After three days of being treated to some of the best and most beautiful golf central Oregon has to offer, I discovered a golf hole that trumps them all.
The par 4 13th on the Nicklaus Course at Pronghorn Golf Club is a sight to behold, a joy to play and shrine to Oregon golf at its dramatic best. And perhaps best of all, you get a 360-degree appreciation of this magnificent golf hole (more on that in a bit).
No. 13 is a short dogleg right par 4 played to green guarded by a pond on the right and a massive sand trap in the back. Truth be told, the trap is mostly scenery (you shouldn’t be in there) but it adds a visual accent to the hole akin to the how the beach complements the ocean. In fact, that’s what it looks like: Pronghorn Beach.
The tee shot with tail wind is played over the pond to a generous fairway with a fly-over pot bunker. The approach is the type of shot golfer’s live for.
With likely a wedge in hand, you’re looking at a shot that’s a feast for the golf senses. The backdrop is a massive rockwall with two waterfalls to the right filling a pond that should be taken mostly out of play with a decent drive. A sizeable green gives you ample room for a safe landing in regulation and a shot at a cherished birdie or par. (One caveat about my playing experience: We’ve had absolutely perfect weather; local rumor is that the wind can really blow here.)
A bit like No. 3 at Monarch Beach, the famed par-4 ocean hole, this is hardly the toughest hole on the course – and believe me, Tom Fazio gives you plenty of those – but it’s one you’ll never forget. But unlike No. 3 at Monarch, you get a preview and a post-view of No. 13 at Pronghorn.
You glimpse it for the first time passing by on the front nine – we could hear the excited golf banter on the tee (“Can I just build a house here?) – and then unexpectedly get to experience 13 again on the 18th tee, where you get a bird’s-eye view of the hole.
The view from 18 allows you to appreciate the creek that feeds the waterfalls and tempts you to pull a wedge and try the ultimate flop shot back to the 13th green. But alas, the tee shot on 18 awaits and a close to an extraordinary golf experience that is sure to give you an indelible impression of golf in central Oregon.