Named after an historic pioneer who traveled across western America in the 1800s on a wagon, the Tetherow Golf Club is a semi-private layout in Bend Oregon that was designed by Scot David McLay Kidd. Part of an integrated residential estate, the course opened in 2008, about the time this once booming town started feeling the effects of the Global Financial Crisis. Bend was hit particularly hard by the GFC, with property prices falling dramatically as unemployment rose and new construction ground to a halt. Needless to say, it was not the ideal time for a high-end golf development like Tetherow to open for business.
Given the difficult financial circumstances in place in 2008, it was essential for the Tetherow developers that their golf course be of sufficient quality to attract residents and new club members. Sadly it appears this has not been the case, as few housing lots have been built upon and the once private club has been forced to open its doors to green fee paying golfers.
The reasons for the problems at Tetherow are likely many and varied, but in part do relate to how golfers perceive the challenge presented by the Kidd course. As with several other layouts he has designed, there are a number of fairly severe green sites here and several have already been softened and reshaped post-opening. An argument could be made that more still needed work. The problem with many of Kidd’s greens is that they more effectively reject shots than accept them, which makes his courses fine for highly skilled players but frustrating for others.
In terms of the holes at Tetherow, some of the longer par fours – such as the 4th, 5th and 12th, are conceptually quite interesting and the gravel pit par three 17th is a beautiful hole. The rest unfortunately is a mixed bag, with some awkward landing areas, excessive mounding and a number of severe tiers and green site shelves conspiring to leave the discerning golfer a little disappointed.
Bend is an appealing city to visit and Tetherow does enjoy pleasant rural views of the high desert and central Cascade Mountains. The course itself is far from poor, but given the economic climate here it needed to be much better in order for the development to be a success.