Trip Dispatch: Golf from Portland to Hood River along the Columbia River Gorge

By Brandon TuckerMay 8, 2013, 1:19 am

PART 1: Travel Editor Brandon Tucker discovers scenic, affordable, walker-friendly golf courses between Portland and along the spectacular Columbia River Gorge. 

HOOD RIVER, Ore. -- An Oregon golf trip is done best by putting on a little mileage. This is a state so ecologically diverse, from mountains to oceans to high deserts, you're never too far from a change in scenery.

Since Bandon Dunes opened on the southern Oregon coast, many golfers have beaten the path from Portland along the Umpqua River Basin, as I've done twice before. But heading east from PDX also make for a gorgeous drive along the Columbia River Gorge that takes you past some of the west's finest inland scenery. 

Not only that, the courses are a steal. Consider this: a rack rate tee time at Bandon runs $235-280, yet I played four courses between Portland and Hood River whose rates were under $200 combined (and if you're up for walking it's closer to $150). No, this route never brings you to the Pacific Ocean or experiences pure links golf. But it does includes playing walker-friendly set of courses in a variety of settings. 

My six-day trek that included Portland, the gorge and central Oregon, runs about 350 miles. Should you choose to replicate it, rubber-necking is likely, so drive slow and trade off driving duties equally amongst your group.

Day 1: Reserve Golf Club in Portland

Reserve South

No. 18 of the South Course at Reserve Golf Club in Portland. 

As I've done every time I come to Oregon, I flew into Portland with the idea of dusting off the clubs at a metro area course. I made the journey west of Portland to the South Course at Reserve Golf Club, located in the shadow of Nike HQ. It's one of the area's best semi-private clubs and formerly hosted the Fred Meyer Challenge and the JELD-WEN Tradition. The John Fought design is one that smacks of tour-worthy pedigree with 103 bunkers. Many are enormous and deep with white, flashed faces, and I seemed to have found most of them. It sounds like I'm not alone, because the club is planning a bunker renovation which will also remove some in the coming years. 

Day 2: The Resort at the Mountain

Resort at the Mountain

High school matches tee off on the first hole of The Courses at the Resort at the Mountain.

Before heading east along the Columbia River too far I made a detour down south off I-84 into the mountains towards The Resort at the Mountain in Welches. The Resort stakes claim as the first golf resort in Oregon, when nine holes were laid out here in 1928 beside the original hotel, and the setting makes for a scenic and secluded mountain retreat only about an hour from Portland. The Courses at the Resort at the Mountain features 27 classically-designed holes along a valley floor accented by some John Harbottle-designed touch-ups in 2008, most notably bunker reshaping and some new greens. A river runs along the first three holes of the Foxglove nine and steep, green mountain slopes with cloud cover halfway up surround the course.

Along with upgrades to the course, which went as far as to restore a wild fish habitat in the Salmon River that runs through the property, guest rooms were remodeled as part of an extensive hotel renovation, and I can attest to the fact the bed was the comfiest I rolled up into all week.

Day 3: The Columbia River Gorge: Elk Ridge and Indian Creek

Elk Ridge

No. 18 at the new and improved Elk Ridge Golf Course in Skamania County, Washington. 

I'd neglected the drive along the Columbia River gorge on my first two visits to Oregon, instead heading south towards Bandon Dunes. I had no idea what I was in for: Multnomah Falls, a drive over the Bridge of the Gods and other postcard-worthy spots that made me wish I had time to put a rod in the water. Drive across the Bridge of the Gods into Washington and you come to Skamania County and hot springs country, where hotels like Bonneville Hot Springs Resort & Spa have lured guests to their natural mineral waters since the late 1800s. Up into the mountains is one of the area's newest golf courses, the revived Elk Ridge Golf Course. Formerly Carson Hot Springs Golf Course, it originally opened in the 1980s and was redesigned in the mid-2000s before going into bankruptcy within a year of reopening. The course sat dormant for years, but is now 18 months into its new life and is sporting stellar, dry conditions to go with million-dollar views.

'Easy, it's rock beneath us,' explained Greg Pedersen, Elk Ridge's head professional as to why it's always dry. 'Even after a torrential downpour you won't get mud on your shoes. We're the driest course in the northwest.'

More remarkable is the fact most of the prep work getting Elk Ridge reopened was primarily done by two people. This summer, it makes for one of the country's most spectacular sub-$50 rounds of golf anywhere (walking rates are currently as low as $25 right now). 

My last stop along the Columbia River was in Hood River, a hotspot for wind surfing, so it's to be expected you'll deal with the elements a fair bit on nearby golf courses, which is what I encountered on a brisk morning at Indian Creek Golf Club, a shortish 18-hole layout with a mix of gorgeous par 3s and short, target-style par 4s and some brawny par 5s.

Prior to my visit, numerous golfers mentioned to me that Indian Creek is always in prime shape no matter how much rain hits the gorge, and that's exactly what I encountered on my morning round. It makes sense though, considering the General Manager, Tyson Jacobs, is also the Superintendent.

Mt. Hood, despite being 13 miles away, still towers over Indian Creek on a clear day, and it served as my beacon for making my way down towards Central Oregon.

Click here for Part Two: Golf in Bend and Central Oregon

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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.