12930 NW Old Pumpkin Ridge Road,
Oregon (OR) 97133,
- +1 (888) 594 4653
26 miles NW of Portland
Welcome - contact in advance
Scott D. Humphrey
Bob Cupp, John Fought
Ghost Creek is the Robert Cupp and John Faught-designed course at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club that you can play; Witch Hollow is the one you can’t. One-year after Ghost Creek opened for play, the course hosted the 1993 Nike Tour Championship, which saw David Duval emerge victorious. The event remained at Witch Hollow for the following year and Mike Schuchart won the title.
The Ghost Creek fairways are laid out in two returning loops of nine and the closing hole on each circuit is played to a green nestled alongside substantial bodies of water.
The 9th is possibly the toughest on the course as bunkers steer golfers to the left of the fairway, even though that’s the side where wayward tee shots will end up wet. The average score on this hole for two years in the Nike Tour event was half a shot over par.
At the 18th, water runs down the right side of the fairway and it takes two mighty blows for most golfers to get anywhere near the green. David Duval sank a 17-foot birdie putt to win the 1993 Tour Championship, one of three threes he recorded at the home hole during his four rounds.
Other holes of note at Ghost Creek include the par four 312-yard 7th (where greenside bunkers are located a good way in front of the putting surface in an attempt to fool golfers that the green is closer than they think) and the short par four 17th which Mike Schuchart double-bogeyed during the final round of the 1994 Tour Championship on his way to winning the event.
Pumpkin Ridge Ghost Creek was often listed as one of the top 100 public golf courses in the USA although that is not as likely these days given the many outstanding golf courses built in the past twenty years at Bandon Dunes, Sand Valley, Streamsong, Big Cedar Lodge, etc. In addition, this type of design has gone out of favor as there are not many holes where one can see across the fairway, the bunkering is fairly standard, and the holes are likely considered to be overly penal. It is a difficult golf course as indicated by its ratings. One has to be a good player to score well here or near one’s index. The course is difficult due to the many trees, water, as well as a fair amount of bunkers, many of which are deep.
I had played it once before fifteen years ago so I was eager to get another look at it. I was a longer player then but also more erratic. I played the same tees as I did fifteen years ago and was able to recall many of the holes. I did not remember the rough being as thick as it is which makes recovery more difficult if one finds it anywhere on the course.
The holes play over somewhat rolling terrain which is heavily treed on many holes. This Bob Cupp design has a routing where both nines return to the clubhouse. The front nine plays further away from the clubhouse where there are more trees leading to tighter fairway corridors as well as the terrain has more movement in the land. There is a nice mixture of doglegs and straight holes as well as shorter and longer holes across all pars.
There are a few holes that stand out on the course but overall the holes look and feel a bit the same, even if they are different both in length and shape as well as the bunkering is varied. For example, nine and eighteen are shaped very differently but are of similar length and difficulty where water comes into play on both holes. The greens are also shaped very differently.
The course measures 6834 yards from the Black tees, par 72 rated 74.5/146. We played the Blue tees at 6357 yards rated 72.0/139. There are two sets of lesser tees and two combinations tees. We played with one very long, good player from the club as well as another member which afforded me the opportunity to gain their insight on the course. They typically play the Witch Hollow course which is private. It was fun to see how the longer player simply ignored many of the bunkers.
1. Par 4 – 447/392. The opening hole is straight with two bunkers on the right side of the fairway coming into the fairway. At the green is a long bunker on the left front. The green is elevated with a much higher back half. It is a fairly standard opening hole. There are no trees on this hole.
2. Par 4 – 414/391. This hole plays slightly uphill and is heavily lined with trees on both sides. Making this hole even more difficult are parallel bunkers that squeeze the fairway although one should be able to carry them off the tee. Yet these bunkers provide a suggestion that the fairway is narrower than it is. The trees go away at the normal landing zone and are replaced by scattered trees. The green has flanking bunkers placed thirty yards from the green which has a single bunker down the left side. The green is a bit narrow. I felt the hole to be overly punitive.
3. Par 3 – 184/158. This par 3 plays fairly level with flanking bunkers. The green wraps around the bunker on the left side creating a very small back left pin position. The land falls away to the left side of the green. One also has to carry a waste area that cuts diagonally towards the left side of the green. The back left of the green is also higher with a front swale. It is a fairly difficult hole from the back tee.
4. Par 5 – 533/515. Trees are fairly heavy down both sides but the bigger issues is that the fairway is fairly skinny and the rough is thick. The hole plays straight on a rolling fairway. The green complex features two bunkers on the left side. It is a somewhat benign hole but made difficult due to the thick rough.
5. Par 3 – 218/193. This hole plays slightly uphill adding to the length. There is an early stream crossing the fairway but not in play. Thick trees are down the right side halfway to the holes while even thicker trees are down the entirety of the left side. There are double-bunkers fronting the left front of the green. The more difficult pin positions are behind these bunkers to a green that has a sharp tilt from back to front and a fall-off of the left side. This is a difficult hole despite it being listed as the second easiest on the front nine.
6. Par 4 – 366/34. The first short par 4 is not a pushover as thick trees and a stream go down the right side while thick trees are down the left side but pushed away a bit from the fairway. The left side has lower ground and four bunkers set in a vertical line parallel to the fairway making the fairway somewhat thin. The green is angled to the left with a very large and deep front left bunker with an internal island. The green is shallow on the left side. I found the hole not to be a lot of fun.
7. Par 4 – 431/409. I really did not care for the seventh which has a thin fairway due to three vertical bunkers going down the left side, with the first bunker having an internal island. The cart path crosses the fairway which also diminishes the attractiveness of the hole. At the green there are two bunkers fifteen yards short of the green placed inside the edges of the green that take away the landing zone. The green is wide and deep but not very interesting.
8. Par 5 – 573/497. This long par 5 goes gently to the right and is heavily tree-lined. This hole feels a bit suffocating. There are two early bunkers on the right side followed by a long bunker on the left side where most players might land. The final fairway bunker is 75 yards short of the green on the right. There is a final bunker on the front right on a green that is much too small for the length of the hole. Behind the hole is a fall-off that will likely result in one’s ball going into the tall grass behind it.
9. Par 4 – 469/443. The long hitter player in our group says he likes to play this hole from the first fairway as his tee shots can reach the pond and creek on the left side that lies behind the two staggered bunkers. The creek comes into play about 200 yards off the tee going down the right side before crossing the fairway about 300 yards from the tee. The pond reduces the fairway to half the size. The right side of the fairway has mounding going down the entirety of the hole to protect players on the first hole. The green is set a bit to the left with a middle right bunker. If one appreciates difficulty on a golf course, one will love this hole. I will say that it is memorable but for the average player they would be very pleased with a bogey.
10. Par 5 – 492/474. This hole has a lot of sand with a single bunker on the right followed by five on the left. A creek crosses the fairway in a diagonal path being shorter on the right and then going down the left side before bleeding away to the left about 30 yards short of the green. If one tries to lay up left of the stream they could either get to those five bunkers or two bunkers about 50 yards farther up. At the green, which is raised and has a back to front tilt there are flanking bunkers on the sides. If this was a par 4 it might be even harder than the ninth. As it is, despite this being a short par 5, it is a hole that requires a very good second or third shot.
11. Par 3 – 180/170. This hole did not do much for me with a green angled to the right set below higher ground on the left. It does have a nicely shaped green with a higher back left section. The stream goes down the right side and with the green placed off to the right it becomes a fronting green as well as to the right side of the green. It is a difficult par 3.
12. Par 4 – 444/406. This hole reverses direction and heads towards the clubhouse. The hole plays as a double dogleg with a strong line of trees down the right side that can impinge one’s line to the green. There is an early bunker on the right not in play followed by an unnecessary bunker on the outer corner. Five bunkers go down the left side that add a visual appeal but make the difficulty of the hole even higher. The final of these five bunkers is on the left side as well as one on the right side. The green has a lot of internal movement. This is a visually attractive yet overly difficult hole and is rated the hardest on the back nine.
13. Par 4 – 381/356. After the difficulty of the previous hole, this is a bit of a breather heading back the opposite way from the twelfth. There are scattered trees down both sides. A long bunker comes in from the left which I felt was unnecessary given the protection of the hole by the green beginning with a bunker that begins twenty yards from the front on the right side and another somewhat deep bunker on the left side.
14. Par 3 – 234/219. Mr. Cupp brings the difficulty back immediately with a long downhill par 3 with a bunker on the left side as well as mounding on the left side and green. It’s a hard hole.
15. Par 5 – 552/531. From an elevated tee one plays down a fairway that bends a bit to the left with a bigger turn at the end of the hole. There are too many bunkers on this hole as there is enough difficulty due to the heavy tree line down the right side. The hole begins with three on the left off the tee followed by two more on the left where most second shots end. The fairway is thinner here when more width would have been appropriate. Before the turn in the hole about 35 yards before the green another bunker is placed on the right. The green complex features a fronting bunker and a side bunker on the left. This is rated the hardest hole on the back nine and it is overly difficult.
16. Par 3 – 133. The shortest hole is ringed with seven bunkers. It is a visual feast but certainly five bunkers would have been enough.
17. Par 4 – 329/301. This hole has a creek meandering down the left side with thick trees down the right side. The creek crosses the fairway about 45 yards in front and continues down the right side of the green. Bigger hitters can carry the creek while average hitters likely need to hit less than driver. The green is angled to the right with a left bunker that becomes a rear bunker. The green has a slope from back to front and right to left. The most annoying part of this decent hole is that there is a center-line bunker about 180 yards off the tee when there is no need for it given the other defenses of the hole.
18. Par 4 – 454/428. This hole plays slightly downhill with the creek running down the entirety of the right side of the fairway. To the right of the creek is tall grass where one likely will not be able to find a ball. The creek feeds into a pond that begins about 75 yards short of the green and presses against the right side with no buffer. The left side of the green features higher mounding making a recovery shot occur from an uneven lie back towards the pond. I decided simply to avoid a double bogey even though I hit an okay tee shot.
Ghost Creek is not a course I would rush to play but if one lives in the area, it is a fine test of golf that has several nice golf holes. It has too many defenses to it and several of the bunkers are not required. The course is kept in good condition. If you hit it long, you will do well here. If you hit it straight one needs to pick a correct set of tees. There are few chances to make birdie on the course. The three ponds and presence of the creek when combined with heavy trees on many holes and the sometimes excessive bunkering make this a challenge that rarely lets up. When owners/club members wanted difficulty as the primary characteristic, this course deserved to be in the top 100 public courses in the USA.
The Ghost Creek course at Pumpkin Ridge is the public golf course. The first hole is a long par 4. Fairway bunkers right, left greenside bunker and a raised green. The 2nd hole is a straight par 4 with a bunch of fairway bunkers on both sides that should not come into play. The third is a short par three with bunkers left and right. The 4th is the first par five. Not reachable except for the few, strong and the brave. The landing area is much bigger than it looks. The fairway continues to narrow as you get closer to the green. Play it as a 3 shotter. The 5this a long par three with a very wide but narrow green with bunkers front left. The 6th leans left and is a good birdie oppty. Off the tee fly over the furthest right fairway bunker. Do not go thru the fairway as there is a creek right. Decent drive will give you a flip wedge in. The 7th is a long par four that leans left. Ideal drive is a draw that will catch the downslope and explode. The bunkers you see that are near the green are well short and should not come into play. The 8th is a long par five. Off the tee aim at the right fairway bunker. For your second shot pick your favorite attack yardage. The left side is better as this is one of the smallest greens with a BAB front right. In my opinion the long 9th is the toughest hole on the course. Off the tee hit it long and straight. If you are playing the correct tees you cannot reach the left fairway bunker or the creek that cuts across the fairway. A good drive will leave you with a long approach over water to a green perched on the edge of the water hazard.
The 10th is a short par five that is definitely reachable. Ideal drive is left of the right fairway bunker which should end up short of the left fairway bunkers. The creek crosses the fairway about 140 yards out so it won’t effect good shots. The 11th is a mid-length par three, slightly uphill with the creek left. The 12th is a tough hole, long dogleg right. I would not suggest trying to cut the corner. All pf us tried and we were all found wanting. A high fade is the best tee shot. This is one of the tougher greens on the course. The 13th is a birdie oppty. Find the fairway and you should have an attack iron in your hands. The 14th is a long downhill par 3 with a bunker left. The last par five bends left. Ideal tee shot is just right of the left fairway bunkers. Best approach angle will be from the right. The 16th is a really short par 3 that is surrounded by 7 bunkers. The 17th is a fun risk reward short par 4. Big hitters will try to go for the green. The margin for error is low, 300+ yard drive that needs to miss the greenside water hazard right, carry the creek that crosses the fairway and runs down the right side. Better play is to lay up and have a flip wedge in your paws. The 18th is a demanding long finishing hole. Hit it as far as you can down the left side. You will still have a water carry, but….
Disappointing, I would not go back if you paid.
Before the arrival of the Bandon complex of courses - Pumpkin Ridge was often cited as the key place to play golf when in Oregon -- both with the private Witch Hollow and the public Ghost Creek. That day has passed and Ghost Creek is simply outclassed by how public golf has evolved in a big time way since it first opened. The design is often formulaic and pedestrian in its approach and could certainly gain from an updated effort.
Playability is a highlight feature but simply providing larger size targets needs to have a bit of clear differentiation in the core of the design. Having hosted events of special note can certainly help with any course's exposure but to maintain real interest the essence of any course must have architecture that really possesses solid elasticity for all types of players.
Ghost Creek is better than adequate yet less than notable. When you're in the same State as Bandon it's akin to being the guy who sings in the shower and thinks he's capable in matching skills with the likes of Frank Sinatra. Not likely to happen.
by M. James Ward
This is the public course at the club, and a nice compliment to the private layout.
Golfers in the Portland area will enjoy the experience.
Ghost Creek is one of the best conditioned parkland courses I’ve ever had the pleasure to play. It’s not the cheapest at around $130 but it’s one of the best and trickiest layouts in Oregon. Undoubtedly the best course in the Portland area and a must-play for those seeking out top class golf courses.