Pronghorn Golf Club (Nicklaus and Fazio courses)Golf Course Review by: Bill Satterfield
Designer: Jack Nicklaus in 2004 and Tom Fazio in 2006
Cost: Private Club
Phone Number: (541) 696-5375
Course Website: Official Website - Visit The Pronghorn Golf Club's official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - 65600 Pronghorn Club Dr., Bend, Oregon
Photos: See additional photos of Pronghorn Golf Club (Nicklaus) as well as photos of Pronghorn Golf Club (Fazio)
Accolades: The Nicklaus course is ranked 28th on Golf Digest's 2013-14 Top 100 Greatest Public Courses in America and 6th in state of Oregon. Was also voted 2nd "Best New Private Course" in 2004. The Fazio course is ranked 7th on Golf Digest's 2013-14 Best in State list for Oregon and was voted 4th "Best New Private Course" in 2007.
What to Expect: Most everyone would love to play on a perfectly groomed golf course every time they teed it up. Unfortunately, the financial reality of that isn't possible for the vast majority of golf courses out there; the exception to that rule is the Pronghorn Golf Club. The course conditioning at both Pronghorn courses is simply stunning and I actually found myself at times thinking, "Is this grass real?" You bet it is real, and there isn't a blade of grass that is neglected. These fabulous conditions and wonderfully designed golf holes at Pronghorn are found in a remote 640 acre high desert location outside of Bend, Oregon on ground that was aquired from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The terrain affords lava rock outcroppings that are brilliantly incorportated throughout the design as well as signature views of Mount Bachelor, Broken Top, and Three Sisters volcanoes. The Fazio course offers more eye candy and adapts to all skill levels better, while the Nicklaus course delivers a stouter test of golf and a greater variety of challenges. In the end, they are both fantastic courses and offer an experience you won't soon forget. (To my knowledge, only Carlton Woods located north of Houston and the Pronghorn Club have the distinction of each offering a Nicklaus course and Fazio course at their club.)
Signature Hole: 8th (Fazio) - 187 Yard Par 3 - Sadly, when you play as many great courses as the Gurus have you can begin to get a bit callused to good golf holes/courses as you see similar designs and features at different destinations. As a result, in can be difficult to find a hole or course that provides a big "wow" factor or offers something totally new. Well, we were lucky enough to get smacked with a serious "wow" factor when we stepped onto the tee of Fazio's 8th hole at Pronghorn. It is gorgeous, new, and totally unforgetable. With 25 foot walls surrounding the green and a lava tube beneth the hole, there is no other golf hole like this anywhere. Refer to the "Best Par 3" section below for more on how this hole was discovered.
Runner up: 13th (Nicklaus) - 378 yard Par 4 - In the middle of a fantastic stretch of holes is the par four 13th hole. Featuring a lake along the entire right side of the hole, the tee shot is played left of the hazard in an attempt to avoid the pot bunker 265 yards away and resting in the middle of the fairway. The challenging approach shot goes due west to a beautiful green site that features a white sand bunker acting as a buffer behind the green. Behind the green is an impressive rock wall boasting a waterfall that cascades back into the lake; picture worthy to say the least.
By the Numbers:
Individual Hole Analysis
Best Par 3: 8th (Fazio) - 187 yards - As was the case with Black Rock's 11th hole, Pronghorn's (Fazio) 8th was discovered by accident after the dynamite finished its work. When the desert between the tee and green was dynamited to create a chasm, a petrified lava tube was discovered by the construction crew. Two caves travel deep into the darkness with one path stretching over 1/2 mile before a lava wall ends the journey. The lava rock walls framing hole are dramatic and the setting is unforgettable which lands this par three as the best on the course, and maybe in the whole state.
Runner up: 7th (Nicklaus) - 187 yards - The left side of the green at Nicklaus' 7th hole would qualify as one of the best sleding hills my kids have ever encountered. Cut very tight and very difficult to judge distance with a putter, the left side of the green nearly guarantees a bogey while the right side of the green is protected by a bunker.
Best Par 4: 12th (Nicklaus) - 342 yards - While Nicklaus is often known for his demanding holes, this short par four reveals one of his best creations at Pronghorn. This attractive hole features a large landing area short off the tee before narrowing down to nearly a sliver as it is pinched by a bunker and trees. Beyond the tight strip of fairway the hole again opens up to a huge landing area that begs players to pull out their driver and take a rip at hitting this inviting approach zone. The approach shot plays to a raised green that is fronted by a large bunker and trees thus putting a premium on accuracy to score well.
Runner up: 6th (Fazio) - 423 yards - A water hazard travels from the front of the tee all the way up to the right side of the gree, splitting the fairway along the way on Fazio's 6th hole. The longest of hitters can take a crack at carrying their tee shot 300 yards in the air to the fairway on the left and thus leaving themselves with an excellent approach at the green a probably a birdie.
Best Par 5: 15th (Nicklaus) - 543 yards - The other signature hole of the Nicklaus course is the 15th, a 543 yard five par. One of Nicklaus' favorite holes, Jack referred to the course with the little knobs and outcroppings prevelant on the 15 as "Pine Valley West." Pretty stout comparison since Pine Valley is often referred to as the best golf course in the world. The 15th at Pronghorn is simply fantasic with the look and number of outcroppings that shape and characterize this uphill hole. The final prize to this par five is the unobstructed mountain views of Three Sisters; a treasure of a hole to be sure.
Runner up: 18th (Fazio) - 566 yards - The home hole at the Fazio course is visually stunning with the rugged bunkers, clear lake, and gorgeous clubhouse setting the scene for this downhill five par. While difficult to reach in two, lady luck was with me as I ripped a low, drawing 3 wood that snuck around the green side bunker on the right and nestled to within five feet of the hole before I converted the eagle putt. Ahh, if only it could happen more often as a gorgeous course like Pronghorn.
Birdie Time: 14th (Fazio) - 312 yards - Short par fours often provide an opportunity for birdie, but one that plays downwind to the prevailing summer winds increases the odds even more. Well, that is exactly what you get when you tee it up on the 312 yard par 4 14th hole on the Fazio course. Featuring a deep green (56 yards), plenty of room is given to fly the ball 250 yards to carry the fairway bunker and run the ball up on or near the green. With the tight, firm conditions and a slightly elevated tee, special attention needs to be given on where to land the ball when the playing downwind given that the ball will run out plenty. When all is said and done though, this is a fantastic opportunity to go under par on a course that doesn't give a lot of strokes back.
Runner up: 4th (Nicklaus) - 331 yards - The short and inviting 4th hole on the Nicklaus course is a great opportunity to score a birdie in the middle of a very difficult stretch of holes. Little carry is needed to find the open fairway that features a tree as its lone defense. The approach shot will find a pair of bunkers protecting the green but the left third of the putting surface is wide open which open the door to chasing a drive up onto the green or skipping in an approach.
Bogey Beware: 6th (Nicklaus) - 511 yards - With a rating and slope of 75.4/144, the Nicklaus course delivers plenty of opportunities to mark a bogey on your card, but none more difficult than the 511 yard par four 6th. If playing uphill into the prevailing summer wind wasn't enough, a large knob and three pot bunkers in front of the green create a blind approach shot to this fairly circular green. You'll have to be long and accurate to reach this green in two, but more than likely you'll have to utilize your short game skills to get 'up and down' if you're going to avoid a bogey here.
Runner up: 15th (Fazio) - 515 yards - From the back tee players are faced with a semi-blind tee shot to the longest par four on the course. The fairway tilts slightly to the left and features an uphill approach shot to a green that is fronted by a shortly shaved chipping area. Trees line the fairway and the green is angled at 45 degrees thus making a high fade the ideal ball flight on the approach. Bottom line, the 15th is a long beast that will produce more bogeys than pars every day of the week.
Final Cut: Grade A-
Flyover Tour (Nicklaus course):
Final Cut: Grade A-
Flyover Tour (Fazio course):