Day tripping: Oregon diversity awaits outside Portland city limits

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The sights of Portland certainly are weird: It's tattooed, pierced populous never found an activity that couldn't be done on a unicycle. It's strong cultural scene -- to go with great restaurants, microbrews and great expanses of nature -- make it a one-of-a-kind city to visit.

Its golf scene is strong, too.

Portlanders have great munis they can play every day such as 36 holes at Heron Lakes Golf Course or historic Eastmoreland Golf Course. They even have a top semi-private course at Pumpkin Ridge, the club that hosted Tiger Woods' third and final U.S. Amateur victory and home to the lauded, semi-private Ghost Creek Course.

But what's most striking to me about Portland (besides Darth Vader riding a unicycle playing bagpipes -- just Google it) is how varied the golf gets if you head an hour in any direction.

West of Portland: Reserve Vineyards Golf Club in Aloha

Ditch the riverfront hillsides of the city and head west of town along a scenic greenbelt past Beaverton, and you'll eventually come upon the gently rolling, quiet farmland of Aloha.

Here, Reserve Vineyards Golf Club features 36 scenic, natural holes on timeless parkland property. It's the former home to the JELD-WEN Tradition and the Fred Meyer Challenge, hosted by Peter Jacobsen.

The semi-private club has side-by-side championship courses designed by John Fought (South) and Bob Cupp (North). Each course, while of tournament standard, has a different method of showcasing the best of this terrain. The North Course is bunker-laden, while the South Course more links-inspired.

East of Portland on the Columbia River Gorge

The first two times I visited Portland, I made the big mistake of not making the drive along I-84 on the Columbia River Gorge, instead bee-lining south to Bandon Dunes on the Oregon coast.

Who could blame me, right? But driving along the gorge, up to 4,000-feet deep and 80-miles long, is equally gorgeous. It's home to sights such as Multonomah Falls, Triple Falls, Bonneville Locks and Crown Point. You can find some good golf on this drive, too.

If you head just east of Bonneville Dam and over the river on the Bridge of the Gods into Washington, you'll find one of the West's great revamps, Elk Ridge Golf Course. Elk Ridge, once shuttered and finally reopened in 2012, boasts a gorgeous setting high above the gorge. It's elevated, sloping location creates the driest course in this part of the Northwest.

Out here, you don't have to drive back to Portland. You can stay and play at Carson Hot Springs or the historic Bonneville Hot Springs Resort. Also, Skamania Lodge is just minutes down the road and home to its own 18-hole course.

Further east in In Hood River, which is a popular wind surfing destination, you can play Indian Creek Golf Course, another affordable, friendly course that has both mountain views and vies of the gorge.

Southeast of Portland: Resort at the Mountain

From Portland, it's less than an hour into the Cascade Mountains where you can visit one of the state's historic resorts, the Resort at the Mountain.

The property has been revitalized in recent years -- including touch-ups to the golf course by architect John Harbottle -- and is a quiet and cozy retreat. The Courses at the Resort at the Mountain is a traditional, 27-hole routing that features holes playing along the rushing Salmon River.

It's a picturesque setting and a must-play for golfers who love traditional design -- not to mention those who love to find a great value.

Brandon Tucker is the Sr. Managing Editor for GolfPass and was the founding editor of Golf Advisor in 2014, he was the managing editor for Golf Channel Digital's Courses & Travel. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and nearly 600 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours. Follow Brandon on Twitter at @BrandonTucker and on Instagram at @btuck34.

Related Links

The Reserve Vineyards and Golf Club, located just west of Portland, Ore., is one of this area's top semi-private golf clubs, featuring 36 holes set on 350 scenic acres. The South Course, designed by John Fought, has a reputation of being a little tougher than the Bob Cupp-designed North Course, having hosted the JELD-WEN Tradition and the Fred Meyer Challenge.
13 Images
Elk Ridge Golf Course in Carson, Washington, formerly Carson Hot Springs Golf Course, is open after a multi-year closure that began in 2006 following foreclosure. It's one of the area's most picturesque golf courses, set on high ground along the Columbia River Gorge.
14 Images
More from the author
5 Min Read
December 7, 2021
It may be the private club capital of Florida, but golfers endorse these public-access courses.
4 Min Read
December 3, 2021
It's never been easier to design custom hats, golf balls, clubs, headcovers and more.
2 Min Read
November 30, 2021
It's possible this little ditty finds you scooping up the last bit of cranberry pie crumbs out of the tray. Thanksgiving may have passed but the effects of celebratory eating around the table, and also possibly social imbibing during all the various football games throughout the weekend, are sticking with us. To our bellies and elsewhere.
4 Min Read
November 23, 2021
We scoured the web of golf and found holiday savings up to 50% off.
12 Min Read
November 18, 2021
Golfers can choose from a wide variety of portable launch monitor price points and user experiences. Here is what's new and the best ones to consider to improve your golf.
7 Min Read
November 9, 2021
Our community loves the value and experience at these popular and affordable military facilities and even book online.
17 Images
January 28, 2023
Our GolfPass members are kicking off the year with rounds all over the globe.
19 Images
January 3, 2023
Austin's a hub of innovation, and the perfect place to launch Driftwood, which feels like the country club of the future.
3 Min Read
January 17, 2023
Mint conditions like at Augusta National aren't attainable for most courses, but these courses gave it their best in 2022.
1 Min Read
January 17, 2023
Our community of reviewers call out these top courses in Scotland.
Now Reading
Day tripping: Oregon diversity awaits outside Portland city limits