Asimple warm up at the driving range at Big Meadow – one of the Central Oregon resort’s two spectacular championship golf courses – is really all it takes to realize that Black Butte Ranch is no ordinary golf experience. Each practice ball that soars into blue sky is eventually overtaken by the breathtaking view of Black Butte, a 3,000-foot volcano towering in the background. “The Big Meadow range is an awfully dramatic way to make a first impression,” says Jeff Fought, a Portland native who has spent the past 18 years as Black Butte Ranch’s director of golf. The view of Black Butte, ever-present on the sprawling Central Oregon resort, is more than a pretty picture. For golfers, it’s a hint: At Black Butte Ranch, golf is always at the forefront, but so much more awaits for those willing to widen their perspective. Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2020, Black Butte Ranch has earned its iconic Oregon destination status because it never forgot what has made it special. That includes golf, no doubt. And Black Butte Ranch has two gems: 7,002-yard, par-72 Big Meadow, and 7,007-yard, par-72 Glaze Meadow. Big Meadow has been there since the beginning. Designed by Robert Muir Graves and opened in 1970 – and redesigned by Graves before his death in 2003 – Big Meadow is a classic that helped turn Central Oregon into the Northwest’s premier golf destination. The playable design is the initial draw. But Big Meadow’s views of the nearby Cascades, including the Three Sisters peaks, Mt. Washington, and Three Fingered Jack, sear themselves into memories. Glaze Meadow, originally designed by legendary Pacific Northwest pro Gene “Bunny” Mason in 1980, was once overshadowed by Big Meadow. No more. In 2012, renowned architect John Fought – brother of Jeff – completed a $3.75 million renovation. The redesign – with its turtleback greens and grass-faced bunkers – transformed Glaze Meadow into a modern homage to the golden era of golf design of the 1920s and ‘30s. But more than golf, Black Butte Ranch has thrived for a half century because it has long been a place to come together – for families, friends, newlyweds, soon-to-be-weds, and more. Over golf, that is certainly the case. It’s not at all uncommon to see parents and These Favored Fairways The breathtaking beauty of Black Butte Ranch is golf, and more than golf 2 GOLF OREGON | MAY 2019