Golf and wine in Monroe: 'Enough away from town but yet still close'

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      MONROE, Ore. - The drive on Territorial Road may feel remote, but it's on this spot near Monroe where 15 years ago, Jeff Doyle and his brother Greg set to work building an 18-hole course.

      "It's enough away from town but yet still close enough that the drive's not that bad," general manager Jeff Doyle said.

      A bad drive at Diamond Woods can land you in trouble. But you're only a good sandblast away from saving par.

      "The fairways make it difficult enough to the point where you're not playing the same shot every time you come out and play this course," golfer Floyd Bard said.

      "The big slope is pretty predominant, so you might be looking at a green thinking it's level, but it'll always break a little more. We call it the Territorial Road effect because that's the farthest west of the property," Jeff said.

      After 15 years, the Doyles aren't content to sit and relax. They admit they have to think about what that word means.

      "R-E-L-A-X. It's a five-letter word. I don't want to say we don't relax, because I think it's relaxing for both of them to think about new things to do," Jeff's wife Liz said. Liz is the marketing director for the course.

      "We only at this point keep trying to make it just a little bit nicer," Jeff said.

      The Doyles have since built a four-bedroom lodge that they rent out to everyone from visiting golfers and brides-to-be.

      "Once they get out here and see the views, and the gentlemen that usually come with them are all about, 'oh, you get golf? OK, that works,'" Liz said.

      The Doyle brothers aren't the only ones to put down roots near Monroe. Several of their neighbors have literally put down roots.

      The Willamette Valley isn't just golfing country, it's also wine country.

      "We're in the rain shadow of the highest part of the coast range between Green Peak and Mary's Peak and the only part of the Coast Range that's above 4,000 feet. And so we have a little microclimate here that's producing some outstanding wines," Sweet Earth Vineyard owner Phil McCullum said.

      Phil and Nancy aren't ones to relax either. The former educators have spent nearly a decade as students, quickly learning how to bottle award winning wine on 15 acres.

      "For us to think about retiring and then sitting and looking at each other saying, 'now what?' just didn't seem to fit," Nancy said.

      But the McCullums have fit in nicely with their neighboring vineyards. There are around seven wineries within a few miles of Monroe.

      "It makes it more of a destination, people think about traveling through it," Nancy said.

      "We open at noon and people start coming in about 11:30," Phil said.

      Phil says after bud break, his soon to be flowering grapes are off to an early start. What he predicts will be a good growing season. And you can swing away or sit and sip and it's all in a day's drive.

      Diamond Woods currently offers a family fun night. A group of four can come out and play starting at 4 p.m. with a tee time for just $25 so long as one of the players is under 18.