By Anna Skorczeski, Travel Correspondent
"Hole #2 is a real test. It takes a great shot right down the pipe Cutting the corner is not really an option for the average guy," says a golfer in satisfied post-game reflection. Flanked by the high desert's ubiquitous juniper trees, The Resort Course's par 5 hole number 2 is certainly no picnic: this hole drops steeply just past the tee box and then takes a bedeviling turn right at almost a full 90 degrees. Some succeed, and some donate their golf balls to the junipers; whatever the outcome, there are still 53 other holes at Eagle Crest Resort to redeem oneself. There's no point in lingering on hooked drives when the snow-capped peak of Mount Jefferson awaits foursomes on the Ridge Course, and the par-3-laden Challenge Course offers a chance to show off one's short game.
But it goes beyond just swinging clubs on the resort's 1,700-acre campus. At the front desk, staffers show visitors to three sports centers, which house pools, workout rooms, and ball courts. At the full-service spa, aestheticians knead out muscle knots and pamper pores with locally produced organic skincare products. More than 12 miles of paved walking and biking trails wander along the scenic Deschutes River and through the condo-development area, and bikes may be rented at the resort's sports centers.
After a long day in the fresh air, it's a treat to recharge in one of the 100 homey rooms at the Lodge. The olive-green building overlooks the Resort Course's 16th green and 17th tee, where whiffs of freshly cut grass aromatize the private decks and patios. After a long day of hitting the links, the rooms greet visitors with a 42-inch flat-screen TV to watch the 24-hour Caddyshack cable channel or HBO programming. Each upgraded suite sports a kitchenette, along with a sleeper sofa and living-room area.
Situated in the middle of Oregon, Redmond acts as a logical home base to explore activities across the state. A 20-minute drive north in Terrebonne, Smith Rock State Park draws rock climbers with its impressive crags of welded tuff and hundreds of routes for both novices and experts. Groups of climbers camp out for $5 a night, gathering around communal picnic tables each morning to share breakfast and scheme the next day's adventures.
About 20 miles west of Redmond, the little town of Sisters exudes cowboy-country charm, with quaint shops lining the main street hawking everything from T-shirts to barbecue to boots. Sisters takes its name from the nearby Three Sisters peaks of the Cascades, Hope Faith, and Charity, which rise like virtuous, volcanic older siblings in the distance.
Roughly 17 miles south of Eagle Crest Resort, the city of Bend represents Central Oregon's largest metropolis, with its historic Old Mill District bustling alongside its lively downtown. The Deschutes Brewery keeps this beer town's whistle whetted, restaurants emit the smell of grilled fare, and music venues buzz with blues-rock. A chat with lifelong Bend and Redmond resident Dylan Jones sums up the common sentiment of the locale: "It seems everyone wants to be here nowadays. They're catching on."
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