Fall a great time for gear at Aspen Lakes

20161015_105136.jpg Significant discounts offered for gear and apparel

Fall in love with golf and play the game long enough and your garage will eventually look like the inside of the golf shop at Aspen Lakes. For golfers, that eternal optimism is motivator enough to find the club that will help you hit the ball just a bit further, or at least the shirt that will at least help you look a bit cooler.

When to buy all that great stuff is another matter. The best time of year to load up on golf apparel and equipment is subjective.

  • Is it in spring when all the latest and greatest merchandise first hits the shelves? Certainly there is a lot to be said for getting in early.
  • Is it summer, when the golf season is in full swing? True, there is nothing quite like taking that brand new club out for a spin for the first time.

It all depends on what you are looking for in the end. But unequivocally, the best time to find a great deal from Aspen Lakes is now.

To shop for a favorite golfer, the close of the peak golf season often marks the beginning of some of the best deals of the year for both golf gear and equipment. That is certainly the case here at Aspen Lakes.

Aspen Lakes has discounted all of its apparel 20 percent, including golf shoes and logo polo shirts. That includes gear by many of the biggest names in golf, such as Nike and Adidas. More than that, golf equipment is marked down to at least 25 percent, and sometimes even more.

This is all in addition to Aspen Lakes’ clearance rack, which offers even steeper discounts for items such as logo shirts and shorts.

“There is no doubt that if you are a bargain shopper, now is an excellent time to buy,” said Rob Malone, director of golf at Aspen Lakes. “Whether shopping for a Christmas gift or just to stock up for the 2017 golf season, our fall clearance sale typically offers some of the best deals of the year.”

Speaking of the Christmas season, Aspen Lakes will soon offer a discount on golf, too. Beginning after Thanksgiving, Aspen Lakes will again offer its $55 gift card good for one round played anytime of the year ($68 with cart), including during the peak golf season.

In 2016, the peak summer rate at Aspen Lakes, a favorite among golfers in the state of Oregon, was $78.

“The annual gift card sale has really become a tradition onto itself,” Malone said. “It does make sense for gift-givers. The card locks in a low price for golf played literally any time of the year, and every golfer appreciates the gift of golf itself.”

The pro shop is open daily for much of November. After that it will be open Thursday through Sunday.

For more information: call 541-549-GOLF or visit www.aspenlakes.com.

 

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An introduction to Aspen Lakes for the uninitiated

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Sisters golf course to host the Lithia Pacific Amateur Golf Classic this week

Aspen Lakes is in prime shape to challenge hundreds of golfers from around the country and beyond who will be taking part in the 2016 Pacific Amateur Golf Classic.

Being a Pac Am host course is always a fun adventure for Aspen Lakes, and the annual tournament gives us a chance to challenge a varied group of golfers, some of whom have never played the course before. For them, we want to offer a little introduction.

Central Oregon certainly has more than its fair share of heralded golf courses, some of which are hosts to the Pac Am. And Aspen Lakes tends to hold its own with the elite courses of the area. Not only is Aspen Lakes considered one of this country’s Hidden Gems, it is also considered one of the best in Oregon by both national golf magazines AND locals.

Aspen Lakes’ beauty is often cited as among Aspen Lakes’ top attributes, and with good reason. With incomprehensibly gorgeous views of the surrounding Cascade Range from most any point on the golf course and frequent visits from wildlife, the scenery is impossible to forget.

But architect Bill Overdorf designed a beauty, too, and it’s not quite like any other golf course in Central Oregon. So before you tee it up, we would like to share a little knowledge about Aspen Lakes Golf Course.

Here are some things to think about:

  • There is little doubt to what is Aspen Lakes’ signature feature. Our red-sand bunkers are as unique as they are beautiful. They are also nothing to be weary of. The texture of Aspen Lakes’ bunkers is a bit different, especially for the uninitiated. But playing from them is not unlike playing out of more conventional sand. And the sand won’t do any harm to your wedge, either.
  • Aspen Lakes offers a wonderfully fair challenge that most any golfer will enjoy. But that does not make the course easy. In fact, Aspen Lakes provides one of the stiffest challenges in Oregon. Choose your spots to be aggressive, and be careful not to attempt too much. In particular, use sound strategy on Aspen Lakes’ two toughest holes, the par-4 fifth hole and the par-4 14th hole.
  • All four par 5s at Aspen Lakes have teeth, but each provides a unique challenge. From the back tees, the holes stretch from 554 yards (No. 10) to 606 yards (No. 2). Water dictates the second shots on both the second and sixth holes. The approach on No. 10 into a shallow green, which is guarded by water in front and wetlands in back, is among the most difficult shots on the course. The finishing 583-yard 18th hole, was designed to separate two closely matched players.
  • The mountain views from the par-3 eighth hole are pretty spectacular. Make sure to take an extra second to take it all in:

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  • The par-4 11th hole, is pretty gorgeous, too:

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  • The view from the 15th tee box, a 222-yard par 3 played over water and massive bunkers, can be intimidating. The hole also presents a chance for golfers to shake free of their competition.
  • Few golfers walk off of Aspen Lakes disappointed. Something about the combination of beauty, design, top conditioning, and great service tends to endear itself to golfers.

Aspen Lakes is family-owned and operated, and we are proud of our heritage. That includes the naming of our Brand 33 restaurant, which is named after the Cyrus families’ brand that dates back to the 19th century.

We want every golfer to have a great visit to Aspen Lakes. Enjoy the course!

Of course, you don’t have to be a participant in the Pac Am to enjoy Aspen Lakes. To book a tee time, call 541-549-GOLF or book online at www.aspenlakes.com.

 

AimPoint instruction at Aspen Lakes can help golfers read the greens better

Aspen Lakes pro the only certified AimPoint instructor in Central Oregon

Putting can be one of golf’s great mysteries. It seems so easy. What’s so hard about slowly rolling a ball toward a hole down a relatively smooth surface, right?

Yet, it is on the greens that so many amateur golfers struggle most. According to research in Golf magazine: “High handicappers require about 30 percent more putts — or roughly 8 strokes — per round than pros do.”

For amateurs, the culprits are many, from poor strategy to less-than-ideal speed to an inability to “read” the greens correctly. Perhaps the key to improving on the greens is to whittle that list of culprits down.

We know instinctively that the more time we devote to the practice green the better our putting stroke will be. But learning how to properly read a green is a skill not many higher handicappers possess. That is why learning how to read greens using the AimPoint Express method can be so valuable.

Pioneered by Mark Sweeney, an amateur golfer who himself struggled with putting, the AimPoint Express method works to simplify reading greens by teaching golfers how to feel the slope of the green with their feet and how to use your arm and fingers to aim. AimPoint Express has quickly gained favor on the professional tours, used by such players as Adam Scott and Christina Kim. (If the name sounds familiar it might be because AimPoint Technologies, which Sweeney founded, produces some of those graphical marks that show viewers the line of a putt during professional golf broadcasts.)

It is a method that Aspen Lakes’ PGA Director of Player Development Howie Pruitt, the only certified AimPoint instructor in Central Oregon, knows well.

“AimPoint is just a simple way to read greens,” said Pruitt, who earned the certification in January 2015. “You will still have hit the putt at the right speed and on the right line to be a successful putter. But by eliminating one of the factors that lead us astray on the greens, most golfers quickly save strokes.”

Trusting that gravity is a constant, AimPoint attempts to define the correct putting line by relying on three basic factors: distance from the hole (calculated by pacing), the amount of slope (which is usually a 1 percent to 4 percent grade, judged by feel and practice), and the angle of the putt across the slope (uphill, downhill, etc.), according to a Bend Bulletin story.

It might sound complicated, but in actuality AimPoint is a relatively simple method to learn, at least with the right instruction. In fact, Pruitt says it only takes about an hour for a golfer to get reasonably proficient.

Once adopted, the benefits become clear. By understanding the basic physics of putting, golfers gain more confidence. In turn, that confidence can lead not only to a better line toward the hole, but more consistent strokes that improve pace and lead to better decision-making around the greens.

In other words, it will save strokes.

“As a player, it definitely improved my confidence,” Pruitt said. “ I knew exactly what the ball was going to do once it started to roll.”

Private, group lessons, classes and clinics with Pruitt are all available through the Aspen Lakes PGA Learning Center. Call the Aspen Lakes pro shop at 541-549-4653 for more information. To book a tee time call the golf shop or book online.

 

Tip: It takes more than just hitting golf balls to make perfect

Aspen Lakes professional says simple drills will help get the most out of a practice session

The scene on the Aspen Lakes Golf Course practice range is a familiar one: Golfers in line sending golf ball after golf ball into the blue Central Oregon sky, then watching as the white spheres come crashing down on their emerald-green resting place.

Golfers working on their games like this can be seen at most any practice facility. But for Howie Pruitt, Aspen Lakes PGA director of player development, he sees a different kind of practice session … something less productive.

“I walk the line and ask what they are working on, and I usually get a blank stare from golfers,” Pruitt said. “But for a practice session to be productive, you can’t just be spraying balls down the range. Every shot has to have a purpose.”

What’s a golfer to do to get more out of a session? Well, Pruitt suggests a few easy drills.

It starts with a simple training aid: driveway markers. With driveway markers, or at least a suitable replacement, golfers can:

  • Practice their alignment by setting up a single stick to align the stance.
  • Set two markers up, one for your stance and another set up parallel to the first stick, create a target path for each shot.
  • Set up two sticks perpendicular to one another to check ball position.

In addition, golfers should set two golf tees along the line of the range and then place a golf ball between the two tees. Then golfers should practice hitting the ball with the goal of not touching either tee. As a golfer improves, the tees should be moved closer to one another until it is at a width just longer than the clubface.

The idea of each drill is to retrain yourself to think differently on the range.

“You want to get away from thinking about the results of the swing, and instead focus on the process of the swing,” Pruitt said. “That is where real improvement can be made.”

Of course, every golfer should devote more time to practice their short games.

“I see so many golfers go to the range, hit balls, and then walk right past the putting green,” Pruitt said. “That is a mistake.”

Remember what Vince Lombardi said: “’Practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.”

Private, group lessons, classes and clinics with Pruitt are all available through the Aspen Lakes PGA Learning Center. Call the Aspen Lakes pro shop at 541-549-4653 for more information. To book a tee time call the golf shop or book online.

 

Late August a prime time at Aspen Lakes

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Aspen Lakes is in peak condition, the summer crowds are thinning, and the weather remains spectacular

The dog days of summer are well underway here at Aspen Lakes. But like most every August, things are just a bit quieter around here than the rest of the summer.

June, July, and the first part of August teem with golfers looking for a postcard-beautiful golf experience under the famously warm, dry summer sun here in Central Oregon. With the kids back in school in September, the golfers typically return en masse with an eye on the mild Indian summer that so often visits the High Desert.

Each August before Labor Day, though, brings with it a narrow window where Aspen Lakes quiets just a bit while the weather remains near perfect. Call it a Central Oregon phenomenon that makes the final weeks of August perhaps the primest of the peak golf season.

“For whatever reason, right about now turns into the perfect time to play,” said Rob Malone, Aspen Lakes director of golf. “The crowds tend to be a bit smaller, so you have more choices on tee times and play tends to be a bit quicker. You have a better chance to get on one of our GolfBoards.

“There are not many better times of year for golf then right now.”

How can that be when the weather in Sisters is so ripe for golf?

Well, August tends to be a time for family-oriented vacations. And while Aspen Lakes prides itself on being friendly to families, family time can also mean less time on the course.

Also, longer midsummer days allow for more tee times, spreading golfers across the tee sheet. Typically, that provides a bit more freedom for a golfer to play at his or her own pace.

More than that, though, the August window makes it easier to grab a prime morning tee time or to snag a bargain. Our popular discounted early bird tee times ($42 before 7 a.m.; $48 between 7 a.m. and 7:50 a.m., Monday through Thursday; $53 between 7 a.m. and 7:50 a.m., Friday through Sunday) are just a bit more open this time of year.

Another insider’s tip: The late afternoons and early evenings are particularly beautiful at Aspen Lakes. Oh, and those times are discounted, too ($68 between 1 and 3 p.m., $52 after 3 p.m., and $43 after 5 p.m.).

“My absolute favorite time is when I make the turn at around 6 p.m.,” Malone said. “ It is JUST GORGEOUS. You miss the hottest part of the day. The does are out with their fawns. The sun begins to set. There is no other time quite like it.”

The late-August window closes quickly, though. September after labor Day weekend is usually among the busiest times of the golf season. Larger groups of golfers travel to Central Oregon. And empty nesters hit the road once the kids are back in school.

All the more reason to get some rounds in while the course is still in peak condition and the crowds are relatively thin.

“Right now the golf experience is spectacular,” Malone said. “Plus, you have the Brand 33 Restaurant that is open every day, seven days a week. You can come out watch the sunset and enjoy a drink on the patio.”

Click here or call 541-549-4653 to book a tee time.

Fixing your slice starts with identifying swing flaw

Aspen Lakes teaching pro says fixes are simple once a
golfer understands what the golf ball is telling them

There may be no more common golf malady than the slice. In fact, more than 70 percent of golfers reported to regularly hit a slice, according to a Golf.com survey just a few years ago.

Of course, knowing you regularly hit a slice is a lot easier to identify than it is to truly understand the swing flaw that is causing the ball to careen wildly toward the rough and what is needed to fix that flaw.

Howie Pruitt, Aspen Lakes’ director of player development, has some advice. It begins with first understanding the truth the golf ball is trying to tell you every time it flies right (for right-handers).

“The ball will always tell you what you are doing wrong,” said Pruitt. “The path to the ball is controlled by stance and posture. The face is controlled by your hands.”

The ball should tell a golfer one of three things:

  • Push, or “block,” a ball straight right (or left, if you are a lefty) and that suggests a stance and posture problem that is causing the club to move off line at impact
  • If the ball begins straight and then curves right, that suggests a problem with your hands that are allowing the clubface to fly open at impact.
  • And finally, if you tend to hit those dreaded “banana balls” that start right and then curve, you likely have both issues.

The fixes are different for each issue, of course. But one fix that will likely not work, Pruitt warns, is to change your stance to aim further left.

“That will probably only exasperate the slicing problem,” he said.

The good news is that fixing a slice does not have to be difficult.

Those who struggle releasing the club at impact, causing those blocks, can work on the issue by holding a club in the top hand (the left hand for righties, right hand for lefties), then holding your bicep to your body with your off hand, swinging over and over to work on the release of the club.

Those with more significant slices can use a training device such as an Orange Whip or a weight (such as a donut weight) placed on a conventional club to work on swinging through impact and better transferring your weight to your front foot.

“If you can figure out how to that club that target line with a square clubface, your slice is going to be gone,” Pruitt said.

The best way to fix a swing flaw is with the help of a PGA professional.

Private, group lessons, classes and clinics with Pruitt are all available through the Aspen Lakes PGA Learning Center. Call the Aspen Lakes pro shop at 541-549-4653 for more information. To book a tee time call the golf shop or book online.

 

Wedges do just fine hitting out of Aspen Lakes red bunkers

Test is proof that Aspen Lakes’ bunkers do not harm wedges

So many golfers believe that the red sand of Aspen Lakes’ bunkers, as beautiful as they are, damage a wedge more than more conventional bunkers. The rumor unfortunately has been persistent since Aspen Lakes Golf Course first opened in the late 1990s.

No matter how much we try to diffuse the notion, the misconception remains.

“It’s one of the things that we hear year after year, that our red sand is hard on golf clubs,” said Rob Malone, director of golf at Aspen Lakes. “We want to dispel that old wives tale.”

To do it Malone recently put a brand-new NikeGolf wedge to the test: 10 shots from the bunker with a freshly unwrapped club.

The idea was to give the bunkers a true before-and-after test, and the results were telling.

“On the face, there were no surface marks whatsoever,” Malone said after the test. “There was a little surface scratching on the sole of the club, but nothing you wouldn’t expect to see after taking shots out of any bunker. The bottom line was that there was nothing that would concern me as a player.”

And that is exactly the point.

Aspen Lakes certainly understands that our bunkers are always a topic of conversation. The red bunkers are unique in almost every way, including their striking beauty. We have even made some improvements over the years, including 300 cubic feet of fresh sand last year that gave the sand a softer feel than previous years.

Malone’s test, though, should put any fears to rest.

“Hopefully that will help golfers not worry so much about their golf clubs,” Malone said. “Come out and enjoy the beauty that is Aspen Lakes.”

Aspen Lakes is still under its spring rates, with 18-hole green fees as low as $33.

Call the Aspen Lakes pro shop at 541-549-4653 for more information. To book a tee time call the golf shop or book online.