Location: Eugene, OR
Architect: Robert Trent Jones
June 1, 2010
Eugene Country Club was organized in 1899 which makes it one of the older clubs on the West Coast of the U.S. The original golf course was situated on 30 acres of land and consisted of nine holes with sand greens. In 1923 the club purchased the land where the golf course sits today and Chandler Egan was hired to design the golf course. The new course officially opened for play in 1926.
In 1967 Robert Trent Jones was brought in to work on the course and decided to reverse the entire routing. Basically the 18th green became the 1st tee and so on. Jones preserved the original contouring and shape of the fairways of the 4 par and 5 par holes in Eganβs original design, but did modify the routing of the one shot 7th and 12th holes so that he could bring more water into play. Jones sure did love the water hazard par 3s!
On my way to Bandon Dunes, I flew into Eugene so it made logistical sense to try and play Eugene Country Club while I was there. The club is private, but they are very welcoming to guests and I was able to arrange reciprocal play through my club in Virginia. I arrived on a Tuesday and found, much to my surprise, a ton of club activity. The morning had been ladies day and after they had finished the men were going out in droves. I had a tee time of 1:30PM so after I hit a few balls on the range I met my caddie and we made our way to the first tee.
As would be expected for a course in Oregon the trees are abundant and enormous. There are about 1500 trees on the course which include more than 100 different species. Some of the huge Douglas Fir trees have grown to a height greater than 200 feet tall! The photo below of the 1st green does an excellent job of conveying the feel of the course.
The photo below is the 2nd hole which is a long par 3 that played 228 yards from the back tees. I hit a short swing 3 wood into the wind and sliced it into a tree behind the one in the foreground on the right. We never found the ball. My caddie said that the tree branches and needles are so thick there that balls will actually stick in them. They have cut down trees on the course and found hundreds of balls in them!
I found the course to have a very distinctive Robert Trent Jones feel to it. The photo below of the 3rd green complex has some quintessential RTJ bunkers flanking it.
Again, more of the sculpted bunkers around the green in the photo below of the 4th green.
The photo below is of the 6th hole which is a par 5 and the number 1 handicap hole. This one played 545 yards from the back tees and had an approach shot over water.
Below is a photo of the 11th green. This hole is a par 4 that plays 424 yards from the back. It doglegs to the right and has water in front of the green on the right side. From an aesthetic standpoint, the green complex here is very attractive with the flowering bushes around the back.
The 12th hole is the final par 3 of the day and the only one in the second nine holes. Interestingly, Eugene Country Club is par 35 on the first nine holes with three par 3s and par 37 on the second nine holes with just one par 3. This 183 yard shot over water is the final par 3 on the course. The photo below was taken from the tee box.
More classic RTJ bunkering in the photo below surrounding the green complex at the 13th hole. This par 5 plays 525 yards from the back tees.
The 14th hole, pictured below, may have been my personal favorite on the course. It plays 405 yards from the back tees and a well executed tee shot will favor the left center with a little draw on it. The hole doglegs pretty good to the left so drives that go right will really lengthen the hole.
As a side note, I will point out that the gentleman in the photo above is not my caddie (did anyone really think I would have an Oregon Ducks golf bag???), but a member who was part of a group that very graciously invited me to join them. These guys were in their 70s and all of were walking the course. At the turn one of them switched to a cart but the other two guys walked the full 18 holes and carried their bags the whole way. They were fantastic guys to play with and it was great to see them out there still playing the game on foot.
The photo below is of the 14th green which is very well bunkered and is elevated above the fairway. If you miss this green you will need a good wedge shot to get it up on the putting surface. I double bogeyed this hole, but I liked it quite a bit. The shots necessary to play the hole well are shots that I enjoy making . . . or trying to make.
After the 14th hole we started to get a little rain so the camera went into the ziplock bag and the pace was picked up to ensure that the round was finished before the heavy stuff started to come down.
I felt right at home on the golf course at Eugene Country Club. The course very much had the feel of an East Coast parkland course like the ones Iβm used to at home. It was an enjoyable walk among the trees which for the most part were very well managed and did not impede play . . . as long as you kept your ball relatively close to where it was supposed to be. The characteristics that define the course for me are the bunkering and the huge trees. The course has a very Robert Trent Jones feel to it with three of the four par 3 holes playing over water and the large shapely bunkers protecting many of the greens. I believe this course is a fine example of his work. Overall a good, enjoyable walk. Now . . . down the road to Bandon Dunes.