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Know the lay of the land for great Oregon golf vacation options

Brandon TuckerBy Brandon Tucker,
Managing Editor
Bandon Trails Golf Course - No. 15
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Golf in Oregon is much more than the Bandon Dunes Resort. (Brandon Tucker/TravelGolf)

Oregon is a state with many microclimates and a golf destination with many faces. While some parts of the state like Portland carry a reputation for endless rain, other parts of the state, like in Bend and the high desert region, remain sunny and dry year long.

It's a state of natural beauty, and as a result, the residents of Oregon are of an adventurous and outdoorsy nature. They're also quite casual. Aside from the higher-end private clubs, walking the course -- wearing blue jeans -- isn't out of the ordinary. In fact, most courses in Oregon are extremely friendly and walkable layouts.

The Cascade Mountains divide a high desert to the east, while the coastline is home to gems like Bandon Dunes and Pacific Dunes. The majority of the population -- and golf courses -- can be found on the state's western side, within about an hour or two drive of the Pacific Ocean.

Bandon Dunes, Southern Oregon

Bandon Dunes Golf Resort's opening in 1998 turned Oregon into one of the hottest states for golf, internationally, as golfers from Europe and Asia especially find their way to Bandon for a taste of links golf.

The resort features three 18-hole courses, including Bandon Trails, set mostly inland through tall pines and rolling landscape, but offers the same firm, fescue fairways and greens.

Next door, Pacific Dunes and Bandon Dunes share some of the continent's best links terrain, full of wild gorse, barren sand dunes and firm, fescue grasses. Both courses are consistently ranked among the world's best.

Nearby Bandon Crossings Golf Course opened in July 2007, hoping to piggyback off the success of Bandon Dunes by offering a return to what most American golfers are used to: soft bent and rye grasses and golf carts.

Bend and Central Oregon

Bend has emerged as a hotspot over the last decade, growing from a small town of less than 30,000 to over 70,000. Its downtown area remains compact enough to walk, with few buildings higher than two stories. Golf can also be played year round comfortably.

The city's outcroppings have seen a boom in upscale residential golf communities, none better than Pronghorn, featuring a highly rated Jack Nicklaus and brand new Tom Fazio design.

Bend is home to a collection of noteworthy public courses as well, though the new Tetherow Golf Club stands to surpass them all, offering a old-world golf course designed by architect David McKlay Kidd of Bandon Dunes and St. Andrews Castle Course fame.

Bend enjoys a high desert climate over 3,500 feet and less than 10 inches of rain annually. You can expect sunshine for practically three months straight, with nary a cloud in the sky during the summer months.

Surrounding Bend are plenty of options as well. You can head up into the mountains and rejoin tall pines at courses like Sunriver Resort's Crosswater Golf Course, and nearby Sisters is a town of just 2,000, where everyone knows everyone, and they all golf at Aspen Lakes Golf Club and dine at the new 33 Restaurant.

Golf in and around Portland

Portland is an exciting and funky town with more local breweries than any other city in America (not to mention the most strip clubs per capita), free public transportation around its city center and plenty of golf in its outcroppings. If it didn't rain so much in the winter, it might just be a perfect golf buddy trip, though its summers are generally sunny and dry, and allowing plenty of daylight to take in a day's worth of golf.

Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club is the city's most prestigious golf club, home to one private and one public golf course, Ghost Creek, that rates among America's best. Nearby Aloha's Reserve Vineyards features two of its own acclaimed courses, the The Fought and The Cupp, and historic and scenic Eastmoreland Golf Course, built by Chandler Egan in the 1920s.

Golf in and around Eugene

Home to the University of Oregon and the birthplace of the Nike "Swoosh," Eugene sits in a gentle, rolling parkland setting and is one of the most biker-friendly cities in America. The golf within the city is limiting, though Lane County offers several different settings for golf.

Private Eugene Country Club is a Top 100 Golf Course in both Golfweek and Golf Digest and home to the 2008 U.S. Women's Amateur. Aside from this exclusive club, there are a handful of solid area courses that are great values under $50. Diamond Woods near the airport is a beautifully rolling parkland with great hole variety, though many locals swear by Tokatee Golf Club, which leads you about 45 minutes out of Eugene along the Mackenzie River and into the mountains. Or head west to Ocean Dunes Golf Links, a links-style course just off the Pacific Ocean.

Getting to Oregon by air

By plane, Portland (PDX) offers the most options and is usually the cheapest hub in Oregon. You can also fly into Eugene (EUG), about three hours south and two hours from Bandon. North Bend (OTH) serves as the main hub into Bandon, located about 20 minutes north. It features mostly commuter planes from Portland and private aircraft.

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Tokatee Golf Club Tetherow Golf Club

Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Advisor. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours. Follow Brandon on Twitter at @BrandonTucker and on Instagram at BrandonTuckerGC.

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