If you're in Eugene, Oregon this summer for the U.S. Women's Amateur, the Olympic Track & Field Trials or an Oregon Ducks game, make sure to play an excellent area golf course like Tokatee Diamond Woods or Emerald Valley.
EUGENE, Ore. - Nike Swooshes are abundant around Eugene, outnumbered perhaps only by bicyclists.
The birthplace of Nike and the Swoosh at the University of Oregon, Eugene is a liberal college town with a serious hankering for sports. It's among the nation's most biker-friendly cities, with 33 miles of bike paths, while also carrying a reputation as one of the West's more liberal populations.
Some of the top amateur sporting events will grace Eugene this summer. The Olympic Trials are June 27th through July 6th. The 2008 U.S. Women's Amateur will come to Eugene Country Club, a "Top 100" golf course in both Golfweek and Golf Digest, in August. (Eugene C.C. is private, but it allows limited reciprocal play for members of other clubs).
Like just about every corner of Oregon, they love outdoor activities here, including golf. The topography seems to change around every corner. While Eugene is set just above sea level in gently rolling terrain, the Cascade Mountains and skiing are just a short drive away.
Oregon's hottest golf spot, Bandon Dunes Resort, is less than a three-hour drive away, making it a popular hub to fly into before heading southwest to the links courses on the coast.
Golf courses in Eugene and Lane County
Eugene has the nation's largest golf shop: Fiddler's Green, a 13,000-square-foot golf mecca with 250 different sets of irons, over 1000 metal woods and putters and its own 18-hole executive course.
Around $50 will get you onto the best public golf courses in Lane County on the sunniest of summer weekends and leave change for a halfway house Pepsi and Snickers.
Tokatee Golf Course: Head out of town about 40 minutes along the Mackenzie River and you'll come to Tokatee, an area must-play for local golfers who savor the tall pines and views of the Sisters mountains.
"It's always our first choice if we have the time to come here," said Todd Sweeney, a Eugene resident. "It's more picturesque with the mountains, and the greens are nice and true."
A Ted Robinson design from 1966, Tokatee features a collection of both narrow, doglegging holes played through the trees, and more wide-open holes with expansive views of the mountains.
Peak season green fees: $42
Diamond Woods Golf Course: Located about 20 minutes outside town near Eugene's Airport, Diamond Woods is not easy to miss, and it's a gem of a course at a tremendous value.
The decade-old Diamond Woods is set in scenic countryside with a largely flat front nine, while the second nine plays higher up into the hillside and features some beautiful downhill tee shots and holes playing straight uphill to elevated greens, providing for tremendous shot variety.
Green fees: $45
Emerald Valley Golf Club: A classic parkland course set along the Willamette River, Emerald Valley has put a great deal of effort into a renovation project in the last several years to restore it to prominence in the area. It's plenty challenging for the modern player, home to the University of Oregon Duck Invitational.
Green fees: $45
Ocean Dunes Golf Links: Head west from Eugene and you'll find Ocean Dunes on the Oregon Coast Highway, playing just off the coast of the Pacific. It's a links-type golf course full of gorse and heather.
Green fees: $42
Where to stay in Eugene: Valley River Inn
The Valley River Inn (800-543-8266) is in the heart of Eugene, located across the street from the Valley River Shopping Center. But on the other side of the hotel are the scenic Willamette River and an outdoor pool and gardens, making for a quiet and scenic escape. It also has 24-hour recreation facilities with a fitness center, swimming pool, whirlpool and sauna.
The restaurant, Sweetwaters on the River, features a full menu of Pacific Northwest cuisine and a list of microbrews to choose from.