BLACK BUTTE RANCH (BIG MEADOW/GLAZE MEADOW COURSES)
Glaze Meadow Course Architect: John Fought (Redesign, 2010-12),
Gene Mason (Original design, 1982)
Year Opened: 1982/2012
Location: Black Butte Ranch, Oregon
Slope: 133. Rating: 72.7
Hole-by-Hole: 1 - Par 4 395 Yds 10 - Par 5 549 Yds
2 - Par 5 583 Yds 11 - Par 3 196 Yds
3 - Par 4 319 Yds 12 - Par 5 612 Yds
4 - Par 4 411 Yds 13 - Par 4 483 Yds
5 - Par 3 164 Yds 14 - Par 3 158 Yds
6 - Par 4 452 Yds 15 - Par 5 545 Yds
7 - Par 5 525 Yds 16 - Par 4 440 Yds
8 - Par 3 172 Yds 17 - Par 3 191 Yds
9 - Par 4 380 Yds 18 - Par 4 432 Yds
Par 36 3,401 Yds Par 36 3,606 Yds
Awards Won: Four stars by Golf Digest - Best places to play,
Audubon International Cooperative Sanctuary.
Big Meadow Course Architect: Robert Muir Graves (1970), Damian Pascuzzo
Year Opened: 1970
Location: Black Butte Ranch, Oregon
Slope: 125. Rating: 71.6
Hole-by-Hole: 1 - Par 4 385 Yds 10 - Par 5 535 Yds
2 - Par 4 365 Yds 11 - Par 4 409 Yds
3 - Par 5 555 Yds 12 - Par 4 379 Yds
4 - Par 3 190 Yds 13 - Par 3 185 Yds
5 - Par 4 427 Yds 14 - Par 4 401 Yds
6 - Par 4 439 Yds 15 - Par 4 349 Yds
7 - Par 5 583 Yds 16 - Par 5 514 Yds
8 - Par 3 243 Yds 17 - Par 3 234 Yds
9 - Par 4 396 Yds 18 - Par 4 413 Yds
Par 36 3,583 Yds Par 36 3,419 Yds
Key Events Held: PNGA Senior Amateur (2011).
Awards Won: Four stars by Golf Digest - Best Places to Play,
Audubon International Cooperative Sanctuary.
Web site: www.blackbutteranch.com
HISTORY: Although the history of Black Butte Ranch dates back thousands of
years, the origins of golf at the residential resort community began in 1970,
when renowned course architect Robert Muir Graves crafted the Big Meadow
Graves, who passed away in nearby Bend, Ore., in the early 2000s after retiring
on a ranch there, crafted and renovated hundreds of layouts around the United
States, mostly in the Pacific Northwest, such as Canterwood, La Purisima, Quail
Lodge and Sea Ranch Golf Links.
The thought process around Big Meadow was fairly simple: Mold the dramatic
surroundings into a design that would provide a significant challenge to all
levels of play.
Over the years, as with most courses, the layout began to weaken, so the powers
that be at Black Butte Ranch brought in a Muir disciple, Damian Pascuzzo, who
began his career working for the legendary architect back in 1991.
"Black Butte Ranch was a real special project for me," said Pascuzzo. "His last
visit to any golf course was with me to BBR not long before his passing in
2003. BBR was always one of his favorite projects and there seemed to be a
certain poetry to the fact that it was the last one he saw."
After three years of significant renovations, the course reopened in 2008. Not
only was the layout lengthened over 150 yards, as new tees were added, but all
of the bunkering was refined to include a high-faced splash.
"The routing of the golf course was solid and didn't require any adjustments,"
said Pascuzzo. "As is typical of courses of this age, the tees had shrunk
and the bunkers were no longer in the right places. The ponderosa pines had
grown to the extent they were impacting play and blocking long-range views of
Stretching to over 7,000 yards, Big Meadow features four sets of tees, ranging
from 5,485 yards as it rolls through the Ponderosa Pines with amazing views of
the Cascade mountains.
The second layout at Black Butte Ranch opened just 10 years later, as local-
golf-professional-turned-course-architect Gene "Bunny" Mason crafted the Glaze
Over the seasons, the course deteriorated and was in need of a major overhaul.
Even Mason's 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 in the running for the redesign, 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, when 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.
When injuries shortened his playing career, Fought began a new chapter in his
life, working with Bob Cupp golf design before starting his own firm in the
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 fairly extensive budget of $3.5 million, Fought began the redesign in
2010. "It was a fun process to get started in," he said. "When I saw it for the
first time, I thought, 'Wow, this can be so much better, we can really make
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
This certainly did not come easily, but Fought and his team assured all
property owners and concerned management, that this, although quite sensitive
to the locals, was a necessity.
Fought removed almost 4,000 trees from the course. "Thousands upon thousands
were removed," he said, creating robust corridors and enabling the rough to
thicken for a more natural feel. "It's still a tree lined golf course, but now
there's such wonderful views of the mountains on, so many different holes and a
lot of that was made possible by just thinning out the trees.
"This enabled us to get it back to where we can now condition it and build some
strategy back into the golf holes," Fought added.
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
"We did almost no grading on this golf course, nothing," Fought said. We just
let it sit where it sits. Most of the stuff we did basically utilized the
land that was there and we just expanded it and built features like you would
see on a classic Donald Ross or Harry S. Colt course.
"I believe in the more classical architectural values as opposed to the modern
movement of moving millions of yards of dirt," Fought added. "There are very
good designers who move lots of dirt, and they like to make all kinds of
creative artistic landforms. It's easier to do that than it is to take land
that is natural and find those places and actually embrace them, and move as
little as possible to make a natural course."
REVIEW: GLAZE MEADOW COURSE - The opening hole is a wonderful, downhill, dogleg
right par-4, which is a stark contrast to the initial start that was designed
by Gene Mason in 1982. When the course was first designed, Mason crafted a
double-dogleg par-5 with trees in the middle of the fairway. Many commented
that the first hole at Glaze Meadow was the worst opening hole in Oregon. That
is no longer the case, as the opener is a solid par-4. With tall Ponderosa
pines guarding both sides of the fairway, you'll need just a 3-metal to
navigate the landing area. Avoid the left side bunker and you're home free with
an easy approach to a very long and canted (back to front) putting surface. One
word of caution - do not miss long, as a steep slope will propel your shot
toward trouble. The first ranks as the third-most difficult on the course.
Thanks a lot.
Not only was the first hole changed dramatically, but the second was replaced
with a robust par-5. From an elevated tee, No. 2 bends slightly to the left and
features a fairway bunker down the right and a forest of trees to the left.
Your layup is where this hole becomes tricky, as sand guards the right once
again as the landing area narrows. If successful, this will leave just a
short pitch to a long, elevated and narrow putting surface. Sand protects both
the right and left front portion of the green, so make sure you take enough
club for your approach.
No. 3 is a great risk-reward par-4 of just 319 yards. Water runs along the
entire right side of the hole and tightens significantly at the 100-yard
mark. Decisions, decisions, decisions. The sensible play is just a fairway
metal to the fat part of the landing area, leaving a sand wedge to get close.
The fun aspect is to take driver and smack a high cut toward the left,
greenside bunker. Worse case scenario, it leeks and you end up wet, but you can
still get up and down for par. Best case, you knock it on the green and you're
putting for eagle.
The fourth hole is just 411 yards from the back markers, but the real decision
will be about how much of the dogleg right you want to cut off. From the tips,
you'll need to blast a 256-yard tee ball to clear the water hazard. If you play
away to the left, then you run the risk of running through the fairway and
either into the bunker or the thick rough. A short iron should remain to a
slightly elevated putting surface that runs from back to front with sand left.
Miss right and you run the risk of ending up in a steep, 20-foot dropoff.
The first par-3 on the course is the fifth at just 164 yards. Pretty
straightforward with a wide landing area; however, the putting surface is just
31 paces in depth with sand on the right. Oh, and by the way, miss long and
you'll end up in the pond that runs extremely close to the green. Listen
intently to the babbling brook that meanders down the left side and cuts in
front of the tee box. The sounds of serenity are throughout the course.
One of the most difficult holes on the course, the sixth reaches 452 yards in
length. A sweeping draw is best of the tee, as the hole bends to the left.
Avoid the fairway bunker down the right and you might be able to reach the
green. Trees guard the entire right and left side of the fairway, so accuracy
is keen. A mid- to long iron will remain to a very difficult green to hit. A
bunker down the left side is well short of the putting surface, but very much
in play, while the right trap fronts half of the green. The roundish green is
fairly benign, but tricky in the rear portion. A par here goes along way on the
It certainly is possible for the big hitters to get home in two on the par-5
seventh, but realistically, this is a three-shotter. Just 525 yards in length,
this hole bends sharply to the left from the tee, so a solid right to left play
is required. Miss right and you're out of bounds, while left might find trees
or the nasty fairway bunker at the corner of the dogleg. A successful tee shot
can leave less than 250 yards, but your approach is straight uphill toward the
green, so a layup is the smart choice. Two traps guard the layup zone, so be
wary, but a bold play can set up a simple pitch. The green, which sits well
above the fairway, is one of the smallest on the course at just 26 paces in
depth, but it can be had. If you get a chance, take a look back down the
fairway and gaze at Black Butte mountain. What a site!
Slightly longer than the first par-3 on the course, the eighth plays just a bit
downhill from the tee box. Trees in the rear of the green were removed to bring
in more air flow to the hole, not to mention bring out the natural beauty of
the rock formations in the rear hillside. The 36-paced Redan-styled green
slopes from left to right and back to front, making club selection and
placement critical. A back-left flag will create incredible consternation, as
the surface falls off to the left. Avoid the bunker, short and left of the
green, as it sits well below the putting surface.
The outward nine closes with a short, but uphill, dogleg right par-4. Just 380
yards in length, No. 9 requires a pinpoint tee ball, as trees and sand guard
the right and slope protects the left. Cut your tee shot over the left corner
of the bunker and you'll leave just a short iron approach. However, run through
the fairway and you'll have an incredibly awkward second. The undulating
fairway will produce a uneven lie and you'll need to take an extra stick to
compensate for the elevation. The green is circular and just 30 paces in depth,
but make sure you stay below the hole for your best shot at par.
A par-5 greets the players on the start of the back nine, this time bending to
the right and reaching 549 yards in length. The old, Jack Nicklaus power fade
is the play off the tee, avoiding the bunker down the left and, of course, the
tall trees down the right. A small bunker stands guard at the 100-yard spot, so
avoid at all costs to give yourself the best chance at birdie. The putting
surface is slightly elevated and requires a deft touch with a back-left pin.
Take dead aim with a short club in hand, but always remember, par is a good
The longest par-3 on the course, the 11th can be stretched to almost 200
yards and plays uphill from tee to green. Two wide and extremely deep bunkers
guard the left portion of the putting surface, so make sure you have enough
stick to get home. Although the green is just 32 paces in depth, it is
extremely wide and slick from back to front. Missing on the safe side when the
pin is left will most definitely bring a three-putt into play, but better safe
There is no question that the par-5 12th is one of the longest holes in the
region, as it reaches a whopping 612 yards from the black markers. From the
tips, you need to crank a 260-yard sweeping draw to cover the corner of the
bunkered dogleg. The sensible play is a layup just short of the right fairway
bunker, leaving another 100-yard play to the angled green. Not the biggest of
targets, but certainly one in which you can get close. It comes as no surprise
that this is the hardest hole on the back side.
As you stand on the 13th tee, you go from the longest par-5 to the longest
par-4 on Glaze Meadow. Although fairly straight in stature, this 483-yard
behemoth, sports two fairway bunkers, strategically placed on the left (212
yards to clear) and on the right (250 yards to clear). The place of the second
bunker pinches the fairway, making it that much harder to hit. Bunkers front
and rear make for a tough approach, especially when the pin is back right.
Despite playing slightly downhill, a long iron approach will be hard to hold
and the fall off right is quite severe. Good luck!
The simplest of the par-3s, the 14th is as straightforward as they get. Just
158 yards in length, four bunkers adorn the left and right sides. The
difficulty of this hole is that the green is long and narrow with a rise in the
center. Club choice is of utmost importance in an effort to make a three.
Remember, below the hole for birdie.
The final par-5 on the course is certainly no gimme, as the 15th sweeps hard
from left to right. The tee shot is quite taxing, as a fairway bunker on the
far side of the dogleg sees plenty of action. As the landing area rises for
your second shot, it also narrows, putting extra pressure on your layup.
Although your third will be a short one, the green is very shallow, just 28
paces in depth. Sand protects a left portion of the putting surface, the most
difficult side on the green, as it slopes severely left. And you thought you
were going to make a birdie.
If you thought the pines were thinned out, you won't think so as you reach the
16th hole. Bending to the left, this dogleg of 440 yards is cut through the
thickest portion of Ponderosa's on the course. Bunkers left and right frame the
fairway, and you'll need to favor the right side of the landing area for your
best angle to the green. The putting surface is accessible, but miss on either
side and the fall off is quite severe. A double-bogey waiting to happen.
The 17th hole is the final par-3 on the course, and although it stretches to
191 yards, it plays downhill from the tee box. Bunkers on either side of the
putting surface pinch in the front section of the green. As long as you clear
the front trouble, a par should fill your scorecard.
The closing hole on the Glaze Meadow layout features an uphill tee shot to a
well-protected fairway. Bunkers on either side of the dogleg right par-4 must
be avoided. There is more room to the left, but this will leave a longer
approach to the green. Your second shot will play ever so slightly downhill to
a putting surface sandwiched by sand. Stay focused as the sight of Black Butte
mountain is in full view.
BIG MEADOW COURSE - No. 1 on the Big Meadow layout is a solid starter,
doglegging to the left and just 385 yards from the tips. Having said that,
you'll still need to place your tee shot in the proper location, otherwise a
longer approach will be required. The large fairway bunker down the left side
is to be avoided at all costs, as this will set up a short iron to a small
target of just 29 paces in length. Sand short is no bargain, so bail left if
you must. The green falls away to the right, so be careful not to leak.
The second hole is, simply put, a birdie hole. Just 365 yards in length, it
features a very wide fairway, so driver or three-metal will leave a short iron
to a long, but narrow putting surface. The key here is to avoid the right,
fairway bunker at the 250-yard mark and you're home free.
No. 3 is a fairly, straightforward par-5. The landing area off the tee is
generous and devoid of sand, but the tree-lined fairway tightens your visual
feel of the hole. The large bunker down the left side of the layup area is a
key attribute of this hole, as it comes into play at the 150-yard mark. Play
down the right side to avoid, as this will leave a simple pitch to a very
accessible green. Although just 29 paces in depth, the surface is wide open in
front and can be had. The real trouble is deep, but should not come into play.
The first par-3 on the course is the fourth, a wonderful, uphill gem that
generally plays into the wind. Take an extra stick or two, otherwise you're
certain to end up in the fronting bunkers, which sit well below the putting
surface. The green is quite wide, but very shallow, so club selection is
The second-longest par-4 on Big Meadow, the fifth bends slightly to the left
and reaches 427 yards from the tips. A gentle draw off the tee is the play,
leaving a mid-iron to another minuscule green. Any approach on the putting
surface will yield a birdie attempt, but misfire and two bunkers, one on each
side, will gather your errant play.
No. 6 is the longest par-4 on the course, reaching 439 yards from the back
markers. Bending hard to the left, the tee shot must avoid the 40-yard bunker
guarding the left side, as to set up a reasonable mid-iron to a small and
slightly elevated green. The tree-lined fairways will narrow your view, but
stay focused to mark par. The right greenside trap makes for a difficult up and
The longest hole on the course is the par-5 seventh, a robust 583 yards and
bending to the left off the tee. There are no bunkers in play off the tee;
however, a straight tee ball can run through the fairway, making your layup a
little difficult. Not only does the landing area bunker at the 100-yard spot
tighten the fairway, but the trees and out-of-bounds right are no picnic,
either. With a successful layup, just a gap wedge should suffice, as you attack
the flag. Although rated the hardest hole on the course, this is birdie time.
I'm always amazed that par-3s are ranked as the easiest on the course. This
should not be the case, especially on the eighth. Not only is this the longest
one-shotter on the course, but it stretches to 243 yards and has the longest
green at 36 paces in depth. The putting surface runs from back to front and
features a bunker on either side, so not only is length important, but accuracy
as well. It's hardly the 15th-hardest hole at Big Meadow.
The outward nine finishes with a great, dogleg right, deceptive par-4. Just 396
yards in length, the visual aesthetics is what might throw you off. From the
tee, the player can mostly see sand and more sand covering the dogleg, but
don't be fooled, as a wide swath of fairway sits well beyond the traps. You'll
still need to bust a driver around 240 yards in the air to cover the sand, but
there is plenty of bailout left for those less powerful. Having been
successful, you'll have just a short iron left to a very undulating putting
surface that slides in several directions.
A wonderful, risk-reward par-5 starts the backside at Big Meadow. Bending hard
to the right, you'll be enticed to cut the corner, but beware the out-of-bounds
and the severe mounding on the right. The prudent play is a powerfade at the
fairway bunker in the distance, setting up a reasonable shot at the green in
two. The landing area for your next shot is generous, but be leery of the
crossing bunker around the 100-yard mark. From there, just a simple pitch to a
very long, but narrow, kidney-shaped green. This is the first of three of the
hardest holes on the back nine, but it can be had.
One of the best views at Black Butte Ranch comes in the form of the 11th tee
box, as the Three Sisters peaks is in full view. Although just 409 yards in
length, this par-4 has two key ingredients: avoid the right fairway bunker
and stay below the hole on your approach. A three-metal off the tee will place
you short of the bunker, but will leave a little longer approach. The putting
surface is fairly benign, unless you underclub your second shot.
The second-most difficult hole on the course, and rightfully so is the par-4
12th. Although just 379 yards long, this tough dogleg left requires extreme
accuracy off the tee, as the fairway rolls away and to the right. Next comes
the approach, which is straight uphill, some 30 feet, to a very long and
extremely quick putting surface. Any approach above the hole will most likely
result in a three-putt, unless the speed is judged to perfection. Pascuzzo and
Co. made several changes on this hole. "Originally, players could both fade
and draw the ball off of the tee," he said, "but over the years the trees grew
to the extent that a draw was the only play. We did as much tree clearing as we
could to open the views back up, create alternate lines of attack and create
room for tee expansion."
Another reason why a par-3 should not be rated as an easy hole is the 13th.
Playing uphill from tee to green, this 185-yarder requires at least one extra
club or maybe two, depending upon the wind. The most-difficult aspect of this
hole might be the putting surface, which features two tiers, falls off sharply
on the right and is as narrow as a women's waist. Good luck making three here.
You'll be hard-pressed to find a more picturesque spot than the 14th tee box,
with Three Fingered Jack as a backdrop. The stunning site is as good as it gets
and the par-4 is not too shabby, either. From an extremely elevated tee, the
player has two choices on this 401-yard hole: Take driver to cover the bunkers
down the left or lay back with a fairway metal to the right side of the
fairway. Either way, a successful tee shot will be rewarded with a short to
medium iron to a decent-sized target. The putting surface is guarded in front
by two traps and right and rear by another two, so bail out left if you must.
Be careful not to stray to far right off the tee, as thick rough and OB await.
Without a doubt, the 15th hole has to be my favorite at Big Meadow, and it has
nothing to do with the characteristics. The fact of the matter, I holed my
second shot from 100 yards out for an eagle and screamed like a little child.
Why not? Not quite as exciting as the birth of the my son, but really, really
close. In a word, this par-4 is fun. Just 349 yards from the tips, you'll need
a slight draw to negotiate the fairly tight landing area, as trees adorn both
sides. Your approach will be just a short wedge to a slightly elevated green
with three massive fronting bunkers. The green is just 22 paces in depth, but
quite wide, so distance control is key.
Another wonderful risk-reward hole at Big Meadow is the par-5 16th. Just 514
yards in length, this hole double-doglegs through the trees in an s-shaped
pattern. A sweeping draw is required off the tee, but make sure you avoid the
right fairway bunker and hug the left side, as trees will partially block your
second shot on the right. A fairway metal should enable the player to get home
in two, just avoid the bunkers - left, right and rear - and your home free. If
you miss the fairway off the tee, you'll have to contend with a crossing bunker
at the 120-yard mark, which juts out on the right. This hole is probably your
last real chance at birdie.
The easiest hole on the course is the par-3 17th ... not. From the back
markers, it's 234 yards and can reach as much as 250 with a back pin placement,
so easy, it's not. A fairway metal will get you home, but the 34-yard long
putting surface is the real issue. Sand on either side of the narrow green gets
plenty of action, so realistically, the best play is short of the green and
chip up for par. If only I would listen to my own advice.
No. 18 is an sensational finishing hole which bends to the right and stretches
413 yards. A massive bunker complex encompasses the right corner, so a blast of
over 270 yards will be needed to reach the fairway. Most mortals will play
toward the left side of the landing area, but this will set up a longer
approach to the green. Water down the left is in play, but rarely reached off
the tee. A mid-iron remains to a very long, but narrow putting surface. Bunkers
on either side will pinch your line, but you should be able to negotiate the
trouble from 160 yards out. The green is undulating, so stay below the hole if
FINAL WORD: Black Butte Ranch is certainly not going to compete with that other
Oregon golf resort on the coast that features 85 holes of Pacific Ocean golf.
What Black Butte Ranch is going to do is give the golfer and outdoor sports
enthusiast a place to hang his or her hat and enjoy the spoils of life. No
pressure, just peace and serenity.
What many people don't realize is that Central Oregon has been rated by Golf
Digest as one of the 50 greatest golf destinations in the world, and Black
Butte Ranch sits smack dab right in the middle.
During the summer, golf is most definitely the focal point, with 36 sensational
holes of golf, as the playing season runs from late April through October.
But it's the other amazing intangibles that make Black Butte Ranch a must
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.
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.
Black Butte Ranch features 1,251 homes, with 350 in the rental program. They
offer terrific stay and play packages, like four rounds of golf and lodging
for four nights for just $255. If you need just a day away, how about a round
of golf and dinner for $69. I'm not kidding.
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
Black Butte Ranch functions like any traditional resort, but is highly
seasonal and that's what makes it a must visit. Can you imagine what central
Oregon and the Cascade mountains are like in the winter?
When all is said and done, golf is but a small segment of Black Butte Ranch,
but certainly a focal point.
The two courses have been brought into the 21st century, with the wonderful
restoration and renovations by John Fought and Damian Pascuzzo.
Magnificently maintained, Big Meadow and Glaze Meadow are sure to find their
way back into the state and national rankings.
With a variety of tee boxes and varying layouts, both golf courses bring quite
a challenge to the single-digit player, as well as an enjoyable round to the
You could never tire from golf in the Northwest, especially at Black Butte
Ranch, a golfer and sportsman's paradise.