Category: Bandon Dunes

July 31, 2013

Five reasons Bandon Dunes is America's ultimate golf playground

Posted at 3:05 PM by



I don't want to sound like a broken record, but the needle, turntable and amplifier don't lie: Bandon Dunes rocks. With four courses ranked among Golf Magazine's Top 100 You Can Play, Bandon Dunes could have coasted had it wanted to. Instead, they keep adding, keep improving, keep striving. The results are clear and convincing. Bandon Dunes is America's ultimate golf playground.

Here are five things I've learned on the trip so far.

1. Punch Bowl is going to be a knockout. The gigantic putting green project, modeled after the Himalayas at St. Andrews is a sprawling, heaving carpet co-designed by Tom Doak and Jim Urbina that is slated for a September 15 soft opening. So that the Bandon bosses can figure out how it will all work, play will be free of charge until further notice. Situated adjacent to Pacific Dunes' first tee, Punch Bowl unfolds right beneath the Pac Dunes clubhouse. What a scene this will be, with 36 holes, perhaps 18 set up at any one time, with onlookers gathered around the firepit, peering over from the second deck. Plans are to light the course for nighttime fun, not with overhead street lamps, but with ground-level illumination, possibly even including the cups themselves.

2. Put Bandon Preserve at or near the top of the list for the best par-3 courses in golf. I'm not just sayin' that because I claimed the majority of the Skins in our group, either. This little Coore-Crenshaw creation is nearly ideal. With 13 holes, you get the satisfaction of feeling like you played another entire round, which makes it the perfect complement if you're just not up to another full-size 18, either because of fatigue or cost. And, with only 13 holes, you're done pretty quickly -- not that you want to rush through it. Holes range from 63 yards to 147, but when the wind is up, you might have to pull off a headcover a time or two. The 142-yard fifth is a downhill stunner, with an ocean backdrop, but I'm equally fond of the multiple holes that play over or alongside of massive dunes. Still, my favorite might be the 142-yard 11th, which features a canyon carry and some gorgeous trees.

3. Bandon Trails is underrated. I've always appreciated its beauty, sort of a mix between Spyglass Hill and the best alpine courses in the Lake Tahoe area, but with no ocean encounters, a few design quirks and lots of calf-crunching climbs late in a (tiring) round, its impact on me has been muted. No longer. The uphill, par-4 18th has been altered, making it more fair and more fun. Elevating the tee box roughly six feet has eliminated the blind tee shot. The fairway was re-graded, so that it wouldn't shed balls to both sides. The slope leading up to the green was softened and dished out, so that short approaches on the firm, wind-blown turf no longer will come careening down 60 yards, or even right back to your feet. Finally, the green was expanded significantly and lowered perhaps six feet, creating a better amphitheater for a finisher. Additional tweaks to the right side of the second green, to the green at the par-4 15th and to the par-5 16th have enhanced playability. I still think the complex green and its green complex at the short par-4 14th borders on the ridiculous, but overall, I'm left with the idea that Bandon Trails would be a star if it were anyplace else.

4. Pacific Dunes confirmed yet again that it's worthy of its Number 1 ranking on our list of the Top 100 Courses You Can Play. Pebble Beach will always be more special to me, but Pac Dunes wins the side-by-side test. Old Macdonald might be the most fun course at Bandon Dunes, because even in a 4-club wind, it's relatively stress-free off the tee, but for pulse-quickening drama and pure variety, it's Pac, man.

5. There is no better buddies destination in golf than Bandon Dunes. Sure, it can be really tough to get to, with limited and fogged-in flights a problem, both in San Francisco and in North Bend and it's hardly dirt-cheap -- but unquestionably, it's worth the cost and the hassle factor. The testosterone level at McKee's Pub was off the charts this past Saturday night. I counted only one woman in the place who wasn't actually working there. At every table, it was one loud chorus after the next, singing the praises of heroic deeds on the ocean holes, of winning wagers and losing presses and replaying shot after shot, with the promise of doing it all again the next day. This is what we live for.

(Photo: Wood Sabold)

July 25, 2013

Course Spy: Bandon Trails

Posted at 2:35 PM by Joe Passov

Coore and Crenshaw's Bandon Trails ranks 55th in our Top 100 U.S. Courses. (Credit: Steven Gibbons/USGA)

Bandon Trails
Bandon, Ore.
6,765 yards, par 71
Green fees: $75-$235

Like the course itself, it's throwback in spirit without distractions or silly frills. A warm greeting in the pro shop, a quick intro from the starter, and you're off—ideally with one of the seasoned caddies, who are key to understanding the layout's many quirks.

This is one of the few high-end resorts where you never worry about a five-hour round. Laggards, happily, are a rare breed here. If you book a trip to Bandon, you're the kind of player who understands the term "ready golf." We finished in four hours flat.

Quibblers complain that the Coore-Crenshaw creation is not on the water, and that No. 14's tabletop green is unfair. But Trails opens amid dunes, spills into meadows, and journeys through a coastal forest, making it the most varied—and perhaps most interesting—course at Bandon.

In the off-season, prices plummet below $100, so a round at Trails feels like stealing. But even during peak months, the green fees are worth paying. After all, a trek here costs only a fraction of a trip to Scotland, and you get great golf with none of the bagpipe music.

According to our rankings, this is the weakest of Bandon's four 18-hole layouts—which, of course, is damning with high praise. If you make the trip here and play this charmer, there's a great chance you'll come away thinking the course raters got it wrong.

May 16, 2013

New Bandon Muni? Bring It On!

Posted at 1:23 PM by Joe Passov


The 14th hole at Old MacDonald at the Bandon Dunes resort (Courtesy of Bandon Dunes).

The news from coastal Oregon on Wednesday was encouraging. Bandon Dunes domo Mike Keiser met with the governor of Oregon and the Oregon State Parks Department to discuss the fate of a new course he has planned, tentatively called Bandon Muni Golf Links. “There’s no official announcement at this time,” says Bandon Dunes spokesman B.R. Koehnemann, but sources indicate that the meeting resulted in a preliminary agreement for a land swap to take place that will allow for the creation of the 27-hole course. To that, I say, “Bring it on!”

From Day 1 in the spring of 1999, passionate course connoisseurs flocked to Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, the greatest “must-play” public-course mecca ever built in the United States. So significant was its impact that in 2004, Golf Magazine named it No. 34 of the 45 Greatest Golf Moments of the past 45 years. Since then, Keiser has only enhanced the product, exponentially. Naturally, environmentalists from a fistful of factions have raised stop signs -- or at least caution flags -- but if there’s one guy to trust to get things right on the Oregon coast, it’s Keiser.

The plan Keiser has in mind is to create a St. Andrews-style muni operation; while his would be privately owned, it would be operated to benefit locals especially, as is the case with how the St. Andrews Links Trust administers its golf offerings. To that end, Keiser acquired several coastal parcels roughly 15 minutes south of Bandon Dunes and hired golf’s hottest architect, Gil Hanse, to craft 27 holes. That plan has been in place for at least two, perhaps even three years, and Hanse has completed several preliminary routings. However, Keiser has had his eye on some virtually untouched State Park land, replete with massive dunes, scrubby vegetation and magnificent ocean views that would turn his good golf course into a potentially outstanding one. He proposed a land swap with the state government, but his proposal had stalled -- or at least had been idling for many months. Optimism on Keiser’s part had clearly faded -- until now.

The age-old issue of land tampering now rears its head. Do we really need more golf in Bandon? Is it worth it to intrude on such a pristine piece of property? For the state or Oregon to part with such a parcel, there has to be an “overwhelming public benefit,” says a state parks spokesman. Keiser makes a compelling case. He’s asking for a small slice of an otherwise inaccessible plot that’s covered with gorse and other invasive plant species. In exchange he would give up land of equal or greater value, plus cash. He would offer state residents substantial discounts and invite locals from Coos and Curry Counties to play for nominal, even miniscule rates. Juniors would play free of charge and a caddie program will be established to provide jobs for young people.

So long as the bulk of the duneland is maintained in its natural state, this sounds like an “overwhelming public benefit” to me. Thinking that Keiser has kept every promise in keeping Bandon Dunes sustainable and that Gil Hanse embodies the lay-of-the-land, don’t-fight-with-nature-but-rather-work-with-it-kind of architect, the Bandon Muni project seems like a certain home run. There remain many hurdles to overcome, but for now, I’m excited to place Bandon Muni on the front burner.

June 20, 2012

Summer Solstice live tweets: Eamon Lynch and Brandel Chamblee at Bandon Dunes marathon

Posted at 10:56 AM by

Golf Magazine's Eamon Lynch and Golf Channel's Brandel Chamblee played in the summer solstice marathon at  Bandon Dunes -- all four courses, 72 holes, in one day. Here's a sample of the tweets and photos from their adventure.











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