Breaking down the course

A closer look at the Resort Course at Eagle Crest.

Difficulty

Not an overly difficult course for control players, or for novices who fear water hazards, but it can be tough on overly aggressive players.

Strategy

Pay particular attention to club selection. Finding a comfortable yardage on approach is more important than distance off the tee.

Verdict

The well-maintained course is best for golfers who prefer shorter position courses, offering a direct contrast to Eagle Crest’s Ridge Course.

REDMOND —

My playing partner, Bill, would not have put himself in better position on the memorable second hole at the Resort Course at Eagle Crest Resort if he had walked down the fairway and dropped a Titleist out of his pocket.

He had used a hybrid off the tee to center his ball in the fairway of the 481-yard par 5, a hole that rests at the bottom of a small, juniper-lined canyon.

Visiting from Seattle, an annual pilgrimage he makes to Eagle Crest with his family, he took pride in his wise decision to throttle down off the tee and play a safer shot.

That play made perfect sense on a hole that turns dramatically right at about 150 yards from the green — cutting off any chance to reach the putting surface in two shots.

“There really is not a great reason to hit a driver off this tee,” I said to Bill, whom I had just met, moments after I pulled a tee shot into the left rough.

He corrected me.

“There is NO reason,” he said.

My playing partner was talking specifically about the second hole, but in fact he was foreshadowing the rest of our day.

I tried to overpower the Resort Course, Eagle Crest’s original 18 holes, hoping to take advantage of its relatively short distance (6,704 yards from the back tees). I knew better on a position golf course, but some days I cannot help myself.

Bill, on the other hand, played smartly, using a driver on just one hole. And though he rarely plays golf, he somehow managed to stay in play all day and keep his score respectable.

No question that my playing partner had the right idea on a quirky layout that can force awkward angles to the hole, particularly on the front nine.

One of those quirky holes is the 385-yard, par-4 10th hole, which presents a blind tee shot from the back two sets of tees over a massive hump in the fairway ­— one of the few holes on which my driver did its job on this hot summer afternoon.

It is a strange hole that my playing partner thought would be made better if Eagle Crest raised the back tee boxes.

“I love this course, but this is the lone bad hole,” he offered.

Despite its unconventional design, the Resort Course is not without its merits. The course is well-maintained and presents some exhilarating shots.

Throughout, a golfer is best served by playing angles that set up comfortable approach shots into the greens.

It took me 16 holes to finally succumb to that basic truth.

The tee shot into the 388-yard 17th hole is met with fairway bunkers and a pair of intimidating ponds that squeeze the fairway at about 230 yards from the tee. That leaves a golfer the choice of hitting a risky driver or playing a more conservative club off the tee.

After initially reaching for a driver, I opted to hit a 2-hybrid.

My shot drifted right of my target — a line that would have doomed me had I hit a driver — but left me in safe enough position that I could attack the narrow, two-tiered green with an 8-iron.

Again, I drifted right on approach, just off the green. But, limping home, I managed to chip close and sink the return putt for a much-needed par.

My safe play had been rewarded.

Thrilled with my even-par 4, I moved to the 350-yard, par-4 finishing hole with a little adrenaline and a singular thought: “Hand me that driver.”

Some golfers never learn.

Difficulty of course

A position golf course, the Resort Course offers skilled golfers an opportunity to score well on its relatively short setup.

The design will put golfers at awkward angles on occasion, but players who know how to manage a course will find frequent chances to take advantage of the Resort Course’s shorter, more-open holes. Resistance to par will come around the greens, which are relatively small and occasionally present severe undulations.

Novices should find comfort in the course’s lack of water hazards, which are and issue only on the par-4 eighth hole and the par-4 17th. However, while fairway bunkers are rare, lesser-skilled golfers will be challenged by deep greenside bunkers and those small greens.

Favorite hole

The 504-yard, par-5 15th hole is like a breath of fresh air when you stand on the tee box. Downhill, straightforward and opening up to a nice High Desert view in the distance, the 15th seems unlike every other hole on the Resort Course.

A true chance to reach the green in two shots brings with it some challenges. Most notably, a twisting juniper tree and a fairway bunker choke the ideal landing area, bringing trouble for golfers who miss their mark.

Those who play clear of the tree will have a long iron to reach the green, which is sloped from back to front and well-guarded by three bunkers. Golfers who fall short of the target off the tee will have a much tougher hole to negotiate.

How to approach the course

This is a position golf course, and golfers should pay particularly close attention to club selection off the tee. The reason is simple: On such a short golf course, driver often brings far more risk than reward.

Instead, tee off with a club that leaves a comfortable yardage into the green. That is good advice on most courses, but it is particularly important on the Resort Course, where finding the correct angles into the green and avoiding the course’s thick rough pay big dividends.

The course’s greens are generally small, but not nearly as well-guarded by mounds and bunkers as the greens at Eagle Crest’s nearby Ridge Course. The putting surfaces do undulate, meaning that finding the correct tier on approach can make the difference between par and bogey.

Off the course

The clubhouse at the Resort Course is understated, though it does have a snack bar, but the course has plenty of practice facilities. The first tee is wedged between the course’s driving range and its practice putting green, allowing for a particularly convenient warm-up session.

Just behind the driving-range tees is a short-game practice area with two bunkers and a green.

The practice area around Eagle Crest’s Ridge and Challenge courses, both of which are located just across Cline Falls Road from the Resort Course, offers even more room to work.

Verdict

The Resort Course might be unorthodox in places, but it has some wonderful stretches of golf holes, particularly on the back nine.

At $74 in prime time, the green fees at the Resort Course are on par with the Ridge Course, which is the more consistent of the two golf courses. But the price drops at 11 a.m. ($54) and again at 3 p.m. ($39), which is not a bad value for such a well-maintained golf course.

In addition, junior golfers get a particularly good deal at Eagle Crest. Golfers age 17 and younger, when accompanied by an adult, play for free after 3 p.m. Unaccompanied juniors can play for $10.

— Reporter: 541-617-7868, zhall@bendbulletin.com .

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