EVERY YEAR, the PGA picks only about 30 places to play its Champions Tour. There are reasons Central Oregon always makes the list: 300 days of sunshine, rugged desertscapes, and an audience of snowy giants watching over every drive. Of course, you don’t have to be Tiger to enjoy the best of Bend golf. With 22 courses easily accessible from town, Bend promises a delightful—and, during spring, discounted—escape from the soggy greens west of the mountains. The new Central Oregon Golf Trail, a collaboration of 22 Bend-area courses, makes coordinating your trip a gimme. PGA pro Tommy Berg, who helped establish the trail last summer, can give you insight about the character and difficulty of each course and even help you book tee times at some of Bend’s private courses, such as the much ballyhooed Pronghorn resort. Built in 2006 as a private, gated golf community, Pronghorn opened to the public last May, offering weekend stays at its posh villas and access to its perfectly manicured greens. So go on, pack up your sticks and see how the other half lives—and plays.
Nestled in a juniper forest, Pronghorn resort’s lavish suites come complete with a gourmet kitchen, jetted tub, two fireplaces, plasma screen, and outdoor fire pit. But our favorite amenity is the freshly baked cookies awaiting your arrival.
oxfordhotelbend.com; from $189
This year-old boutique downtown hotel pulls off modern rustic with panache: think white leather sofas, silver stump end tables, and splashes of lime green. And if the fire crackling on the plasma screen doesn’t help you sleep, the Oxford’s “library” of five pillows will.
Pronghorn’s 7,379-yard par 72 designed by Jack Nicklaus offers the best of high desert golfing: fast greens, jaw-dropping water features, and vistas of nine snowcapped peaks along the gently undulating terrain. Pronghorn’s second course, Tom Fazio’s 7,456-yard par 72, features challenging obstacles—like the exposed lava tube on the par-3 eighth hole—that give the place an otherworldly feel (but you’ll need a member or staffer along to play this course). Oh, and both courses’ fairways, not just the greens, are seeded with bentgrass. Did we say otherworldly? We meant out of this world.
Pronghorn PGA Tour Academy
Pronghorn also boasts one of only nine PGA Tour Academies in the country, where PGA pro Joey Pickavance fine-tunes your swing with V1 video analysis. Using three cameras, Pickavance records your swings and then uses computer software to create a split-screen diagnostic, including comparisons to pros.