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On The Road In Oregon

By David R. Holland

BEND, OR – Just nearing sunset one can see the criss-crossing of Finn scooters dodging, speeding, catching a breeze and settling down for another approach shot at Tetherow Golf Club. The fun is evident.

The pallette view is orange, purple, green and wispy golden.

Welcome to my Tetherow Lodges balcony. It’s a downright beautiful panorama.  

Bandon Dunes’ original course architect, David McLay Kidd created this landscape that displays sparse pine trees because of the 1990 Awbrey Hall Fire. The heathland-style design, with fescue fairways and greens, and has high-lipped bunkers topped off with tow-colored waving grasses.

It is a treasure and currently the 57th ranked course in the 2023-24 list of “America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses” by Golf Digest.

And, this beautiful Central Oregon plot, just east of The Cascades, is only 20 minutes from Mount Bachelor, a ski resort mecca, with views of the Three Sisters and Broken Top. Its 700 acres borders the Deschutes National Forest and rolls through a high-desert environment.  

When it first opened countless golfers gave Tetherow a nickname — Death Row — because of its penal nature.

“The golf course has been tamed and softened somewhat over the years and that nickname has faded,” said general manager Nick OrRico, who joined me for nine holes.

In the beginning Tetherow featured “Mohawk” mounds in the fairways, some that have since been flattened along with the more severe greens and long grasses that could catch wayward approaches.

Tetherow has seen some significant infrastructure growth since opening in 2008. That first year Golf Magazine named Tetherow the Best New Course You Can Play in the USA and named Kidd its Architect of the Year.

OrRico says that “Tetherow is now a full-scale destination resort with a 50-room lodge, vacation rentals, two incredible restaurants, a pool, activity center, and golf learning center.”

Kidd says he wants players to love it or hate it, but says the proof of its popularity is in a fully booked tee sheet.

“Tetherow is a golf course that, like wine, needed time to mature,” said Kidd, who designed three courses on Golf Digest’s list of America’s 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses.

“We needed the rough edges of construction to mellow, we needed nature to adopt what we created, we needed the players to accept the ground game this course demands, and most of all we needed heathland golf to be understood the way links golf has post-Bandon Dunes. As my home club, I love the challenge it presents day in and day out, it’s certainly a course where local knowledge helps greatly,” said Kidd, who now lives in Bend.

Tetherow Lodges

This popular boutique hotel has 50 rooms and some vacation rentals. My room was a king suite with a fireplace, balcony and wet bar, and a leather sofa sleeper.

Loved the view to enjoy the natural beauty of Bend’s 300 days of sunlight a year.

Hotel guests are within walking distance of the pro shop, dining, pool, hot tubs and fitness facility. There’s also complimentary gear storage, and shuttle service.  From here one can explore downtown Bend, the Old Mill District and the Deschutes River.

Solomon’s headlines the dining at Tetherow. It features a rotating menu that highlights offerings from the Pacific Northwest. Its extensive wine collection will accent any meal and reservations are encouraged.

The Row was my breakfast choice. It’s a pub with varied food selections for morning, noon and dinner. My choices were the Classic Benedict and The Row Omelet with grilled asparagus, wild mushrooms, avocado, kale, and feta cheese.

The Café is located in the Tetherow Sport building. It offers a delicious, fresh selection of made-to-order and grab and go options. House-made pizza, sandwiches, bowls, salads, smoothies, coffee drinks and a full bar are available. One can dine poolside here.

The Pronghorn Golf Experience

My Bend golf vacation also included the two golf courses at Juniper Preserve Resort.

Don’t miss the Ghost Trees of this incredible resort that consists of 20,000 acres of federally protected land and its centuries-old juniper forest. Some say these trees are among the oldest in the world, and claim that the forest is vastly silent and other-worldly, with no marked trails and panoramic views of Mount Bachelor and the Three Sisters Wilderness.

Pronghorn Golf Club was the first resort in the West to offer a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course and Tom Fazio Championship Golf Course side-by-side. Travel golfers should definitely schedule this vacation. Troon, the global leader in club and hospitality management, oversees the operations along with Tetherow.

The most interesting hole played on this 36-hole day of golf was the par-3, 154-yard 8th hole of the Fazio Course. It was built on top of an old lava tube and on this day a wedding was happening at the mouth of the cave. Dressed-up guests were arriving by golf carts and numerous ones breezed by me.

The Fazio construction team said they were blasting rock to create this hole and one round of dynamite didn’t blast like it was designed to. It caused a cave in, that’s when they discovered a lava tube that stretches hundreds of yards under the course.

When Fazio heard of the discovery he redesigned the hole with its interesting downhill presentation. Snap a photo or a dozen on this fun golf hole. 

Beside weddings, the resort can also host cocktail parties and other events at this scenic, historic location.

The Tom Fazio award-winner showcases 7,462 yards at par 72. It fits the terrain of the high desert and the juniper trees very well while challenging players of all levels.

The Nicklaus Course was exclusively private when it first opened, and ranked as the nation’s No. 2 best new private course of 2004.

The 7,460-yard par-72 layout with views of the Cascade Mountains, Smith Rock, and numerous buttes offers a challenging but fair test. It has immaculate conditioning and is one of the 100 best public courses in the USA.

The resort hosted me for lunch at the Trailhead Grill and my pick was the Lamb Pita wrap with organic cucumber, local heirloom tomato, power greens, pickled red onion, tzatziki, feta cheese and fries.

Bend is one of the fastest growing tourist cities in the USA with great weather and scenery. And if you like traffic roundabouts you will love the 48 in town with more on the way.

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