Pendleton CC can fool you
Tricky holes, long 5s make it a challenge
Founded in 1929 as a nine-hole course inside Pendleton’s city limits, Pendleton Country Club was relocated to its current cite between Pendleton and Pilot Rock in 1958. The current layout also started as a nine-hole course, but was expanded to 18 in 1986, when nine new holes were mixed in with those already in existence.
Today, the unpretentious country club draws the majority of its nearly 250 members from the two towns nearby, and allows daily fee access for golfers who reside outside of Umatilla County. Non-member golfers from within the country are also allowed a limited number of chances to play as a guest of the member.
The course, which was designed by members of the club, plays to a par of 72 and stretches from 5,483 to 6,432 yards, depending on which of the three sets of tee boxes one selects.
The opening hole is a 399-yard straightway, and rather non-descript, par-4 that plays slightly downhill and provides only a hint about the true nature of the course. Because the second is a short, and wonderfully entertaining par-5 that is easily reachable in two, but has a pond guarding the left side of the fairway and brings Birch Creek into play up near the smallish, tilted green.
The third hole is a difficult 435-yard par-4 capable of humbling the best of the big sticks. But anyone making a big number there has a chance to make amends at the fifth and seventh, which are two more reachable par 5s.
The back nine is a bit more challenging than the front and boasts the longest hole on the course – No. 15, which stretches 599 yards from the back tees and doglegs left around a stand of trees to a deep, but narrow, green protected on the front right by a bunker.
Two of the more interesting holes on the back nine are 13 and 16, which run parallel, but are separated by one of only two ponds on the course. No. 13 is a 344-yard par-4 that bends left around the pond and features a narrow fairway that is squeezed even more by a strategically placed bunker at the elbow of the dogleg. And No. 16 is 364-yard par-4 with a fairway that is also protected by water, and another well-positioned bunker, on the left.
The classic finishing hole is a 399-yard par-4 that plays uphill and offers a wonderful view off the clubhouse – framed by the trees that line both sides of the fairway – from the tee box.
The course, which offers terrific views of the nearby Blue Mountains, was remarkably green, considering the time of the year, and in splendid condition. Despite some recent rain, the fairways ran well, and the greens – which have some devilish undulations – putted fast and true.
Birch Creek, which is said to be little more than a trickle during the late summer months, was roaring on the day I played, and although it comes into play on only a couple of holes, it was nice to have an audible warning of its churning waters.