The Best Portland-Area Public Golf Courses

Here are the best 18-hole, public golf courses in the Portland metro area.

By Sam Stites

For Oregonians who love golf, the season is almost upon us. But if you’re like me, you’ve probably been playing throughout the “offseason” in spite of less-than-stellar conditions. With the arrival of spring and more sunshine, courses begin tuning up their groundskeeping, which means fairways are cut to perfection, greens are rolling fast, and landing in those pesky bunkers won’t feel like hitting off concrete. It’s time to hit the range and get that swing into peak form so you and your favorite foursome can enjoy some of these truly great public golf courses that the Portland metro region has to offer.

Best for a Regular Round: Langdon Farms

Aurora | 22 minutes from Downtown

There isn’t any type of golfer who won’t have a blast playing at Langdon Farms. Not only is it one of the best-conditioned courses in the region—and likely the state—it also drains really well, making it a great place to play no matter the weather or season. This course has all the swank of a private club while simultaneously committing itself to a “public only” vibe with farmhouse charm. There are no bad holes, and the pace of play is always decent. The signature red barn on the par-four eighth hole is not only an icon, it’s also an inviting place for 25+ handicap golfers (such as yours truly) to misplace an approach shot. If the barn doesn’t get you, the greenside bunker shielding the pin will. The par-three third hole is rated as second easiest on course, but it’s one of the most fun with a near 180-yard downhill tee shot to a tight green with one bunker to the right. The challenge and convenience of this course make it an easy choice for weekend warriors and scratch golfers alike to play year-round.

Cost: $$$ | Difficulty: ✭✭✭✭

The course at Langdon Farms near Aurora, Oregon, is so well-manicured it feels like a crime to leave to divot. 

Best for a Rare Treat: Ghost Creek

North Plains | 28 minutes from Downtown

Ghost Creek is an impeccable course when the sun is shining and conditions are perfect. It’s the public side of the 36-hole golf complex at Pumpkin Ridge, host to many big golf events such as the 1996 U.S. Amateur Championship (won by some guy named Tiger Woods) and the first stop of the 2022 LIV Golf Tour on U.S. soil. Parts of the course have a wide-open linksy feel, the rest is lined with oppressively large trees eager to give you a bad kick deeper into the woods. The course’s namesake creek snakes throughout several holes and becomes a problem, as does long, natural grass lining tee shots. This course is both a pain in the ass and a delight, but the price and sub-optimal conditions in bad weather mean it’s one that you only get to enjoy once or twice a year.

Cost: $$$ | Difficulty: ✭✭✭✭

Best for Impressing Your Boss: The Reserve Vineyards and Golf Club

Aloha | 26 minutes from Downtown

Need to butter up your CEO for that promotion you’re about to ask for? Book a round for you and the boss at one of the reserve’s two 18-hole courses and consider yourself promoted. This 36-hole complex rotates so that non-members get to access both sides on offsetting months. The grandeur of the clubhouse is matched only by the near flawless conditions. The course’s restaurant is also a prime place to grab a post-round meal, or drinks to seal the deal if your golf game didn’t impress.

Cost: $$$ | Difficulty: ✭✭✭✭

Best for a Challenge: Stone Creek Golf Club

Oregon City | 35 minutes from Downtown

There are a few holes at Stone Creek that are downright brutal and can haunt you for rounds to come. Why? There is a ton of water, the undulation is dramatic throughout, and the greens are fast. The front nine feels wide open (which isn’t always good) while the back is more confined (which can complicate things if you’re not precise off the tee).  There’s also a sneaky amount of elevation gain which can leave you fatigued at the end of 18 holes. What the course lacks in facilities it more than makes up for in creative course design and conditioning, both of which will leave you frustrated and wanting to come back as soon as possible.  

Cost: $$ | Difficulty: ✭✭✭✭

Best for a Pre- or Post-Work Round: Heron Lakes Golf Club

North Portland | 15 minutes from Downtown

Located on the site of the flooded city of Vanport, Heron Lakes is the pride of Portland Parks and Recreation. Its 36 holes are known to offer both challenging (Great Blue) and recreational (Greenback) golf. This course lives up to its name with both plenty of giant birds and water. It’s also home to an abundance of critters like nutria, rabbits, frogs, and even coyotes. Being a quick drive from both Portland and Vancouver make Heron Lakes a go-to for those trying to sneak in nine or 18 when they’re pressed for time. Conditions here are typically good as well, so the value for your dollar makes it a great choice for all types of golfers. Just beware that you'll battle a few distractions: planes, trains, and automobiles (race cars, actually). 

Cost: $$ | Difficulty: ✭✭✭

Holes No. 10 and No. 18 of the Great Blue Course at Heron Lakes Golf Club feature views of Mount Hood in the backdrop. 

Best for Relaxation: Quail Valley Golf Course

Banks | 28 minutes from Downtown

A bit of a hidden gem, this course just outside the sleepy town of Banks offers sweeping views of Oregon's north plains and Mount Hood off in the distance. A lack of elevation change and its straightforward yet fun design provide a golf round that is less stressful than most. There’s not a ton of places to lose your ball, which means more time spent golfing and less time searching for your tee shot. The course is really kind to beginners, so if you’ve got a friend who’s interested in golf, bring them here a couple times to boost their confidence. With that said, there’s still a fair amount of trouble to be found in ponds and long grass.

Cost: $ | Difficulty: ✭✭

The 5th hole green at Quail Valley Golf Club near Banks, Oregon. 

Image: Sam Stites

Best for Being in Nature: Wildwood Golf Course

Northwest Portland (closer to Scappoose) | 20 minutes from Downtown

What happens when Oregon’s golf and timber heritage collide? You get Wildwood. Playing this course feels like you’re on a hike through an arboretum, and it is undoubtedly a hike with dramatic elevation gain and fall throughout 18 holes, despite it not being one of the longest courses. Sunsets here are gorgeous, and the creek winding its way through makes it feel like a pristine ecosystem. The clubhouse’s patio makes this 19th hole one of the best in Portland and is a great place to kick back before or after a round. Heck, we’d go here even if we weren't playing golf.  

Cost: $ | Difficulty: ✭✭

Best for Sparking a Hot Debate: Eastmoreland Golf Course

Southeast Portland | 10 minutes from Downtown

Some people love to hate Eastmoreland. The rest of us hate to love it. The tree-lined fairways induce claustrophobia in even the most seasoned golfers and force many creative shots to keep a round on track. There’s no water on the front nine, but six of the holes on the back nine contain either a creek, a pond, or both. Fairways here seem super long because most of them are dead straight, making the few dog-legs peppered in feel like they require extra work to navigate.

Cost: $ | Difficulty: ✭✭✭

The serene setting of holes No. 4 and No. 12 at Eastmoreland Golf Course in southeast Portland can make you forget you're playing smack-dab in the middle of the city. 

Best for Ballers on a Budget: Rose City Golf Course

Northeast Portland | 15 minutes from Downtown

This course nestled into the Rose City neighborhood is a great option if you’re just getting into golf and looking for a fun course to play regularly without the spendy price tag. Rose City is a classic municipal course in that if feels like a city park. The slope here is sneaky tough, and some holes like the dog-leg, par-four 14th hole are super tricky, with woods to your left and McDaniel High School’s athletic complex out of bounds to the right. The facilities here aren’t the show stealer, and the course isn’t known for being the best kept, but if you’re just starting to catch the golf bug, it’s a good place to cut your teeth and make those beginner mistakes without too many consequences.

Cost: $ | Difficulty: ✭✭

Hole No. 2 at Rose City Golf Course in northeast Portland encapsulates the park-like setting of this municipal course. 

Best for Breaking a Sweat: Glendoveer Golf Course 

Northeast Portland | 15 minutes from Downtown

Two 18-hole courses set on a steep hill in Portland’s outer east side are almost as hot-button as Eastmoreland. Some people really hate Glendoveer, but just as many are stoked to call it their home course. Its elevation gain can make it rough for those walking, but that just means you get to reward yourself with an extra beer from Von Ebert Brewing—located on site—at the turn. Glendoveer is also known for its massive evergreen trees and thick brush, which can be problematic for those who have a hard time finding the fairway. Despite being wedged between two major thoroughfares (NE Halsey and Glisan) this course can feel fairly peaceful. That is, until you slice it into a thicket of trees and bushes.

Cost: $ | Difficulty: ✭✭

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