Updated: May 29, 2015
Black Butte Ranch Golf Course Reviews:Central Oregon is an incredibly beautiful place with majestic snow capped mountains, forests, lots of wildlife, and plenty of quality golf courses. If you head out from Portland or Salem areas towards central Oregon you will come across several top ranked golf courses. One of our favorite places is Black Butte Ranch. It's located about 8 miles west from the town of Sisters on Highway 20. You could technically come out for the day and play a round or 2 but we say stay for a while and enjoy the courses both at Black Butte Ranch and in nearby locations. Black Butte Ranch offers two 18-hole golf courses - Big Meadow and Glaze Meadow. Both courses will challenge any level golfer with tight fairways, small greens, and plenty of sand bunkers waiting for wayward shots.
The courses at Black Butte Ranch generally open in April and close in late fall. Greens fees and rates are very reasonable at around $60/$70 round and even cheaper for twilight rates. Tee times can be made by calling 800-399-2322 and are available up to 45 days in advance. Call early for the best tee times, but it's usually possible to get an afternoon time a day or 2 in advance. There is an ample practice facility in place at the Big Meadow complex and both the courses have undergone some renovations in recent years. I prefer Black Butte Golf courses to those in Sunriver or other central Oregon locations since they are still a "great value". Sunriver golf is well over $100/round and it's more of a built up community whereas Black Butte Ranch is a quieter, more relaxed resort with fewer people. If you live in the Portland, Oregon area expect a 3 hour drive. Redmond airport in central Oregon does have daily flights but they can be expensive and then you still have to find a ride from the airport to BBR. We say fly into PDX if you are coming from out of state and enjoy the drive out to the courses. Aspen Lakes is another course that is only about 20 minutes from Black Butte Ranch that is a must play if you are already out there. As for Black Butte Ranch golf courses, Big Meadow is the easier of the two with less technical course management needed. Glaze Meadow is beautiful as well, but you will have to think about your game a little more in order to score well. The greens are fast, the rough can be lush, and expect to see some wildlife out on the course (deer, skunk, coyote, etc.). You can find lots of details on tee time reservations, course fees, phone numbers and more at Blackbutteranch.com. Below I have gone into a little more detail on each course and what to expect.
Big Meadow Golf Course:If you only had one course to play, we say go with Big Meadow (BM). It's not only a touch easier, but the layout is superior to GM (Glaze Meadow). BM can play up to 7000 yards with a 71.3 rating and slope of 125. It was designed by Robert Muir Graves in 1972 and features Ponderosa Pines, fairway bunkers, and slick greens. The signature hole on the course is #14 with an elevated tee box and a great view of Three Finger Jack mountain. Some of the key holes are described below.
Hole #1 - A slight dogleg left hole at 363 yards (Blue tees) it's a nice starting hole. With a good approach shot to the right side of the fairway you can have a short iron in with a good look at birdie. Stay away from the left side of the fairway on your tee shot as a bunker awaits any errant shot. The green has some slopes and swails in it, so be careful with any downhill puts.
Hole #3 - The first par 5 on the course that is well over 500 yards so play it as a 3 shot hole. The tee shot is wide open so let it rip, but the layup can be troublesome as bunkers are placed strategically on the left side of the fairway right in the zone where you would hit your layup. Keep your 2nd shot to the right side of the fairway or make sure you can clear the bunkering complex on the left. The green slopes from back to front so stay below the hole for a chance at birdie on this one.
Hole #4 - An unassuming par 3 that is right about 150 yards. The green is well protected with bunkers short right, left, and in the back of this green. There is a small neck that opens up to the front of the green which is a great place to land your tee shot. The green is very fast and I've seen some 4 putts on this one before. Aim for the middle of the green on your tee shot and get a good lag putt to assure your par.
Hole #6 - Long par 4 that will test your skills. There is a bunker on the left side of the fairway that may get your tee shot, otherwise the fairway is wide open. It's your second shot that will take all your power to get close. At around 400 yards the hole plays longer than you may think and expect to have a long iron or wood in your hands for your 2nd shot. Trouble awaits on the right side of the green if you miss to that side. Aim left with your approach shot and try to cut it into the green. Par is a great score on this hole.
Hole #9 - Finish the front nine with one of the most technical holes on the course. At 375 yards it's not long, but there are bunkers lining the middle of the fairway forcing a shot to the extreme left of the fairway to avoid them or laying up in front of them. Check your yardage to make sure you avoid the bunkers that are about 150 yards away from the green. Unless you are a big hitter trying to carry the bunkers is not a good plan. If you can find the fairway, then the green is relatively open for your approach shot.
Hole #10 - Fun par 5 that doglegs to the right, so get a good tee shot out to the left hand side of the fairway. If you do miss right off the tee, you will have to deal with thick rough and trees that potentially block your next shot down the fairway. Stay left and play safe down the fairway with your next shot. The green is tight but there are not a lot of bunkers, just rough to catch your ball. One of the slower greens on the course.
Hole #14 - Don't get caught admiring the view for too long as the tee shot needs to be accurate. There are a series of bunkers that progessively come into play on the left hand side of the fairway. The elevated tee box puts you some 50 feet (or more) about the fairway so swing away and let the mountain air take your ball. If you can avoid the bunkers off the tee, your approach should be an easy one into a green that is protected by bunkers short left and all around the right side. The green is slightly sloped from back to front, but putts are makeable.
Hole #15 - Great chance for a birdie on this short par 4 (326 yards). Club selection of the tee can be iron, wood, or driver. Try to leave a good distance that you feel comfortable with for your second shot into this green. The green is not that deep, but it is rather wide with bunkering up front. Stay below the hole with your approach and a birdie is possible.
Hole #16 - Short par 5 at less than 500 yards, but your tee shot needs to be a good one. Don't go left as you will be blocked on your next shot. Aim a touch to the right down the fairway and leave a chance for getting on in 2 or a short layup. There is really nothing blocking your second shot from running up onto the green, so hit away. Great chance at a birdie on this one.
Hole #18 - Finishing hole is not easy as water awaits you down the left (one of the few places on the course with water) or bunkers on the right. You'll need an accurate tee shot to setup your 2nd. Bunkers await around the green and the green itself slopes from back to front. Don't go past the hole on your approach or else you'll risk 3 putting. Par is good score here.
Glaze Meadow Golf Course:Hole #1 - This hole was revamped heading into 2012 as the old par 5 layout was just never popular amongst regulars. Now, the 1st hole is a par 4 and very playable, although I still find it not the greatest starting hole. You hit straight down the fairway and it turns slightly to your right. The green is still pretty much the same as before. Should be a good chance for a par.
Hole #3 - Some more technical fun on this one. A sharp dogleg left about 200 yards down the fairway. Anything left is probably 'dead' so miss right if anywhere. A good shot down the middle will give you a short approach in. There is water waiting to the right of the green with bunkers on the left and in the back. The green is pretty flat so if you get on in 2 you have a shot at birdie. On a windy day this hole can wreak havoc.
Hole #6 - Intimidating tee shot with tree lined fairway immediately to your left and more trees to the right. Aim for the dead tree down the fairway on the right side. The long par 4 will demand a great 2nd shot, so consider par a good score here. The green is tough to read as there are slopes and swails all over.
Hole #9 - Uphill, par 4 that has a severe dogleg to the right. Don't block your shot right off the tee! Aim for the left side of the fairway and try to cut the ball back into the middle. Short approach will give you a chance on another tough green. Bunkers are on the left and you can't miss long. Aim for the middle of the green and walk away with a solid 2 putt.
Hole #11 - The back nine offers three par 5's and three par 3's. The 11th is a nice uphill par 3 that is protected by a large bunker on the left. The green is tough to read with treacherous sidehill lies. Being short in the middle of not bad as you will have a chance to putt or chip to the putting surface for an opportunity to save par.
Hole #12 - The hardest hole on both courses in my eyes. This "monster" of a par 5 plays 600 yards and seems like it goes on forever. The left side is no good all the way down the fairway. Aim right off the tee box and expect 2 long shots still to get to the green. Once you get on the green, the fun has just begun. The green has some pretty big slope on it so no matter where the pin is you'll be hard pressed to 2 putt. I have seen a 5 putt on this green as it is wickedly fast coming down the hill. If you can par this baby you have done well. A bogey is not bad either.
Hole #15 - Another tough par 5 that is an endless dogleg to the right. Don't get caught on the right side off the tee or even with your 2nd shot. Aim left and try to get the best angle for your 2nd. You'll be hitting to a somewhat blind area on your 2nd so trust your distance. The third shot in should be easy if you have set yourself up properly coming in. It's a long green from front to back and birides are possible.