A year later, Bandon Dunes Golf Resort is a little different, a little better
BANDON, Ore. - I was last at the Bandon Dunes Resort last April, visiting for the first time. This year, I’m here on a pretty similar itinerary, but America’s quintessential links golf resort is a little different for a lot of reasons.
The facilities have expanded. The new 39-room Inn has opened next to the original Bandon Dunes Lodge and Pacific Dunes has a proper new clubhouse to replace their little one-story shack. I’ve also been hinted that everyone’s favorite hole they love to hate, the tricky little par-4 14th on Bandon Trails, has since been slightly remodeled to receive approach shots a little better. That would be very, very welcomed news.
Even bigger news is that the resort’s fourth 18-hole course, Old MacDonald, is about ready to open up. You can play a 10-hole preview loop currently, and the course will open in it’s completion next spring. I’ll be previewing that 10-hole loop on Friday afternoon and have recently spoke with co-architect Tom Doak about the project, so stay tuned for a preview.
After 36 holes today on Bandon Dunes and Pacific Dunes, the courses seem a little different to me this time around. Part of that is because I think my game is in pretty good shape at the moment and I’ve only lost two balls in two rounds, compared to last time around when I lost a hefty sack out here. But also, I think Pacific Dunes is a golf course that can be very visually awkward and intimidating to a first-time player, especially if they’re not used to links golf. Today, I played it for my third time, and I felt very comfortable out there and scored a lot of pars to prove it.
But Pacific Dunes is still a more penal golf course than Bandon Dunes (playing Pac Dunes from the backs and Bandon from the middle-backs, as they’re a similar rating of just over 71 from these tees). Bandon Dunes has lower rough in most spots (or maybe I just didn’t find them like I found them at Pacific Dunes in my P.M. round). I say that having scored a quintuple bogey “9″ on Pacific’s 4th hole (playing unusually into the wind) and a quadruple bogey 7 on the 14th hole. Oops…
Some things remain the same about Bandon Dunes. The Bunker Bar is still packed with stogie-smokin’, pool-playing guys enjoying their golf trip, and accommodations and amenities are comfortable but not over-the-top, Miami-style luxury. Grant Rogers is still the eccentric head of instruction here, and I’ll be teeing it up with him in the morning to see if he really hits putter off the tee 240 yards.
And I have a hard time believing the amateur, traveling golfer can find a better pure golf experience on American soil. One thing that’s so great about the courses here is that even when there is a packed tee sheet, in a lot of spots on each course, there are times you feel like you’re the only group out there - especially when you’ve got thick fog rolling in off the coast and you can’t see in any direction more than about 200 yards (it makes the decision to lay up on par 5s a no brainer when you can’t even see the green). It’s just you and the deer out there, who seem to be even larger in numbers this time around.
I’ve actually been on the northwest coast, visiting golf courses including Presidents Cup host Harding Park, for the last week or so. Stay tuned for plenty on San Francisco as well as Bandon Dunes in the coming weeks here at WorldGolf.com.
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