Crooked River Ranch – Big-Time Bargain
Does anyone remember the 50s novel and 60s film, Brighty of the Grand Canyon? It was based on a heroic burro, the first to cross the canyon’s suspension bridge.
Last week, in my quest to find the most interesting golf courses and communities in central Oregon, I was shocked to see that the Pacific Northwest state has a golfing version of the Grand Canyon, a miniature one, but still pretty impressive, and one of the most interesting places to play golf I have seen in recent years.
Of course, the really prestigious stuff lies just to the south, in Sun River, OR. The Jeld-Wen was played there until recently. Bend itself has some knockout courses, but get a load of Terrebonne, Oregon, a small town nestled on the edge of what we’ll call a sudden drop-off, and a resort community, although still public, called Crooked River Ranch, part way to the bottom.
If you search for a house in the Crooked River Ranch, you’ll find some classic country examples, and if you need additional information, just ask the deer sleeping on the front porch. Then go out to the back yard, but be careful. There’s a drop-off of about one or two hundred feet. There’s a road that will take you down to the next level, and what you will find is one of the flat out prettiest golf courses around, a beautifully designed Gene Bunny Mason example. Set against the cliffs of the upper canyon, the Crooked River Ranch Course is exceptionally well-groomed, cleverly laid-out, and offers a fair amount of difficulty, especially for the unwary – and let’s face it, all amateur golfers are, occasionally, unwary.
Here’s what unwary gets you at Crooked River. Go off the fair way to the elevated side, which is a beautiful walk, one way or the other, and you could tangle with any manner of wildlife, some of which would could eat your golf ball, or others that might try to do the same to your leg. Accounts of such occurrences, however, are slim, but no night play, please.
Go to the downside of the fairway, and the out of bounds marker couldn’t be clearer. If you’re out of bounds, you’ve just hit your ball over another 450 foot drop-off to the bottom of the canyon, into Crooked River. Don’t bother searching – it would take you half a day to get there, and you’d never find it.
For the adventurer that resides in all us at any age, there is a dog-leg that can be cut across, if you can keep it in the air for 221 yards. Part of your ball’s flight will pass over the deepest part of the canyon, and no points are awarded if your shot ruffles a bald eagle, osprey, hawk or owl, all of which bought their memberships before you did.
For the normal parts of any round, you will walk through some of the most gorgeous real estate in the Northwest, in that area where the forest starts to thin out and disappear, and the desert begins.
But, central Oregon? Doesn’t that have about a three to four month golfing season before the snows hit, and everyone heads to Mt. Bachelor for skiing? No – while everyone is putting on their ski boots in Bend, you’re playing golf almost year round, about eleven months. And, if you are a home owner in the Ranch, annual golf rates for a couple is around an absurd eight hundred dollars, far far below guest rates.
Terrebonne translated from the French means, I think ‘Good Earth,’ and I think they really mean it.