Tee to Green

Central Oregon golf courses off to early start

Mild weather means open links at most courses

By Mark Morical, The Bulletin, @MarkMorical

Central Oregon opening days

Following are the planned opening days for Central Oregon golf courses, if they have not opened already. Courses that are currently open are still subject to short-term closures due to weather. All opening dates are tentative.

PUBLIC AND SEMIPRIVATE

Aspen Lakes Golf Course: Open

Black Butte Ranch: Big Meadow, open; Glaze Meadow, April 3

Crooked River Ranch: Open

Desert Peaks Golf Club: Open

Eagle Crest Resort: Challenge, Ridge courses open; Resort course, March 28

The Greens at Redmond: Open

Juniper Golf Course: Open

Kah-Nee-Ta Resort: Open

Lost Tracks Golf Club: Open

Meadow Lakes Golf Course: Open

The Old Back Nine at Mountain High: Open

Prineville Golf Club: Open

Pronghorn Club, Nicklaus Course: Open

Quail Run Golf Course: Open

River’s Edge Golf Course: Open

Smith Rock Golf Course: Open

Sunriver Resort: Meadows, May 22; Woodlands, open Fridays through Mondays (seven days by mid-April)

Tetherow Golf Club: March 29

Widgi Creek Golf Club: Open

PRIVATE

Awbrey Glen: Open

Bend Golf and Country Club: March 21, but tentative based on tree-removal project

Broken Top Club: Open

Brasada Ranch: Open

Caldera Links: April 17

Crosswater Club: April 10

Pronghorn Club, Fazio Course: Open

Spring does not even officially start until Friday, but the majority of Central Oregon’s golf courses are already open for play.

El Nino is rough on skiers, but golfers love it.

The weather pattern that brought an abnormally warm and dry winter to the High Desert is paying dividends for area courses, most of which are open in time for Oregon’s spring break.

Some higher-elevation courses that often do not open until well into April opened earlier this winter, including Widgi Creek Golf Club in Bend, Quail Run Golf Course in La Pine, and Big Meadow Golf Course at Black Butte Ranch.

Quail Run opened for play on March 6, nearly a month earlier than normal, according to the course’s director of golf operations, Todd Sickles.

“Typically, I’d say April first is average,” Sickles said. “We would have been opened March first but that one little snowstorm was stubborn.”

Sickles added that this is the earliest in the year that Quail Run has been open in his eight years working at the golf course.

But there is still no guarantee that some area courses will not be forced to close again, as snow and cold weather can be prevalent in a Central Oregon spring.

Yet most courses in the region are prepared for that.

“We can still get 3 inches of snow here in the next month, and then be closed for a couple days,” Sickles said. “The difference is once you get to this part of the season it’ll melt fast. You don’t have those real cold days. But we could close on the Fourth of July from snow, so you never know.”

In Central Oregon, 23 of the area’s 30 golf courses are now open. Many of the courses in northern Deschutes County and Crook County remain open year-round, as they typically do not have to deal with as much snow and cold as those courses closer to Bend or in southern Deschutes County.

Courses that are not yet open include Bend Golf and Country Club (plans to open March 21), Eagle Crest Resort Course (March 28), Tetherow Golf Club (March 29), Black Butte Ranch’s Glaze Meadow (April 3), Crosswater Club (April 10), Caldera Links (April 17) and Sunriver Meadows (May 22).

As a bonus to golfers, many of the region’s courses offer cheaper greens fees during the early season before jacking up rates for the peak summer season.

Widgi Creek — which opened the past two seasons in mid-March — opened for play this winter on Jan. 23 with regular greens, and it was open for nearly five weeks before a few inches of snow in late February/early March shut the course down for about a week.

“We’ve been open before that early, but it’s usually only for 10 to 12 days and then we’re shut down for a month,” said Widgi Creek superintendent Paul Rozek.

The course — located just off Century Drive in southwest Bend — reopened on March 6 and has been hosting 80 to 100 players on unseasonably warm, sunny days, according to Rozek.

“We came out of winter about as good as I’ve seen in the last 10 years,” Rozek said of the course.

“No ice damage. The greens are in fantastic shape for this time of year. We already started mowing. We mowed three weeks earlier than last year.

“It’s earlier than normal for a lot of the courses. And it’s just weather conditions more than anything. It’s kind of an early spring.”

— Reporter: 541-383-0318,

mmorical@bendbulletin.com

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