Sometimes you need a woman to set things straight. Wait, let me rephrase that. All the time, you need a good woman to explain the obvious to you. At the first tee, I noticed the marker stating it was Hole #10. “Hello, Hello, anybody home? Hey, think McFly, think”. Karen had to explain to me…“It’s the Old Back Nine, remember, this used to be an 18-hole course”. Duh!
So just to be clear, we are going to start with Hole #10. Just a little fade to find the fairway and avoid the big trees to the right. Karen thought the white fence to the left was visually pleasing and added a lot of charm. I’m thinking, just don’t hit it over there. A par 4 of 335 yards from the blue tees and a nice hole to open a round unless you have a nasty hook as part of your arsenal. I was happy with my par as we traveled over the tree-arched golf bridge to Hole #11. Par 3; 132 yards; wide-open; no hazards; it should be no problem, but I started my bogey train here!
Hole #12 is a par of 319 yards with a slight dogleg to the right. It has a very narrow (and I mean VERY narrow) fairway. Out-of-bounds to the left and houses to the right. The tee shot should be to the left side (but not OB like me) for the best approach to the green. If you end up finding the fairway to the right, the green is protected by a large tree on the right side – good luck! Another tight driving hole at #13. There are houses on either side, but the trees that straddle the fairway should protect the homes from any wayward shot. Somehow, I found the middle of the fairway only to three putt the sizeable green.
Tony, a new resident of Bend, joined us at Hole #14. This par 4 has a slight dogleg to the right with a green tucked up the hill to the right. The best approach is from the left side of the fairway and the best place to avoid the “junk” fronting the green. If you “decide” to attack from the right, trouble is almost inevitable. I must have impressed Tony with my double-bogey six!
At Hole #15, Tony hit an iron off the tee with a nice, high fade that landed softly just short of the railroad tracks. An excellent position to attack the green on this par 5. Me? My drive cleared the pond in front of the tee box but ended up to the left behind the large tree formation. Once we found the ball (I thought I hit it farther than I did – where have you heard that before?), it was the start of another double-bogey.
Unbelievable, three consecutive double-bogeys! I felt sorry for Tony as my bad game was becoming contagious. Hole #16 is the number one handicap hole with tree trouble left; tree trouble center; and out-of-bounds right. Tony found OB and I found tree trouble everywhere.
Need to stop the double-bogey train at the par 3 17th hole. Lo and behold – a PAR! As you survey the green at this hole, it looks like there is a big tree fronting the green. Isn’t this a little penal if the flag is right behind it as it was today? As you get closer to the green however, this tree transforms into just a large pointy remnant of a tree long lifeless. Did I mention I finally wrote a 3 on my scorecard?
Hole #18 is a very short par 4 of 268 yards. On paper, it looks like a “no brainer” to go for the green. However, it is a dogleg left with two large (are there any other kind in Oregon?) trees blocking the way to the green. Unless you hit your wedge 250 yards, it’s best to hit an iron to the bend of the fairway. This is probably a fun finishing hole in tournament play.
Ace: Old Back Nine is a fun, friendly course with fantastic mountain views. The staff (John) was awesome, and we played in about two hours. That gave us time to visit the numerous breweries around town (that Karen, always forcing me to drink beer) and take an outstanding hike along the Deschutes River.
We enjoyed central Oregon so much, we decided to move here so we can play more of the outstanding courses in this area of the country!
Update 2019: Old Back Nine is now my home course!
Update 2020: Visit my Always Time for 9 YouTube channel to view the Always Time for 9/USGA PLAY9 Day video.
60650 China Hat Road, Bend, OR 97702; 541-382-1111; www.OldBackNine.com