Joking cries of “fore!” punctuate the convivial chatter, clinking glasses, and thwacking clubs at Beyond Golf Sports & Spirits, a full-service bar dotted with indoor golf simulators. From all sides of the bar, the simulators emit the glow of famous ocean, desert, and mountainside courses from around the world, including Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill. The links come to life thanks to high-resolution photographs and GPS technology, and the simulators track drives accurately to within 1 yard. Though staffers stockpile a variety of clubs and putters, golfers may bring their own clubs or a collection of mannequin legs from home. Since players needn’t worry about chasing down balls, they can focus on improving their game with the help of the simulator’s swing breakdown, which targets the strengths and weaknesses of each player’s stance, arc, and swing.
The 18 wide fairways at Papio Greens Golf Center stretch toward smooth, par 3 greens designed to be manageable and challenging for both beginner and advanced players. Groundskeepers and staff have styled the complex as a place where families can take to the links together. Young golfers can be found preparing for their upcoming junior-league tournaments on the facility's water driving range, and adult players await their tee time by rehearsing bunker chips on the nearby practice green. Certified teaching pro Mike DeBoer teaches onsite clinics and private lessons that help beginners sharpen their swings and cut down on balls lost to the water hazards and intergalactic wormhole framing the course. Night or day, players can practice their putting beneath the lights that illuminate 36 holes of miniature golf.
Elkhorn Ridge Golf Course’s nine-hole, par 3 layout provides a forgiving environment for beginners just taking up the sport and more seasoned players looking to polish their short-game finesse. Holes range from as short as the 95-yard fifth hole to as lengthy as the 173-yard seventh hole, the toughest on the course. Adding up to 1,203 yards overall, the course places a premium on iron accuracy as players bombard the greens and pins from a single set of tees.
Indian Creek Golf Course's layout snakes through the Hood River Valley between a network of sprawling orchards and wineries with panoramic views of Mount Hood and Mount Adams creating a dramatic backdrop. Water comes into play on 11 holes, including three creeks that bisect fairways to disrupt play and tempt players to take fairway naps to the melodic babbling of their playing partners. On the par 5 fourth hole, precision is paramount, as the dogleg right is entirely fortified by water to the right and the small, narrow green make short putts strenuous with hard-to-read-breaks.
Indian Creek Golf Course won an Environmental Excellence award from Audubon International for its efforts in areas of wildlife and habitat management, chemical-use reduction, and water-quality management. The course and its surrounding land act as a sanctuary to a variety of wildlife, including several species of caddies now endangered because rampant cart use. Course at a Glance: