SUNRIVER, OR - Although Northern Californians can easily get spoiled with choices like Monterey, the Napa wine country or Lake Tahoe for their golf getaways, there are other wonderful choices that don't reside within the sunshine state.
So what if this sizable drive is more than the wife and kids feel like traveling. Drag them along, they won't regret it. One visit to Sunriver Resort in the high country of central Oregon will have the entire family contemplating another visit. And yes golfers, there are some wonderful courses to play.
There are reasons to despise Oregon, a state that seems to have rain as its incessant partner. Yet in the summer months, Oregon is beautiful, lush, and green with rugged mountains. Best of all, the weather is mostly agreeable, which means people can put away their umbrellas for a couple of months.
Sunriver makes the perfect postcard for the Northwest, especially in the summer. It's a gorgeous time of year, the setting ideal for a wonderful family vacation.
Sunriver is located 15 miles south of Bend, featuring 3,300 acres of prime territory and the looming picture of snow-covered Mt. Bachelor in the distance.
The scenery is first class and so is the golf. There are three championship courses offering considerable variety and challenge for any level golfer.
Forget the golf for a moment, there is more to this resort that driving the ball down the fairway with a gorgeous view of the Cascade Mountains staring you in the face. For recreational bikers of any age, there are 35 miles of paved trails. For the more adventurous type, mountain biking is available as well.
There are three swimming complexes, horseback riding, flyfishing, a nature observatory, indoor racquet club, canoeing, whitewater rafting, 28 tennis courts, plus a centralized village, with shops, restaurants, kids activities and an old-fashioned ice cream parlor that is a must visit.
Simply not interested? Total relaxation is your thing? You've come to the right place, that can easily be accomplished. Despite a flurry of activity, evenings are mostly peaceful, an ideal time to sit on your private deck and breathe in the ambiance and perhaps read a good book. The days can be mellow as well.
John Sibley of Portland brought his family to Sunriver last summer. "The resort is terrific and the service is fantastic, they make everything easy for you here," Sibley said. "There is a lot for everyone in the family to do. And you can count on the weather being good.."
We did mention that this is an ideal golf vacation. So settle in for some golf talk.
The course always receiving the rave reviews is Crosswater, located a few miles outside the resort. Crosswater is the must play of Sunriver's three courses. The architecture is superb, with sweeping Cascade vistas, scenic wetlands, plus the Deschutes and Little Deschutes rivers creating some natural hazards on five holes.
The course has won numerous awards. Among the more notable is being named Golf Digest's Best New Course in 1995. Once you've played it, there is no questioning why.
Are you the type of golfer who loves the big-time challenge? Crosswater has it. Fancy yourself a big hitter? Try proving it here. Crosswater can be a mammoth undertaking from the tips, which stretch to 7,683 yards and have a par-5 that goes a whopping 687 yards and another one that measures 645 yards.
Don't get scared off. The mountain elevation provides for some extra distance, which obviously can come in handy. Played from the tips or the silver tees (7,305 yards), distance is a huge requirement. Yet the layout can also be a tricky one to navigate. It's call Crosswater for a reason. Water is crossed 14 times during the round, so beware of taking a drink or two. That means you, hackers. Make sure to pack some extra balls, you will need them.
Crosswater features five sets of tee boxes. So find your comfort zone and don't get intimidated by the yardage. More important than distance, can be location. There are numerous traps, marshes and of course water along the way. Keeping the ball in the fairway, which are in pristine condition and offer extra roll for distance, will help immensely.
"I came back to Sunriver because of this golf course," said Phil Hassen, who lives in Vancouver, B.C. "Played from any tee box, it is very challenging. The course is in wonderful shape and I love the greens, they are absolutely true.."
Green fees can vary, according to the golf package or vacation plan. Expect to pay between $105.00-$155.00.
Although not Crosswater quality, the Woodlands and Meadows courses should not be overlooked. Located inside the Sunriver grounds, both are fine layouts, providing some challenging golf for different reasons.
Designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., the Woodlands winds its way around the tall pines that inhabit Sunriver. Expect to find trouble at practically every hole. The course features deep bunkers, lakes, rock outcroppings and numerous trees. Club selection and accuracy are required.
Following a day at Crosswater, some good news arrives here. The Woodlands plays only modestly long, going 6,880 yards at its furthest. The one knock is that the middle tee box measures 6,068 yards, while the red markers are 5,446 yards. Something in between, say 6,500 yards, would have been nice.
The Meadows has four tee locations and does provide that mid-range at 6,625 yards. From the tips, the Meadows can be a chore, going just over 7,000 yards. Former U.S. Amateur champion John Fought handled the course redesign in 1999.
Remember that mesmerizing view of Mt. Bachelor? Don't get too caught up in sightseeing, there are many challenging holes. Bunkers, water hazards and some statuesque pine trees are the enemy on this layout.
"You have to make some tough shots out here," Sibley said. "It's definitely a playable golf course, though. You don't have to be a low-handicapper to do well. There are some hazards and I thought the greens were tough.."
Both the Meadows and Woodlands courses run between $60.00-$110.00 for green fees.
P.O. Box 3609, Sunriver, OR 97707
For Tee Times: 541-593-4402
Located just 15 miles south of Bend on U.S. Highway 97, Sunriver Resort is a tremendous Northwest vacation spot. The resort has a large selection of rooms, suites, condominiums and homes.
Choices are numerous, from fine dining to a casual place where families might want to enjoy a light meal. The Grille at Crosswater is a good bet for more elegant cuisine. The Lodge is a beautiful setting for any meal. McDivot's Café is good for golfers playing the Woodlands course, since it is on the grounds. The most popular location is the Sunriver Village, where the choices are many.
Scenery: 4.4 Layout: 4.1
Practice Facilities: 4
Club House/Pro Shop: 3.5
Pace of Play: 4
Overall Rating: 4.4
August 5, 2002