Bandon has become one of the hottest locations for American golf, so Rex Smith decided to jump onboard. Rather than try going head-to-head with Mike Keiser's links golf battalion, Smith founded Bandon Crossings to fill a niche left out by the resort: public golf affordable to Bandon residents on a day-to-day basis.
Affordable golf meant finding affordable property, which meant getting away from the Pacific Coast. Fortunately, Smith was a well-travelled golfer and spotted another opportunity to differentiate Crossings from the "competition." Rather than tangle with the resort's links claims, Crossings claims its heritage in the firm heathland golf surrounding London.
Although not experiencing wind quite like Bandon Dunes, Crossings is more than a casual warm-up for its neighbors. Smith tapped Oregon native Dan Hixson for a route that plays fast across the property's Twomile Creek(s). Most caddies at the resort will acknowledge heading south of town for more casual rounds at the course.
Rex Smith played his hand honestly; he didn’t own any property on the Oregon coast, but he didn’t pretend to build links golf. Instead, he sells Bandon Crossings as a heathland tribute.
Centerline bunkers and fast-moving fairways live up, placing emphasis on finesse and know-how more than distance (much appreciated by your scrawny correspondent). Hole nos. 3, 10 and 16 are prime examples. On the foremost, the better player can opt to get closer on this 420-yard Par 4 by taking a drive through a gap on the right of a fairway hazard left, about 255 yards out. The wiser player (feels good to call myself “wise”) can lay up short of the bunker for a better angle.
A similar thought process occurs during No. 10, but with a large centerline hazard. No. 16 adds a bit of American red meat to the equation, offering a green drivable for big hitters who want to weave two sets of bunkers on their way to glory, but less muscular individuals will also need to place a deft tee shot to see a scoring angle to this green.
Several Par 3s also feature winning features, like the bunker on No. 9, ten yards out from the green, which stands to intimidate during right pin placements. No. 11 is a gentler take on the heathland Redan (Smith no doubt swung by Swinley during his time abroad).
Sunningdale Old is noted for having the first man-made water hazard in golf history, but it is not noted for forced carries, which represent a more new-world line of thinking. This is by no means an edict against forced carry, but the property at Bandon Crossings — namely the South and Lower Twomile Creeks, which run approximately 150 yards apart — creates inconsistent, uncomfortable ones during its Par 5s.
The length at No. 4 (495) definitively suggests a risk-reward shot at two, but the uphill nature of the second shot, to a small green perched just on the other side of the creek, removes much eagerness. The very next hole features a longer approach downhill to a blind green hidden under the creek’s bluff. It’s both an unlikely target for risk-takers, and a risky hole unto itself; management should consider a bell on the green. The final hole features a canyon located at an awkward distance; strong hitters can get over in two, but even a 275-yard drive will require an 150-yard second to carry. It’s a hole that will force many small hitters to lay up (leaving a 220-yard third) despite a quality drive. Moving the tees up would make the hole more fair.
The rates are quite reasonable and the conditions will be fun for those who play parkland courses on a regular basis. The staff is helpful; the young woman at the desk suggested there was another decent golf course or two up the road. Hadn’t realized the region was so interested in golf. May swing by tomorrow to see if her claims hold water.