Tag Archives: Arnold Palmer golf courses

Return to Running Y: Southern Oregon’s Top Course

20161105_122717_001_resized“Nostalgia waxed poetic as I made the turn into the campus of Running Y Resort, site of one of Arnold Palmer’s Sweet Sixteen golf courses.”

Think of a movie or television show you loved as a child, and then watch it again as an adult. Sometimes it’s not the same. But sometimes, you become that kid again on a Saturday afternoon, giddy with excitement about the outcome of the the episode.

Nostalgia waxed poetic as I made the turn into the campus of Running Y Resort, site of one of Arnold Palmer’s Sweet Sixteen golf courses, in Klamath Falls, Oregon. I played here almost one year ago exactly, and about a month after the passing of Arnold himself (you can read my initial impressions here). The caliber of the course was still there. Just like the old re-run, the giddy anticipation of experiencing an Arnold Palmer design in my own back yard of Southern Oregon again, washed over me.

What more could I say about Running Y Ranch Resort that hasn’t been said already? When you think of a course like this, or any of the King’s courses, certain 265words tend to pop up repeatedly: immaculate, beautiful, serene, and challenging. Much like the man himself, his courses are a cut above the others. Southern Oregon is blessed to have dozens of golf courses within a 100-mile radius, and each one of them pales in comparison to the Ranch. Simply stated, Running Y boasts membership among the Oregonian super-courses like Bandon and Pronghorn.

That was the synopsis of my previous article, and was fresh in my mind as I walked back into the pro shop at Running Y Ranch Resort. But a year is a long time, and Oregon weather has been brutal these last twelve months. I admit I was skeptic, or perhaps concerned is a better word, that Running Y could have the same incredible status as it did in October 2016.

Never doubt the King…or the maintenance crew at Running Y.

img_1523We have been without Arnold for a little over a year, but I know that wherever his spirit is playing tonight, he is playing happily knowing his kingdom is being maintained to standards only he could set. Running Y remains the nicest golf course in the area, with every blade of grass right where it should be. dscf7195The autumn sun shone down on us the entire time, sometimes blocked by the beautiful pine and oak trees that line some of the fairways. Clocking in a round at about 4 hours, our time in the kingdom was short, but it was worth it.

DSCF7217After leaving the grounds, we found ourselves in the Ruddy Duck restaurant in the main lodge overlooking the opening holes of the back nine. My compatriots and I, all equally chilled and tired from our game, sat and shared stories of past feats (some true, some exaggerated) amidst pints and plates of French fries. As would be expected, the staff in the restaurant was incredibly kind and knowledgeable, traits they shared with their pro-shop cousins.

Leaving a beautiful golf course after a great round with your friends is never an easy thing. There is something about the mutuality of golf that brings the best out in everyone, and this feeling is amplified when you step foot onto the higher caliber courses like Running Y. In hallowed glory, the King reigns supreme.

The King’s Legacy: Nirvana at RunningY Ranch Resort

There are many crowns in golf, but there’s only one king.

arnold-palmer-captureOn September 25, 2016 the world said goodbye to the most iconic man to ever pick up a set of clubs. In a career that spanned over half a century, Arnold Palmer revolutionized the sport, taking it from something that aristocrats played to a game of the people, and for the people. With a cocktail of irresistible charm and playing ability (three parts charm and one part playing ability, to be exact) Arnold won majors and tournaments, but most importantly he opened golf to the world.

Arnold’s passing was tough for me. I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing. It was late, and I was getting ready for bed. I was cleaning my clubs after a particularly grueling round. As I wiped and scrubbed the dirt and fairway off my irons my phone buzzed with a text. Who’s texting me at this hour? I thought. It was my brother, my first and best golf buddy. It was a link to an article reporting the Mr. Palmer’s passing. I’m too young to have watched Arnold play, and my knowledge of him comes from reading articles and conversations, but I knew that I just experienced history. The King was dead.

Homage to the King

Last weekend I had the great fortune to play one of the finest courses in Arnold’s Kingdom, Running Y Ranch Resort in Klamath Falls, Oregon. It truly is a jewel in the crown of Arnold Palmer golf course design, and the best place for me to receive my basic training to join his army.

As my group walked off the practice green and onto the first tee, I heard my partner say, “Are you kidding me?” Confused, I turned to see who he was talking to, and what provoked such a comment.

“C’mon, let’s man up,” said one of our group as he stood at the tee box, grinning like he just aced a hole. Instead of white, blue, or black, these markers had dscf1253 paintings of Arnold’s signature umbrella. This guy wanted to play from the tips, the Palmer tees, to go head-to-head with the King’s course. Measuring out at 7,138 yards, I thought to myself, There’s confidence, there’s cocky, and there’s insanity. This certainly was the latter.

Of course, I obliged him.

img_1522What followed was five hours of the best, and most difficult golf I’ve ever dscf7195played. At times, the King’s spirit seemed playfully vindictive, needling us

with a few penalties for trying to go for the green from a difficult lie, and at other

img_1482_croptimes encouraging us, with a bit of Palmer-intervention to give a stray ball a favorable bounce or a fortunate ricochet off a tree. I dscf4328have no doubt that he was there with us, probably enjoying the audacity of four amateur golfers trying to conquer his course.

True to the intent of Palmer design, and the capable hands of Greg Morton, long-time course superintendent, the course was in impeccable condition. The fairways were manicured to the highest quality, offering bounces that were impressive even in the wet climate of November in Southern Oregon. After weeks of heavy rain, as Southern Oregon is doomed to get this time of year, I plugged a ball only once. All but a few fairways were flanked by trees throughout the course, offering isolation that only served to improve our relationship with the course, the game, and the King. I often forgot that I was playing golf (or trying to) because I was frequently lost in taking pictures of the area. Every hole was a framable work of art. The greens were fabulous. Blazingly fast, they offered challenges to everyone. Jaren Mack, the head pro, had warned us they were running a little fast. He was conservative in his estimate.

Off the course were some of the finest amenities that I’ve ever encountered. A 317well-stocked pro-shop selling everything from logo balls to name brand ruddy-duckclothing waited for us in the early morning mist. There were only the highest quality brands to choose from, Nike, Under Armor, FootJoy. Everything about the pro-shop screamed high caliber and professional. The highlight was the restaurant and lodge, serving some of the best tasting food I’ve had the pleasure to eat. If you find yourself at the lodge, I recommend the Elk Chili. I hated finishing it, it was so good. My partner had the Mac and Cheese. He said it was delicious. The dining room overlooks the 10th fairway, a gorgeous scene, subtly reminding you that you’re never far from the game.

Everything in the previous paragraphs has been said before, so I know I’m not breaking any new ground, but if you will allow me, I’d like to ditch the typical course spotlight format and just freestyle a little bit about what playing the King’s course meant to me, a young golfer in 2016.

To those who watched him in his prime, Arnold Palmer was a great golfer. As I previously mentioned, I didn’t get to witness those years. By the time I was born, his professional career was winding down. He hadn’t won a major in 28 years, or a senior major in 7. So, to me, Arnold Palmer isn’t a golfer, he’s an idea, a state of enlightenment about the game. He’s the embodiment of the idea that golf is meant to be a stress relieving game, not a stress inducing one. That golf is not about shaving strokes off of your handicap, but dscf1246simply enjoying spending time with friends you’ve known for ten years or ten minutes. It’s the belief that we are all united as golfers, and any time we let animosity get in the way, we’re sabotaging ourselves. We’re robbing ourselves of the moment. That’s what Arnold Palmer means to me. Play the game because you love the game, not because you want to win. Play a round sometime, and just golf. It won’t kill you. Forget the scorecard, forget the par, and forget the lost balls. Just exist in the moment with nothing but you and the game. That’s what the day was for us–nirvana. Yes, we kept score, to see how we stood up to the course, but the score didn’t matter, really. We played in the moment, with Arnie alongside.

Earlier I described Running Y as a golf course. How foolish of me. To those who have never played it, it’s a golf course. But to those of us who have walked its fairways and read its greens, it’s more than just a golf course. It’s a temple, designed by the first golf bodhisattva.

Let me explain. In the Buddhist religion, a bodhisattva (bo-dih-´saht-vuh) is one who refrains from entering enlightenment to aid others in their journey. And that’s exactly what Arnold Palmer did. With his 7 majors and 5 senior major wins, he could have ridden off into the Florida sunset and still be considered one of golf’s greatest golfers. But he didn’t. He became the figurehead of our sport. He designed courses, traveled the world, and continued to popularize our game long after his competition days were over. Arnold got to the state of enlightenment and said, “You know what, I’m not quite done.” He used the rest of his life to enlighten us all about what golf is.

At the end of the 18th hole at Running Y, a beautifully difficult par 4, we didn’t walk off with a handicap, we walked off enlightened.

Thanks, your Highness.