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Ridge golf course at Bandon-esque Eagle Crest Resort qualifies as Oregon beauty

Scott ReschBy Scott Resch,
Eagle Crest Resort - Ridge golf course - hole 10
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Eagle Crest's Resort's Ridge Course is set on the eastern slope of the Cascade Mountains. (Courtesy of Eagle Crest Resort)

REDMOND, Ore. -- It's hundreds of miles from the Pacific Ocean. It lacks a links-style course. And it's not one of the first golf resorts guys think of when organizing a buddy trip.

But Eagle Crest Resort in Central Oregon does bear a resemblance to lauded cross-state golf haven Bandon Dunes.

Quantity can have that effect.

With four golf courses -- albeit two of a gimmicky nature -- Eagle Crest is one of the few resorts in Oregon at which golfers can spend an entire trip.

The best of the bunch is Eagle Crest's Ridge Course, a 6,952-yard John Thronson creation on the eastern slope of the Cascade Mountains that provides challenge in the form of tight fairways, water hazards, tricky green complexes and constant elevation changes.

The views can be a tad distracting, too.

"I felt like mountain peaks were just sort of always there, in the distance, right behind every green," said Brendan Adams, a 16 handicap and Denver resident. "It's easy to get caught up in the surroundings and lose your concentration.

"But there are worse situations to have to deal with."

Eagle Crest's Ridge Course has hosted two Northwest Opens and, most recently, the Oregon Open in 2006.

Play just a couple holes, and it's easy to understand why. Amid all the ancient junipers and lodgepole pines sits a high-desert course that's both beautiful and fun.

The most jaw dropping of the bunch is the 219-yard, par-3 third, which plays significantly downhill to a green surrounded by sand traps and further guarded on the right by a lake.

Par comes only to the player who can choose the right club and thread a tee shot between all those bunkers.

"The thing about the Ridge is that it looks pretty straightforward but there are subtle nuances that force you to make decisions," said Ron Buerger, Eagle Crest Resort's director of golf. "If you hit driver every time, you risk losing a few balls -- there are some narrow fairways out there.

"And do you go for the par fives in two? You can, but you can also get into a lot of trouble if you're not precise with that second shot."

One thing's for sure: When on the greens, the best putt is a firm one. The dance floors possess none of the qualities of hardwood -- the greenskeepers "attempt to keep them between 9.5 and 10.5 on the stimp," said Buerger, but they were running short of that speed during this writer's visit -- so getting the ball to the cup can require some muscle.

Eagle Crest Resort: The facilities

Like to practice? You'll love Eagle Crest Resort.

In addition to a natural turf driving range and large putting/chipping green set next to a circular, rambler-style clubhouse, the resort offers a putting course with sand traps on every hole and the Challenge Course, a collection of 18 par 3s and par 4s, the longest of which is a mere 349 yards.

The Challenge provides a fun way to warm up for a round on the Ridge, or work on your iron play while getting a little exercise. At 4,160 yards and with short treks between green and tee, the course is easy to walk.

Eagle Crest Resort's Ridge Course: The verdict

Just as nearby Bend offers no shortage of choices when it comes to brewpubs (Google "Bend Ale Trail" to learn more about that, you beer hounds), Eagle Crest Resort serves up a mouth-watering selection of golf experiences.

Be it a true-blue putting course that tests your imagination and touch with the flat stick, a short course perfect for honing your iron play or two 18-hole courses that allow you to use every club in the bag, there's something for everyone here.

What's more, there's no need to bunk off premises. Between a 100-unit inn and two- to four-bedroom vacation rentals, all accommodation tastes are accounted for.

Remind you of anywhere else?

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Eagle Crest Resort - Ridge golf course - hole 13Eagle Crest Resort - Ridge golf course - hole 7Eagle Crest Resort - Ridge golf course - hole 3

Formerly managing editor of Golf Connoisseur and editor-in-chief of Luxury Golf & Travel, Scott Resch now writes only when he gets a wild hair. The Park City, Utah, resident spends most of his time generating editorial coverage for Mandarin Media's overseas golf course and hotel clients and over-thinking his golf swing.

Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.

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