An introduction to Bend

In this blog post, we’re going to explore some of the best golf courses in Bend. But let’s be honest, Bend is a relatively obscure place. Right in the heart of Oregon and over a three hour drive from Portland, the capital city of the state. This is far from anywhere.

But this city which is ‘far from anywhere’ is a wonderful place and an outdoor lover’s paradise. There are the snow-covered peaks of the Cascade Mountains on one side, with the vast desert plateaus on the other.

Add to that over 80 public parks and forests which adorn the sides of majestic mountains. This is a beautifully scenic place and you start to understand why it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the west.

Bend Oregon

The main activities revolve around the outdoors although if you’re playing golf all day, you’re unlikely to want to go on a hike! One option would be kayaking or white-water rafting on one of the many rivers.This is a great way to experience some of the wild outdoors.

Bend itself is a hip and cosmopolitan town and has plenty of bustling districts. The shopping is great here as is the food scene. 

But if you’re coming to Bend, you absolutely have to visit one of the micro-breweries that have popped up. The number of breweries has grown exponentially over the last decade, so much so there is even a Bend Ale Trail, which visits all of the best breweries.

It also has some decent golf courses…

The best golf courses in Bend Oregon

Aspen Lakes Golf Course

Aspen Lakes Golf Course, Bend, Oregon

A half hour’s drive north from Bend, just to the east of Sisters, is Aspen Lakes Golf Course. It is a privately owned, public golf course which you really shouldn’t miss out on when visiting Bend. 

The course is owned by the Cyrus Family, who in 1988 purchased a 1,084 acre plot right next to their farm. The ambition was to create a top-class but publicly accessible golf course and to oversee the project, they called upon William Overdorf. 

Overdorf has been responsible for a number of golf projects in Washington state and so was a reliable and experienced hand to turn to. The first nine opened in 1996 with the second nine opening 3 three years later in 1999. 

One of the overriding objectives in the construction was to be as environmentally friendly as possible. This has meant that all the bunkers feature a native red coloured sand, which originated from crushed red cinders from the family’s farm.

There are beautiful mountain views and despite the presence of some high-end housing, you really do feel at one with nature. There are some wonderful holes, especially on the back nine’s finishing holes.

Tetherow Resort

Tetherow Golf Club, Bend, Oregon

Tetherow Resort is located on a 700-acre site bordering the Deschutes National Forest, just 10 minutes south of Bend. This is a gorgeous site which boasts a boutique hotel, three restaurants, pool and a fitness facility.

It also has a superb award-winning 18-hole golf course designed by the equally acclaimed architect David McLay Kidd. 

McLay Kidd has designed some pretty special courses in his career, none-more-so than the outstanding Bandon Dunes on Oregon’s coast and Castle Stuart in Scotland. Ten years after completing Bandon Dunes, McLay Kidd was commissioned to work on this project. Tetherow eventually opened for play in 2008.

This vast plot of land is very links-like in style. Firm and fast playing surfaces and fescue grass combine to create this links feeling. The fairways and greens are beautifully contoured and are one of the main features. So much so, getting to the green is only half the challenge.

Since opening, the course has received a number of accolades, with Golf Digest regularly featuring it as one of their Top 100 courses in the USA rankings. If you’re in Bend, get a tee time here – you won’t regret it.

Crosswater Golf Course

Another award-winning golf course in the Bend area, Crosswater is a gem. 

The course is one of three 18-hole championship layouts part of the Sunriver golf resort. The other two golf courses include the John Fought designed Meadows, and Robert Trent Jones Jr’s Woodlands. Both are great, but Crosswater is immense.

We’re 30 minutes drive south of Bend, in dense woodland and preserved wetlands with stunning views across to the Cascade mountains. This is a special location, all 600-acres of it with the Deschutes and Little Deschutes rivers threading through the site. 

Depending on the tees you choose, these two rivers can come into play up to seven times. So make sure you pack plenty of balls. 

This heathland layout gets its fair share of praise, with Golf Digest ranking it as one of ‘America’s 100 Greatest Courses’. It has also hosted its fair share of pro events, with specifically the PGA Professional National Championships and Champions Tour events.

Stay at the hotel here and you’ll have complete access to the course.

Juniper Golf Course

juniper golf course, Bend, Oregon

Bend and its surrounding area is clearly blessed with great golf. There are some top class golf resorts and layouts, but you’ll pay good money to play them. Yet the public side certainly holds its own with Juniper Golf Course leading the charge.

Redmond is a small town 15 miles north of Bend and Juniper is one of the first features you come across before entering the town. This is a vast plot with no urban or residential buildings encroaching into the site. 

With so much space, John Harbottle, the course architect, was able to create a layout which can play to all levels and abilities. From the back tees the course stretches out to around 7,200 yards. Fortunately though, there is a choice of tees, six to be precise, for those who don’t want to have a long afternoon.

To attest to its high standard, Juniper has hosted many high-level tournaments including U.S. Amateur Qualifiers and the Oregon Open. Being so close to Redmond airport, this is an obvious choice to kickstart your golf trip to Bend. 

Widgi Creek Golf Club

Widgi Creek golf course, Bend, Oregon

Just 10 minutes south of Bend downtown, Widgi Creek is another public golf course which epitomizes quality and affordable golf. 

Yes the likes of Tetherow, Pronghorn, Crosswater and others get the accolades and rave reviews. But amongst the locals, Widgi Creek is the one.

It consistently sweeps up awards,  with the readers of Bend Bulletin naming it their ‘favorite golf course’. And amongst the readers of The Source, which is Bend’s free weekly newspaper, year after year it is voted as their favorite golf course.

But it’s not just amongst the locals that Widgi Creek gets attention, with Golf Digest rating it as one of the ‘Best Places to Play’. Fair to say, this is a decent track. 

It opened in 1995 and was immediately recognised as one of the most enjoyable places to play in Bend. Despite most fairways being tree-lined, they’re wide enough for you to be a little aggressive off the tee. Large undulating greens are consistently in good condition and demand precision play.

Pronghorn (Fazio & Nicklaus)

In an isolated 640-acre plot hidden away amongst a 1,000 year old juniper forest, is the upscale resort of Pronghorn. 

This is luxury seclusion to perfection with the resort featuring a number of amenities including multiple restaurants, pools, fitness center and awesome lodges and other accommodation options. 

Alongside this are two top class golf courses which are sprawled throughout the vast forest. Add to this the ancient lava formations, steep canyons and stunning views of the Cascade Mountains, this is a good spot for golf.

First up was the Signature Jack Nicklaus layout which is open to the public. There isn’t a huge amount of elevation change but the challenge comes from large strategically placed bunkers which seem to encroach on every line of play. 

This is relatively minimalist golf which plays firm and fast. From the back tees, expect to be playing just short of 7,400 yards.

Two years after the Nicklaus course opened in 2006, came the private Fazio layout. This outstanding course is more than a worthy companion for the Nicklaus layout, with many arguing this is the better of the two.

The course is immensely playable and fits its surrounding environment perfectly. The exquisitely sculpted greens are preceded by dramatic water features and ancient lava rocks. All the time you are flanked by the omni-present juniper trees.

Both courses have been manicured to perfection and Pronghorn is without doubt one of the finest 36-hole golf destinations in Oregon. It is such a shame any decent layout gets unfairly compared to the courses at Bandon Dunes.

Brasada Ranch Golf

Similarly to Pronghorn, Brasada Ranch is a luxury resort littered with awards. Condé Nast Traveler has recently ranked Brasada Ranch in the top 30 resorts worldwide. Whilst the likes of Travel + Leisure and Sunset Magazine have lavished similar praise.

The resort is in an isolated spot, half an hour’s drive northeast from Bend through the Oregon Badlands Wilderness. The surrounding countryside is rugged with volcanic rock formations and craters. It is also on the slopes of Powell Butte, one of many extinct cinder cone buttes in the region. 

It is within this landscape that the ex PGA Tour player Peter Jacobsen and golf course architect Jim Hardy routed Brasada Ranch’s 18 holes. The expansive setup means no two holes run parallel to one another. 

Routed along a canyon, there are many elevations. With elevations come great views, but also some big shots. Big shots coming from elevated tees to downhill fairways. From the back tees it measures just shy of 7,300 yards, a big course for big players.

Broken Top Club

Broken Top Club, Bend, Oregon

One of the closest golf courses to central Bend, Broken Top is just the other side of the Deschutes River. It is one of the few private golf courses around the Bend area.

The course was designed by Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish. These are two names synonymous with producing courses which blend traditional design elements with more modern routings. 

The spot is idyllic. Vistas of vast forests give way to the snow-topped Cascade Mountains in the distance. The club has a lively and engaged membership, with a top class restaurant and other amenities.

There are some great holes here, none more so than its signature hole. We’re talking about the par four 11th, a gently rising fairway which gives way to a cliff-edge drop to the right, across which sits the well protected green. 

The terrain is relatively flat apart from a few elevation changes. But this is a wonderful course well worth trying to get an invite to.

Bend Golf Club

Bend Golf Club, Bend, Oregon

To the south of town, in the wooded part of the city, is the fantastic Bend Golf Club. 

Over the last few decades Bend has become more and more popular as a holiday destination, attracting folks from all over the country. Yet Bend Golf Club came to life way before Bend was on the map.

The course was designed by Chandler Egan and was built in 1925 making it one of the first golf courses in Bend. Over the years it has continued to mature into its setting and now offers the perfect blend between walkability and playability.

Tree-lined and manicured fairways lead up to well-contoured green complexes, which are definitely the highlight here. 

As testament to the quality on offer, Bend Golf Club has hosted the Oregon Open, the Oregon Amateur, the Northwest Open, and many more tournaments of a similar caliber. 

Awbrey Glen Golf Club

The last course on our list takes us to the northwest of town, past Awbrey Butte. Unlike some of the other courses dotted around Bend, the topography here is far more interesting, featuring significantly more changes in elevation.

It is also visually stunning. Aside from magnificent views there are dense forests and spectacular rock outcroppings. These rock outcroppings are a common feature throughout the course with some greens flanked by sheer rock face.

The course was designed by Bunny Mason and stretches from 4,700 to 7,000 yards. There are few gimmicks in the design of Awbrey Glen Golf Club. There are challenging holes which rely on the natural undulations of the site, but none of which are unfairly penal.

This is more than just fun golf and Awbrey Glen is well worth the detour with a stunning clubhouse to add to the overall experience. The club is private and has a lively membership.

What is the Best Golf Course in Bend Oregon?

The best golf course in Bend Oregon, is the Fazio course at the exclusive Pronghorn Resort. One of two courses alongside the Nicklaus course, the Fazio course opened for play in 2008 and was designed by Tom Fazio.

How many golf courses are there in Bend?

Within 20 miles of Bend, there are 23 golf courses, with 10 very close to the town center.

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