EUGENE, Ore. - You're not going to stumble upon Diamond Woods Golf Course, located in Monroe outside of Eugene, by accident.
It's located about 20 minutes outside of Eugene in farm country. But that shouldn't stop you from checking out one of Lane County's overachieving, value-friendly plays that won't leave you disappointed.
Diamond Woods was built in 1997 by Greg Doyle on the outskirts of Eugene in Lane County. It's not flashy, with a modest clubhouse and a golf course that's more functional than brilliant, but it leaves little to be desired. Nestled near a hillside, which the back nine plays along side of, it's an understated course with modest facilities and a green fees, but it has become a local favorite - about 70 percent is local play - and a pleasant surprise to visitors to the area.
"There is a lot of variety here," said Jeff Doyle, general manager at Diamond Woods. "The front and back side are two entirely different nines and some prefer each."
The front nine is a suitable outward set of mostly lower-lying holes and more water hazards. This is the nine where you stand to lose your balls, with tricky holes like the par-4 second hole wrapping around water left or the very tight par-4 sixth hole
But it's the back nine that really makes Diamond Woods a cut above.
It begins on the sharp dogleg left 10th hole, where strategy off the tee is paramount. Another tester comes into play on the 11th - a tight par 4 with an elevated green perched over a stream in front. Elevated greens are a common theme on the backside here, most notably the straight uphill 16th hole.
Be sure to save a little juice for the 18th hole, Diamond Woods' longest at 617 yards from the championship tees (and a meaty 580 from the men's). It starts from an elevated tee and tumbles downhill before darting right and back up the hill toward a final elevated green.
Diamond Woods Golf Course: The verdict
For just $45 on peak season weekends, Diamond Woods is a real winner in the Eugene area. It's got the green fees of a muni course. (And the atmosphere, too. Blue jeans are plentiful here on cooler days.) But it has the layout of a championship venue.
It's the host to many prestigious local championships, including former Nationwide Tour qualifiers.
Like most golf courses around here, it's also very walker friendly, even though there are a few moderately steep hills. But tees and greens are close to each other, and the course maxes out at just over 6,900 yards.
Valley River Inn: Where to stay in Eugene
The Valley River Inn (valleyriverinn.com) is located right in the heart of Eugene, across the street from the Valley River Shopping Center. But on the other side of the hotel is the scenic Willamette River and an outdoor pool and gardens, making for a quiet and scenic escape from the action. It also has 24-hour recreation facilities, from a fitness center to 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, which you can enjoy while overlooking the river.
The Inn's conference facilities, with over 15,000 square feet of meeting space, attract a wide range of events as diverse as Eugene's surroundings, from business and corporate retreats to outdoorsmen gatherings and competitions.