Chances are, you’ve heard of Bend, Oregon by now. The word is out on what used to be a sleepy mill town populated by a few additional fringe-culture ski bums. While remnants of years gone by can still be found, Bend has become a destination for all different sorts of outdoor enthusiasts.
Whether your tune is craft beer (Bend has more breweries per capita than anywhere else in the U.S.), skiing, mountain biking, rafting, camping, good food, or golf, Bend has something for everyone. In fact, it’s been the fastest-growing town in Oregon for more years than we can count. And it’s not hard to see why.
If you’re reading this, I assume you’re a golfer so that’s what we’ll focus on for this discussion. Trust me, we could go on and on about all the other great things Bend has to offer…
For those of us at Golfer’s Authority that have been lucky enough to visit Bend and play golf, we can’t say enough good things. So much so, that coming up with our list of the ten best courses was a heated debate to say the least. After more back and forth than most Congressional hearings, we’ve compiled our list Ten Best Golf Courses in Bend, Oregon below.
Nestled in the eastern shadow of the snowcapped Cascade mountains at the southern end of the world-famous Sunriver Resort, this Bob Cupp design will take your breath away. Sure, the views of the mountains and solitude of the spacious layout are nice. But we’re talking more about difficulty.
The Little Deschutes River meanders inauspiciously through the course. However, it comes into play on seven holes and the locals say it’s now home to more golf balls than the native Redband Trout. On the holes where it doesn’t come into play, nearly unplayable knee-marsh grass is waiting to punish errant shots.
The good news is that the course has generous landing areas, large greens, and six sets of tees ranging from 5,723 yards all the way to 7,683 yards.
If you choose the appropriate set of tees, bring an extra sleeve of balls, and are lucky enough to score an early morning tee time when nature is coming to life and mist off the Little Deschutes seems ghostly, a round at Crosswater Club isn’t one you’ll forget any time soon.
If you want to get on this gem, you’ll likely need to be a guest of Sunriver Resort or play with a member.
There isn’t a more fun round of golf in Central Oregon than Brasada Canyons. I don’t care who you ask or talk to. If they say anything different, they’re wrong.
Situated in the high desert canyons of Powell Butte, this golf course is unlike any other in the area. The holes are built into canyons whose natural contours shape holes that are user friendly and present deceptive challenges all at once.
The fairways at Brasada Canyons are wide. And with elevated tee shots, you’ll feel like Superman with driver in your hands.
One of the Golfer’s Authority writers has played this track many times and always bragged about the impeccable condition of the bent grass greens. He wasn’t wrong. Year-around, these surfaces are as true as anything you’ll find. Just remember that putts into the mountain are slower than they look. Conversely, putts away from the mountain can be lightning fast, even if they look uphill.
If you’re in Central Oregon and only have time for a round or two, make a date Brasada Canyons. She’s user-friendly yet challenging all at once.
Oh yeah, the breathtaking views of Mt. Bachelor, Broken Top, The Three Sisters, Mt. Washington, Mt. Jefferson, and Mt. Hood are breathtaking to say the least. Even though we hate the golf tip “keep your head down,” it might be advice well heeded at Brasada Canyons.
Like some of the other courses on this list, you’ll need to be a resort guest of Brasada Ranch or that of a member. It’s also a good idea to check local stay and play packages for the best rates on both cabins and golf.
Bend Golf Club
The original nine holes at Bend Golf Club were built in 1925 by world-famous designer Chandler Egan. The second nine was added in the 1970’s.
Set in what is now “old” southeast Bend, this parkland course is framed by towering Ponderosa Pines, centuries older than the course itself.
Old meets new at Bend Golf Club where course design and traditions remain as they have for decades, but facilities are first-class.
Even though we highlighted golf course conditions in the first two golf courses on our list, nothing really compares to Bend Golf Club. Lush fairways and what Central Oregonians call “the purest greens in the area,” are the passion of 2019 Superintendent of the Year Award winner, Scott Moffenbeier.
Bend Golf Club is a one-of-a-kind course in Central Oregon. To this day, it remains timeless yet challenging, with only minor renovations being made since it first opened nearly a century ago.
If you’re a traditionalist that appreciates shot-making over today’s bomb-and-gouge mentality, Bend Golf Club is a must play.
If you belong to a private club anywhere in the world, arranging a reciprocal round at this great facility is easily arranged by your Head Professional.
Pronghorn Nicklaus Signature Course
Only a few miles from the aforementioned Brasada Canyons, lies Pronghorn Resort. The facility features two courses, designed by Tom Fazio and Jack Nicklaus, respectively. While the Fazio Course is fully private, the Pronghorn Nicklaus Signature Course is open to resort guests and the public.
Whether you’ve played Nicklaus courses in the past or not, this track won’t disappoint. Built into the natural topography of lava rock and Juniper scrub, the course appears narrower in many spots than it actually is.
If it’s your first time playing, we highly recommend taking a caddie to help you pick out sight lines and read greens. There’s a ton of local knowledge to be garnered and the extra few bucks for a seasoned looper is worth every penny.
The greens at the Pronghorn Nicklaus Signature Course are some of the fastest in the area. Before you peg it on the first tee, make sure to spend some time on the world-class practice putting green to dial in your speed.
If you’re looking for a great place to stay on an extended golf vacation, Pronghorn Resort’s amenities are world class.
Juniper Golf Course
If you’re coming to Bend for a golf vacation by way of airline, you’re going to fly into Redmond airport – only a short drive down Highway 97 to Bend. The good news is that you can stretch your legs and be on the first tee of one of Central Oregon’s best public facilities within minutes of landing.
Juniper Golf Course has received too many accolades to list and is the annual host of prestigious tournaments like the Oregon Open, U.S. Amateur Qualifier, and PNGA Mid-Amateur.
Don’t let your first views of the majestic Cascade Mountains capture you for too long. Juniper Golf Course keeps you on your toes with a great blend of difficult and gettable holes. Risk and reward are the name of the game on all four of the course’s par fives, and a number of short, even drivable par fours.
While the course can yield some birdies, double bogeys are only one bad swing away.
Juniper Golf Course is a great kickoff to any golf trip to Central Oregon and one of the best values in the area.
Widgi Creek Golf Club
Voted Bend’s Favorite Course seven of the last eight year by readers of The Source, Bend’s free weekly newspaper, Widgi Creek is the epitome of what public golf should be – affordable and enjoyable.
Nestled amongst towering Ponderosa Pines on your way to Mt. Bachelor, we all agree that Widgi Creek is hands down, the best public golf course in the city of Bend.
For a public golf course that gets tons of play, the condition of this course is impeccable.
And it’s no pushover, either. The fairways are generous, but well-guarded by Ponderosa Pines that wreak havoc with errant shots.
The green complexes are some of the most undulating in the area and demand precision on every approach if you’re going to score.Right alongside Juniper Golf Course, Widgi Creek is one of Central Oregon’s premier public facilities.
Tetherow is completely unlike anything else in Central Oregon. Designed by world-renowned architect, David McLay Kidd, Tetherow’s links design is flat out hard. Locals call it Death Row. In fact, one of our writers, a scratch golfer, made five birdies and eagle the first time he played the track on his way to a smooth 77.
The point is, if you’re looking for a relaxing, enjoyable round of golf where you have a chance of shooting a good score, Tetherow shouldn’t be on your list. However, if you’re looking for a genuinely unique experience, and don’t mind the occasional tough break, Tetherow will give you everything you can handle and much more.
Aside from the golf course, Tetherow’s amenities are to die for. The new hotel and lodges are top-shelf and afford breathtaking views of those spectacular mountains we keep talking about.
The on-property dining options are killer.
The Row Pub is a great choice for a post-round pint and you won’t want to miss out on the award-winning Bleu Diamond Burger.
If a more formal setting and a wine list rivaling that of the best restaurants in Napa is more your flavor, Solomon’s is out of this world. Remember our writer that shot 77 his first go around Tetherow? That same idiot lost at credit card roulette at Solomon’s recently and is still paying the tab. He insists it was worth every penny though.
If you’re wanting to venture off-property, Tetherow offers complimentary shuttles for resort guests to the countless restaurants and beer taps that make up Downtown Bend.
It’s up to you whether you play the golf course or not. With that said, we recommend you do for the experience alone. Oh yeah, take a caddie. Forget about score.
However, if you choose not to play this links in the high desert, the other amenities are more than worth the price of admission.
Black Butte Ranch Big Meadow Golf Course
Undoubtedly the best kept secret in Central Oregon is Black Butte Ranch Big Meadow Golf Course. Located just a few miles west of the quaint town of Sisters (a short drive from Bend), this track is mountain golf at it’s finest. With views of the Cascade peaks and Black Butte, tranquil is the first word that comes to mind as you leisurely stroll down the fairways at Big Meadow.
You might want to leave your driver in the bag on a few holes as OB lines most every fairway.
The greens are some of the best in the area and staying below the hole is a must.
For accommodations, the resort has plenty of luxurious houses, cabins and condos to rent.
For food, the Lodge Restaurant and Aspen Lounge provide an upscale, yet relaxed dining experience that’s second to none. If a post-round beer and a burger are more your speed, Robert’s Pub has a Northwest inspired menu that’s delicious and reasonably priced.
Quail Run Golf Course
Another hidden gem, Quail Run, is located just a short drive south of Bend. The facilities here are modest, but they were never meant to be anything more.
When you check in, you’ll most likely find Head PGA Professional, Todd Sickles, behind the counter. Todd owns and operates the golf course which has a wonderful mix of holes that are both friendly and challenging.
A local’s favorite for years, Quail Run is rarely overcrowded so pace of play isn’t an issue.
And the best part is the greens fees are more than reasonable.If you’re looking for an enjoyable round, friendly staff, and great value, don’t overlook Quail Run.
The Old Back Nine
Formerly an 18-hole course called Mountain High, The Old Back Nine is a great place for beginners or a casual warmup round.
Just because this course isn’t a million yards in length, don’t let it fool you. Its fairways are narrow, and the greens are sloped.
Yes, you can certainly shoot a good score, but you’d better be on your game.
The staff here are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, and the laid-back atmosphere is ideal for families, beginners, and everyone else.If there’s a golf course in Bend where everyone is truly welcome, it’s at The Old Back Nine.
It’s not hard to see why Bend, Oregon has become so popular for people to vacation and live. There’s something for everyone in the way of outdoor recreation and golf is a large part of that. With over 25 courses within an hour’s drive, there’s no way to play all of them in one trip. Trust us, you’ll want to come back again after you visit this special piece of the Pacific Northwest.
Aside from the golf, there’s plenty of great food to eat, beer to drink, and other activities to enjoy. If you’re thinking about where to plan your next buddies trip or, just want to take the family on vacation to a new spot, put Bend, Oregon at the top of your list.