The Cascade Mountain range forms part of the Pacific Ring of Fire – a ring of mountains and volcanoes which horseshoe around the Pacific Ocean. The Cascades form a dramatic backcloth to the up-market Pronghorn Club and architect Tom Fazio has used the fascinating, petrified landscape to create a dramatic Fazio signature golf course.
The private Fazio course opened in 2006, two years after the public Pronghorn Nicklaus layout debuted and the resulting 36-hole golf facility is of such quality that its developers are fully entitled to proclaim Pronghorn as the premier golf community in the Pacific Northwest.
Notable holes on the back nine include the short par four 14th, the very long par four 15th and par five 18th where a combination of just about every possible golfing hazard – sand, water, rocks and trees – has been used to defend par at the home hole.
The main issue with ANY Oregon course is having to compete with the 800-pound gorilla at Bandon Dunes. What many who live beyond the Pacific Northwest do not fully comprehend is how the community of Bend has become a key destination area -- especially during the key summer months when weather can be nothing short of sensation. The off-course scenery is part of the experience but the golf is front and center.
The Fazio 18-hole layout has private status at Pronghorn and the sum total of what is present is exceptional. The grooming is at a very high level and this Fazio design is far more than an overdosing of predictable Fazio eye-candy holes but ones that pack a good punch in terms of shotmaking challenges.
The natural feel of the golf simply adds to the experience and the routing is quite good -- moving about constantly so any wind pattern has to be adjusted to continually. To Fazio's credit the playability element is present -- provided players play from the appropriate tee boxes. The Fazio Course excels because it provides elasticity with few of the "sink or swim" situation one encounters at another top shelf Fazio layout in Victoria National.
Much is written about the par-3 8th hole and it certainly deserves the hype for the manner in which it came into existence. But the hole is a part of a greater package and is not some sort of "signature hole" hype with nothing else included.
For those able to get to Bend -- it's imperative you find some way to play the Fazio Course when coming to Pronghorn. The companion Nicklaus layout is truly a fine layout but the Fazio is clearly the star of the show.
M. James Ward
The Pronghorn Resort is located outside the bustling town of Bend in Central Oregon. Named after the long horned antelope that range the property Pronghorn has a unique setting. This particular part of the high desert in Central Oregon has a vast lava base, and is home to the second biggest forest of Juniper trees in the world. Throw in a dry sandy base with sagebrush at every turn, and snow capped mountains as a backdrop- and you have a stunning location for outdoor activities, including golf, skiiing, bike riding and fishing.
Pronghorn opened in 2004 when Jack Nicklaus completed the appropriately named Nicklaus course. Two years later the Fazio course opened. It is a handy combo!
When I think of Tom Fazio course designs, attractive green manicured courses with white splash bunkers come to mind... I must admit his course at Pronghorn has changed my perpsective.
This course is built to fit the terrain, and although nicely maintained has a rough, rugged presentation perfect for this environment. It is a thoughtful design where players are asked to make decisions, but know the course will reward good choices and decent execution. It is very playable for all level of golfers, and a joy to play. And there are some outstanding golf holes- holes that you will want to play over...
Notably they include:
- the par 3 fourth hole with acres of sand
- the par 4 sixth with creek running through the centre of the hole and along the right side of the green- it's a wonderfully unique hole
- the par 3 eighth 'lava tube' hole *
- the par 5 eighteenth hole with event island in the water hazard protecting the left side of the fairway
* There is a story about the buillding of the eighth hole... Tom Fazio after choosing the green and tee sites wanted to blast some lava out of the front section of the green area to open it up. In doing so, a great hole emerged revealing a significant lava tube running across the front of the green. That lava tube is now a feature of the hole and can be entered by the curious who can venture quite a way down the tube if they can handle the cold and dark...
The Fazio Course is a gem, and was my favourite course in Central Oregon.
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.
This is a private course to complement the public Nicklaus design. The club sits at elevation close to a desert region and is regarded as Fazio’s best work in the Northwest. The highlight of the course is the par 3 on the front side which plays across a ravine into a large rock-cropped area. A cave was exposed in its creation, which is an eye-catching feature.
Fazio took a minimalist approach with his shaggy sprawling bunker complexes, which is a wonderful addition to complement his integration of natural rock croppings and the surrounding area’s native forestry.