Sneak peak at Bandon Dunes Resort's 4th golf course, Old MacDonald
BANDON, OR – The Man Upstairs must be an avid reader of WorldGolf.com, because the howling winds finally showed up at Bandon Dunes a night after my bickering about two days of uncharacteristic calm on the coast.
In the stiff breeze Friday afternoon, I had the chance to preview Bandon Dunes Resort’s 4th course set to open in the summer of 2010, Old MacDonald, and it was a hoot.
My preview wasn’t some exclusive, golf media deal either. The resort has been allowing preview play on the course’s 10-hole loop to anyone willing to pay the $100 plus mandatory $50 caddie charge all summer, and you’ll have a sharp Old Macdonald cap waiting for you on the shuttle when you walk off. Based on how many golfers I met this week at the resort who played it, their decision to open the loop to create a little buzz is going swimmingly.
Taking caddies on Old Mac is necessary because the hole numbers aren’t marked yet and you’re not playing the holes in proper order. Also, there are no yardage indicators anywhere. Rest assured, our caddie was quite good at eyeballing yardage for us.
The holes in the loop, which were seeded a season before the other eight, are in pretty good condition, though some of the bunkers could use a little raking and de-stoning. Plus, the fairways aren’t quite as firm as the other three courses at the resort. The greens are quite playable, though they add sand to them every few weeks, so it will depend on when you’re playing them in the cycle as to how fast they roll.
I’d have to say, based on what I saw, Old MacDonald is probably the most old world, Scottish style course of the bunch at Bandon. In fact, four holes are inspired by St. Andrews, from the “Long” hole with the Hell Bunker, to the “Short” par 3 with a massive double green, and of course the famous “Road Hole” as well (it’s safe to say no hotel will be built right of the fairway though). The course doesn’t have as much ocean frontage as Pacific Dunes and Bandon Dunes, but No. 7’s green site, perched overlooking the beach, is as good as any here.
Superlatives are flying about Old Mac now, but whether it becomes the best at the resort will depend on your tastes. But it’s undoubtedly a different kind of course from the existing three here. Stay tuned for photos and a full preview on Old Mac at WorldGolf.com.
I also found out this week that Bandon Dunes is planning a par 3 course for the future as well, on a site near Bandon Trails. That is very welcomed news because walking 36 holes here can be tough on such firm links land, but 18 holes just doesn’t always satisfy your golf itch either. So for those who aren’t up to it, they’ll have another option besides playing nine holes on Bandon Dunes (the only course of the bunch with returning nines), head down the road to Bandon Crossings, a traditional parkland layout that allows golf carts, or finagle a tee time at Sheep Ranch, an informal course (I haven’t personally played) up the road.
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In terms of the par-3 course, Bandon already has one called, "Shortys", which is located in the practice area. It's a good evening activity.
Another one near Trails would be cool.
As for the par 3 course being built, my caddie spoke to me about it as well. He informed me (not once, but twice) that it was planned to be an executive course (throw in a couple of par 4's) and that it would be 13 holes. Apparently that is all that can fit on the site.
This may fit in well with Bandon's desire to go old school. The number of holes on courses in the past varied from course to course. Having a 13 hole course may serve to give the vistor to Bandon a sense of history while playing this layout.
As for Shorty's, check the schedule for this par 3 course. It is often closed since a number of holes border or are part of the secondary driving range. Even if closed, holes #1 & #2 are always open, and you may even be able to sneak on to #9 if the driving range isn't too crowded.