From tee to green, shady Widgi Creek Golf Club is a top challenge in Bend, Oregon
BEND, Ore. -- Bring your straight ball and a reliable putting stroke. Widgi Creek Golf Club is one of central Oregon's stoutest tests from tee to green.
One of the most conveniently located golf courses in Bend, Widgi Creek opened in 1991 and delivers one of the toughest tests in central Oregon off the tee -- not to mention the greens. Set along the Deschutes River (from the tips on the par-3 15th hole you can look down below and see the cascading river rushing through the canyon), Widgi Creek may very well be the tightest course in this part of the state.
The golf course is located on the road up towards Mt. Bachelor, tall pines line every fairway. That isn't to say you can hit a fair share of drivers off the tee, it just depends on which set of nine tees you play.
Yes, nine sets of tees.
Widgi Creek Golf Club: The course
It's an initiative the club took last year after receiving feedback from its regular players. Staff took the existing five sets of tees and created four more "combo" sets -- all USGA rated. It makes for a dizzying sight at first glance of the scorecard. But for those who play here often, they're able to create a seemingly infinite amount of combinations.
The reason as to why it made sense to create nine teeing options at Widgi Creek is the layout features a mix of brawny holes that make for some of the stoutest in Bend (the eighth hole, a long, narrow par 4 that plays uphill, feels like a major championship-worthy tee shot), yet others are shorter par 4s that can be played easily with an iron off the tee. Mid-handicappers players may want a little more challenge on the short 4s and go back a tee box, while other holes may want to stay up a box or two.
A prime example of this is the par-5 third -- playing up to 653 yards -- doesn't yield much landing area width; if your tee ball is as wayward as mine can get, the fairway looks like a bleak alleyway the way its shaded over in the morning by the tall ponderosa pines. It's best to tee it forward on the blue or blue/white combo sets for this one that offers a break.
As challenging of a driving course Widgi Creek is, the greens are no slouch: They are undulating and are well protected. Matt Phillips, who assumed head professional duties here this spring, has been in the area 17 years and thinks it's the greens that make Widgi a challenge.
"I've played all the courses in the area," he said. "And these are the toughest greens."
GolfNow golfer Jemayer230 agreed with his comments after his spring round here.
"The greens are designed to make you pay attention to your putts, lots of undulations," Jemayer230 wrote. "It's a very nice walking course and a good test of skill for most amateurs; you need some strategic thinking and bring some 'straight' with you, because there are a couple of pretty tight fairways. Very enjoyable, but this is a serious course."
While a lot of par 4s here can be played conservatively off the tee, it will be tough to hold back on the par-4 18th hole, which plays a mere 325 yards from the tips. Trouble lurks everywhere, but those with a long, gentle draw in their bag could very well nudge their ball up onto the putting surface for a look at a closing hole eagle.
Widgi Creek Golf Club: The verdict
Just down the road from the newer, flashier Tetherow Golf Club, Widgi Creek Golf Club delivers an entirely different experience -- not to mention one more budgets can afford.
The course design, built in the early 1990s, feels more classic than its age, and it's also a wonderfully walkable routing. The overall ambiance, particularly in the shoulder seasons when locals flock here for the more open tee sheet, is that of a laid-back private club where everyone seems to know everyone.
The clubhouse is a beautiful and understated structure, set beneath shady trees. Multiple practice greens and a full driving range sit outside, while there is a full bar and grill, plus room for conference space and a pro shop in between.
Stay and play in central Oregon
Bend has limitless lodging options ranging from all ends of hotels downtown to vacation rentals. Golfers who particularly want to play as much golf as they can should try out Pronghorn, an Auberge Resort, located just outside of town in the high desert.
The resort has suites and multi-bedroom residence units located right on the golf course and steps from the lavish clubhouse home to fine dining and recreation. The resort also organizes area tours, ranging from fishing to skiing (which can be done on the same day as golf certain times of year) and mountain biking.
For golf groups who want fairway accommodations but something a little more affordable than Pronghorn, stay nearby in Redmond at Eagle Crest Resort. The property is home to 54 holes of golf plus affordable accommodations in a hotel or timeshare unit.
May 17, 2013