Golf as you once remembered it: softer, gentler Bandon Crossings feels like home
The Bandon Dunes Resort succeeds mightily in what it’s trying to be: modern, comfortable hotel and resort facilities but golf courses at their most elemental: fast, firm and subject to mother nature on remote, barren coastline. It’s fairways are among the widest I’ve ever seen, and the greens are enormous (in my mind, only the Old Course in St. Andrews’ are bigger). After six rounds in three days, 80-foot putts and Texas wedges from 30 yards off the green seem all too commonplace.
But after walking 108 holes on its firm dunes in 72 hours, there was no sweeter sight Friday morning than soft, small, bent grass greens and our very own golf cart at the new Bandon Crossings down the road. The Bandon Crossings golf course isn’t affiliated with Bandon Dunes, but helps add to the newfound golf destination that has become the remote seaside town in southern Oregon. It’s only getting bigger, with Bandon Dunes’ 4th links course, Old MacDonald, scheduled to open by 2010. There are even mutterings of a potential 5th course one day at Bandon Dunes.
Opened last July, Bandon Crossings was shaped by the same people who shaped the Bandon Courses, but it was seeded with lush, rye fairways and soft and small bent grass greens. It’s never going to challenge Pebble Beach for best public course in America like Pacific Dunes, but it offers a bizarro-Bandon golf experience, where suddenly golf makes sense again, as you can play the parkland shots you’re more accustomed to. Your divot repair tool can finally come out of the bag after sitting on the D.L. at Bandon Dunes’ as you bump-and-run’d your way up its fescue links.
If I could do my Bandon trip all over again, I would have sandwiched a round at Bandon Crossings between my Bandon Dunes walking marathons to give my aching feet a day off (golf writer’s tip: don’t bring your new pair of golf shoes to such a walking-intensive trip. Total rookie mistake. I am demoting myself back to intern.).
Like most of the courses I saw in Oregon, Bandon Crossings is walker-friendly and has a very casual atmosphere. One guy in the group ahead of us brought his 4 year-old kid along for the round. The tike would run around in circles, rake bunkers and twirl the flag around as his dad’s group was on the green. I asked the father what his child’s looper fee was for the morning and he responded, “Well, he costs me about a stroke a hole…and his college education.”
So certainly try and include the friendly confines of Bandon Crossings in your plans at Bandon Dunes if you’re looking for a brief escape from links golf and mandatory walking.
Truth be told, I honestly didn’t think I’d play all six rounds over three days at Bandon Dunes. I counted on at least one or two rain-outs. But the rain never came. My umbrella never made it out of my bag and over the whole trip, I probably felt about two holes worth of rain drops. And get this: there was practically no wind all week, either. I played a two-club wind on a few shots, but it was mostly a manageable 5-10 mph. I was baffled.
Stay tuned to WorldGolf.com for plenty more on Bandon Dunes and the rest of Oregon Golf.
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