Arnold Palmer is the undisputed King of Golf. He has fans both young and old. I’ve met him. I’ve stayed at his lodge and played Bayhill. I had the opportunity to talk to him, his employees, and the members of the Bayhill community. One thing stands out about him and what he stands for—friendliness. It doesn’t matter who you are. When you’re around him, you feel important, like you’re the only one in the room. When I was at Bayhill, they treated me like I was king. That’s how I felt when I went to Running Y Ranch Resort.
The facilities at Running Y Ranch Resort are top notch. The minute I stepped into the door of the lodge, a Holiday Inn Resort, I felt welcome. Loaded down with my gear, as I approached the tall ornate wooden front doors, they opened by themselves. No need to put anything down. In the lobby, the natural wood beam rafters, the huge rock fireplace and rustic furnishings cast an earthy tone, creating a comfy-cozy ambience. The desk clerk, Jarrod, was friendly, helpful and courteous (as were the morning desk clerks). In fact, all the employees from the Head Pro to the workers mowing the fairways, made me feel like they were doing everything just for me. They didn’t just do their job. They went out of their way to make sure my experience was enjoyable.
When I stay at a resort, often, it’s the little details that make my stay special. I was pleased with the larger pillows, bigger soap with lots of lather, soft towels, 200 thread count sheets (I asked at desk), the “like rain” showerhead and the user friendly alarm clock. The room was comfortable and clean, even in the minutest of conrners.
Located just outside of Klamath Falls, in Southern Oregon, the golf course at Running Y Ranch is the only Palmer design in Oregon, and is one of his “Sweet 16,” designed by his company, that he likes best. Since opening in 1997, Golf Week gave Running Y a “Top 10 in Oregon” and Golf Digest gave it a “Top 100 Public Course in the US.” Most recently, LocalGolfer.com has named Running Y one of its “Top 10 Resort Courses in the Northwest for 2013.”
As a member of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary System the course plays an integral part in preserving the Upper and Lower Klamath Lake ecological system. Long time Superintendent, Greg Morton, says that the course was designed with Palmer’s philosophy of letting the contour of the land dictate the shape of the course. “With minimal land movement during the building of the course, it allowed the course to be a part of the eco-system itself,” says Morton. “We take pride in protecting the environment and preserving the wildlife habitat here at Running Y. It’s part of what makes the experience here special.”
The course itself plays 4,847 yards from the forward tees and stretches out to a professional length of 7,138 yards from the Palmer tees. With five sets of tee boxes, the layout guarantees a comfortable round for golfers of all handicaps. I played the whites which measure out at 5,976 yards (six thousand yards is plenty for a ten handicapper like me) .
The course is as spectacular as the surrounding environment. Nestled in the Cascade mountains, the track winds its way through a mature pine forest and wet land marshes bordering Klamath Lake. As a result, golfers experience more than just one type of course. According to Head Pro, Jaren Mack, what makes Running Y unique is the terrain. “You’re actually playing three different courses when you come to Running Y,” he says. “The first 5 holes take you through the wetlands. Holes 6-9, and 12-16 are like a woodland course with mature pines lining the holes, and 10, 11, and 17 and 18 are more like a links style course.”
The fairways at Running Y are generous. One of the things I liked is the way the ball sits up in the fairway. More than any other course I’ve ever played, it’s like the ball is teed up on the tip of a well sharpened pencil, which makes “fat” hitters like me extra happy. How does Greg Morton do it? “Can’t divulge that information,” he says with a sly smile.
The greens are regular to business envelope size, many are two-tiered, and firm, providing a true test to your putting ability. Bunkers are numerous, and some are deep, but not expansive in size. Most greens are protected with at least three bunkers. Some making for a narrowed approach, and others penalizing shots that fly the green, but most are separated by mounds of grass that allow for a lucky miss in between. Some of the greens have a slope that requires a calculated approach shot. Putts can run clear across the green if you are on the uphill side of the cup.
Specific to Palmer design, there is a plethora of mounds around the greens creating a semi-amphitheater look and feel. I pretended the mounds were a gallery of spectators cheering me on and groaning in chorus when I missed a putt (Ok, so I have an active imagination). One of the things that makes the course one of my personal favorites is the multiple elevated tees. At least seven of the holes are downhill shots from the tee box (I love downhill shots).
One of my favorite holes is #5, a 135 yard par-3. It’s a smallish green with a huge mound of boulders in back, water on the right, and two old growth pines standing sentry on the left. It’s definitely a target green, and tough to make par, but it is one of the most beautiful holes on the course.
Another is #9, a dowwwwwnhill par-4 (did I tell you I love downhill shots?). From the tee box, the view is worth the price of admission. Down below, the green looks like a dot. In the distance you can see the lodge and other parts of the course. One of the many cool views the course has to offer. At 342 yards from the whites, a long hitter can reach the green. The hole provides enough hang time to order a sandwich, have it delivered, and eat it, too! It’s the most fun hole on the course. I couldn’t resist. I hit two balls.
Hole #12 is a downhill par-3 that is at least a two club difference because of the elevated tee. I hit my pitching wedge when the yardage called for my 8-iron. I hit the middle of the green about 8 feet away from the cup. I got a golf clap from the mower guy who happened to be next to the green. He stayed and watched me make the birdie putt. Another golf clap and thumbs up, and he was on his way.
Hole #14 is Arnold’s favorite, and least favorite. At 322 yards, the par-4, dog leg has reachable traps on the left at the dog’s elbow. You can cut the corner, but there is a huge pine on the right hand side of the fairway. When Arnie played the course, he hit the tree and is said to have uttered an expletive. He and I have a lot in common. Interestingly, there are three round bunkers behind the green. If you look at them just right, they look like the Mickey Mouse logo. Maybe that’s because Roy Disney used to own the ranch back in the seventies and someone put them in like that to see if anyone would notice.
After your romp in the woodlands, the two finishing holes bring you back to the club house in links style fashion. Hole #17 is the most thought provoking hole on the course. At 498 yards, the dog leg, par-5 can be reached in two. The split fairway, allows you to cut the corner with a target-drive to the right hand fairway leaving a 175-200 yard shot to the green. That would be great! But, the approach shot has to carry across a section of natural grass as tall as your waist to the green. Good luck finding your ball if you don’t make it. If you got the guts, take the shot.
When you finish your round, you won’t want to quit. With an unlimited golf package, you can arrange to do a replay to relive the wonderful experience, or you can discuss the day’s events with your favorite beverage on the terrace back at The Ruddy Duck.
The new restaurant in the lodge, The Ruddy Duck, offers a dining area and full-service bar. Melissa served me up a basket of fries that were thin, crisp, and hot. The guy next to me ordered the Bleu Burger. He said it was delicious. Outside there is open air dining on the terrace overlooking the golf course, marshlands and Klamath Lake. The Ruddy Duck serves hearty, New American cuisine with a twist, in a casual, kid-friendly environment. Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Kids Eat Free when accompanied by an adult. Nothing better than enjoying a spectacular view while discussing the day’s activities over a fine meal.
Lodge accommodations include eighty-two rooms offering guest rooms and spacious suites overlooking the golf course. Suites include kitchenettes, and romantic fireplaces. For larger groups or longer stays, Running Y has privately owned vacation rentals as well. You can choose from a chalet, luxurious townhome or a custom home to fit your particular needs.
Running Y Ranch offers fun for a complete family vacation. As a complete destination resort, it’s a perfect venue for a week of pure “getaway” from the hustle and bustle of the work day world. The Ranch is also the perfect location for a corporate retreat, wedding, or family reunion. It has over 7,500 sq ft of meeting space and a new conference center with seating for up to 450 people.
The newly updated Sandhill Spa provides myriad treatments. While dad is playing golf, mom can enjoy being pampered, soothed, and rejuvenated.
Sports and Fitness Center
The whole family can enjoy the latest in exercise equipment, an indoor pool, hot tub and sauna, along with basketball, tennis, and sand volleyball courts. Teens will enjoy the game room complete with arcade games. For the little ones there is a wading pool, and an outdoor playground.
Running Y has an 18 hole Putting Course that is a favorite with kids and families. It’s not a miniature putt-putt with clowns and windmills. The Putting Course sports water hazards, sand traps and sneaky breaks that challenge even the most seasoned putting pros.
There are over eight miles of paved trails for hiking and biking, and unpaved trails for mountain biking and equestrian adventures. With 3,600 acres of ranch property available, you could hit a different trail every day and not do a repeat.
Running Y golf course is littered with natural vistas, picture perfect holes, and a layout that makes a round of golf both challenging and fun, and the amenities make the stay something the whole family will enjoy. And, true to the spirit of Arnold Palmer’s genuine extension of friendship to all, and his “Sweet 16 course,” the staff is dedicated to making your stay a memorable experience that will have you booking next year’s vacation before you go home.
Running Y Ranch
5500 Running Y Road
Klamath Falls, OR 97601
Stay and Play Packages
Stay and Play packages start at $159 per guest.