Serenity now at Black Butte Ranch

Everyone has his favorite Seinfeld episodes. Whether it be the "No Soup For You" episode or the "Marine Biologist" show or even the "Hamptons." Well, you remember ... shrinkage.

There are many and we can go on and on, but after spending time in central
Oregon at Black Butte Ranch, all I could think about was "Serenity Now."

It's when George's father Frank Costanza shouts out serenity now every time his
blood pressure rises.

Although I have had my bouts with slightly elevated blood pressure recently, my
time in Oregon was just what the doctor ordered.

It's hard not to stop the car from the Redmond Airport just to take in the
magnificent scenery of the Cascade Mountains, including the Three Sisters and
Mt. Hood. I didn't and I have the pictures to prove it.

From the moment you reach the resort community, you're greeted with a calming
of life. Sounds of the wind whistling through the Ponderosa Pines, and guess
what, no horns blaring or the busy hustle-bustle of the big city.

This is pure relaxation at its best.

Standing on the 11th tee box of the Big Meadow Golf Course, I said to my
playing partner, "Dave, do you hear that?" His answer was no, as he looked at
me quizzically. I said, "That's right," because all we heard were birds singing
and the deer rustling in the woods.

Black Butte Ranch is just that ... and a whole lot more.

Golf was the main focus of this excursion and BBR did not disappoint.

The original course at the resort, Big Meadow, opened over 40 years ago and was
designed by Robert Muir Graves. Just recently, Damian Pascuzzo and his design
team came in and renovated much of the course, stretching it to over 7,000

Tree-lined fairways still adorn the course, but the venue is now more defined,
with its flashy bunkers, elevation changes and stellar views, especially on the
14th with a amazing view of Three Fingered Jack in the distance.

However, all the attention recently has been awarded to the freshly completed
redesign of the Glaze Meadow Golf Course. And rightfully so.

Opened 10 years after its sister course, Glaze Meadow was crafted by local-
golf-professional-turned-course-architect Gene "Bunny" Mason.

Over the seasons, the course deteriorated and was in need of a major overhaul.
Even the original design was in question, especially the first hole, which was
often referred to as the worst opening hole in the state.

Several architects were brought in, but it was Oregon's own John Fought who got
the contract.

The former two-time PGA Tour winner and U.S. Amateur champion has had a long
history in the golf profession, first as an amateur, where he played four years
at BYU and competed for the United States in the Walker Cup. His seven years on
the PGA Tour earned him a pair of wins and Rookie of the Year honors in 1979.

Fought began a new chapter in his life, working with Bob Cupp golf design
before starting his own firm in the 1990s.

Fought has made quite a name for himself in the golf design business,
especially with his work at Pumpkin Ridge and The Reserve Vineyards & Golf Club
in Oregon and his restoration work at Pine Needles Golf Club in North Carolina.

With a budget of $3.5 million, Fought began the redesign in 2010.

His first order of business included a change at the start, redesigning the
first hole from a double-dogleg par-5 with trees in the middle of the fairway
to a downhill par-4 that bends to the right, with sensational vistas of the

In addition, the second hole was transformed from a par-4 into a 583-yard par-5
with an elevated tee and a turn to the left.

Oh, there were other changes, like the rebuilding of all 18 greens and teeing
grounds, all new bunkers and one of the biggest differences, the removal of
thousands of trees.

This certainly did not come easily, but Fought and his team assured all
property owners and concerned management, that this was a necessity.

The end result is a course that was increased almost 500 yards to over 7,000
from the black markers with a slope of 133. Shotmaking values were heightened,
sightlines were improved and the conditioning of the course was significantly
enhanced. Just take a look back when you reach the seventh green and gaze
upward toward Black Butte Mountain. It appears close enough that you can touch

When the next set of golf magazines state rankings comes out, Glaze Meadow is
certain to make its mark.

But golf is just part of the story at Black Butte Ranch.

Cycling is an enormous part of the landscape at the resort. From the simple
1.5-mile Aspen loop to the more rigorous Lodge Loop of five miles. With a
little coaxing, I would have tried this, but the Spa was calling.

Trust me when I tell you that a journey from the East Coast out west requires
some work to the body. They have couples massages, bridal packages, back
treatments, facials and more, but the kicker is the "Hot Stone Massage" for 90
minutes. Stay awake if you can, this is a must. My body sighs when I think
about it.

In addition, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, river rafting and horseback
riding are other avenues of recreation at Black Butte. Talk about a serene

If tennis is your game, there are 19 courts bandied about the resort, where
you're sure to find a match or two.

Following a day of activities, the culinary choices are rock solid.

With views of the surrounding mountains, the Lodge Restaurant is the resort's
top spot, showcasing a wonderful display of locally organic delights.

I'm a meat man, and the Coffee & Cocoa Pork Tenderloin is to die for, not to
mention the Herb Elk Loin. But the Wild King Salmon or the Applewood Smoked
Halibut should not be overlooked if it's seafood you seek.

It all sounds too good to be true, right? Well, it's not.

Toss in several incredible package deals, like four rounds of golf and lodging
for four nights for just $255. Are you kidding me?

Although there are plenty of places to visit nearby, like Bend and Sisters,
Ore., there is no reason to leave the property. From a general store, complete
with all of the necessities to a post office, and even a police and fire

Oh and by the way, this is only the summer. Can you imagine what the winter
months and snow on the nearby Cascade's have to offer.

Serenity now ... indeed.