A Week at Pronghorn
Pronghorn Club and Resort
65600 Pronghorn Club Dr, Bend, Oregon.
THE AROMA THAT permeates Pronghorn isn’t gin, it’s juniper. The resort sits in the middle of 20,000 acres of the high desert trees, so the woody, tangy smell of it hangs in the air. On a clear day you can see past the outdoorsy mecca of Bend to Mount Bachelor, where ski lifts run to its peak.
Builders peppered the golf course with ghost juniper trees, dried and dead but beautifully twisted wood. Superstar designer Jack Nicklaus created lines so clean that groundskeepers trim the bunkers with scissors. The fairways on the par 72 are narrow and take no prisoners, but they’re entirely made of bent grass—every inch as lush as a putting green. A more rustic Tom Fazio–crafted course is open only to Pronghorn homeowners, but it’s worth a stroll to the exposed lava cave on its signature eighth hole.
Between the rocks and the juniper trees, you’ll never forget you’re in Central Oregon, a dry landscape that gets consistent sun (if not warmth). Pronghorn’s stone clubhouse, built in the booming -early 2000s, is a maze of dining rooms, fire-places, and locker rooms with subterranean hot tub chambers. Resort accommodations run as big as four bedrooms, complete with kitchens and dining rooms.
The six-hour drive from Seattle is a treat—once you get halfway, that is. Off of I-5 and crossing Mount Hood’s flank, drivers can watch the trees turn from western Douglas fir to eastern Ponderosa pine. Even after reaching Pronghorn property, there are still a few miles of twisty drive; this last stretch of road darts and weaves as though the path had been traced by a drunk cowboy. Never mind the disorientation. Just continue into the juniper, and you’ll hit a tee box eventually.SHELTON
A Weekend at Salish Cliffs
Little Creek Casino Resort
91 W State Route 108, Shelton, Washington,
Do golfers and gamblers share a neurosis? Both pursuits require thought, patience, luck, and—admit it—a measure of masochism. So it’s perfectly reasonable that one of the state’s booming casinos would add a high-quality course to its offerings. The Little Creek Casino Resort complex is a 90-minute drive to the wooded lands of the Squaxin Island Tribe, just northwest of Olympia.
Already host to the usual Tony Orlando concerts and boxing tournaments, in September Little Creek opened its Salish Cliffs Golf Course to fanfare that included an appearance by Seattle golf legend Fred Couples. The links sprawl over 320 acres in the Kamilche Valley, so the shared double green at the ninth and eighteenth holes is to add a fun dash of deja vu, not to save space. Like most gambling halls, the casino itself is full of smoke and flashing lights, with postgolf dining available in a handful of casino restaurants. And you can always go hit the blackjack tables and keep an eye out for Tony Orlando.TACOMA
A Day at Chambers Bay
6320 Grandview Dr W, University Place, Washington,
It's 39 months until Father’s Day 2015, when the U.S. Open will be played in our own backyard. Since it will mark the tournament’s first visit to Chambers Bay Golf Course, or even to the Pacific Northwest, the Pierce County–owned links were immediately catapulted into notoriety. Meaning it got a lot harder to score a tee time in University Place, though it’s far from impossible.
Chambers Bay sits less than an hour south of Seattle, built in 2007 atop a former quarry. You risk Tacoma Mall traffic just to reach the clubhouse, but the waterfront location offers views of Puget Sound and McNeil Island. Even before Open renovations, the public links are ideal for anyone who loses Titleists in the woods or bonks drives off tree trunks—the course has but a single tree.