Big Meadow Golf Course, one of two golf courses located inside the 1,800 acre Black Butte Ranch Resort, is nestled among the rolling foothills of the Cascade Mountain range and is located seven miles west of Sisters, Oregon on Highway 20. Built in 1970, Big Meadow was the original golf course of Black Butte Ranch. Big Meadow Golf Course is not to be overlooked now that its neighbor Glaze Meadow, received its expansive makeover. The original Robert Muir Graves design received a touch-up of its own in 2008. A longtime Graves associate, Damian Pascuzzo, was able to modernize the original design while at the same time preserving its classic style. The golf course now plays anywhere from 5,500 to over 7,000 yards, giving golfers of all skill levels the option of 4 sets of tee boxes. From its opening over 40 years ago, the focus here has always been on a challenging golf course set amongst the natural beauty of the surrounding mountain range. Ponderosa Pines and Aspens tower along the fairways and the panoramic views rival any other course in Central Oregon.
The actual mountain views come more frequently on Big Meadow than on Glaze, none more impressive than on the signature 14th hole and its elevated tee box. Although the natural beauty of the landscape is enough to attract Northwest golfers, the recent focus on high quality golf has led Black Butte to make many improvements to the condition and maintenance of both courses. The quality of the fairways, rough and greens at Big Meadow Golf Course play well enough for even the most serious golfers. The original high faced and strategically placed bunkers appear on every hole and are lined with first class sand. The greens here demand that you pay close attention in order to score well, the quality is very good, although a few of them have severe slopes. A couple of short par 4’s on the back nine require some local knowledge in order to take advantage of. A yardage book is a great investment for first time players. For the most part the holes are laid out for you off the tee. Big Meadow is plenty long and most holes require the use of driver off the tee, but where you must land those tee shots in order to score well has for the most part already been predetermined by the courses layout. As long as you are more focused on accuracy rather than length as well as avoiding the trees and bunkers that come into play on every hole, you will be in great shape to enjoy this beautiful golf experience.
Playing Big Meadow at Black Butte Ranch
Although many of the holes at Big Meadow feature their own characteristics as well as unique challenges, pay attention to the tee shot on the Par 4 1st hole as you will be asked to re-play this tee shot throughout the day. The trees here are much more sparse than the rest of the course, but still, your primary goal should be to keep your ball straight enough to avoid them. Your landing area in the fairway is also drastically shrunk by two large fairway bunkers. The fairway bunkers on this course are certainly not just for looks. They are set up to be in play for most golfers. In order to be successful at Big Meadow, you will need the confidence to place tee shots in the fairway right next to most of these bunkers. The green side bunkers, which also come into play on every hole, are more so to collect poor shots. Golfers can use the greenside bunkers at Big Meadow as a guide on how and where to hit their approach shots. What changes on each hole is the yardage to these safe landing areas, so being prepared with either a yardage book or course experience is a must.
On the front nine the two par 5’s are long and even though the tee shots appear harmless with no bunkers in the landing areas, these shots are tight and keeping the ball in the fairway is more important than distance. Both Par 3’s on the front are beautifully maintained and protected by sand and elevation change. Distance control is the key on these, find the right club for the pin locations and good shots will result in birdie putts. The back nine opens with a scenic and challenging Par 5, that does not reward anyone trying to reach in two. If you are looking for an eagle putt, the Par 5 16th is the place for long hitters to be aggressive. The 12th hole is best played with a 200-250 yard tee shot that has to find the fairway. The 12th and 13th holes also have the most challenging greens as far as slope. Play to below the hole on your approach and be cautious on long putts in order to two putt. The finish at Big Meadow can lead to good scores if you are playing well and finding fairways. 14, 15, 16 and 18 are all holes that can produce birdie chances as long as you are approaching the greens from the fairway.