The Club At Pronghorn, Nicklaus Course

Ever since its 2004 debut, this Jack Nicklaus Signature design wowed a select few members with prehistoric lava rock ridges, firm and fast Old World fairways and greens, and vistas of snowcapped mountain peaks in the Cascade Range. It wasn't until 2010 that it opened its doors to outside play, and it didn't take long for our evaluators to discover that great golf in Oregon is hardly confined to the coast.

While Bend's 3,200-foot elevation makes for feel-good golf and wonderful conditions, it's the layout that catapulted Pronghorn to the highest ranking among the new courses in our 2012 Top 100 You Can Play ranking. The Golden Bear framed most of the holes in sagebrush and stubby juniper trees yet kept playability high, thanks to ample landing areas and hazards positioned diagonally. This allows for bite-off-all-you-dare approaches, nowhere better executed than at the 378-yard, par-4 13th, which boomerangs around a lake and finishes at a green nestled into a rock ridge.

More decisions await at the 15th and 16th, a pair of marvelous par 5s that zigzag through the high-desert trees and shrubs. If your next Oregon golf trip starts on the coast, at Bandon Dunes, consider driving five hours northeast and ending it in the mountains, at Pronghorn.