Published February 08, 2011
Going to Bend? Use conciergeBart Potter, Contributing writer
If I ever wanted to exercise my right to be truly golf-deranged, I know the guy who can set up my five-day 18-36-36-36-18 road trip. He’s in Bend, Ore., and he’s got 22 golf courses and the Central Oregon high desert at his fingertips. This means he knows where to hang when we’re done playing golf, and where to tuck ourselves in early before the next long day. His proper title might be operations manager, but Tommy Berg answers most often to “concierge.” His domain is the Central Oregon Golf Trail (www.centraloregongolftrail.com), and he’s the man to see to design a golf-and-lodging package to your specs, no charge, thanks for coming. Berg will be in Seattle this weekend for the Seattle Golf and Travel Show (Friday-Sunday) at the Qwest Field Event Center. The Central Oregon Golf Trail is the show’s official golf travel destination this year. Your concierge can make the tee times for your single round at, say, Crooked River Ranch on your way to town and your getaway round at Juniper, if you like, on your way home. He’ll book you for 36 holes at Tetherow, because he knows it’s especially rewarding the second time around. He’ll get you on one course in the morning and another in the afternoon, if that’s what you want, and he’ll make sure you know where to grab a bite. He’ll recommend the courses a scratch player should not miss; he’ll steer the average golfer to the courses that won’t beat him up. “We have 22 golf courses, and there’s not a course that somebody would play and not enjoy it,” Berg said. “I can fill any itinerary with our golf courses.” Berg, 31, is a kid from Kelso who learned to play at Three Rivers Golf Course in his hometown. He’s a credentialed PGA professional, and he’s worked as a pro at Widgi Creek and Awbrey Glen (both Golf Trail courses) and at Seattle Golf Club. He returned to Bend to start his own golf concierge business. Now, he does that work for the Central Oregon Golf Trail, which was created in February 2010. Berg is fluent in Central Oregon. He knows which local beers to seek out among the seven brew pubs in the region. He’ll book your lift ticket when you want to ski instead. He’ll point you to family-friendly bicycle loops or hardcore mountain bike trails. More than anything else, Berg knows the golf disease. He understands there are some symptoms that can only be soothed by an 18-36-36-36-18. GOLF SHOW With its more than 200 exhibitors, the Seattle Golf and Travel Show focuses more than ever this year on the courses in the region and how to get there and stay there. Again this year, you get a free round of golf with your paid adult admission – choose from among Eaglemont in Mount Vernon, Highlander in East Wenatchee, The Resort at Port Ludlow, and The Classic in Spanaway. Golf show hours are noon to 6 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $12 for adults; $5 for ages 15-17; and free to youth 14 and under. Tickets are available on-line through www.seattlegolfshow.com, or at the door. Discounted $10 adult tickets will be available for advance purchase at Puetz Golf Superstores. IS IT WORTH IT? The Seattle Golf and Travel Show is directly adjacent to the Seattle RV Show this weekend (combination ticket: $15), a happy accident of scheduling given the golf show’s increased emphasis on golf travel destinations. Before we even get out the calculator to see if an RV makes sense for your road trip, there are some obvious pros and cons. Pros: Plenty of room for golf clubs, luggage and supplies; legroom; built-in sleeping, bathing and cooking quarters. Cons: 1. The cost of gasoline; 2. The cost of gasoline; 3. “Sleeps four” doesn’t necessarily mean comfortably; 4. It’s an RV. The standard joke in RV Nation is it’s not miles per gallon, it’s gallons per mile. Let’s say 10 mpg for our calculations, which is about average, and better than we might have guessed. So: four grown men are heading to, let’s say, Bend, for a four-day, three-night trip in, say, September for – just for instance – golf. This presupposes (please) that none of them owns a motorhome. One South Sound dealer offers fall rental rates of $104 (sleeps four) or $189 (sleeps six) per night. Our frugal dudes go cheap, so: $312. The most direct route from Olympia to Bend is I-5 to Portland, then Highway 26 southeasterly to Madras and south on Highway 97 to Redmond and Bend. It’s about 300 miles, so figuring some in-town driving, you’re talking 65 gallons of gas (at 10 miles per) for the roundtrip. At $3.25 a gallon, that’s about $210. RV park hookups are 50 bucks, more or less, so: $150. All in all: gas and lodging, $672, or $168 a person. Compared to what? Four guys in, say, an SUV. You might get about twice the gas mileage, so: $105. Guessing hotel lodging will cost around $615. Total for gas and lodging, for a road trip in a conventional vehicle: $720, or $240 a person. If you’ve read this far, you’re old enough not to dismiss RV golf travel out of hand. Your objection, then, is one of style rather than substance (see No. 4 under “Cons”). That’s a hard one to get around.