Best golf state in America? With accessible, diverse courses, it may just be Oregon
My buddy and I were at the store yesterday looking for some casual Sunday six packs, and we left the beer aisle with two Oregon brews: Deschutes Mirror Pond and Widmer Hefeweizen.
It got me thinking later that night, about a week removed from my second trip to Oregon for golf, that it’s probably the best golf state in the union for a lot of reasons. And I say that as a devout supporter of Michigan’s golf scene - where I’ll be headed on Friday for a week of golf, mostly in northern Michigan.
Oregon simply has land diversity and accessibility that would have to be impossible to match, and quality good enough to warrant a trip from anywhere in the world. The state also has an embarrassment of great coffee and beer: two staples in any golf trip I take. There is no state sales tax to boot, which is a welcomed sight every time my credit card is swiped.
It’s also naturally beautiful. Heading to Bandon from Eugene along the Umpqua River is gorgeous and takes you through some little villages that look like they’re stuck in the 1950s, there’s no reason to take any of the sharp turns too fast.
For the best golf, the obvious start is the four coastal courses of Bandon Dunes Golf Resort. But it’s green fees at $200-260 aren’t typical of Oregon golf. In Eugene and Portland, you’re dealing with your more traditional parkland terrain, but plenty of good golf courses under $50 like Heron Lakes, Diamond Woods and Tokatee, three bargain-buster plays I’ve enjoyed in Oregon. Around Portland, Pumpkin Ridge and the Reserve Vineyards courses are the top upscale plays.
You’ve also got high desert golf in Bend, home to upscale gems like Pronghorn and Tetherow and nearby Crosswater at Sunriver Resort, host of last weekend’s JELD-WEN Tradition, plus two dozen other area courses worth visiting like Aspen Lakes in the pleasant village of Sisters.
Bend is experiencing real estate problems right now, but there’s still plenty of reasons to visit the little town for golf and it’s abundance of nature. Just hold off on buying any property unless you’re a speculator.
I’ve found that Oregon is a more walker-friendly destination in that course routings cater to hoofers, and most courses charge extra for golf carts. I see fewer golf carts out in Oregon that most other destinations.
And I haven’t even been to eastern Oregon, separated from the populated western side of the state by the Cascade Mountains. This sparse region is supposed to be even better value, according to Oregon’s Chris Santella. Click here for his feature on the often neglected, blue collar destination.
You could say California and Texas are the best golf states based on sheer size, but Texas’ diversity isn’t as good and California’s golf isn’t as accessible to all. Michigan has more golf per capita and is highly accessible and diverse in cost, but can’t match Oregon in its land diversity. New York has some of the most prestigious golf courses, but there are very few of them that are public and around NYC, it’s real tough getting a tee time anywhere worth while. South Carolina has loads of great golf, but many of the courses don’t cater to walkers, and who can say they love playing golf on bermuda grass every day?
And the weather in Oregon is actually quite good, it’s not waterworld like you might have heard. You can play year round in many spots, and if you’re not crazy about rainy Portland in the winter months, Bend gets hardly any rain all year long.
I’d love to hear an argument against Oregon and for another state, but I’m pretty sure it can’t be beat in the U.S.A.
You can follow Brandon Tucker’s golf blog and more on Twitter: http://twitter.com/brandontucker or follow WorldGolf.com at Twitter.com/worldgolf . Have a golf travel question for Brandon? Email him by clicking here
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