Tetherow Review

Texas Outside Rating: 9.7

Golf - Resort Private Course · 18 Holes · Par 72
Bend, OR
Website
· Stay & Play
Date Last Played: September 24, 2015

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Tetherow Review

Review & Rating of Tethrow Golf Course in Bend Oregon

Wow, where have you been all my life?  I love this course and need to find a way to take it back to Texas with me.  I enjoyed playing every hole and although it beat me up, I can't wait to play it again, and again, and again.  This review can't do the course justice, there is no easy way to describe in words the experience of playing Tetherow.

Designed by David McLay Kidd, the award winning architect of Bandon Dunes and Castle Course in Scotland, the 7298 Scottish links style layout offers everything that keeps me coming back to play this time consuming, expensive, and frustrating game.  It's:

  • very scenic with views of the Cascade mountain peaks, clear ponds, high mountain desert landscaping contrasting with the green fairways, and some beautiful mountain homes
  • it's extremely challenging with sloping and contoured fairways and heavily undulating and tiered greens
  • it's a shot makers course and requires a forecaddy or course knowledge to know where to play the ball
  • every hole is different from all the others and each hole will throw something at you to keep you focused on game
  • it requires excellent club selection and course management skills as well as a unique ability to read the greens
  • although it's very demanding, its fair and a blast to play

Tetherow takes advantage of the rugged high desert natural rolling and contoured terrain as well as the stunning panoramic views of the Cascade peaks, including Three Sisters and Broken Top.  Tetherow has been honored by nearly every major golf publication, for example: upon opening, Tetherow was ranked #1 as the Best New Course You Can Play in The Country by Golf Magazine and has since then received numerous other “Best New” Rankings from Golf Digest, Links Magazine, Golfweek, T&L Golf and the Robb Report. And in 2015 Tetherow was named in Golf Digest's “Top 100 Greatest Public Courses” and Golf Digest's Travel Editors placed Tetherow in it's 2015 ranking of the “Top 40 U.S. Public Courses.”

Part of why it's rated so high is because every hole is different and unique and challenging.  It's hard to pick a few holes to single out, but we found the following holes on the front nine to be outstanding:

  • #1 is a 400 yard par 4 that sets the stage for your round and some of what you can expect - an elevated tee box, an uphill fairway that's sloping and heavily contoured  with a huge tier down it's middle, knobs and mounds, natural and sand bunkers, and a big oblong severely undulating raised green with a long sand bunker on the right and another bunker on the backside
  • #2 is tough to describe - it requires a tricky tee shot left to the lower tier of the fairway with a much harder second shot through a chute/valley to the green or you can try to hit the upper tier without overrunning the fairway and avoiding the natural area on the right and knobs along the left - and your shot to the green needs to be accurate because its is surrounded by a bunker and a collection of hills and hummocks
  • here is Tetherow's description of #6 which is a 424 yard par 4 - the sixth hole is the true definition of a risk-reward hole - the conservative golfer lays up on the right side, leaving a long, blind shot into the green while an attempt to drive the ball down the left will leave an open shot into a undulating  green but the left fairway is tight with a bunkered ridge on the right.The slender fairway is defended by water on the left and a bunkered ridge on the right. Placement of the approach shot is key on this undulated green

The back nine at Tetherow has a different look and feel - it seems less rugged, some trees line several fairways and can come into play, there are some beautiful homes set way back overlooking the fairway, the conditions seem a little better, and all the holes are a blast to play.  Some of the holes we really liked included: 

  • #13 is a beautiful 588 yard par 5 with an elevated tee shot downhill along a narrow fairway with a second shot between a rock wall on the right side and a long skinny bunker on the left followed by a challenging approach shot to a green tucked into the left side of the fairway that forms a peninsula jutting out into the pond
  • #17 is a stunning 182 yard par 3 known as the  “Quarry Hole” - an elevated tee box with a shot into an old pumice quarry with a huge natural sand bunker (with three deer playing in it when we played) that you need to carry to get to the green - the key on this hole is to hit the tee shot long and left and use the grassed slope as a backboard to roll the ball back down the hill, onto the green, and close to the hole
  • on #18, which is a 588 yard par 5, you can relax, bring out the big dog and let it rip off the elevated tee box to a heavily contoured roller coaster uphill fairway - a relatively easy but long uphill hole with no bunkers and a benign green

The fairways at Tetherow are firm, wide to tight, heavily contoured, well bunkered, and loaded with mounds and knobs.  Miss the fairways and you're most likely lost in the native grass.  The fairways were in good condition when we played. 

The bunkers at Tetherow range from small to huge, flat to steep and deep, and the sand is light but shallow.  There are also several swales, collection areas, and natural sand bunkers to contend with.

The greens help define Tetherow - most are huge, heavily contoured with spines, tiers, and ridges and all have some kind of trouble if you miss them.  Three putts were common for me, even with the help of our forecaddy, primarily because I couldn't get close to pin on the approach and would typically have to putt through two or three breaks.  They were recovering from some fertilizer damage and had recently been punched, as such they weren't in the greatest shape.  The greens on the back were much better.  All of the greens were firm and running a little slow (thank God) at around 8 and a half. When they recover they will normally run around 10.

Forecaddies or playing with a member is required and if you're playing Tetherow for the first time you'll worship the value they will provide.  They will find your ball, give you yardages to the target and advise on where to hit the ball, rake the bunkers, find your ball, and most importantly help you with your putting by telling you where to aim.  In my case, Ryan our forecaddy was kept very busy - he spent a lot of time looking for my ball, raking the bunkers, and giving me advice, which at the time seemed very wrong to me.  For example, he would have me putt way left of where I thought I should go or hit a hill on the back left side of the green on the approach - sure enough the ball would roll straight toward the cup. 

Tetherow is an Audubon International Certified Signature Sanctuary; and was the first golf course in Oregon to achieve the certification.

Tetherow also offers GolfBoards, similar to a skate board, which have all wheel drive and two speeds - a new and fun way to experience golf.

Tetherow is one of the courses on the Central Oregon Golf Trail, which is loaded with some excellent courses and it’s one of the best golf trails we have played.  You can read our reviews of some of the other courses we played on the Central Oregon Golf Trail during our visit to Bend on Texas Outside’s Central Oregon Golf Trail Reviews Page.  And if you’re planning to visit Bend, be sure to check out the Visit Central Oregon Website with is loaded with information on golf and lots of other fun things to see and do in Central Oregon.

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Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Black 7,298 74.9 141
Gold 6,955 73.4 138
Blue 6,495 70.9 132
White 6,111 69.6 127
Red 5,342 70.9 133

Course Information

Course Architect:
David McLay Kidd
Greens Type:
Fescue
Greens Condition
8.0
Greens Difficulty
10.0
Fairway Condition
8.8
Bunker Condition
9.5
GPS:
No
Walkable:
Hilly
Course Map
Beware of water on 3 holes and the 42 sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

Overall Rating:
9.7 out of 10
Beauty:
9.6
Difficulty:
9.8
Variety:
10.0
Fun to Play:
10.0
Value:
9.2
Condition:
9.0
Front Nine Rating:
9.4
Back Nine Rating:
9.9
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The pro shop is well stocked, the bar and grill is fantastic and overlooks the course, the service is very good, and the practice facilities are great.

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Here's How Texas Outside Determines the Scorecard Rating

The Texas Outside rating scale ranges from 1 to 10 – a perfect 10 course would be something like this:  links along a cliff overlooking the Pacific ocean and bordered by tall trees; lush fairways on rolling hills with lots of natural hazards; water (which is crystal clear) on most of the holes; immaculate greens (but they are undulating and tough); lots of variety and character (each hole is completely different and includes blind shots, elevation changes, doglegs, and significant challenges); perfectly manicured traps with the whitest and prettiest sand you’ve ever seen; a nice club house with great food and a 19th hole; a GPS; plenty of beverage carts or your own cooler and ice; and it only costs $40 bucks! What this means is that you probably won’t find any 10s in Texas – try Cabo San Lucas, Pebble Beach, or some of the Hawaii courses! 
Texas Outside rates courses on the following:

  • Beauty – tall trees, rolling hills, beautiful houses, waterfalls, and similar stuff would score high; a 1 would be flat, bushes or cactus instead of trees, and some grass but mostly weeds
  • Difficulty – a straight, 300 yard par 4 with no traps or hazards, no out of bounds or water would probably get a 1; if it is a 460 yard par 4 over two ravines, with water along one side, natural hazards on the other, strategically placed traps or that dreaded tree right in the middle of the fairway, we are talking a 10. 
  • Variety – what would you give a course where all the holes looked and played exactly the same (“I thought we just played that hole!”); were side-by-side, which is good for finding or dodging other people’s balls, but not much fun; and you can see the flag from every tee box?  That’s right, it gets a 1.
  • Fun Scale – a 10 is where you walk off the course and say “now that was fun” and you can’t wait to get back, or you immediately turn around and play another 18 holes
  • Value – a 5 is $50 to $60, a 10 is $20 to $30, and 1 is $200 or so – of course all of this is dependent upon how you liked the course.  For example, if a run down, boring municipal course, with six players on each hole was only $10; it would still get a value rating of 1.
  • Condition – this one’s pretty easy – what condition are the fairways. A 10 commands very lush perfectly manicured fairways, compared to a 1, which has fire ants, weeds, and more dirt than grass!
  • Condition of Greens and Difficulty – very hard to read greens with lots of undulation and tough pin placement, rate very high on the difficulty scale.  Condition is self-explanatory.  

All of the above determines the overall score for the golf course.  In other words, we like courses that are pretty, fun, very challenging with a lot of variety, and fairways and greens in excellent condition – all for $40.  We also tend to play the courses that are affordable for the masses, which means in the $30 to $80 range. We rate hard and we haven’t found a 10 in Texas yet – don’t worry we haven’t given up and we’re still looking. 

 

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