Black Butte Ranch ready for early start to 2018 golf season

Scheduled to open on Feb. 16, Big Meadow to enjoy one of its earliest opening dates in recent memory

The sound of lawnmowers emanating from the fairways of Big Meadow might be enough for a double-take so early in February. Yet sure as the sun rises in the blue skies of Central Oregon, that unmistakable sound can now be heard at Black Butte Ranch.

This can mean only one thing to a golfer — golf season is about to tee off. On Friday, Feb. 16, Black Butte Ranch is scheduled to open the front nine holes at Big Meadow. In addition, Big Meadow’s driving range will also be open, offering a real-turf practice surface to golfers itching to get their swings back after the unusually brief offseason.

The back nine will remain closed for at least another week, and perhaps longer depending on the weather. But for golfers aching to get back on course after a few months of downtime, the opening of Big Meadow is no doubt music to their ears.

“I am really excited to get the golf season going,” said Jeff Fought, the director of golf at Black Butte Ranch. “Big Meadow is already beginning to green and we have started to mow. It’s always fun to see the course spring back to life.”

This has been an uncommonly mild winter in Central Oregon. A year after this region shattered snowfall records, snow has mostly stayed away from the fairways of Black Butte Ranch.

And what might not be great for skiers is fantastic for golfers, opening the door to an early start to the golf season.

Fought is in his 18th year at Black Butte Ranch, and in that time he has seen just about everything. But the early opening is almost unprecedented in his tenure. In nearly two decades, only once can he recall opening any earlier, and that was on a Feb. 14 three years ago.

Big Meadow will understandably be in early season condition. With such light snow this winter, the playing surfaces have mostly made it through unscathed. With the mild weather comes an early start to the maintenance program. In fact, Black Butte Ranch’s maintenance staff, led by head superintendent Phil Lagao, has already begun the work of getting Big Meadow in peak shape weeks ahead of what would be considered normal.

That should make for surprisingly playable conditions once Big Meadow opens.

“The course looks really good,” Fought said. “There are things like a few aerification marks from the end of last season, but in this weather that should all grow back quickly. We’re expecting conditions to peak far earlier than normal.

Of course, the weather in Central Oregon can always change. Golfers would be wise to take advantage of an early opportunity to play under sunny skies.

This weekend the public can play 18 holes at Big Meadow for a mere $25. Nine holes can be played for $15. Book a tee time online or call the Golf Shop at 541-595-1545.


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