Built in Columbia River lowlands just minutes from downtown Portland, and offering clear views of Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens, Heron Lakes is a flagship of urban public golf. At Robert Trent Jones II we believe that golf courses can serve as the lungs of a city. Heron Lakes helps Portlanders take a deep, fresh breath. The first course opened in 1968, while the second was created nine holes at a time in the late 80s and early 90s.
The original 6,608-yard Greenback Course is a flexible layout featuring elevated, bunker-framed greens and a generally easy-going demeanor. This parkland-style course attracts beginners, seniors, and others who welcome a moderate challenge in a beautiful setting. Greenback incorporates trees, six ponds, and 86 bunkers as it plays toward large, welcoming greens.
But the Great Blue Course (named after the course's heron rookery) is a favorite challenge among Portland golfers. The 6,916-yard course's fairways ramble between Scottish-style mounds and pose a collection of excellent risk/reward riddles from all four sets of tees.
Many locals consider the 466-yard par-four eighth hole among the toughest to solve. Big hitters can attempt to squeak a long drive between a line of trees and a pond that guards the fairway, but more conservative players will opt for a three-wood or long iron aimed at a directional bunker, leaving a long approach shot into a green tucked against the pond's edge. Great Blue's three finishing holes all present classic risk-reward dilemmas. The par-four sixteenth fairway is split by a lake and wetlands; in a tournament several years ago, NFL quarterback Jack Trudeau made a hole-in-one by hitting a prodigious drive into the left fairway that bounced over a deep bunker, onto the green and into the hole. Seventeen unfurls between a slough and bunkered mounds for its entire 523-yard length. The eighteenth green is tucked behind a lake that runs parallel to the right side of the hole.