I borrowed Ralph Waldo Emerson’s words for my title. No better way to describe the aura of Crosswater at Sunriver Resort. A walk around this heathland-style design by Robert Cupp that can be stretched to nearly 7,700 yards is blissful for all your senses. I joined my Golf Road Warriors cronies – Jeff Wallach, Tom Bedell and David J. Whyte – from the near-7,000 yard mark; plenty of golf course for us all, even with the ball flying 8-10% farther in the more than 4,000 feet above sea level altitude. Yet, Crosswater is in no way so disgustingly long or so brutally penal that it makes you wonder why you didn’t visit the High Desert Museum just down the road instead of putting the peg in the ground… Sure, it’s target golf per se – but then again, golf is a target sport, is it not? And those GREENS…
Crosswater starts off gently enough with the first four holes. Fairways with ample landing areas, albeit not the width of the state-of-the-art driving range. What you see is what you get as you stroll through wetlands, water and woods. Then pops up “Little Deschutes,” the visually devilish par-4 5th hole. It plays 410 yards from the Championship markers, with the Little Deschutes needing to be crossed off the tee, then twining its way down the entire left side of the hole. So just hit it down the right side, you say? The predicament arises when pits full of pumice (bunkers) and telephone pole-like creatures (trees) guard the right side of the fairway. Tough tee shot, in a nutshell. Time to focus: select a club that you swing with confidence, a specific target, keep your eyes from wandering around to all the places you don’t want the ball to go, and let ‘er rip. Even robo-driver-of-the-golf-ball Tom Bedell (he who rarely misses a fairway) rattled one into the trees here. But that’s not the end of “Little Deschutes'” challenges… The green is close to 40 yards wide with an ornery ridge running through the middle of it; should your approach be slightly less than perfect, your lag putting shall be tested. Just a tremendous hole, period – as are so many on this golf course.
Like the 600 + yard 12th pictured above, as taken from the green. “Endless.” Such an appropriate name… Its intimidating length, along with a lake hugging the entire left side, can create nightmares for higher handicappers. But let’s take a moment and break this down, to see if we can sweeten those dreams. If you were to hit three shots of two hundred yards each, that’d put your ball in the middle of the green, should you be playing from the Championship or Blue tees (608 yards). To the front of the green – from where you’d want your approach shot to approximately land – it’s ‘only’ 595 yards. You get to use a tee for your first shot (Tour Players use a tee any time they can, FYI), which always improves the quality of a miss-hit. Between the altitude and roll, you really only need to hit the ball 180 yards or so in the air, favoring the right side, three consecutive times. If you’ve decided to play from the aforementioned tees, you ought to be carrying hybrids or fairway metals (MUCH easier to hit than long irons) that can do this job.
Did I mention the greens? Crosswater recently redid theirs. KU-DOS! Billiard-table like smoothness. True. Impeccable, honestly. No missed putts here due to a ball getting bumped off line. If you’ve correctly read the putt, hit it at the desired speed (a crucial part of the green reading piece) and started the ball on line – draino. The only downside to the putting surfaces at Crosswater? “The theory of ultimate.” When you eventually end up playing another golf course where the greens are not of “ultimate perfection,” you may well be disappointed. And this may hold true for the entire course, for Crosswater at Sunriver is about as good as it gets.