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.

 

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Aspen Lakes having a summer to remember

GO-01162Feedback from golfers has been immensely positive so far this year

Rob Malone, the director of golf at Aspen Lakes, fondly recalls a couple from Ann Arbor, Michigan, strolling into the clubhouse. The couple was pleasant, and eager to talk golf.

They were at Aspen Lakes as part of a West Coast golf trip of a lifetime. A requisite trip to Bandon Dunes Golf Resort (we love it there, too!) was already cross off their to-play list, as were some of the other big names in Oregon golf.

But the couple had a message for Malone: “He told me, ‘I play a lot of golf, and I had never heard of Aspen Lakes. But the beauty and the design are just fantastic. I put it in my top 5 all-time.’”

Such words are music to our collective ears at Aspen Lakes.

This has been quite a season for Aspen Lakes so far. It had quite a start, with best-in-Oregon recognition from the state’s largest newspaper as well as Golfweek magazine.

Of course, lofty rankings are fun. But rankings would not matter much if golfers themselves disagreed. Well, if growth in play is any indication, it looks like golfers are pretty fond of Aspen Lakes, too.

July was filled with golfers, many traveling to Central Oregon on vacation with family. The Fourth of July weekend was among the busiest anyone can recall at Aspen Lakes, and July golf rounds appear to be headed toward a 10 percent uptick through July.

The verbal feedback from golfers has been stellar, too.

“We always get good feedback, but this year it seems like it has been at another level,” Malone said.

Malone offers two main reasons for the excitement around Aspen Lakes. First, the conditioning at Aspen Lakes has steadily improved over the last two years.

“I think play has definitely grown on the coattails of our conditioning,” Malone said. “Our superintendent, Josh Knapp, and his team have done such a wonderful job. And golfers are noticing.”

Malone added that Aspen Lakes’ customer service could be a factor, too. It’s true, the staff at Aspen Lakes has always made a point of making golfers feel comfortable before and after their rounds.

“The bottom line is that we try to make Aspen Lakes feel like everybody’s home course,” Malone said.

Indeed. Come see why so many golfers are raving about their rounds at Aspen Lakes. Peak-season rates are as low as $43.

To book a tee time, call 541-549-GOLF or book online at www.aspenlakes.com.

Oregonian’s readers put Aspen Lakes in elite company

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Voters select Aspen Lakes as one of the best in Oregon

Aspen Lakes has been getting an awful lot of positive attention of late.

First, Aspen Lakes was featured on The Morning Drive show on The Golf Channel as one of travel guru Matt Ginella’s top 10 hidden gem golf courses. Then earlier this year this “hidden gem” became a little less hidden when Golfweek named Aspen Lakes among the top golf courses in all of Oregon. More recently, The Oregonian named Aspen Lakes as one of the 15 golf courses in Oregon you should try to play.

All that is wonderful enough, to be sure. But The Oregonian put the same question to readers, asking them what their favorites are of the 15 named by The Oregonian.

With the poll now closed, the readers have spoken. And we are proud to say that Aspen Lakes has fared quite well.

How well? Of all the course’s listed, Aspen Lakes garnered the third-most support. It was named by 10.61 percent of respondents as a favorite golf course in Oregon. Only Pacific Dunes (13.08 percent) and Bandon Dunes (11.04 percent), both considered among the very best golf courses in the U.S., grabbed more votes.

At Aspen Lakes, we always love to see our golf course get positive attention from the media. But getting so much support from the golfers who we so cherish? Now that is truly worth celebrating!

Come play one of the favorite golf courses in Oregon while it is offering its shoulder-season rates. Golfers can walk 18 holes at Aspen Lakes for as little as $42 or play nine holes for $38. (Carts are an additional $17 per person for 18 holes; GolfBoards cost $25 per person.)

To book a tee time, call 541-549-GOLF or book online at www.aspenlakes.com.

Golfweek: Aspen Lakes among top golf courses in Oregon

GO-4520Magazine ranks Aspen Lakes No. 8 among all public golf courses in Oregon

Aspen Lakes takes pride in being among America’s hidden gems. But it is always nice to get a little national recognition, too.

Aspen Lakes was ranked the No. 8 best public course in Oregon by Golfweek magazine, one of the leading voices in golf. Golfweek’s annual state-by-state rankings were released in the magazine’s March 1 edition.

The ranking puts Aspen Lakes in rarefied air. The list includes some of the best-known golf facilities in both Oregon and throughout the world.

Aspen Lakes was already considered to be among America’s hidden gems, and the course has only improved in recent years.

“We are blessed that Aspen Lakes has always had an excellent design, wonderful conditioning, and we pride ourselves on offering great customer service in the pro shop,” said Matt Cyrus, co-owner of Aspen Lakes Golf Course. “The ranking is a team effort earned by everyone at Aspen Lakes, and everyone should be proud of it.”

“We are proud to be recognized by Golfweek as one of the elite golf courses in the state of Oregon,” said Pam Mitchell, co-owner of Aspen Lakes Golf Course. “We have long been recognized as a ‘hidden gem’ here in Central Oregon. And thanks to the hard work of superintendent Josh Knapp and his staff, Aspen Lakes has only improved. We are ecstatic to be associated with such a wonderful group of golf courses.”

Here is a look at Golfweek’s Oregon rankings:

  1. Pacific Dunes, Bandon
  2. Old Macdonald, Bandon
  3. Bandon Dunes, Bandon
  4. Bandon Trails, Bandon
  5. Tetherow, Bend
  6. Pronghorn (Nicklaus), Bend
  7. Pumpkin Ridge (Ghost Creek), Cornelius
  8. ASPEN LAKES
  9. Black Butte Ranch (Big Meadow), Black Butte
  10. Sunriver (Crosswater), Sunriver

You might have also noticed just how well Central Oregon as a whole fared, too. In all, Central Oregon claimed five of the top 10 courses on the list.

Speaking of the best of Oregon, the 2016 Central Oregon Shootout features tournament play at both Aspen Lakes and Black Butte Ranch (No. 9 on the list). Scheduled for April 22-24, this popular annual tradition is a three-day tournament (Eagle Crest Resort in Redmond is also a host) played in a fun partners format.

The Central Oregon Shootout is always a highlight for Aspen Lakes.

Right now, golfers can play one of the elite golf courses in Oregon for the lowest price of the season. Golfers can walk 18 holes at Aspen Lakes for $25 or play nine holes for $20. (Carts are an additional $17 per person for 18 holes; GolfBoards cost $25 per person.)

To book a tee time, call 541-549-GOLF or book online at www.aspenlakes.com.

With some strategy you can get the most out of your round at Aspen Lakes

The shot from the upper fairway of Aspen Lakes' par-4 14th hole, seen here, is among the most challenging approaches in Central Oregon.
The shot from the upper fairway of Aspen Lakes’ par-4 14th hole, seen here, is among the most challenging approaches in Central Oregon.

Managing the golf course’s two toughest holes
can go a long way to a good score

Aspen Lakes is both beautiful and enjoyable. But it is not the easiest of layouts, featuring some of the most challenging holes in Central Oregon.

Such holes help give Aspen Lakes its reputation as one of the country’s hidden gems.

Of course, choosing the correct tee for a golfer’s skill level is critical to enjoying Aspen Lakes. But more than that, approaching the golf course’s toughest holes with the correct strategy can can go a long way toward actually lowering your score.

“You have to remember that there are holes you can challenge and holes that you really shouldn’t,” says Rob Malone, Aspen Lakes’ director of golf. “If you challenge a hole that you shouldn’t, that’s where you will get your big numbers.”

From PGA Tour players to everyday recreational golfers, sometimes the goal should be to avoid a disaster rather than to make a par.

Knowing just what holes to play conservatively at Aspen Lakes takes some experience. But we can help. Here is a breakdown of the two toughest holes by handicap at Aspen Lakes.

No. 5, 469 yards, par 4 (No. 1 handicap)

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 3.10.20 PMThe long par-4 fifth hole can confound golfers, needing two near-perfect shots to have any chance of reaching the two-tiered green in regulation. Making matters even more challenging, the fifth is canted from right to left from fairway through the green, often sending decently placed shots toward the left rough.

A perfect tee shot up the fairway’s right side puts the approach some 150 yards from the green. But with a bunker right and a slanted fairway, such a shot is easier said than done.

“It’s difficult to get it there, because as it hits most of the time it is going to bounce and kick to the left-hand side,” Malone says. “You could actually land the ball on the right-hand side of the fairway and still end up in the rough on the left-hand side.”

And that can leave a long approach from a thick rough made more difficult by trees down the left side. And the green is not particularly easy to navigate either, as it is somewhat shallow and fronted by swells that can stop an approach short or kick a ball forward through the green.

The key is to not overdo the second shot, compounding any problem created by the tee shot. If you can find the A-position than a more aggressive approach may be warranted. But many players may find safety in a generous bail out area short and right of the green. From there the green opens up and gives golfers their best chance to save par.

If not, well, sometimes a bogey is just fine.

No. 14, 479 yards, par 4 (No. 2 handicap)

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The par-4 14th hole truly presents golfers a lesson in accepting the challenge the golf course presents. The fairway is bisected by a scraggly native area filled with wildflowers some 260 yards from the white tees and nearly 290 yards from the back.

High-level players will struggle to make the 290-yard carry needed to reach the second section of fairway. And with a lay up, a long iron or more will be needed to reach the relatively shallow green. Shorter hitters, all of whom will be forced to lay up, will struggle to reach the green at all from the upper fairway.

“Fourteen is just difficult,” Malone says.

Before you ask, no, the native area is not going away. It sits on bedrock that makes it nearly impossible to remove. Instead, accept your fate on the 14th.

A decent layup will leave more than 200 yards to the green. Instead of firing for the pin, players would be wise to hit short of the green.

Yes, sometimes hitting the green in regulation is not the best play.

“You can hit a great drive, and you can hit a good second shot and still not be on the green,” Malone says. “Then it’s managing where you end up with your pitch and chip, so hopefully you have a short uphill putt because you stayed below the hill.”

The key is to stay below the hole.

For most, the easiest path to par is actually with a pitch shot that leaves a short, uphill putt for par. That is far easier to execute than a long fairway shot into a green that is not particularly receptive. And a lay up takes away much of the risk of a giant number.
The right mindset heading into the 14th is to be OK with making a bogey. It certainly beats a double bogey or worse.
Click here or call 541-549-4653 to book a tee time.

Aspen Lakes Golf Course offers good things to those who wait

Sunsets can be spectacular from Aspen Lakes Golf Course.
Sunsets can be spectacular from Aspen Lakes Golf Course.

Evenings a prime time, especially for families

Summer mornings are fantastic at Aspen Lakes Golf Course. But evenings? Now that can be the prime time to play.

What makes the latter part of the day so appealing?

Maybe it’s the smell of that freshly cut hay from the surrounding fields that whips up in the afternoon breeze. Or perhaps it is the way the late-afternoon light shows off the emerald green of the turf and the blood red of Aspen Lakes’ cinder bunkers. It might also be that the later part of the day is usually left to those in the know, thinning those summer crowds.

Whatever the reason, those summer evenings are often the best time to play a round of golf at Aspen Lakes.

“It’s phenomenal,” says Rob Malone, the director of golf at Aspen Lakes. “My favorite time to tee off during the summer is about 3:30 or 4 o’clock. So by the time you get toward the back nine the light is changing, the wildlife comes out, it’s cooling off and the afternoon breeze starts to go away. It’s just amazing.”

The conditions at Aspen Lakes, shown here on Wednesday, July 15, are some of the best of the season.
The conditions at Aspen Lakes, shown here on Wednesday, July 15, are some of the best of the season.

Evenings also are less expensive, with rates dropping to $49 after 3 p.m. and $40 after 5 p.m. (Remember, during Central Oregon’s gorgeous summer nights, daylight can last well past 9 p.m.)

The affordability is even greater for families. After 5 p.m. families of four can play for $45, which includes the use of a golf cart. Families of two can play for $35, including cart. On Sunday evenings kids play for $1 a hole and an accompanying adult can swing the clubs for $2 a hole.

Not bad considering Aspen Lakes is considered one of the nation’s “Hidden Gems.”  No wonder the family programs have been a hit with families since Aspen Lakes started them several years ago.

“It’s inexpensive and it is great family time,” Malone says. “We find as families come out to Central Oregon for family vacations, they seek us out because it is a really affordable option.”

To book a tee time, call 541-549-GOLF or book online at www.aspenlakes.com.

Aspen Lakes Golf Course a perfect place for Quilt Show widowers

Aspen Lakes, seen here on Thursday, July 9, is in peak condition just in time for the 2015 Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show.
Aspen Lakes, seen here on Thursday, July 9, is in peak condition just in time for the 2015 Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show.

Golfers will find a golf course in peak condition

The 2015 Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show is a mighty impressive event. Traditionally held on the second Saturday in July, the event bills itself as the world’s largest outdoor show.

To see it, though, is to truly believe it.

Yet, not everyone is into quilts. We know. We know. That seems a strange thing to say when the Quilt Show is about to tee off. Yet every year Aspen Lakes Golf Course’s emerald fairways are filled with those left behind by their beloved quilters.

“We have become a Quilt Show widower’s paradise, so to speak,” says Rob Malone, director of golf at Aspen Lakes. “There are a growing number of golfers who come out year after year during the quilt show.”

One such golfer comes to Sisters every year with his wife can attend the Quilt Show. And every year he is among the first to tee off on Saturday morning, playing hole after hole until the Quilt Show wraps up.

He is not alone.

One reason Aspen Lakes makes the perfect refuge is that the golf course is just a few short miles east on the Quilt Show, significantly closer than any other golf course in Central Oregon. Oh, and Aspen Lakes just happens to be considered among the very best golf courses in the state of Oregon.

“Wives will drop their husbands off in the morning, then they’ll take off all day, and they will pick them up after it’s over and go do dinner,” Malone says. (May we suggest our own Brand 33 Restaurant for dinner.)

In essence, Aspen Lakes turns into a sort of day camp for golfers.

“The Quilt Show does provide a significant increase in play over that weekend,” Malone says. “That’s why we see the same faces year after year and joke, ‘It must be quilt season again.’”

There is one more bonus for golfers this weekend: Aspen Lakes’ conditions are the best we have seen in years than in recent years.

See, who says that you have to be into quilting to enjoy the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show?

Come out to Aspen Lakes and play a round for as little as $40. For an extra thrill try one of our GolfBoards, which are available for rent for $25.

To book a tee time, call 541-549-GOLF or book online at www.aspenlakes.com.