Tetherow Golf Club, in Bend, OR, is a conceptually unique and spectacular golf experience in no danger of replication. Designed by David McLay Kidd, Tetherow is a new venue and an unprecedented union between authentic Scottish-style links and the natural beauty of Oregon’s high desert. Seemingly implanted from the rain-filled, low-lying ‘birthplace’ of golf, to the arid and mountainous backyard of the Northwest, opposites attract as the contrast between the course and its setting combine in awesome fashion. Instead of rolling green hills or coastline, like one might see in Scotland or Bandon, Tetherow offers sights of neighboring foothills and snow-capped Cascadian peaks, as well as tall pines, dead trees and colors of varying desert rock and plant life. Surrounding scenery is only half of it, as the course provides amusing features uncommon to most courses, including other links-style layouts. Despite the coined “cover girl” of Tetherow, the sand-laden canyon of the Par 3 17th, nearly every hole makes a case for signature status. For non-members, a forecaddie must assist in course navigation, and the services are useful for this deceiving and challenging test of golf. Coupled with understandably premium green fees, this course is geared toward the experienced and/or privileged to afford. And a privilege it is, as there is truly no other golf experience like Tetherow.
Tetherow’s desert highland setting and extreme links features provides a collective sense of mystique. It is accurately self-described with terms such as knobs, knolls and ragged bunkers. And perhaps, it’s most known for its severely undulated putting surfaces of fescue grass. The course is generously spread out and provides a new spectacle at every tee. Many holes require sizable carries to reach fairways that are often illusory from the tee or are centrally plotted with earth mounds. These obstacles, known as hillocks, are overgrown with wild grass and plants. Out of bounds and lateral drop zones exist in the form of desert wetlands and brush. The elements of the course notably blend together, with fewer lines of distinction than normal. For example, fairways gradually transition to greens with an absence of a fringe cut. And bunker sand often spills out into the rough, unlike traditional traps with a clean, edged entry. The greens at Tetherow are heavily guarded by sand and sometimes water, and are difficult to hit due to deceiving approach angles and intense sloping. Their contour will have the final say on shot results. Furthermore, fescue grass is a very rare feature, and can be especially tricky to putt on. Factor in firm surfaces, and working the greens is clearly the biggest challenge. But from tee to green, Tetherow will demand your attention and frequent inquiries to your forecaddie. Regardless of your score or quality of play, Tetherow is to be enjoyed as a world class golf course, and an exceptional experience.