Fiddler’s Green is a golf destination, even if it is an atypical one.
When I arrived at Fiddler’s the first thing I noticed was the gigantic rectangular building jutting out from the course. To be fair, it was pretty hard to miss. Though, I guess it would have to be to have earned the title “Largest on course Pro Shop in America.”
When I first spoke with Al Whalen, Owner and General Manager at Fiddler’s Green, I had to ask him what made the Pro Shop so special that it could thrive in a relatively remote location? Al pointed to several factors which he believed gave the Pro Shop at Fiddler’s an advantage over their competition.
He was very proud of his staff and the environment they had created at Fiddler’s for people to try out clubs.
Al said “Fiddler’s is a great place for rookie as well as more experienced golfers, because our staff knows how to steer you. They are not pressure salespersons who’s aim it is to get you to purchase the hottest equipment regardless of how it fits your game.” There is no fitting fee at Fiddler’s, and their staff act as neutral arbiters guiding you to your ideal equipment.
The building and land at Fiddler’s are owned outright, so Fiddler’s has relatively low overhead, which translates to lower prices.
The vastness of the Pro Shop at Fiddler’s allows them to carry unique clubs and gear. They have built a reputation as the place to go if you happen to be nearly seven feet tall and want a typical golf club outfitting experience.
Al said “We were able to outfit Clyde Drexler when he was with the Trailblazers because we have clubs for tall people in stock. We carry more of the fringe clubs and apparel; we have size 18 shoes in stock.”
As Fiddler’s reputation has grown, so has their client base. Al explained that Fiddler’s has a number of unique clients. He told of uber rich (and uber tall) tycoons who will fly their private planes to Eugene from cities around the country, and hop a quick cab to purchase equipment in their sizes and on the shelves. Fiddler’s attracts a number of serious golfers picking equipment up on their way to rounds at Bandon Dunes and other Oregon golf destinations. There are also the people who travel up and down I-5 for business and take the quick detour to Fiddler’s Green because golf is their passion, a way to unwind.
“Men don’t buy much, but they buy their passion” Al explained. And for many golf is a passion, and Fiddler’s makes an effort to cater to all golfers from the experienced to “the rookie.”
I asked Al if there were any other advantages the Pro Shop at Fiddler’s has?
“We have a full driving range and golf course attached, that’s a huge advantage. Rather than hitting into nets which tell you your drive just went 320 yards you are able to go out to the range and see that it’s really only going 260. You get to see how the ball is actually responding to the club.”
After Al’s explanation it became pretty obvious that having a course attached to the shop was indeed a huge advantage. Personally, I would love to try new clubs out in a real environment before I purchased, and what better way than to hit actual shots into real greens? And, although it’s primarily an executive track, the course at Fiddler’s Green is not simply an afterthought.
When I spoke with Al about the role the course at Fiddler’s Green plays in the wider golf spectrum he gave me three reasons for people to drive up Highway 99 just to play the course. He said, “the course is great for beginners, people with time restrictions, and individuals who want to work on their short game.”
On the day of my visit the course was in impeccable shape; a credit to Ian Daniels, the young but experienced Superintendent. Every shot I hit felt fair. There where no surprises lurking under the surface of the grass. Everything was smooth and well manicured. The grass around the greens was closely mown and easy to chip from and the greens themselves were moderately paced and consistent. Which, considering this is a course that invites people to leave the driver at home and focus more on clubs which can really improve scoring, is exactly what it should be.
Being neither a beginner nor having serious time restrictions I decided to focus on my short game at Fiddler’s. Although the course is primarily par 3’s I was impressed at the intervals of distance from tee to green. Playing, it felt like every hole was 10-15 yards different in length from the hole previous. So, if I hit a 7-iron to the green at the fifth hole, and the sixth was 15 yards shorter, I pulled my 8-iron and made a confident stroke.
A course that builds confidence is a perfect place to bring less experienced golfers. The rates are reasonable; adults play 9 holes for $9 and 18 holes for $15, juniors and seniors play 9 for $7 and 18 for $12, and range balls are only $1.50/token.
Confidence. It’s such an important word when playing a game as intricate as golf, and I felt like the course at Fiddler’s Green was honest with me and helped build my confidence with each successive shot.
Fiddler’s Green has the tools to make you a better golfer and prepare you for your next big golf outing. It has the Pro Shop to outfit you properly, the course and range to help you work on your shots, and you’ll be building confidence in your game which will carry over to longer and more challenging courses.