Golf at Bandon Dunes: A Review and Appreciation
Bandon Dunes Golf Course Grade: A Comment from the teacher: The subject that got everything going. A golfing experience not to be missed. #7 The Top 100 Public Courses according to Golf Digest.
One could argue that Bandon Dunes is the most significant golf course to be constructed in the previous 20 years. The isolated Oregon coast location provided an important response to the question of how far golfers would go for a pure golf experience.
The answer is, “A long way indeed” if the golf is excellent. Since then, the number of remote golf-only resorts has increased (frequently funded by Mike Keiser).
Owner Mike Keiser took a significant risk when he founded Bandon Dunes. It might not seem like a good idea to hire an unknown architect to design a Scottish links-style course on a remote section of the Oregon Coast. But it was later discovered that David McLay Kidd was a top-tier golf architect. Initially, Bandon Dunes was a top-notch golf course. Today, Bandon Dunes Golf Resort is a top-tier golf destination with three more courses (Bandon Trails, Pacific Dunes, and Old MacDonald). Additionally, Bandon Dunes led to the development of remote golf sites.
Kidd had in mind a purely golfing experience:
“There is no real estate, no golf carts, and no beach clubhouse. The routing, in my mind, had the form of a symphony: a powerful opening, a sense of expectancy, brief crescendos, and an amazing closing section along the Pacific.
Although I haven’t had the good fortune to play in Scotland, I believe David McLay Kidd did his best to replicate the Scottish golfing experience as closely as possible on the Oregon coast. The race travels through the dunes along the coast. Fairways move quickly and are really hard. Wide fairways provide a variety of approaches to the green. The size of the greens necessitates precise technique. Most US golfers are unfamiliar with the rule that shots be played along the ground. The wind is another factor. It’s always windy.
In fact, seven of the holes at Bandon Dunes start, play, or finish along bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, as Kidd describes in his book. The views at Pacific Dunes are simply breathtaking. They are unlike anything I’ve ever seen. There is a bench with a view of the links, beach, and Pacific Ocean right off the seventeenth tee. I could have gladly stood there for hours just gazing at the water.
I had very little time as it was. My close friend John Duvall from IntoTheGrain.Com took this picture. After a difficult set of holes, there is something about the sound of the sea and the breezes in the grass that clears the mind.
The final twelve holes at Bandon Dunes are carved out of the rocky wastelands that lie behind the dunes and along the cliffs that overlook the ocean. Fairways and putting greens on the course are like an oasis in the middle of a sand-filled desert. For golfers (like myself) who are not used to the strict, windy conditions, Bandon Dunes is a challenging course. It calls for some significant change. All conventional club-distance calculations must be rethought in light of the wind and terrain. Except for players who can simply dominate a course, Bandon Dunes requires adaptability and creativity. Whether it makes sense or not, you must first visualise what you want the ball to perform before selecting the appropriate club. At Bandon Dunes, I put with a hybrid from fifty yards out for the majority of the week.
Bandon Dunes measures 7, 212 yards and plays to a 76.8/150 from the back tees. It measures 6, 221 yards from the green tees and plays to a 71.4/133.
The sixteenth hole was my favourite. It’s also possibly Bandon Dunes’ most recognisable hole. The par four holes is 363 yards long and has a split fairway. Although farther from the tee, the higher fairway offers a shorter and straighter approach. A shot over several sand dunes and waste must be made to reach the lowest tier.
Two of my three playing companions very nearly drove the green with a strong breeze at our backs. One missed the mark from the back tees. Another shot, one off the tee, soared over the green. His ball was never discovered.
I played nicely to the left and needed two shots to get to the green after chunking the first one.
The Par 4 fourth was a hole that I also enjoyed very much. The fairway, which is approached from a slightly elevated tee, curves to the left and descends to the green. The hole’s outside perimeter is defined by a ridge of dunes, and the abandoned bunkers act as a target. The green (below) is situated on the edge of a cliff with a view of the Pacific and is protected on the left by a bunker. Do not linger.