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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Conditions report: Aspen Lakes expected to be in peak golf shape at least through September

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Greens at Aspen Lakes won’t be aerified until Oct. 17,
leaving smooth surfaces for weeks to come

With less than two weeks before summer officially ends, the march to fall is upon us here in Central Oregon. But you might not notice it by gazing at Aspen Lakes Golf Course.

At Aspen Lakes, the turf is emerald green and the firm and fast conditions are optimal for golf. And the best news is that the course will be that way for the foreseeable future.

“It is in pretty great condition,” said Josh Knapp, the superintendent for Aspen Lakes Golf Course. “We are at the point that we can safely say that we will make it through the season really well. We are in the last month of play and I expect us to be in peak condition through September and beyond.”

The conditions are so good that the Aspen Lakes maintenance crew has decided to hold off on aerating the greens until Oct. 17, allowing the bulk of the season play out with smooth putting surfaces.

“Right now we are not going to think of putting anything to bed,” Knapp said. “After the Pacific Amateur Golf Classic next week we will start thinking about winterizing more. But until then, overall, we will be in really good condition.”

That is not to say that the seasonably mild weather has not changed the maintenance practices.  Chief among those changes is that the staff has cut back water usage by a significant amount. In fact, Thursday marked the first course watering in nine days.

That made a noticeable impact on the playability of the golf course.

“It really firmed up the golf course and gave it those firm and fast conditions that every golfer seems to want,” Knapp said. “It made the course more playable.”

Of course, firm and fast applies to the greens, too. In fact, at one point last week the greens were so quick that they were nearly rolling at a speedy 13 on the Stimpmeter. Since, the greens have been throttled down a touch, Knapp said.

The pace of the greens are a sign of health and an inevitable result of the maintenance staff’s ongoing program to improve turf condition, especially on the putting surfaces. That program include tighter mowing, rolling the greens every day during the summer months, and the regular use of a drag brush.

“The greens certainly create a lasting impression,” Knapp said. “Really, we have been getting a lot of compliments.”

The uninformed may think the golf season ends after Labor Day, but the savviest among us know that September really is the best month of the year to play Aspen Lakes. And we have the peak conditioning to prove it.

Don’t let the finale of the golf season pass by without a trip to Aspen Lakes. To book a tee time, call 541-549-GOLF or book online at www.aspenlakes.com.

 

Aspen Lakes’ Community Fun League only growing

 

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Aspen Lakes’ Director of Player Development Howie Pruitt, at right, readies a group of Community Fun League golfers for a marshmallow long-drive contest.

Community Fun League, which throws out the Rules of Golf,
has steadily grown in popularity

The Community Fun League has been a growing curiosity here at Aspen Lakes. More and more questions are being asked around the Pro Shop inquiring about Aspen Lakes’ odd new take on golf, a testament to the word-of-mouth the Fun League has sparked.

There is one truly important question that should always be asked: What makes the Community Fun League, well, so fun?

Perhaps it is the long-drive contest … using a marshmallow. It could be that the league format is so open, that the higher score in a shamble is what ends up being the better score. Or maybe it is the nonchalant and rather loose interpretation of the Rules of Golf.

“Because this is the Fun League, there are no rules,” Howie Pruitt, Aspen Lakes Director of Player Development, said. “It has really been a hoot.”

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A golfer addresses the marshmallow.

The Fun League continues to grow: From its infancy last year to at least more than a dozen, and sometimes more, who reliably show up each Wednesday at 5 p.m. for a pressure-free, four-person scramble.

“Howie has being doing a great job with it,” said Rob Malone, Aspen Lakes director of golf. “It’s been growing by an order of magnitude, and it’s been getting more fun.”

The idea was born out of a simple idea: In order for the game to grow, it needs to find more fun ways to introduce the game to new golfers.

That is easier said than done, of course.

But Pruitt created the Community Fun League with the thought if you stripped away many of the formalities of golf and took away the pressure of scorecard, that golfers would respond.

That has proven to be true so far with the Community League. Not only has it attracted relative newcomers, it has also managed to draw more experienced players who would just as soon play for fun, too.

“It is a blast, and it is exactly what the game of golf needs,” Malone said. “I really see a lot of promise with the Fun League, and my hope is that it will continue to grow.”

Community Fun League tournaments are held every Wednesday at 5 p.m., through Aug. 24, which means there is still plenty of time to join and enjoy the rest of the season.

The tournaments are inexpensive, too. The cost is just $20 per player to join a team, and each player pays a reduced green fee of $25 (including cart!). Sign up at Sisters Park and Recreation District.

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.

Precious few spots left in Friday’s Outlaw Open

Greens look good

Outlaw Open remains among Aspen Lakes’ favorite local traditions

Playing golf is always wonderful. But playing golf for a cause? Well, that is an event worth cherishing.

The Outlaw Open Golf Tournament, an annual tradition at Aspen Lakes Golf Course since 1998,  provides such an opportunity. Just days away from teeing off for its 19th edition, on Friday, June 17, the Outlaw Open has precious few spaces left and once again expects to sell out.

Since 1998, The Outlaw Open has been among the highlights on Sisters events calendar. There are reasons why the tournament, which tees off with a 1 p.m. shotgun start, has become an annual tradition.

In its 19 years, The Outlaw Open has raised more than $250,000 for Outlaw athletics, including more than $30,000 since the Outlaw Booster Club began pairing The Outlaw Open and Outlaw Hall of Fame Banquet and Induction Ceremony.

More than that, though, the tournament is always fun: a community gathering as much as it is a golf tournament. The tournament includes a dinner and live auction. And new this year will be a dance and a performance by Central Oregon’s own High Street Band.

Cost to play in the tournament is $130 per golfer, and that includes dinner, auction and entertainment. Those not interested in playing are invited to attend the dinner and post-dinner entertainment ($30 per person) or just the High Street Band performance and dance ($10). Sponsorships are also available.

Aspen Lakes has been involved from the beginning, and has donated the use of the course for all 19 tournaments.

“One of the things we wanted when we built the golf course was to be able to give back to the Sisters community,” says Pam Mitchell, who co-owns Aspen Lakes. “This is one of those ways we do it. The Outlaw Open helps support the Sisters football program and the rest of the school’s extracurricular activities.”

The Outlaw Open is an event that you won’t want to miss!

For more information about sponsorship opportunities or registration for either event, visit www.birdeasepro.com/OBCOutlawOpenandHOF or email crambrose17@gmail.com. For more information about the Hall of Fame nomination and selection process, visit www.shshalloffame.org.

Central Oregon Shootout back for another year

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More than 160 teams will be competing this weekend at Aspen Lakes, Black Butte Ranch and Eagle Crest Resort

When the 14th Annual Central Oregon Shootout tees off on Friday one of Aspen Lakes favorite traditions will be back for another year.

Truly, we look forward to this event every year. We always happy to welcome back the many faces we have come to know over the years, and we love to the new faces that we get to meet for the first time.

We are blessed with the Central Oregon Shootout. Once again, we expect a full field of more than 160 teams. And for this, we could not be more grateful.

“You never REALLY know how many golfers will come out,” says Rob Malone, Aspen Lakes’ director of golf. “So hosting a full field again is a wonderful thing.”

Yes, it’s been quite a run.

The Central Oregon Shootout has garnered plenty of headlines over the years, too. Of course, the success of the tournament has been well-chronicled. And Aspen Lakes is proud of its partnership with both Black Butte Ranch and Eagle Crest Resort.

Looking back, there have been plenty of fun stories, too:

For this year’s returning competitors, not much will be new this year. At Black Butte Ranch, Big Meadow will return to the course rotation, replacing Glaze Meadow.

And the ladies teams will now be competing in a new fifth flight, giving them the chance to go head-to-head with men’s teams of similar handicaps.

Something new this year will be three teams that feature both a man and woman on the time. This is an area where the Central Oregon Shootout would like to expand.

“That’s a field that we want to grow going forward and hopefully make enough to get flights for it,” Malone said.

Every year COSO fields questions about whether or not a true expansion is in the cards, adding a potential fourth course.

Never say never, of course. But at this point, we are happy with where the Central Oregon Shootout stands.

“We’re not maxed out on any given day at any of the courses, yet,” Malone says. “That will really be the driver: Can we continue to take in everybody who wants to take part in the event? If we can’t, then I think we have to take a serious look at it.”

Until then, why mess with a good thing?

We welcome all the Central Oregon Shootout competitors back for another fun year. Good luck!

For questions, call Aspen Lakes at 541-549-4653. And don’t forget to register for the 2017 Central Oregon Shootout.

Aspen Lakes golf leagues a fun way to get more competitive

Aspen Lakes greens

Joining Aspen Lakes’ leagues can help make you a better golfer

Golf is a wonderful game, no matter who you play with. But playing with a group of friends is always just a little bit better.

Men’s and women’s golf leagues take that idea a step further, adding a competitive edge to a fun, social gathering. The men’s league at Aspen Lakes teed off Wednesday. And the women’s league is still being organized, and it will tee off soon.

And we here at Aspen Lakes, we welcome anyone to experience the joys of league play.

“Golf is already such a social game, but adding a fun, competitive atmosphere makes the game even better,” said Rob Malone, Aspen Lakes’ director of golf. “League play will get you to look at golf in a whole new way. And it will help you make new friends, too.”

League play offers up certain truths:

  • Simply joining our weekly leagues will foster more golf. Simply by joining the league, most are compelled to play at least once a week.
  • Playing competitively will make you a better player.
  • By playing better you will have more fun on the golf course.
  • You will make new friends or help bring you closer to old friends.

The best part is that joining Aspen Lakes golf club is also an excellent deal. The cost to join either league is just $35, the exact cost of an Oregon Golf Association membership. That fee gives you membership into the OGA and the Pacific Northwest Golf Association, and as such, you will receive an official handicap. In addition you will receive a subscription to Pacific Northwest Golfer magazine as well as other OGA benefits.

Club members also receive 10 percent off apparel in Aspen Lakes’ pro shop.

Those who join one of Aspen Lakes’ clubs who are not already annual passholders, receive discounted green fees for club events, too: $50 for 18 holes, which includes cart.

“Everybody is welcome,” Malone said. “Our goal is to grow the leagues as much as we can, so we want to make it relatively affordable for men and women to play.”

The Men’s League tees off every Wednesday at 9 a.m. until June 8. Then the club will tee off at 8 a.m. The dates for the women’s league have to be decided.

Those looking for an even more casual league might enjoy the Community Golf League, which will tee off at Aspen Lakes on June 8. The evening nine-hole tournaments are designed to appeal to golfers who prefer the social aspects of the game. The cost is just $20 to join, plus $25 (including cart) per nine-hole event. Sign up through Sisters Park and Recreation District.

“That’s literally a FUN league,” Malone said. “You come out, you play a little golf, you come in and have a drink. It’s entirely social.”

Signing up will ensure a wonderful golf season.

For more information, contact Rob Malone or head professional Howie Pruitt by email or call Aspen Lakes at 541-549-4653.

Outlaw Open set for a 19th year at Aspen Lakes

 

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Annual golf tournament joins Outlaw Hall of Fame event bring Sisters together

Only the most special events bring together an entire community. Two such events help bring Sisters together every year in support of Sisters High School and its athletic and extracurricular programs: The Outlaw Open Golf Tournament and the Outlaw Hall of Fame Banquet and Induction Ceremony.

Since 1998, The Outlaw Open has been among the highlights on Sisters events calendar. The Outlaw Open will be back for its 19th edition on Friday, June 17 at Aspen Lakes Golf Course. The scramble tournament begins with a 1 p.m. shotgun start.

Not only has the tournament always been a fun afternoon and evening for the attendees, it has been the Outlaw Booster Club’s crucial fundraiser for Sisters School’s extracurricular programs.

In all, The Outlaw Open has raised more than $250,000 for Outlaw athletics, including more than $30,000 since the Outlaw Booster Club began pairing The Outlaw Open and Hall of Fame Banquet.

“The Booster Club has focused on FUNraising and working with the School District to fill the seats and events to support the students and athletes,” says Brett Hudson, president of the Outlaw Booster Club, which is now in its second year organizing the golf tournament. “The Open and Hall of Fame help raise funds to create special opportunities beyond what the School District can support to help make these years as special as possible for the students.

“We have helped sponsor rooter buses to state tournaments, improve playing fields and equipment, and given donations to the elementary and middle school for student enrichment,” Hudson adds. “This year the Booster Club will also be granting two scholarships that we hope to build on in the future.”

The Outlaw Open, which sold out in 2015, would not be as much of a success if it wasn’t fun for all. This year, the event will get even more enjoyable for the attendees.

As always, the tournament includes a dinner and live auction. But new this year will be a dance and a performance by Central Oregon’s own High Street Band. Cost to play in the tournament is $130 per golfer, and that includes dinner, auction and entertainment. Those not interested in playing are invited to attend the dinner and post-dinner entertainment ($30 per person) or just the High Street Band performance and dance ($10). Sponsorships are also available.

Aspen Lakes has been involved from the beginning, and has donated the use of the course for all 19 tournaments.

“One of the things we wanted when we built the golf course was to be able to give back to the Sisters community,” says Pam Mitchell, who co-owns Aspen Lakes. “This is one of those ways we do it. The Outlaw Open helps support the Sisters football program and the rest of the school’s extracurricular activities.”

The Second Annual Hall of Fame Banquet and Induction Ceremony, which will be held on Saturday, Sept. 3, is far newer but no less important. The weekend of festivities begin when the Hall of Fame inductees are announced during Friday night’s Sisters football game.

The Banquet, which will be hosted at Sisters High School, begins Saturday night at 5:30 p.m., followed by a dinner, auction and Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

A ticket to the Hall of Fame Banquet is $50 per person. Discounts are available for those who purchase a ticket for The Outlaw Open and the Hall of Fame Banquet.

“Our football program is extremely appreciative of all the support they receive, and this event also gives us a chance to say thank you as well,” says Gary Thorson, head football coach at Sisters High School. “Last year was a huge success and we had a unbelievable and unselfish group of people putting it together, and we look forward to this again.”

For more information about sponsorship opportunities or registration for either event, visit www.birdeasepro.com/OBCOutlawOpenandHOF or email crambrose17@gmail.com. For more information about the Hall of Fame nomination and selection process, visit www.shshalloffame.org.