be done in 7 hours.  We recommend the Enterprise Rent-A-Car that is on 12thst. in Bellevue.  They’ve taken good care of us the last two years and the price has been very good.  Go big though is your are driving with 4 people.  We are able to fill a Suburban to the brim between luggage, 4 golf bags and miscellaneous.  For those that would prefer to fly the closest airport is in North Bend, Or.  Once there you will have to rent a car or hire a shuttle service to get you to the resort.

About 7 hours from Seattle if you’re rolling!
One of the rooms at the Chrome Lake Lodge Lodging:

For the past two winters we have stayed at the Chrome Lake Lodging area at Bandon.  $160 a night (in the winter) and perfect for two people.  Bare bones amenities, i.e. a fridge, two beds and a bathroom.  Assuming you spend most of your time at the resort either playing golf, practicing or eating the rooms really are of little concern.  They do not have a microwave or kitchenette and we presume this is too encourage you to eat at the restaurants.  Book your rooms early, especially in the winter when folks are taking advantage of the cheap greens fees.

Food and Booze:

There’s a few places to eat at the resort but the only real standout that we have visited is McKee’s, the Irish pub next to the first tee of Bandon Dunes.  Excellent food and very tasty selection of micro’s on tap.  We had very good service on our two visits to McKee’s this trip.  For breakfast, there is a buffet in the main lodge area for $15, but it’s not very good.  Runny fake eggs and grease laden pork is not an ideal way to start a 36 hole day.  Unless you are hung over I guess.  The service wasn’t very good either.  Servers are friendly but seemed like they had too much going on to get to us in a timely manner on both our visits.  The best thing to do if you have a vehicle is to run to town and hit Ray’s grocery store, Subway or Bandon Pizza.  This will save you some coin and its only about 15 minutes down the highway.

As for beverage service…be very careful here and hide your wallet once you hit the property.  Beer prices on the courses are outrageous!  $8 for a 14.9oz Stella, $4 for a Coors Light, and $8 for a Foster big can.  $8 for a Stella was just stupid.  Ray’s grocery store in Bandon has an excellent beer and wine selection that will save you tons of cash while down there.

McKee’s has some excellent food…and booze.
The newest edition to the mecca, Bandon Preserve Stuff to Check Out!

Head to the practice facility and make buddies with someone who is working the grounds.  On the right side of the driving range is a secret par 3 course with greens made by the designer of Bandon Dunes.  They even give you a little score card for it called “Shorty’s.”  It was pretty cool to bang out an unexpected free 9 holes at Bandon, on the driving range no less, before our round at Old Macdonald.

Play Bandon Preserve!  Bandon Preserve is the new 13 hole, par 3 course that doesn’t open until May 1st.  We didn’t have the opportunity to check it out much but you can see a lot of it while playing Bandon Dunes and it looks incredible.  It had this really strong forest green color to it that really stood out from the rest of the area.  Already looking forward to dialing that into the next trip.  I think it will be a welcome relaxing round for people who have been pounded by Bandon and Pacific.

Bandon Dunes 2012

The Golfchops.com 2012 Bandon Dunes Run!

Here’s the itinerary:

Wednesday, January 25th – Portland Golf Club

“Not every day you get to play a golf course that has hosted a major championship (1946 PGA) and a Ryder Cup (1948). Maybe I was overly excited, but how many times are you going to walk in the front door of a country club and the Wanamaker and Ryder Cup trophies are staring at you. I think they winked at me and said, yeah right buddy. This place is full of history and you can feel it in the club house as much as you can see it on the walls. Ben Hogan won the 46’ PGA Championship and led the 48’ Ryder Cup team to victory at this golf course. Current tour professional Ben Crane is a member here. Man, if the course lives up to all this I am going to be floored after this round.” Read More

Nothing like a tune up for Bandon at a former Ryder Cup and Major Championship host 🙂

Portland Golf Club
Thursday, January 26th – Old Macdonald Golf Course

“Our final day of the 3 day, 4 round Bandon Dunes golf mission led us to the most recent course opened out there, Old Macdonald. Opened in June of 2010, Old Mac was designed as a tribute to the late great golf course designer C.B. Macdonald (1855 – 1939), creator of the National Golf Links of America in Southampton, New York and winner of the first ever U.S Amateur in 1895. This course was to be the true definition of links golf for me (which is my personal favorite) with wide landing areas, crazy large and undulating greens, putting from 100 feet off the green, clever bunker placement, and wind. We got all of that and more minus the wind. Sunny skies, upper 50’s, and no wind in late January on the Southern Oregon Coast? Jackpot.” Read More

Old Macdonald Golf Course
Friday, January 27th – Pacific Dunes & Bandon Trails

“Pacific Dunes, designed by Tom Doak (also co-designed Old MacDonald), was opened in 2001. In 2005 Pacific Dunes was rated the number one resort golf course in the country by Golfweek magazine, placing just ahead of Pebble Beach. It is also consistently ranked as one of the top courses in the U.S. and the world by Golf Magazine (#16 in the world and #10 in the U.S. in 2009*).” Read More

Bandon Trails, the 3rd course at the Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, was completed in 2005 by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. The course starts at the top of a massive sand dune, opens up into a large meadow, works through the forest, then finishes back at the dunes. Read More

Pacific Dunes Golf Course
Saturday, January 28th – Bandon Dunes Golf Course

“Opened in 1999, Bandon Dunes Golf Course was the first course opened at the now 4 course golf resort on the Southern Oregon coast. Bandon Dunes was designed to be true European links golf in the U.S. requiring the golfer to use their head on every shot. It’s a golf course that uses the land as its hazards and rewards you for playing shots you would never dream of at your local municipal. Putt it from 60 yards off the green? All day at Bandon. Hit a 60 degree flop shot on to the green? Not a chance. Honestly, the biggest challenge out there is focusing on your game and not getting caught up in the breathtaking the piece of land you are playing golf on.” Read More

Bandon Dunes Golf Course

Stone Creek Golf Club

Stone Creek Golf Club
14603 South Stoneridge Drive
Oregon City, Oregon 97045

Course Review Date: 5/08/2011
Course Reviewer: Jason w/notes from Ian

A trip to the Portland area gave us a great excuse to review another Oregon course. Golfchops pro Matt recommended a round at Stone Creek Golf Club in Oregon City because of it’s great condition and value. Stone Creek was designed by Peter Jacobsen and Jim Hardy and opened for play in June of 2002. The course is said to offer spectacular views of Mt. Hood but due the cloud cover we missed out. Stone Creek is laid out over 165 acres of land with old-growth Douglas Firs, lakes, four wetlands, and forty-three bunkers.

When we arrived at the course we where greeted with a nasty downpour that made our warm-up session less than comfortable. The range itself was ok but after about 100 yards it goes strait uphill which makes it difficult to gauge your distance. The putting greens are good size and located next to the first tee, which is nice.

My first impression of the course was that it reminded me of The Home Course in DuPont, WA due to the wide open tee shots and large undulating greens guarded by bunkers. When I got to the back nine I was given a much different impression. The course played much tighter off the tee and the greens seemed to shrink a bit, reminding more of The Classic Golf Club in Spanaway, WA and Bandon Trails. The days leading up to our round had been very rainy so I was surprised by how well the course held up, no plugged balls or standing water to speak of.

This was a round that I will not soon forget due to a par that Matt made on the par 3 14th hole. The fact that he made a 3 wasn’t the memorable part, it was how he made it. He thinned his first shot into a lateral hazard in front of the green and had to retee. He then proceeded to hole-out for a 3 with his second tee shot (see video below for his reaction). It was a par that even Freddie Couples himself would be proud of.

Notes from Ian:  Peter Jacobsen really has his name on some nice golf courses these days and Stone Creek is surely one of them.  This was my second run at the course in the past couple of years and Jason is spot on with liking it to The Home Course in Dupont.  I think the speed of the greens at The Home Course is a bit quicker, but in design and general layout they are first cousins.   I was surprised how well it played for as hard as it rained the whole time we were there.  Sure we had a couple spots where there was water on the green and areas of squishy fairway, but in general it was an excellent wet weather golf course.  My one thought, and maybe this is for golf courses in general, but frankly when its pissing down rain as it was that day…how about a discount.  I mean, the majority of your business is going to no show on you so why not intice the customer to stick it out by dropping your greens fee from $57 to say $40.  I understand golf courses have a business to run but it makes more sense to get twice as many golfers on the course buying range balls, food and drink.  $57 to play in a monsoon just sucks.

Golfchops.com rating: 19/25
Customer Service: 4
Condition of Greens: 4
“Perceived” maintenance level of course: 4
Value: 4
Amenities: 3

Rating Notes:
-Everybody we encountered was friendly and accommodating.
-Greens where in great shape and rolled well despite the weather.
-The course was in excellent shape and held up in the rain very well.
-$57 with a cart on the weekend was a very good value given the quality of the course.
-The practice facility was ok. Uphill range was strange but better than nothing.

Rogue Valley Country Club

2660 Hillcrest Road
Medford, Oregon 97504
(541) 772-5965

Course Review Date – 9/21/2010 (one picture below)

The Golfchops.com team was sent on a mission by our day jobs employer to play in a fundraiser for Southern Oregon University at Rogue Valley Country Club in Medford, Oregon.  Get flown out by the company to shake hands, play golf at a private country club, and drink free booze?  Don’t mind if we do!  This was a monstrous tournament put on by the Lithia Automotive Group that featured 72, 5 person teams and raised somewhere around 150k for the university.  It was a heck of an event and did we mention…there was free booze?

Rogue Valley had recently hosted the Southern Oregon Championship and we heard before the tournament that the greens were lightening quick for it. Unfortunately, when we got there we discovered they had been punched about two weeks prior.  Putting turned out to be a struggle all day and in a scramble, when putting is the most important part of the game it was a bit frustrating.  There were many putts that hit bumps, divots, pieces of sand, etc that just diverted off of their original line.  We talked to others at the tournament that had played the course before and they said that normally the greens are excellent, so just a little bad timing I guess.

At check-in we received a Nike Storm Proof jacket, a $25 Nike Gift Card to be redeemed at a Nike store they had set up in the club house, a new golf towel, and a new golf club….and they we still giving us free booze.  Down to the driving range we went where they had the cool pyramids of range balls set up at each station.  They had us on mats which were not huge fans of, but in a 72 team tournament we can understand why you don’t want your range getting hammered by the crowd.  The course featured a couple different putting and chipping areas, which were also recently punched.  Nothing to over the top, but what you would expect from a nice country club.

The course itself is a 27 hole championship caliber facility that was design by H. Chandler Egan, who also designed our local West Seattle Golf Course.  It does have that old world feel to it similar to what we saw at Tacoma Country Club, just not quite that money in our opinion.  We thought it was going to play fairly narrow but you can actually get around this track ok if you are not throwing darts out there.  There’s a touch of water and some trees, but nothing that really stood out and said “do not hit it here.”  For the most part a rocket ball the wrong way would either find a different holes’ fairway or someone’s back yard.  Our apologies to the older gentleman who house took the brunt of a sprayed hybrid on #8.  With some solid greens this place would be a blast to play.  Overall it was a great experience at a really solid course.  The Golfchops.com team (two of us, playing with 3 others) managed to shoot a respectable  -10.  We left a couple frustrating putts out there but came in 7th out of 72 teams. -15 took home the win.

Golfchops.com rating: 21.5/25
Customer Service: 3.5
Condition of Greens: 3.5
“Perceived” maintenance level of course: 5
Value: 5
Amenities:  4.5

Rating Notes:
 Nothing too over the top but everyone we encountered was friendly and accommodating.
– As mentioned the punched greens were choppy, but we have heard this is far from the norm so they get a bit of a pass on this one.
– Course was in excellent shape as you would expect from what appears to be a high end country club.
– Hmmm…no idea on the guest fees but we hit range balls all day, played free golf and drank free beer.  How could it not be a five?  In reality this course will cost some bucks if you have to play to play.
–  Nice driving range and putting areas.  Beautiful club house and facilities in general.  Nice place for sure.