Black Butte Ranch, OR – Everyone has his favorite Seinfeld episodes. Whether it be the "No Soup For You" episode or the "Marine Biologist" show or even the "Hamptons." Well, you remember ... shrinkage.
There are many and we can go on and on, but after spending time in central Oregon at Black Butte Ranch, all I could think about was "Serenity Now."
It's when George's father Frank Costanza shouts out serenity now every time his blood pressure rises.
Although I have had my bouts with slightly elevated blood pressure recently, my time in Oregon was just what the doctor ordered.
It's hard not to stop the car from the Redmond Airport just to take in the magnificent scenery of the Cascade Mountains, including the Three Sisters and Mt. Hood. I didn't and I have the pictures to prove it.
From the moment you reach the resort community, you're greeted with a calming of life. Sounds of the wind whistling through the Ponderosa Pines, and guess what, no horns blaring or the busy hustle-bustle of the big city.
This is pure relaxation at its best.
Standing on the 11th tee box of the Big Meadow Golf Course, I said to my playing partner, "Dave, do you hear that?" His answer was no, as he looked at me quizzically. I said, "That's right," because all we heard were birds singing and the deer rustling in the woods.
Black Butte Ranch is just that ... and a whole lot more.
Golf was the main focus of this excursion and BBR did not disappoint.
The original course at the resort, Big Meadow, opened over 40 years ago and was designed by Robert Muir Graves. Just recently, Damian Pascuzzo and his design team came in and renovated much of the course, stretching it to over 7,000 yards.
Tree-lined fairways still adorn the course, but the venue is now more defined, with its flashy bunkers, elevation changes and stellar views, especially on the 14th with a amazing view of Three Fingered Jack in the distance.
However, all the attention recently has been awarded to the freshly completed redesign of the Glaze Meadow Golf Course. And rightfully so.
Opened 10 years after its sister course, Glaze Meadow was crafted by local- golf-professional-turned-course-architect Gene "Bunny" Mason.
Over the seasons, the course deteriorated and was in need of a major overhaul. Even the original design was in question, especially the first hole, which was often referred to as the worst opening hole in the state.
Several architects were brought in, but it was Oregon's own John Fought who got the contract.
The former two-time PGA Tour winner and U.S. Amateur champion has had a long history in the golf profession, first as an amateur, where he played four years at BYU and competed for the United States in the Walker Cup. His seven years on the PGA Tour earned him a pair of wins and Rookie of the Year honors in 1979.
Fought began a new chapter in his life, working with Bob Cupp golf design before starting his own firm in the 1990s.
Fought has made quite a name for himself in the golf design business, especially with his work at Pumpkin Ridge and The Reserve Vineyards & Golf Club in Oregon and his restoration work at Pine Needles Golf Club in North Carolina.
With a budget of $3.5 million, Fought began the redesign in 2010.
His first order of business included a change at the start, redesigning the first hole from a double-dogleg par-5 with trees in the middle of the fairway to a downhill par-4 that bends to the right, with sensational vistas of the region.
In addition, the second hole was transformed from a par-4 into a 583-yard par-5 with an elevated tee and a turn to the left.
Oh, there were other changes, like the rebuilding of all 18 greens and teeing grounds, all new bunkers and one of the biggest differences, the removal of thousands of trees.
This certainly did not come easily, but Fought and his team assured all property owners and concerned management, that this was a necessity.
The end result is a course that was increased almost 500 yards to over 7,000 from the black markers with a slope of 133. Shotmaking values were heightened, sightlines were improved and the conditioning of the course was significantly enhanced. Just take a look back when you reach the seventh green and gaze upward toward Black Butte Mountain. It appears close enough that you can touch it.
When the next set of golf magazines state rankings comes out, Glaze Meadow is certain to make its mark.
But golf is just part of the story at Black Butte Ranch.
Cycling is an enormous part of the landscape at the resort. From the simple 1.5-mile Aspen loop to the more rigorous Lodge Loop of five miles. With a little coaxing, I would have tried this, but the Spa was calling.
Trust me when I tell you that a journey from the East Coast out west requires some work to the body. They have couples massages, bridal packages, back treatments, facials and more, but the kicker is the "Hot Stone Massage" for 90 minutes. Stay awake if you can, this is a must. My body sighs when I think about it.
In addition, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, river rafting and horseback riding are other avenues of recreation at Black Butte. Talk about a serene experience.
If tennis is your game, there are 19 courts bandied about the resort, where you're sure to find a match or two.
Following a day of activities, the culinary choices are rock solid.
With views of the surrounding mountains, the Lodge Restaurant is the resort's top spot, showcasing a wonderful display of locally organic delights.
I'm a meat man, and the Coffee & Cocoa Pork Tenderloin is to die for, not to mention the Herb Elk Loin. But the Wild King Salmon or the Applewood Smoked Halibut should not be overlooked if it's seafood you seek.
It all sounds too good to be true, right? Well, it's not.
Toss in several incredible package deals, like four rounds of golf and lodging for four nights for just $255. Are you kidding me?
Although there are plenty of places to visit nearby, like Bend and Sisters, Ore., there is no reason to leave the property. From a general store, complete with all of the necessities to a post office, and even a police and fire department.
Oh and by the way, this is only the summer. Can you imagine what the winter months and snow on the nearby Cascade's have to offer.
Serenity now ... indeed.