Overall Rating: A-
Highs: Value, Location, & Course Conditions
Lows: Difficulty & Real Estate Development
Tetherow Golf Club is nicknamed Deathrow for a good reason. This course is really, really difficult. Tetherow is a David McLay Kidd design – the same guy who designed Bandon Dunes. The course has breathtaking views of the mountains (or so I’m told…smoke and haze from wildfires in the area blocked our views), and Kidd did an excellent job of blending the course into the high desert landscape. Rolling hills and bunkers make for some interesting shots.
Last week, I wrote about my GolfBoard Adventures at Tetherow. This week I want to focus on my overall experience here. If you’re planning a trip, my hope is that this post will help you understand what to expect and enjoy your experience to the fullest!
Tetherow is located in Bend, Oregon about 10 minutes south of downtown Bend. The location is absolutely perfect! You are so close to town, but when you arrive it feels like you’re in the middle of nowhere.
The course was built on the site of the Awbrey Hall Fire, which burned 3500 acres and destroyed 22 homes in August 1990. A devastating fire, but the silver lining is that it provided an excellent canvas for Kidd to build a magnificent golf course.
We arrived at the resort, checked in to the clubhouse, then made our way to the practice range (one of the most scenic places to beat balls on God’s green earth). After hitting a few balls at the range, I headed over to the practice green.
The practice green is dotted with peaks and valleys and I watched in horror as one of my first putts rolled all they way off the green – about 25 feet past the hole I was aiming at. Yikes! Spend as much time as possible on the practice green before you head onto the course…you’ll thank me after your round for saving you a few putts.
When you stand on the first tee, you’ll see that Kidd doesn’t mess around. He doesn’t warm you up with nice little par opportunity on the first hole. No, the first hole is a doozy! Plenty of opportunities to get into trouble off the tee. My dad (a 9-handicap) carded an “X” on number 1. Not a great start for any of us. I’ll admit, I was a little worried about the remaining 17 holes if #1 was any indication of what Tetherow was going to be like.
Tetherow is an excellent value. Rates for 2016 vary from $90-$175/round, depending on the time of year and your status as a local, hotel guest, or non-hotel guest. In addition, a forecaddie is mandatory if you are not a member. A forecaddie will set you back an additional $25/person.
Upgrading to a GolfBoard is only $20 and replay rates are $50. If you play early enough to squeeze in 2 rounds, I recommend this strategy to try to exact revenge on Tetherow after you first round!
We played here at twilight rates in August, which cost me $155 (Golf = $110, GolfBoard = $20, Forecaddie = $25). Based on the quality of the course, this is an excellent value.
Wildfires blocked our views of the nearby mountains, but the scenery was still magnificent. You can’t beat the location in terms of convenience and sweeping Central Oregon vistas.
Lastly, the course was in excellent shape. The greens rolled true and fast, and despite the end of August drought conditions in Oregon, the course was well-maintained and lush.
I already mentioned how I watched in horror as one of my putts rolled 20 feet past the hole AND off the practice green. That was just a little foreshadowing of what was to come. What makes Tetherow most difficult, in my opinion, are the greens. They are lightning quick with lots of undulations.
It could take years to get used to the greens and know where to hit your approach shots. 3-putt and 4-putt opportunities abound if you land on the wrong section of the green.
I hesitate to put the greens under the “lows” section of my review, but I became so frustrated with the greens and with my round that I stopped keeping score on holes 5 through 9. While most first-timers might leave a little frustrated, I think you’d be hard pressed not to enjoy the challenge of Tetherow.
The only thing I really didn’t like were the houses and the construction noise. Tetherow first opened in 2008, but construction stalled for several years due to Bend’s deep housing slump in the Great Recession. Bend’s housing market is booming again and construction (and the accompanying noise) is a distraction. One of my big pet peeves with many great courses is that they are tainted by real estate development and Tetherow is no different. I understand development is a necessary part of the golf resort business model, but I really wish the houses weren’t everywhere you look with more on the way.
I would play Tetherow again many more times. The challenge of Tetherow is not for everyone, but if you’re looking for beautiful scenery and something a little tougher than your typical resort golf experience, Tetherow is for you!