Running Y Ranch will never compete with Bandon Dunes from a pure golfing perspective, but it knocks the socks off Bandon as a holiday resort. This is a place where you can enjoy great golf and your family can enjoy the amenities that combine to keep everyone happy.
Set in the in the south of Oregon near the Cascade Mountains, Running Y Ranch is a sunny and relaxing full-service resort located on the south-western shore of Klamath Lake. Just to the south of the resort is Klamath Falls, which was voted “one of the best places to live” by Relocate America.
The golf course at Running Y Ranch has also received a number of accolades, including being ranked in the Top 50 Courses for Women. Designed by Arnold Palmer in 1998, it’s laid out at lofty altitude and the 7,138-yard tips measurement will not pose a problem for solid ball strikers at more than 4,000 feet above sea level.
A gentle opening par four gets you on your way and it’s followed by a par five that’s reachable in two for the big hitters. The real interest starts at the boomerang-shaped, short par four 3rd which tempts the aforementioned big hitter to have a crack at the green from the tee. But first you’ll have to decide whether you are brave enough to take on the large lake that runs down the left side of the hole. The 4th is a super par four that sweeps to the right with a lake down the same side, but the signature hole at Running Y Ranch is at the next hole. The short par three 5th is at high 4,200 feet altitude but it’s actually set in an open meadow but the green is surrounded by water and a stonewall.
Despite its lofty perch, the golf course at Running Y Ranch is routed across the basin of relatively flat former ranch land. In fact, the key is in the name, Running Y is very much a working cattle ranch that extends to 6,000 acres and there’s an equine adventure waiting for those prepared to exchange their golf clubs for a Stetson and saddle.
The interior beauty of the Oregon landscape is truly something to appreciate and is on par with the spectacular vistas one gets along the Pacific coast.
Running Y is located in a gorgeous setting -- Crater Lake National Park is nearby and the connection to Klamath Lake is also wonderful to behold.
Given all that one would think a golf connection would be a fantastic inclusion. Sad to say the results on the golf side are overall disappointing.
The first several holes march in a fairly continuous straight manner. The short par-4 3rd is nicely done as water enters the picture on the tee shot and approach. The par-4 4th is exceptional. The fairway landing area tapers down considerably as you have to decide just how far do you wish to take the driver given the limited space provided. The approach is also crafted well -- a green angled beautifully behind the same water one confronts on the drive and with a menacing bunker in the front with several others in the rear.
Unfortunately, the rest of the outward half is quite vanilla and has a series of holes march back in a fairly straight line till you reach the 9th.
The outward nine starts and finishes well with the par-4 10th and 18th holes. The split fairway feature at the par-5 17th is quite interesting but it comes so late in the round. You wonder why such features could not have done throughout the layout. The bulk of the other holes on the return nine are merely formulaic and there's little in terms of scintillating details to get one's golf juices flowing.
Running Y is meant to provide golf as a diversion resource for those seeking to do other outdoor activities. For golf connoisseurs there's just not enough to keep one's interest sustained. Playability is a worthy goal but it need not overwhelm the senses with a generally dull presentation. A missed opportunity given what the marvelous Oregon landscape provides.
M. James Ward