Bandon Dunes

Oregon’s Portland International Airport (or PDX to Road Warriors) is more than one of the country’s finest and most efficient airports. (Travel & Leisure Magazine has rated it the nation’s best for three years running.) It is also the gateway to some of the finest golf in the northwest. It’s about three hours drive down to Bend, and its abundant outdoor activities, punctuated by a surfeit of fine public and private venues. It’s less than five hours down the highways and byways to iconic Bandon Dunes Resort, on the magnificent Oregon coast.  This walking-only Mecca attracts purists the world over, wanting to test their endurance and mettle on their four championship venues.

However there are also fine playing fields to be found within half an hour of the city limits, no need to venture to distant compass points to find compelling golf. The other advantage is being able to spend the time between rounds in one of the hippest and most eclectic cities on the West Coast, featuring some of the finest and most diverse cuisine in the nation.

Reserve Vineyards and Golf Course
Reserve Vineyards and Golf Course

The Reserve Vineyards and Golf Club is a handsome 36-hole facility in the lyrically named village of Aloha, Oregon. Aloha is just a few miles from Beaverton (home of Nike) which is itself less than ten miles from Portland proper.

The two courses alternate between public and private; in other words, the public has access to the Bob Cupp-designed North Course from the first through the fifteenth of the month, and then the John Fought-designed South Course until month’s end. The club’s members have access to both courses at all times. (Proving, as those old American Express ads used to tell us, that membership has its privileges.)

Reserve Vineyards and Golf Course (North Course)
Reserve Golf Course (North Course)

The North (Cupp) at the Reserve is more open, less intimidating from the tee box, with a bit of a links feel. It has smaller greens with notable undulation. The layout is distinctive in that it features five par-3s and par-5s, and of the remaining octet of par-4 holes, the fourth, seventh and thirteenth are rather petite, offering risk/reward options. What is highly unusual is the capacious 43,000 square foot green that is shared by the first, eighth and seventeenth holes.

The South (Fought) is riddled with sand, a hundred-plus bunkers or more tightening and delineating the playing fields. Avoid the kitty litter and scoring becomes far easier. But for all but the most laser-like golfers, it’s simply a matter of when, not if, you will find yourself bunkered. The South was home for several years to a longstanding Champions Tour major known as the Tradition.

Ghost Creek
Ghost Creek

Located twenty miles west of downtown, in the town of North Plains, Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club boasts two excellent tests of golf.  The public is welcome at Ghost Creek, while its members only at sister course Witch Hollow. Carved into a mature forest of Douglas fir and native deciduous trees, the private Witch Hollow is a continuous 18-hole loop, no clubhouse return, that winds through the property’s lowlands.  It’s tighter and tougher than the public counterpart.  Ghost Creek occupies higher ground, and returns to the clubhouse at the turn in traditional fashion. After a hilly and dramatic series of opening holes, Ghost Creek moves onto open land, featuring beautiful long-range views of the Tualatin Valley.  Co-designed by Reserve Vineyards individual architects Robert Cupp and John Fought, these parkland style courses have hosted notable professional and amateur tournaments. Witch Hollow is famous as the host venue for Tiger Woods’ ‘three-peat,’ his third (and most dramatic) U.S. Amateur win in 1996. However Ghost Creek is where former world number one David Duval captured the then Nike Tour Championship in 1993, which paved the way for his very successful, albeit brief, run of dominance on the PGA Tour.

There are nearly as many great dining experiences in Portland as there are hardwoods lining the fairways of both Pumpkin Ridge and the Reserve. Southpark Seafood is amazing, as is the American Local, both serving nouveau spins on traditional American fare. Ethnic food abounds, and Yuki Sushi offer wonderful Japanese, while Verde Cocina has fresh, healthy, and more than a few vegan offerings inspired by Mexico.




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