Trip Dispatch: Great golf is always around the bend in Central Oregon

By Brandon TuckerMay 8, 2013, 1:39 am

Click here for part one of Brandon Tucker's golf trip to Oregon in Portland and the Columbia River Gorge. 

BEND, Ore. -- On a clear day, you can see the 11,200-foot-high Mt. Hood from what seems like practically anywhere in Oregon. In order to make the trip from the Columbia River Gorge to the golf-loaded central region, I'd have to drive the Mt. Hood Scenic Byway: a winding, two-lane road that ducks through forest curves around the volcano. It eventually emerges along the Deschutes River, which heads past Redmond into Bend, the heart of this outdoor mecca home to 30-plus golf courses. 

Central Oregon is the perfect antithesis to Bandon Dunes: while Bandon's weather is infamously unpredictable, central Oregon's dry, sunny climate yields a long golf season and optimum conditions, not to mention a cycling, hiking and skiing-mad populous that's about as outdoorsy as anywhere. The area has numerous courses that warrant Top 100 consideration, and each is totally different from one another in landscape and design: Pronghorn's Nicklaus and Fazio courses, Crosswater at Sunriver, Brasada Canyons and Tetherow Golf Club. 

Day 4: 36 holes at the Lodge at Eagle Crest

Eagle Crest

The Ridge Course at Eagle Crest Resort in Redmond. 

As good as the top shelf is, Central Oregon's middle class golf scene has a steady roster of affordable courses that pack a punch for a little less cash. In the smaller, working town of Redmond just north of Bend, you'll find a sleeper pick for a fantastic golf-til-you-drop resort, the Lodge at Eagle Crest. Here, there are two wonderfully walkable, full-length 18 hole courses, the Ridge and the Resort. I played the Ridge, which features gorgeous holes hugging Juniper-dotted foothills that offers long views of the Cascades. It's a beautifully playable yet challenging course that epitomizes 'fun-for-all' resort golf. 

In addition to these two full-length courses, Eagle Crest features the par-63, 4,160-yard Challenge Course that I found to be the perfect three-hour round to help iron out some kinks in my game. There's also an 18-hole grass putting course, not to mention all sorts of other outdoor activities here the whole family can enjoy if you need away from the sticks. Unfortunately, my itinerary didn't have the time for a mountain bike excursion like my last trip here; duty called down in Bend: 36 holes on my final day.

Day 5: Widgi Creek and Brasada Canyons

Brasada Canyons

Brasada Canyons: one of Central Oregon's newest standouts.

Just up the road from Tetherow on the road to Mt. Bachelor is one of Bend's affordable mainstays for over 20 years now, Widgi Creek Golf Club (summer rates: $49-75). Play someone who has a season pass at Widgi Creek and chances are they know how to hit a reliable tee ball. Tall pines line every hole, making the Robert Muir Graves design one of Bend's toughest tests, particularly off the tee. The pines also make for a shady, peaceful round entirely different from what the more high profile Tetherow offers just a mile away, and from the par-3 16th tee you can see the Deschutes River Canyon tumbling well below. Hopefully by the 18th you've honed your driver, because the finisher begs for you to take a rip at the green just over 300 yards away, but trouble lurks everywhere. 

For my last round of the trip, I had to see a course that's received loads of buzz in recent years. Having stay-and-played at Pronghorn twice already, i drove past it and out to Brasada Ranch, an isolated former ranch set on slopes of Powell Butte overlooking the valley below. I stayed in a suite, but guests can rent out full cabins or groups can even take over the entire ranch. 

The course, Brasada Canyons, is an absolute joy. A recurring theme on this Peter Jacobsen design is cart paths that wind uphill between green and tee. The result is lots of elevated tee boxes played to spacious fairways, plus greens with surreal settings with either long views or mountain backdrops. Despite playing most of the round from the 6,500-yard black tees, I couldn't help but let it rip from the signature Jacobsen tees on a few holes whose views were simply too appetizing. 

So is Brasada better than the Top 100-rated Nicklaus Course at Pronghorn? That's hard to say (Pronghorn is my favorite Nicklaus course I've played thus far), but Brasada's terrain and scenery is more varied to the lower-lying juniper forest at Pronghorn. Either resort is a more than fitting climax to a golf trip in Oregon. 

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Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm