Aspen Lakes Golf Course is very much a family affair. In the late 1980s, after purchasing a 1,000-acre property adjacent to their farm in Deschutes County, the Cyrus family then set about building an 18-hole layout, under the supervision of architect William Overdorf.
Family members were hands on during construction; staking the ground, operating the earth-moving equipment, clearing and ditching then seeding the fairways. “Sand” for the bunkers was sourced from the Cyrus property, with eco-friendly crushed red cinders used to fill the hazards.
Aspen Lakes isn’t like the high desert courses found locally as it’s essentially a tree-lined parkland track with creeks, ponds and lakes incorporated into the routing. Built on rolling terrain, the fairways – many of them doglegged – are set in a beautiful location with a fabulous mountain backdrop.
The 450-yard 11th (“Faith”) is regarded as the signature hole here, wrapping itself around a rather intimidating lake which sits on the left side of a fairway that leads to a two-tiered putting surface – it doesn’t rate as the strongest hole on the stroke index but golfers who underestimate it do so at their peril.
There's little doubt in my mind Bend is one of the best summer locations in all of America. The centrally located Oregon has warm days and cool nights and the clarity of the sky come to life in a big time way when the stars illuminate at night. There's a range of outdoor activities with golf part of the offerings. Aspen Lakes is a fine choice for those wanting to get some golf in without spending a fortune to do so.
There's nothing compelling that really stands apart in a meaningful way. The outward half is fairly ordinary, however, the inward half really picks up the pace with a much greater variety of holes and a better routing provided. From the 14th hole to the concluding 18th -- be sure to have your game ready. The ending clearly provides a worthy climax.
by M. James Ward