It’s not hard to spot Wildhorse Resort & Casino from Interstate 84 in the northeast corner of Oregon. The 10-story hotel sprouts from the wheat fields like a New York City skyscraper. Wildhorse Resort is one of the star attractions in Pendleton, a town of 17,000 that is known for its annual rodeo, the Pendleton Round-Up.
An outstanding amenity of Wildhorse Resort is its magnificent golf course, nestled in the foothills of Oregon’s Blue Mountains. This 18-hole championship course features five picturesque lakes that come into play on several holes, along with 66 deep sand bunkers. Designed by legendary golf architect John Steidel, the Wildhorse Golf Course can play long or short, with four sets of tees ranging from 5,718 yards at the front tee box to 7,112 yards from the championship tees.
Last summer, Wildhorse Resort & Casino RV Park hosted the 2012 Pacific Northwest Golf Association Men’s Master-40 Amateur Championships. Needless to say, Wildhorse officials were thrilled to host the event.
“We recently added so much to this resort with the new Tower Hotel, expanded gaming floor, and the cineplex,” said Mike Hegarty, head golf professional at the Wildhorse Golf Club. “I can’t think of a better way to showcase our property as a destination golf resort to regional golfers than to host a championship like the PNGA Men’s Master-40 Amateur.”
Visitors to Wildhorse, and specifically the golf course, are quick to boast about their quality experience.
“The fairways are wide open for the most part, and the few lakes on the course make it interesting and challenging,” said Tom Rupprecht, a golfer from La Center, Washington, who stayed at the resort’s RV park. “I was really impressed with the finishing hole and the picturesque lake and walking bridge over the pond. The front nine seems a little more spectacular, but the overall course is well worth the visit.”
Given the wide-open area, the course can play differently from day to day, depending on the amount of wind and the direction it blows.
Modeled after the traditional Scottish style links with deep bunkers and tall fescue grass, this course offers a challenge for all skill sets and is reasonably priced at $28 to $34 a round.
The pro shop has everything a golfer needs to improve his or her game, including, two Class-A PGA professionals, Hegarty and Clint Ables. Mike Hegarty has a competitive playing background and more than 15 years of experience teaching all aspects of the golf game. PGA Assistant Professional Clint Ables is approaching 10 years in the golf business. All teaching professionals use the JC Video swing analysis system, which shows frame-by-frame where your golf swing stands and what you are doing right and wrong. With this system, you can compare your swing with those of tour professionals and find out where improvement is needed. Golfers can take home a CD of the swing analysis so they can refresh their memory in the years ahead.
The RV park at Wildhorse Resort & Casino has 100 spaces with full hookups, a laundry facility, showers and heated swimming pool. Spaces rent for $24 to $32.
The resort opened K Wáhn waútukt, its tipi “village,” in 2001, with rentals available during the summer and fall. A tipi can be rented for $14 per night for up to four people, and $5 for each additional person. Campers can pitch their own tent at the tipi village for $10 a night. The village offers access to the RV park’s showers, heated swimming pool and laundry.
“It’s all about choice when you come here,” said David Rohn, the casino’s director of slot operations. Four hundred new machines were added to the casino in the 2010-2011 expansion. The 24,000-square-foot gaming floor has slots from a penny to five dollars, including the popular Wheel of Fortune and Megabucks machines.
Rick Stedman is an avid golfer, RVer, and writer who lives in Yakima, Washington. Rick writes a weekly golf blog, “The 19th Hole,” which is published every Saturday at rvlife.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.