Willow Creek Country Club is a 9-hole (there is a dual-tee 18), semi-private (you have to be a member if you live in the area), executive course about 65 miles southwest of Pendleton. Surrounded by farmland, it is an open course that is attractive and pretty well maintained. With three par 4s (none longer than 275) and six par 3s (as long as 190), Willow Creek Country Club has several trees, but the creek touches five holes. Fairways are mixed but even, greens are small, mounded, and consistent. Put your cash in the slot and play (as the clubhouse is only open certain hours on Fridays and the weekends). But scrutinize the map on the scorecard; the routing is not always clear. Willow Creek Country Club is short, compact, and an easy walk.
The course opened in 1954 as a 3-hole course with sand greens. It became a 9-hole course in 1968. In 1969, storms covered the course with mud (but it has recovered).
Why It Is There
Local golfers wanted a place to play (and back in the 1950s there was no place to play for many miles), so they built a course on the north side of town. Since then, members have been keeping the course going.
I Wish I Would Have Known Before I Played
It is fairly open and short, but there are some tricks. The par-3 3rd hole requires a blind shot to the green (over a basalt outcropping). The green is between the two cut snags. The par-3 7th hole is almost blind, as bushes next to the creek block the center and right of the green. But the green goes left to right and hitting it to the area of the green you can see will generally work. And on the par-3 9th hole, there is a sharp, short drop about 10 yards from the green that will push your ball forward.
Did You Know
John Edmundson was, at the time of my visit, one of the many active volunteers at the course and was awarded the OGA Director of the Year in 2014. His daughter Vicki was one of the best high school players in the state. When asked where she practiced (as Willow has no range), she said that she would wait for the course to empty and would hit balls from the tee of the longest hole.
Good For Them
Uses effluent water from Heppner to water the course (and then has a no spray/no water buffer zone around the creek). The course is the home course for the local high school. The coach of the local high school golf team, a member of the course, encourages students of all abilities (from high schools in Heppner and neighboring Ione) to join the team and play. The course annually hosts the Mustang Scramble Golf Tournament to support the Heppner/Ione High School Golf Team.
Inexpensive, fast, fun, attractive, and challenging for an executive course. Very accessible for all levels of play. If you are in the area (and Heppner is a great small town), it is worth a play.
- Type: 9-hole semi-private, executive course
- Price: $
- Phone/webpage: (541)676-5437/no website
- Address: 53726 Highway 74, Heppner, Oregon 97836
- Owner: Willow Creek Country Club
- Designer: Local golfers
- Pros: None
- Practice Facilities: Chipping area (near the 6th hole); practice green
- Pro Shop: Minimal, balls and tees (only open for limited hours Friday and on the weekends)
- Food: Soda machine
- Bathrooms: Improved in clubhouse and on the course
- Yardage Markers: 100 and 50 in-ground markers on all but the 4th hole (where the 100-yard marker would be on the 3rd fairway and the 50-yard marker would be in the creek); no pin-placement information (but the greens are small)
- Clothing: Tank tops and jeans are OK
- Walkable: Very
- Spikes: Soft only
- Shoe Cleaning: Brush
- Rentals: All (pull carts are generally out; for clubs and power carts, someone who can open the clubhouse and cart shed needs to be there)
- Open all year
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