A High-Desert Golf Sanctuary Graces the Great Northwest...

Oregon’s juniper-forested central interior has long been a destination for avid sportsmen and women of all stripes. Intrepid kayakers and white-water rafters regularly thrill to the challenge of the Deschutes River’s triple waterfalls. Flyfishing enthusiasts sate themselves on more than 500 miles of pristine trout and steelhead-laden rivers and streams. And, for winter visitors, Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort’s network of precipitous trails and abundant annual snowfall attracts outdoor enthusiasts, skiers and snowboarders.


Now, championship golf in a sumptuous private setting can be added to the enviable equation. New and captivating, the Pronghorn golf club community spans 640 luxuriant acres of high desert juniper and sage steppe, midway between Bend and Redmond, Oregon. The club at Pronghorn lays distinctive claim as the setting for two remarkable courses: one the very first Jack Nicklaus Signature Course in the state, and the other yet another masterpiece from the legendary Tom Fazio. Notably, Nicklaus and Fazio are credited with having designed 13 of the top 100 courses in the country, according to Golf Digest.


Without question, both these masters of course design have brought their exceptional talents to Pronghorn. Nicklaus’s traditional course – from the tips – spans a long 7,460-yards and carries a par 72. Along its expanse players can refresh themselves with panoramic views of the famed Cascade Mountains, Smith Rock and numerous distant buttes. It is almost needless to say that, with the Nicklaus signature attached, the course is understandably challenging, yet strategically designed for enjoyment by golfers of all abilities.


Tom Fazio’s private course offers no exception from excellence; it covers a slightly shorter 7,200 yards and also has a 72 par. Along the way, Fazio’s distinctive bunker design will highlight most holes. With respect to the uniquely rugged topography on which they sit, the courses represent the first “desert-style” golfing experience in the Northwest. And, while it may be difficult to imagine the typically lush Northwest ever being described as a desert, the interior region is quite distinct from the coast and mountain regions. Among many other unique features, the landscape is dotted with lava rock outcroppings, the residue of ancient molten flows. They jut out improbably from the sandy topsoil, competing for space with the hardy clusters of sage and bunch grass amid the juniper trees.


Nicklaus and his design team saw enormous possibilities in this unusual terrain, and the idea of developing a world-class golf facility in the northwestern corner of the country took hold in him. Another convincing factor was the presence of a 20,000-acre nature preserve adjacent to the development. For Nicklaus, and the club’s developers, it helped foster the notion that the club and its golf courses could become the focal point of a serene natural sanctuary. As Nicklaus described it, “I knew this was a beautiful piece of land, but I never dreamed it could turn out so incredibly good.” Nicklaus was inspired by the sheer challenge of the terrain, which he said included “trees growing out of rocks, and lava everywhere.” He decided early on to create most of the course’s features on top of the lava outcroppings, rather than removing or cutting into them.


Oregon’s majestic Cascade Mountains, naturally framed by the juniper, create a stunning visual backdrop for many of the holes on both courses. The bent green grasses roll extremely quick, and course conditioning is phenomenal. Overall, the courses’ designs and layouts call for strategic play-making and a good measure of skill. One seasoned golf professional notes that Nicklaus’s Signature course, like many others among his designs, “makes you use every club in the bag, and makes you think. There’s an easy way to make par, and a tough way to birdie, on every hole."


The par five 16th hole on the Nicklaus course, at 578 yards, is representative of the beauty and challenge it offers players. The hole is played from the highest point on the course downhill to a fairway surrounded by captivating rock outcroppings. The views along the left side of the fairway are stunning. Players are forced to choose their strategy: either to lay up as far down the left as possible, or to lay up short of the large bunker complex. Either approach has its challenges and rewards. “The course is very playable and very friendly,” Nicklaus notes. “Aesthetic­ally, it’s very attractive and the views are extraordinary. And no two holes are even remotely alike.”


The level of quality golf available at both Pronghorn courses will be matched by the private Pronghorn Club’s luxurious offerings. Available only to Pronghorn property owners, Club membership offers access to both golf courses, private dining in the Club’s exquisite restaurant, a pub for casual dining, a sauna and steam room, access to Camp Pronghorn’s swimming and tennis facilities, a fitness area, and many other distinctive accommodations.


The Village at Pronghorn– with its architecture that’s reminiscent of the grand western lodges of an earlier century– is the location of the world-class spa and wellness center. Here, as in all the facilities, members and their guests delight in a matchless level of personalized attention, care and service. Following a spirited round of golf, members may relax and rejuvenate themselves through the indulgent pleasures of European-inspired massage, soothing wraps, and other treatments. Adding to this experience are the fitness benefits available at the facility’s complete cardio and core strength and condition workout area.


Camp Pronghorn, a facility with a cabin feel situated on two majestic acres, serves as the resort’s family recreation and activity center. With spacious outdoor volleyball, bad­minton, basketball and tennis courts, guests are able to participate in a wide assortment of fun-filled sports activities. Swimmers of all ages will enjoy the Camp’s swimming pool, water slide, children’s splash pool and jetted spa.


Pronghorn invites guests to design their own outdoors experience with a program that creates a personalized agenda for activities including world-class flyfishing expeditions, rafting trips, mountain-biking, cross-country skiing, or any other type of activity they can divine.


As a part of the design, a limited number of home­sites were designated for sale. In addition to being set amid the region’s natural beauty, many of the spacious lots front the protected land and overlook a clear blue lake, adding dimensions of enjoyment to the experience. In either case– whether as guest or resident– Pronghorn offers a standing invitation to enjoy the awesome grandeur of central Oregon’s astounding outdoors.

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