Golfing in Oregon? The Story of Oregon’s Only Arnold Palmer Golf Course

Set in a sun-drenched valley just north of Klamath Falls and west of Upper Klamath Lake, in south-central Oregon’s Klamath County, there lies a golf course of almost legendary allure and beauty. Not only is the course at Running Y Ranch Resort one of the most naturally scenic and striking in the Pacific Northwest, but it’s also Oregon’s one and only Arnold Palmer Signature Golf Course. More on that shortly, but the most important thing to know now is this: If you thought Klamath County was merely a mountainous, fir-filled wonderland for outdoor recreationalists and mountain lovers, think again. Because the truth is that it’s also a world-class destination for golf lovers and golf-inspired vacations.

Read on for a rundown of one of Oregon’s most beautiful and bucket-list-worthy golf courses.

An Overview of Arnold Palmer Signature Golf Courses

An overview of the Running Y Ranch Golf Miniature Course. Photo by Kamrin Nielsen

What is an Arnold Palmer Signature Golf Course, you ask? More than just a badge of honor or membership to an exclusive club, it’s a golf course designed and developed by the legendary golfer himself. In 1971, Palmer founded the Arnold Palmer Design Company. Over the course of the next four decades, he and the company created more than 300 courses across 37 states, 25 countries, and 5 continents.

In other words, the golf course at Running Y Ranch Resort is in good company and has the distinct honor of being Oregon’s only APDC course.

A Story of Land and Its Peoples

The Running Y golf course embodies Klamath County’s reverence for the land. Photo by Kamrin Nielsen

In Klamath County, the land is one of its most defining features. From the deep blue waters of Crater Lake, to the avian-filled wetlands of Upper Klamath Lake, the old-growth forests of the Sky Lakes Wilderness to the high mountain meadows of Gearhart Mountain Wilderness, the terrain and topography here are both special and something to be admired and appreciated.

That’s why the APDC school of thought fits so well with the Klamath County ethos. Behind the Arnold Palmer design philosophy is a reference for the land and a dedication to preserving it. As their tagline says, “The story we tell is one of caring—for the land, for golf, and for each other.” Each Arnold Palmer Signature Course uses cutting-edge tools to deliver environmentally responsible operations that have an almost sacred respect for the earth and for the game.

At Running Y golf course, this reverence shows. As nearly every golfer who experiences it in person tends to wax lyrically about in their reviews, the design of the course enhances the surrounding scenery, more than detracts from it. The contours of the valley are given new defined depth with the Tipperary-green fairways and greens. The water features languidly snake like brushstrokes through the basin of this former ranch land. In sum, both backdrop and foreground combine for a true hole-in-one at Running Y Ranch Resort.

The Running Y Ranch Resort Golf Course

Running Y features a spectacular natural landscape of Oregon’s beautiful unspoiled outback. Photo by Kamrin Nielsen

Now, let’s get down to the details. The golf course at Running Y Ranch Resort features 18-holes running the gamut between wide-open, tree-lined, grass-flanked, and very green. Perched at 4,200-feet in elevation on the dry side of the Cascade Mountains, Running Y features an almost Goldilocks mix of verdant trees and over 300 days of sunshine annually.

But don’t just take it from us. Take it from Arnie himself. When he played the course back in the day, he had this to say about his experience:

“The Running Y Ranch Golf Course showcases the spectacular natural landscape of Oregon’s beautiful unspoiled outback. Ambling along meadows and through restored wetlands on the front nine; you will play beside lakes, woodlands and into Payne Canyon on the back. The vision of ‘leave the land as it lies’ played out well in the course design, and I consider it one of my best tracks.”

In fact, the Running Y Ranch Golf Course holds a spot on his “Sweet 16” favorites list, proclaimed by Arnie himself as one of his sixteen best designs worldwide.

There’s also a miniature golf course that totally flips the script on your typical putt-putt experience of yesteryear. Featuring water hazards, sand traps, and sneaky breaks, this putting course challenges even the most seasoned of putting pros, making it great for both kids and grown-ups alike.

What Makes Golfing Here Great

A typically immaculate fairway at Running Y. Photo by Kamrin Nielsen

In case you haven’t yet surmised, one of the biggest attributes of the Running Y Ranch Golf Course is its natural beauty. The blue-gray band of the Cascades looms luxuriously in the distance. Firs and pines frame most of the holes on the back 9. Deer and red-tailed hawks soar overhead in every direction, and the scenery is simply exceptional everywhere you look.

From a sporting perspective though, it also doesn’t get much better. The course has wide, sloped, undulating fairways with big (and quite fast!) greens. The front 9 is expansive and verdant and relatively straightforward if you stay in-bounds, though trouble lurks off the fairway with long grasses and water hazards. The back 9 is narrower with more tree obstacles yet fun and challenging for eye-of-the-needle straight shooters.

Stay and Play at Running Y Ranch Resort

Cold drinks and hot tubs are only a putt away at Running Y. Photo by Kamrin Nielsen

Arguably the best part about golfing at Running Y is the fact that it’s a full-on resort. This isn’t some after-work driving range. This is a destination, a Shangri-la, a mecca for golf lovers from far and wide to come enjoy themselves for a worry-free weekend and leave all their problems (except for that pesky slice) behind.

And in keeping with the resort offerings, Running Y also comes fully equipped with various “Stay and Play” offerings, clinics and lessons, and various other golf specials. Not to mention, for members of the family less keen on the links and keener on the amenities, Running Y also offers one of the top spa resorts in Oregon. So, what are you waiting for? Experience your ultimate Oregon golf getaway in beautiful Klamath County today!

Written by Ry Glover for Matcha in partnership with Discover Klamath Visitor and Convention Bureau.