My favorite golf resort: Bandon Dunes in Oregon
As far as “golf-only” is concerned, I consider Pebble Beach and Bandon Dunes to be above all other resorts I have ever visited (no offense to Pinehurst, Kiawah Island and the American Club. If I had to choose one of the two, my pick would be Bandon Dunes. However, that doesn’t mean that I think Pebble Beach is not as good. Pebble Beach has more luxurious accommodations, more dining options and more non-golf activities.
However, for “pure golf” the quality and variety of Bandon’s courses is unmatched!
“Golf as it was meant to be” was the motto of owner/developer Mike Keiser and he certainly delivered. All courses are walking only (unless you bring a medical exam), they have great local caddies and the layouts are minimalist (no waterfalls, no flowerbeds, no unnatural looking features). All four 18-hole designs are ranked in the “Top 100 of the US"; three of them are rated among the 10 best courses in the country that are open to the public.
The Bandon Dunes course, designed by Scotsman David McLay Kidd, was opened to rave reviews in 1999 and put Bandon Dunes on the map (it was the first course Kidd ever built). Bandon Dunes is a true bona fide links course that has amazing ocean views and a great variety of holes.
Two year’s later, Tom Doak’s masterpiece Pacific Dunes was finished. It has been ranked the number 1 public-access course in the country by a major golf publication for the last few years (you guessed it, it took the honors from Pebble Beach). Even though I like all of the resort’s courses, Pacific Dunes has always been my favorite. Doak’s layout has a raw and rugged look, features blowout bunkers and ocean views to die for and stuns with one strong hole after another. The unorthodox back nine boasts two par 4s, three par 5s and four par 3s.
Bandon Trails, the resort’s third course, was laid out by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore. The layout starts and ends in the dunes but the middle of the round is played inland on a more wooded and hilly piece of the property. The 14th tee is high up on a hill and offers mind-boggling views of the Pacific.
Old Macdonald is a Tom Doak and Jim Urbina collaboration that is a homage to legendary Charles Blair Macdonald. The course is a collection of classical hole designs with gigantic greens. The last time I visited the resort I only go to play 10 holes during the “soft opening.”
Bandon Preserve, a 13-hole, par-3 course designed by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore, was opened earlier this year and I certainly can’t wait to play it.
At the Lodge at Bandon Dunes, lodging is comfortable but somewhat Spartan, and the food is delectable but not fancy. Golf is the reason people go to Bandon and everything else should not take away from the golf experience. I have to go back to Bandon Dunes as soon as I can.
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