Category: Oregon

July 26, 2011

Take it from Joe: Play the PGA Championship Here!

Posted at 2:14 PM by Joe Passov

Sebonack Golf Club, Southampton, N.Y. Photo: Larry Lambrecht.

Atlanta Athletic Club, site of the 2011 PGA Championship, is a strong test of golf, but does anybody really enjoy the PGA's choices of rough-choked layouts in hot August temperatures? Here are my 10 picks — some realistic, some fantasy — for where I'd like to see the PGA played next.

1. Los Angeles Country Club (North)
Los Angeles, Calif.

This famously exclusive club that abuts Hugh Hefner's mansion will finally open its doors to the outside world when it hosts the 2017 Walker Cup, the better to show off its stunning 2010 Gil Hanse restoration. Tree removal has opened up long-hidden vistas, bunkers now resemble their 1920s George Thomas originals, and a succession of meaty par-4s would test even the best.

2. Trump National Bedminster (Old)
Bedminster, N.J.

Tom Fazio designed this modern masterpiece in 2004, not far from USGA headquarters. Together with its younger sibling the New, the course would make a worthy challenge for the pros, with plenty of gallery space as well. Say what you want about its owner—and this course—but the publicity build-up would be off the charts.

3. Sebonack Golf Club
Southampton, N.Y.

The PGA enjoys going to new places from time to time, so why not Sebonack, the 2006 Jack Nicklaus/Tom Doak collaboration right next to the National Golf Links of America and overlooking Peconic Bay? The U.S. Women's Open visits here in 2013, but I wouldn't mind spending part of my August in the Hamptons, watching the Bubbas and Rorys battle the breezes.

4. Sand Ridge Golf Club
Chardon, Ohio

One of the more tranquil golf experiences I've enjoyed took place at this private 1998 Tom Fazio creation built for the folks at Best Sand, whose adjacent quarry supplies bunker sand to many other courses. I'll admit that August in suburban Cleveland can be toasty, but the city's rabid sports fans would turn out in droves—and hey, Cleveland could use a break.

5. Spyglass Hill
Pebble Beach, Calif.

Every year at the AT&T, Spyglass is dumbed down to get amateurs around in under seven hours. I'd love to see the pros cope with this course set up in full fury. Plus, August on the Monterey Peninsula is pleasant duty indeed.

6. Muirfield Village
Dublin, Ohio

Sure, this course already enjoys tons of exposure from Jack's annual PGA Tour shindig. But it would be nice to see the PGA show a little additional love by tossing a bone to the five-time winner of its premier championship, whose hometown course is easily deserving of a Major.

7. Pine Valley Golf Club
Pine Valley, N.J.

One of my fantasy picks hosted the 1985 Walker Cup and is home to the annual Crump Cup, an invitational event that no top amateur turns down. Alas, Pine Valley has too much sand and scrub to allow for efficient gallery flow, but wouldn't it be awesome to see the game's best tackle the best course in the game?

8. Pronghorn (Nicklaus)
Bend, Ore.

Formerly a private real estate development spread, Pronghorn now offers limited public play, although few will take on the 7,379-yard tips, with a 75.2 rating and 151 slope. I'd relish watching the pros try it, especially amid Bend's dry, perfect August climate, at 3,200 feet in the shadows of Mt. Bachelor.

9. Nantucket Golf Club
Siasconset, Mass.

This exclusive, low-profile Rees Jones design ripples with moguls and is long enough when the wind blows to challenge the play-for-pay crowd. And any excuse to spend a portion of August on the island of Nantucket justifies its inclusion on this list.

10. Crystal Downs
Frankfort, Mich.

Perched upon a bluff between Lake Michigan and Crystal Lake, this Alister MacKenzie/Perry Maxwell collaboration is a bit too remote and lacks sufficient length to bother today's stars, but toss in gusts off the lake, dense native roughs and enough classic holes to fill a design textbook, and it would provide a memorable PGA site regardless of scores.

June 30, 2011

Ask Travelin' Joe: Toronto, Portland and Atlantic City

Posted at 3:19 PM by Joe Passov

If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at

Atlantic Dear Joe,
I’m going to be at Niagara Falls in the middle of July. We will be traveling to Toronto in that same trip. I’ll have time for one or two rounds and would like to keep it under $150 a round. What courses are worth playing in those areas? It is my first trip to Canada so something memorable would be great.
Todd Scorza
Via email

Start by treating yourself to Glen Abbey Golf Club ($120-$235; 905-844-1800,, 35 minutes west of downtown Toronto. Jack Nicklaus’ first solo design, circa 1976, bristles with beauty, variety and challenge, notably on the famous Valley holes on the back nine. It’s played host to multiple Canadian Opens since its debut, with winners that include Lee Trevino, Greg Norman and Vijay Singh. If $235 is out of your price range, wait until after 1 p.m. on weekends and holidays, when the price drops to $160. I would tell you to wait until 4 p.m. daily for the twilight rate of $120, but then it might get dark before you get to the 18th. That’s the short gambler’s par-5 where in 2000, a fellow named Tiger Woods hit one of the greatest shots of his career, a title-clinching 6-iron from a fairway bunker, over a lake to 12 feet.

Another option is Lionhead ($127.5-$137.50; 905-455-8400,, a 36-hole spread that features the Legends and Masters courses. Both are superbly conditioned, rugged tests slashed by the Credit River, though if you’re looking for a supreme test, do the Legends, which is the pricier, by $10, but also the most memorable, its beautiful, brutal holes set in a well-treed valley.

Also check out Angus Glen ($125-$180; 905-887-5157,, another 36-hole affair, with each of its layouts having hosted a Canadian Open, the South in 2002, when John Rollins won, and the North, where Jim Furyk defended in 2007, with a one-shot win over Vijay Singh. The best value is Saturdays or Sundays, when it’s $125 to tee it up.

Niagara Falls actually boasts a fistful of terrific tracks as well, including Royal Niagara, Hunters Pointe and Legends of Niagara, but if you’re in the market for a thrill ride akin to a barrel over the falls, do the Thundering Waters ($70-$100; 877-833-3259,, a hazard-laced John Daly design that blasts you with a 149 slope from the tips.

Dear Joe,
We will be visiting my wife’s aunt in the Portland area and the girls are wanting to go see all the Twilight movie sites. Save me! Can you suggest a good course or two less than $100 within reasonable driving distance from Tigard (the area of Portland we are staying)?
Paul Stanton
Tulsa, Okla.

Let me throw you a life preserver—in the form of terrific, affordable golf well within an hour of where you’re at in the Portland area. Be careful at rush hour, though—which may explain why Portland’s public transportation is so stellar.

Pumpkin Ridge’s Ghost Creek course ($90-$150; 503-647-4747, in North Plains is best of the Portland-area publics. Ranked in the Top 50 of our 2010-11 Top 100 Courses You Can Play in the U.S., the public half of Pumpkin Ridge is a superb 1992 Bob Cupp design that twice hosted the Nike (now Nationwide) Tour Championship. David Duval captured the event in 1993 here. It serves up the perfect blend of woods, water and strategic bunkering, as well as a peak price that bites like a vampire, $150, but after 3:00 p.m., you can play it for $90. Better yet, check out the website, which dishes out daily specials that often range from $89-$109.

One of the region’s best values is the Reserve Vineyards and Golf Club ($45-$85; 503-649-8191, in Aloha, with two outstanding layouts, the North and the South. Home from 2003-2006 to a major championship on the Champions Tour, the JELD-WEN Tradition, the John Fought-designed South course sports a nifty set of risk/reward par-5s and 114 bunkers. Bob Cupp created the shorter North course, which runs a close second here—but both are terrific bargains, $79 during the week, and a twilight rate (after 3 pm) during the week of $49.

A final choice is the Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed Great Blue course at Heron Lakes ($27-$42; 503-289-1818,, a Portland city course that features muni-style prices with private club challenge. You can walk it for $27 on Mondays and Tuesdays, $42 on the weekend. Its smaller, slightly cheaper brother, the Greenback, is every bit as interesting, though nowhere near the test that Great Blue serves up.

Hey Joe,
Heading to Atlantic City for a bachelor party and are going to play 18 holes one afternoon. If you could only play ONE course in AC (or somewhat close by), what would it be? We’ve got 12 guys, and people shoot anywhere from the mid 70s to over 100. Price is mildly important, but we’re willing to pay top dollar if the course is worth it. Would love to hear any recommendations you have.
Keith Bush
Via email

If price is only slightly an object, I’ll unhesitatingly recommend Atlantic City Country Club ($99-$225; 609-236-4401, for your boys day out. As hall passes go, this is a beauty, with first-class service, a classic clubhouse, outstanding restaurant and top-notch locker room. This terrific old layout dates back 110 years, but was recently renovated by architect Tom Doak, with the result being one of those rare, scenic, tournament-worthy tracks that’s equally enjoyable for those 70-shooters and the 100-plus folks. True, the hefty green fee ($225 on a summer weekend) is a punch in the gut to some, but it also means there’s little riff-raff clogging up the course, so you’ll be able to buzz right through and get back to the less family-friendly aspects of a bachelor party weekend. Prior to 8 a.m. and from 1-3 p.m., it’s $175 per player Friday through Sunday.

For a better bargain, check out the Seaview Golf Club’s Bay course ($80-110; 609-748-7680, in Galloway Township. Current home to the LPGA ShopRite Classic, Seaview’s Bay is a Donald Ross design, parts of which played host to the 1942 PGA Championship, won by Sam Snead. Recently refurbished by new hotel manager Dolce and golf operations manager Troon Golf, the Bay and its sister course, the Pines, are both solid, historic layouts at a very fair price. Call ahead, as they can cater to bachelor party groups of 12 or more.

(Photo: Larry Lambrecht)

February 11, 2011

Tetherow Golf Club: You can now enjoy David McLay Kidd's Oregon stunner without limits

Posted at 4:56 PM by Joe Passov

Tetherow Tetherow Golf Club
Bend, Oregon
7,298 yards, par 72
Green fees: $99-$145

Two years ago we named Tetherow Golf Club in Bend, Oregon, the "Best New Course You Can Play," but there was one caveat: you had to play it soon, because it was going private. Public-access golfers can thank the slump in real estate sales for keeping the gate open to all.

If you're a fan of cleverly — some might say fiendishly — contoured greens, links-style fairway turf and glorious mountain panoramas, Tetherow is your kind of place. Kidd's ambitious layout is draped across two different ridgelines in view of nine mountain peaks. While the scenery is sublime, the challenges are relentless, primarily in the form of fast-running fairways that demand ground-game prowess and a set of dramatically contoured greens that will vex, amuse and frustrate even the most skilled putters.

Once you battle through the dramatic, 182-yard 17th, which plays to a dry island green, and the risk/reward 588-yard 18th, the bargain replay rate of $60 will lure you right back to the fight.

(Photo: Rob Perry Photography)

April 22, 2010

Sign up for a chance to play Old Macdonald and other top Oregon courses

Posted at 12:28 PM by Joe Passov

Would you like to play Old Macdonald before it opens to the public? Then sign up to win the "Oregon Adventurecation: Ultimate Golf Road Trip" contest, sponsored by Travel Oregon.

Included in this once in a lifetime opportunity is a foursome at Old Macdonald on May 31, the day before it officially opens, plus custom fittings for Nike Golf drivers and apparel, along with rounds at some of Oregon's other top courses, such as Pacific Dunes and Bandon Trails at Bandon Dunes, Pumpkin Ridge near Portland and Central Oregon's Pronghorn, Brasada Ranch and Tetherow. Airfare, ground transportation and lodging are all included, bringing the total prize value to more than $13,000.

Entries for the "Oregon Adventurecation: Ultimate Golf Road Trip" must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. PST on Friday, April 23. Because Old Macdonald officially opens June 1, winners must be able to travel May 29-June 4, 2010. The full itinerary and official rules can be viewed at

August 26, 2009

Ask Travelin' Joe: Oregon, Colorado and Cape Cod

Posted at 4:46 PM by Joe Passov

If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at

Dear Joe,
We are a group of eight golfers traveling to Bend, Oregon in September. Do you have any recommended courses accommodating four rounds of golf?

Carl Miller
Kansas City, Mo.

Hopefully you saw our feature on Bend in the August 2009 issue, but either way, here's a quick recap. Mike Reid certainly can vouch for Crosswater at Sunriver Resort ($109-$175; 541-593-4402, having walked away with a Champions Tour major there this past week. You don't have to be quite as straight as the man they call "Radar" to enjoy Crosswater, but you do have to be a guest of the resort to play it. Book your stay -- because it's the best course in the area. Ranked No. 33 in our 2008-09 Top 100 Courses You Can Play, this Bob Cupp/John Fought design is edged with wispy fescues and sports countless holes that skirt ponds, wetlands, the Deschutes River and the Little Deschutes River.

Continue reading "Ask Travelin' Joe: Oregon, Colorado and Cape Cod" »

Ask Travelin' Joe

Our traveling correspondent has been where you're going. Heading out of town on vacation? Business trip? Travelin' Joe can suggest the best places for you to tee it up. If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at


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