When the 9-hole Christmas Valley Golf Course was built in 1963, the 3321 yards from the blue tees (longest official tees) was among the longest in Oregon – that is 6642 yards for 18 holes. In addition to the narrow fairways with sagebrush lining the sides, small greens, and windy conditions, this golf course in the middle of nowhere has always provided a tough test of golf.
As the head greenskeeper of the course, I took the liberty to create an even tougher test of golf for those who dare to try, the black tees.
The black tees are designated with a black tee and an orange flag, so golfers can spot them on the outskirts of the rough in the native grass. They don’t have their own tee box, but this doesn’t really matter considering golfers will have to tee it up anyway.
The golf course is traditionally a par 36 or 72 layout, but from the black tees, it turns into a par 35 or 70 layout. Although unofficial, the black tees have accurate yardage marked on the tees themselves. This yardage is around 3,595 yards for 9 holes, or 7,190 yards for 18 holes. From the black tees, the yardage is 7,190 yards with a par of 70. Here are the 9 holes (the actual yardage is a bit longer, as I've noticed on some holes since writing this -- it is around this length):
#1: 180 par 3
#2: 380 par 4
#3: 460 par 4
#4: 515 par 4
#5: 220 par 3
#6: 605 par 5
#7: 425 par 4
#8: 400 par 4
#9: 410 par 4
The 4th hole is the toughest as a 515-yard par 4 doglegged left; generally, the wind is blowing against you on this hole as well.
The terrain is essentially flat on all of the holes, except for the 9th hole which goes slightly uphill from tee to green. The 6th hole, a 605-yard par 5 has a blind tee shot that has to go over the sagebrush to find a narrow fairway around 30 yards wide.
I’ve ventured to play the black tees a few times and it is a brutal test.
My intention in creating the black tees was to challenge even the best elite golfers with the Christmas Valley Golf Course. Being at such a high elevation (4300 ft.), I think it is a fair test for those willing to take up the challenge.
With golf courses for the Majors always getting longer and harder, I wanted to see how difficult this old course could really be. The black tees gave me the answer, as this is about the most difficult the old course could be.