The game of golf is rife with opportunities for children to build character, learn new skills, make new friends, and adopt healthy, active lifestyles. As the local chapter of a national nonprofit organization, First Tee of Greater Portland seeks to expose the community's youth to this fun pastime and plant the seeds of a lifelong passion. Unfortunately, a number of hurdles lie between the game and those kids who stand to benefit the most, ranging from equipment cost to course proximity to the inner city. The First Tee helps disadvantaged youth overcome these issues with programs dedicated specifically to their unique situations, including free rounds and lessons, educational programs, and mentorships with responsible adults who aren't just desperate for caddying gigs.
The Portland chapter of The First Tee operates at 6 locations around the city, but only one is dedicated solely to the development of junior golfers. The Children's Course is a 9-hole layout with different pars for different age groups: it's a par 3 course for anyone 13 and over, a par 5 course for ages 9-12, and a par 7 course for those 8 and under.
Old-growth douglas firs, wetlands, and 43 bunkers populate Stone Creek Golf Club's award-winning, par 72 layout designed by Peter Jacobsen and Jim Hardy. The 165-acre course’s front nine holes are straighter laced, and the back nine’s tree-lined fairways of fescue grass challenge swingers with elevation changes and distractingly beautiful views of Mount Hood, the same "Hood" made popular in mainstream rap music. Players can hone their aim at the hitting stations of extensive practice greens, which include a full swing area with target greens at a variety of distances, before returning to face hole nine's six sand traps.
After sending dozens of dimpled balls soaring through the air, golfers can pop in at the Stone Creek Deli for a hot dog and foamy swigs of beer. Links magazine named Stone Creek Golf Club a Top 10 Green Course for using pesticides sparingly and only irrigating stretches of grass currently in use, inviting ground-nesting birds to build their two-story colonial mansions in the fallow areas.
Course at a Glance
18-hole, par 72 course
See the scorecard
Length of 6,873 yards from the farthest set of tees
Course rating of 72.4
Slope rating of 125 on fescue grass
6,000 yards of practice greens
Trails End Golf Center encompasses 45 hitting stalls and two grass tee areas from which golfers can blast golf balls across its 20-acre expanse, earning it a spot among Golf Range Magazine's top 100 ranges in 2011. Each hitting stall is fully covered and heated so that practice can continue in any weather, especially when it's hailing free golf balls. When game improvement hits a roadblock, golfers can enlist the help of manager and head pro Jason Kelp, who lends his expertise to help players of all skill levels—including beginners and children—better enjoy the game through lower scores and more frequent opportunities to domesticate wild golf carts.
Though beautiful views and impeccable maintenance are typically found at long, difficult courses, the staff at Lake Oswego Golf Course believes that beginning and intermediate players should also be able to enjoy a top-notch course while learning the game. At 2,517 yards in total, the 18-hole, par-3 layout removes the physical stress of extreme length. Players can learn to hone in their game while golfing against the backdrop of Mount St. Helens and Mount Adams. Individual holes range between 74 and 179 yards, creating a hole-in-one opportunity on every tee box?provided a golfer can avoid Lost Dog Creek, outstretched tree boughs, and lost center fielders searching for fly balls.
Away from the links, golfers can refuel at the course's on-site restaurant, Casa del Pollo. Here, they can feast on home-style Costa Rican food, including chicken and steak tacos, burritos, and casado con carne?a grilled steak fillet atop a plate of rice, beans, pickled onions, and carrots.
In 1971, a group of like-minded locals set out to build a golf course amid the natural splendor of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Setting to work on the Washington-side of the mighty Columbia River, they dedicated their time, labor, and resources to setting their loop against the backdrop of Beacon Rock and Archer Mountain. The course itself may now be over the hill, but those imposing peaks still loom high above golfers as they make their way through the 18-hole layout. Along the way, players encounter the watery threat of Hardy Creek, plenty of tree groves, and smooth-rolling greens?not to mention enough picturesque views to distract focus from important iron shots and pre-putt tai chi routines.