By Cameron Healey
When you have an acclaimed golf course designer state that one of his renovation goals is to create “a ‘fun’ resort golf course” that is architecturally akin to something you’ll find at Pinehurst No.2, as a golfer your interest is naturally piqued. Those were the sentiments from John Fought, a Portland, Ore, native who in 2010 was commissioned with the task of renovating Glaze Meadow Golf Course at the 1800 acre Black Butte Ranch destination resort located in central Oregon.
Losing rounds to nearby sister course Big Meadow, which was arguably more playable for the average Joe, Fought was brought in to make some subtle but significant improvements to a course that was considered a little too vertical and perhaps overly punitive for your average resort golfer. Coupled with a tired irrigation and drainage system that was wearing down and increasing maintenance costs, Glaze was primed for a makeover.
Black Butte Ranch is designed as a legitimate alpine experience and is nestled between the Cascade Mountains with incredible views of nearby Three Sisters, Black Butte, Broken Top and Mount Washington. By its very nature, Glaze Meadow’s layout and routing was heavily influenced by the surrounding towering Pines and Aspen Forests, which proved both friend and foe to resort golfers who struggled to find fairways.
Fought, however, saw an opportunity to retain the basic footprint and routing of the original 1978 Gene “Bunny” Mason design. He felt that Glaze had “lost some of its visual beauty and knew that it could be so much better if he opened things up.” Embraced – and trusted – by the BBR home owners association, Fought set to work of making his vision of enhancing playability while creating new golfing challenges a reality. Influenced by his love of classic layouts at the hands of designers such as Donald Ross and Harry Colt, earmarked by deep grass faced bunkers, greens with subtle contours and hole routing that is tree-lined at the right scale, Fought set about surgically removing nearly a 1000 trees from the Glaze course. Not insignificant, but the immediate benefits included improving sightlines and shot making options for golfers—not to mention improving natural ventilation and sunlight.
In fact, the renovation did not just include tweaking the odd hole here and there. Fought got busy creating 18 new greens – many slightly elevated—, square tee boxes, new bunkers and lengthening the course nearly 500 yards to offer golfers 7007 yards of challenging alpine golf. No easy feat but Fought and his team managed to do just that in less than 24 months and at a total cost of only $3.75 million.
What can players expect with the newly renovated track?
Check out our own Cliff Cowley’s course review to learn more about what makes Glaze Meadow such an appealing and fun track. Yep, Central Oregon has another reason to feel bullish about why their destination is a true golfing Mecca!