Pumpkin Ridge, Witch Hollow Rankings:
Golf Digest: #8 Oregon
GolfWeek: #151 US Modern Courses
Designer: Bob Cupp (1992)
Most golf enthusiasts are familiar with the Witch Hollow course at Pumpkin Ridge for a number of reasons: It opened in 1992 as one of the top two new courses in the country; it still hosts an annual Web.com Tour playoff event (the Winco Foods Portland Open, from which 25 players earn their PGA Tour cards); it has hosted numerous national championships for women and juniors; and, most notably, it was the site of the 1996 US Amateur Championship where Tiger Woods won his third and last national amateur championship in one of the greatest playoff contests ever: A 38th hole sudden death victory over Steve Scott.
The tournaments that have been hosted on the Witch Hollow course are many, including:
- 1996 US Amateur Championship (Tiger Woods)
- 1997 US Women’s Open Championship (Alison Nicholas)
- 2000 US Girls’ Junior Championship (Lisa Ferrero)
- 2000 US Junior Amateur Championship (Matthew Rosenfeld)
- 2003 US Women’s Open Championship (Hilary Lunke)
- 2006 US Women’s Amateur Championship (Kimberly Kim)
- 2014 Winco Foods Portland Open (Carlos Ortiz)
- 2015 Winco Foods Portland Open (Dicky Pride)
At over 7,000 yards from the tips, with tight fairways and quick, perfectly manicured greens, Witch Hollow is the private club half of Pumpkin Ridge in North Plains, Oregon. A short 30-40 minute drive from the Portland city center, Pumpkin Ridge is a world away from the big city’s skyline. The only skyline visible here is the prehistoric tree lines that tower hundreds of feet in the air, with mountains beyond them on the horizon. It is a beautiful setting for great golf, to say the least, and Witch Hollow joins the Ghost Creek course at Pumpkin Ridge as a duo of top 100 tracks that are well worth getting away from civilization for.
Designed by Bob Cupp and opened in 1992 as the number two new course in the country, Pumpkin Ridge wasted no time jumping in to the spotlight, being featured for some of the country’s most prestigious amateur and professional tournaments early and often.
Unlike most courses built in the last 25 years, the greens at Pumpkin Ridge, and at Witch Hollow especially, are small and well contoured. This is in stark contrast to most new era designs that often feature greens averaging 4,000 or more square feet, allowing for approach shots with a much higher margin for error.
The target golf at Witch Hollow demands a variety of clubs and shot shapes; the conditions are spectacular, and the scenery is beautiful. What more could a golf enthusiast ask for?
Witch Hollow starts in similar fashion to its sister course, Ghost Creek, with a straight-forward par four with a slight veer to the right. Trees line the left side of the driving area, and a good drive will leave a short shot in.
A look at the small first hole green from off the back:
The second is a strong par three, with a raised green that falls off on all sides.
The third is intimidating off the tee, with trees surrounding the fairway on both sides. Keep the drive straight as the most challenging aspect of this mid-range par four is the approach: Over water to a minuscule putting surface.
The small pond that fronts the green is as clear as any I have ever seen on a golf course.
The first par five on the Witch Hollow course, the fourth plays from just under 500 yards from the second tees in, and 533 from the tips (which I was playing). The fairway bends right to left, and runs between a multitude of sand traps that flank both sides of the playing surface. The green is multi-tiered, with a substantial ridge separating the left and right sides.
A tough, long par three, the fifth has a narrow green from back to front, and requires great distance control to avoid the bunkers long, which result in a short, delicate downhill recovery toward the pond that fronts the front-right of the green.
The miss on five is definitely left.
The sixth is one of the toughest holes on the Witch Hollow course at Pumpkin Ridge. Tight between trees, this dogleg left is long at over 400 yards and has one of the most well-guarded greens on the entire property. A small creek runs through the approach area, making laying up a challenge to reconsider if not sure about distance control on the long approach over water.
The right side of the green is the safest spot for an approach shot, or for running the ball on to:
The longest par five on the course, the seventh tees up from 623 yards from the back tees, and plays over the initial cross bunkers to a fairway that runs green-ward to the left. This is not a reachable par five in two, so use the second shot to set up something manageable for the approach while avoiding the litany of sand traps that flank the fairway.
A short par four, the eighth is a bit of a reprieve after some seriously challenging holes! The driving area on eight is very reasonable, especially with the seventh fairway left for anything hit overly errant. Position is important off the tee on eight, as the fairway traps have to be managed to leave a short wedge approach over them.
The front-left portion of the green is recessed and the green is heavily contoured, so strong wedge play is necessary for any chance at birdie.
Maybe my favorite hole on the entire course, the long par four ninth is a great finish to the front nine. The hole is a 467-yard dogleg left behemoth that plays over an ocean of fescue toward the corner bunkers that separate the shorter and longer sides of the fairway. Hitting over this trap will leave a more direct shot in to the green, as anything short of it could require a high [understatement] draw around the 150-foot tall fir trees to find the green (or else end up in the right green-side bunker).
The Witch Hollow course’s back nine starts adjacent to the halfway house, where golfers can grab a quick sandwich, snacks and other refreshments.
The tenth is a long par three over fescue. Two sand traps left and two middle-short protect the tenth against any tee shots hit short, while the short treeline long gives the impression that going long can be disastrous.
This was the par three that Tiger Woods defeated Steve Scott on in the 38th hole of a sudden death playoff in the 1996 US Amateur.
A dogleg left par five, the eleventh is much more manageable than it’s 623-yard predecessor, although it still has some teeth at 553 from the tips. The key defense of this green at being hit in two is the tall tree that guards it short-right. Any long approach will have to find its way to the side or over this pine tree, while still carrying the traps beyond it.
I was doing really well on all of the par threes at Pumpkin Ridge, hitting every green up until I got to the twelfth at Witch Hollow. The distance was perfect for my game: A simple eight-iron over the water to a green that slopes from back to front.
After waiting about ten minutes for a father and his kids to clear the green, I caught it a bit too clean and flew the green and cart path to a downslope near the next tee box. My attempted flop shot from there was short, and my next approach rolled down the green and nearly in to the water. I took a five and learned my lesson: There are not many places to miss on this par three!
At around 400 yards, the par four thirteenth is a slightly easier driving hole than most at Pumpkin Ridge because the left side is actually fairly open. The fairway bunker on that side is well within reach, but the right-side treeline is a bit more sparse than most. The small green is situated between sand traps, and the left side is preferred.
The shortest par five on the course, the fourteenth is just 470 yards from both the tips and first tees in, but plays like a much longer hole. The tee shot needs to get past the left-side tree line, where the fairway bends in that direction.
With another long approach over water, the green is short from front to back, and breaks hard toward the water on the left side. A deep trap also protects the right-side entrance to this green. I found that one on my approach, but still managed a kick-in two-putt for par.
A shorter par three, the fifteenth plays over three deep sand traps in front to a plateaued green that has some interesting breaks in it. As with all par threes on Bob Cupp’s Witch Hollow course, club selection is critical on this one-shotter for any chance at par.
A long par four, the sixteenth is manageable off the tee but a challenge nearer the green. A bevy of sand traps surround the putting surface, and a front hole location left a very tricky approach shot on what was made almost in to a punch bowl.
Speaking of punch bowl greens, the one on seventeen is a doozy! The fairway runs from right to left, and has traps running the majority of the right side of it, as well as two that protect the green. The green is risen on the sides, running everything toward the middle.
The eighteenth on the Witch Hollow course is a tough finishing hole! The marshlands straight ahead and barely within driving distance for long hitters, but position is key here to setting up a shot through the chute of trees that leads toward the green and clubhouse.
The second shot, if in proper position, is played between tall pine trees right at the pro shop, and requires a huge cut to reach in two. Choose a club you can hit straight, for sure, as anything in the woods (or worse, in the waste area) will make finishing with birdie or par next to impossible.
As with most of the greens at Pumpkin Ridge, the eighteenth green complex is small and breaks hard – playing here as a home course must make some excellent golfers, as there are very few easy approaches or putts, and the majority of the driving areas are quite demanding.
Location: North Plains, OR
Yardage: Black-7015, Blue-6506, White-6000, Red-5270
Slope/Rating: Black-142/74.9, Blue-140/72.4, White-132/69.9, Red-125/66.7
Weekend Rates: N/A (private club)
Pumpkin Ridge, Witch Hollow Website
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