Bandon Dunes Golf Resort is a bit special and in many ways it’s a rather romantic place too. The little seaside town of Bandon is located on the remote southwest Oregon coastline at the mouth of the Coquille River. It’s a charming small town where the warm and friendly people live and breathe golf, just as they do at many seaside golfing towns up and down the Irish and British coastlines.
“From the moment I stepped out on these wild, wind-shaped sand dunes, I knew this would be the opportunity of a lifetime,” said David McLay Kidd a young Scottish architect. Bandon Dunes is his first notable design assignment and he made a pretty good job of it. With one third of the course set alongside the Pacific shoreline, it’s quite rightly a BIG hit.
OK, for those of you who have yet make the trip to Oregon, let’s put the Bandon Dunes Resort into perspective: 121 golf holes, idyllic accommodation, several restaurants and a Scottish-style pub. It’s quite an amazing place. Furthermore, the inaugural course at Bandon Dunes is possibly routed across the finest linksland outside Europe. Thank goodness it’s a walking only course where the absence of buggy paths allows its pure beauty to shine through.
Bandon Dunes opened for play in 1999 and it has never looked back. It’s a rugged layout with huge slick greens and immaculate all-round conditioning. Despite its windswept location, the holes are routed in all compass points and this helps Bandon Dunes to remain playable in most wind conditions. The 4th hole is one of our favorites, a 410-yard par four, which takes you out to a gorgeous green, sited on the edge of the Pacific. The tee shot at the short par four 16th is similar to the fantastic 17th at Castletown on the Isle of Man. An intimidating tee shot over a deep ravine, which is easier than it looks.
With four differing and beguiling 18-hole golf courses, Bandon Dunes quite rightly sits high up on many “must-play” lists and we thoroughly agree. Schedule a visit to the glorious remote venue immediately, you won’t be disappointed.
Over the winter of 2018/19 David McLay-Kidd returned to Bandon Dunes to renovate every bunker on every hole, some changes were cosmetic and others dramatic. The course hosted the final matches of the U.S. Amateur in August 2020 when 22-year-old Tyler Strafaci hoisted the Havemeyer Trophy eighty-five years after his granddad won the U.S. Amateur Public Links title.
Holes somewhat typical of other Bandon courses which include firm greens & great ocean views. Wind impact is minimized with several holes downwind & upwind holes are shorter. Confusing layout with poor signage to next hole (we didn't have caddy & had trouble twice finding the next tee box).
One of the many distinguishing qualities of Bandon Dunes is that after experiencing the great courses there, golfers have a hard time choosing their favorite. This was easily apparent after a recent trip to Mike Keiser’s masterpiece resort. Bandon Dunes was a strong contender for my personal favorite.
Bandon Dunes’ most compelling feature is a routing that feels more like a theme park ride than a links style golf course. It is full of suspense at every turn. Reading “Dream Golf” prior to my arrival gave me even more appreciation for the painstaking efforts undertaken by David McLay Kidd to nail every single detail. After finally experiencing the course for myself, I was no longer surprised that so much of the book was dedicated to the formation of the resort’s maiden venture.
At Bandon Dunes, the player never knows what to expect around the bend. Every tee presents new challenges. Turning around the corner at the dogleg right 4th, one must regain focus on their shot after emerging into a breathtaking vista of the Pacific. Immediately after at the 5th, the player must navigate their way back into a splendid green site amidst the dunes, avoiding fascinating dragon teeth mounds which pepper the fairway. After playing a relatively flat corridor at the 9th, players must hold a crowned landing zone at the 10th. And, if the dangers of a cliffside falloff are not enough thrill, one must choose among multiple lines over diagonally bisected landing zones in the fairway at the all-world 16th. For a first timer, it is impossible to predict what might be coming next.
Of all five 18-hole courses at the resort, Bandon Dunes is the most traditional ‘Championship’ style layout. Even so, there is absolutely nothing cookie-cutter about this golf course. From tee-to-green, Bandon Dunes astonishes the player with a plethora of distinctive challenges and opportunities.
Bandon Dunes was the original and they are usually hard to beat. This is a fantastic golf course as the other reviewers have rightfully proclaimed. Having said that, I do believe there is a bit of a halo effect in the ratings. How many perfect courses are there?
Bandon Dunes is excellent and if the three finishing holes do not get your blood pumping, then you need to be on life support. I found it the most playable of the courses, you will be hard pressed to lose a golf ball. The greens are large, yet I still managed to miss quite a few. As in Scotland, if you miss the green putting is still an option as most areas are closely mowed.
I would pay to play it again.
It all started with Bandon Dunes. Mike Keiser wanted an authentic links course true to the Scottish traditions. That meant no real estate, no golf carts, no clubhouse on the beach!
David Maclay Kidd was an inspired choice as architect. His father was the head greenkeeper at Gleneagles, and David had grown up with Scottish golf in his blood. While Americans had become accustomed to target golf, Kidd provided a true links where players must adapt to the running ball, and the ever present sea breeze.
And when the wind is up players become acquainted with the dense gorse framing the fairways- something they do not see so often on the parkland courses they are used to. It looks good in flower, but it's nasty business extracting a golf ball from it..
Kidd's routing took full advantage of the site with a number of spectacular holes right on the clifftops. Holes 4 through 6, 12, and 15 through 17 have the sea views and are all memorable
Notable holes include:
- hole 4, a strong par that doglegs gently right to a green with ocean backdrop
- hole 5, is the hardest hole on the course with a tee on the cliffs. It heads along the coast but with gorse both sides of the fairway the sea is the least of your concerns. The fairway is split by mounds of rough and requires accuracy rather than length to get home in regulation. It's a unique hole
- hole 6, is a longish par 3 right on the cliff. It often plays into the wind, and you just cannot go left and stay dry. Can be a brute when the wind is up..
- hole 9, is a long par 5 with a collection of pot bunkers in danger off the tee. Stay above ground or it becomes a long haul
- hole 12 is stunning par 3 with an elevated green protected by one nasty pot bunker front and centre
- hole 15 is another pretty par 3 with ocean backdrop
- hole 16 is perhaps 'the signature hole' at Bandon Dunes. The hole plays along the clifftops and over a gorge to a dramatic skyline green. It is a short hole and driveable by longer hitters, but accuracy is key as trouble abounds!
Bandon Dunes Resort is the best golf resort in the world, in my opinion. And it all started with this course- Bandon Dunes. All true Travelling Golfers should visit Bandon Dunes Resort at least once in their lifetimes
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.
The original course at the resort changed the world, especially in America, in 1999. The evolution of the course and its Scottish architect has been substantially documented over the years. Each time I play it, I still smile that there are so many buildings on the inside of the opening dog-leg. I hope they have double glazing windows! Even to this day with modern courses like Gamble Sands and Mammoth Dunes, McLay-Kidd’s philosophy continues to be focused on how much fun can he create for golfers to experience. Specifically, I see the architect focusing on making the Bandon Dunes as natural as possible, as seamless as possible, and certain as sustainable as possible at a public resort. This course has its own identity, especially as it’s the only course built by David at the resort.
The green surfaces were in magnificent condition, as is expected given that Bandon Dunes and Bandon Trails will be used for the 2020 US Amateur Championship. Maintenance of the course was impeccable and has stood the test of time, especially the volume of play. McLay Kidd’s layout at Bandon is clearly focused on helping golfers of all levels play well, score well, and want to come back. Scratch golfers will be challenged with deep bunkers, higher handicaps will enjoy the fun of the humps, bumps and slopes. This might be the only Links golf that American golfers get exposed to, and it’s a top-notch presentation of variety. The architect’s roots in Scotland clearly helped him create a masterpiece that the world has fallen in love with.
Talking to people about their trip to Bandon, I feel that most people come away from the original course applauding the views, while claiming the actual layout to be dull.
The first time I played the course, I honestly had a similar reaction. However, since your third round of the day at the resort is free, I was fortunate enough to play Bandon 4 times on my trip. The course is a true scottish links; there are so many interesting hollows that take multiple rounds to truly appreciate.
Every single hole demands proper angles into each green. The course is a playground with infinite options. Some of my favorites include the tenth, which plays up over a huge hill to a blind, runaway green. There's a certain spot on the left center part of the fairway that yields the best angle. The fourteenth might be the country's best bunkerless hole. The par 5 meanders through moguls. Staying up the left will avoid getting trapped in a massive swale up the right, allowing the green to be hit in two. The sixteenth is an all world par 4, with options abound and a chance at going for the green.
Overall, Bandon Dunes is a delicacy. Is it the best course on the property? Probably not, I personally prefer Trails and Pacific. But the course is remarkably underappreciated. David McKlay Kidd did a fantastic job in allowing this property to truly capture a scottish feel.
This was my favorite course at Bandon and the only one I gave a perfect score. They always say the original is the best. Admittedly, I was already a Mclay Kidd fan when arriving at Bandon due to the enjoyable experience I had at Gamble Sands. Bandon Dunes provided great hole after great hole with two of my favorites being the 4th which is a dogleg right par 4 downhill to the ocean and the 16th which is a short par 4 that is incredibly enticing from the tee box, but it paid off hitting hybrid and having an easy wedge shot into the green. What I loved most is that Bandon was a big golf course with wide fairways and while at times visually intimidating, it was still very playable. It was also routed in a way that the wind isn't as much of a factor as it is at Old Mac and Pac Dunes so it was also a nice change of pace. Ultimately, I realize that Pac Dunes is the crown jewel based on most folks opinions, but for me it was Bandon that took the cake. It is such a fun course that offers the golfer choices, most of which you will be better off playing conservatively. I hope you enjoy your trip as much as I did.
Bandon Dunes was the start of Oregons rise to fame in the golf world. Being originally from Oregon, I left well before my golf life every started and long before Bandon Dunes was an idea. However, that most certainly doesn't stop me from having a sense of pride for Oregon golf and the entire Bandon Dunes resort. For me it's home (even though it's a 5 hour drive from where I grew up and went to University.) I've been extremely fortunate to make a few trips there over the last 18 years even though I was late to the game. The wonderful and unique, middle of nowhere location has been a "Field of Dreams" themed Cinderella Story. You can totally imagine, everyone thinking Mike Keizer has completely lost it and almost hear the voices in his head whispering "If you build it, they will come". Well, come they did and come they will continue.
In the US there is no resort that comes anywhere near Bandon Dunes. David McKlay Kidd shot to immediate stardom when he finished this beautiful course. Plenty of width, interesting greens and true links golf with firm and fast surfaces and the elements of the Pacific Ocean. You really can't write a better scenario for a golf course, let alone 5 and counting.
In fact, the courses and resort are so amazing I've considered several times just taking a couple years off to head there and beg for a caddy job. I'm not even a caddy, but the atmosphere and the golf there are just so good that seeing people everyday that love this great sport out there getting blown away, rained on, then sunshine on and coming off with the biggest of smiles is just a wonderful contagious environment to be in.
When I was younger I really risked becoming a ski bum for several years and going to a place like Jackson Hole which was pretty rough back in the late 80's but so pure and authentic providing the greatest of skiing experiences, then I moved to the Austrian Alps for a couple years, so really kind of lived that dream. Bandon would truly be something similar to that and easily doable.
Anyway, I can't say enough about the course Kidd created here. Even if it's not my favorite of the 5, it's still amazing and a testament to his talent as an architect.
If you've not been to Bandon Dunes and you love golf, you are making the biggest mistake you could possibly make. The resort is truly the "Field of Dreams" for golfers. Book your trip today. You will never forget it and you can thank me later.
This is a fantastic Golf Course. The location, routing, variety, and links credentials were all of a very high standard. And everything at the resort is purely about Golf (I didn’t spot a spa or pool anywhere). This round probably comprised 50% of my favourite Golfing day of all time ever.
Very good holes are spread throughout the 18. The first is a proficient starter, and I particularly liked the 5th, but my favourite moment was standing on the 16th tee taking in both the expansive view of the coastline and the options available to me.
Meanwhile, in a quite unexpected moment on this hole, my friend stumbled upon a rattlesnake sunning itself near the back tee. An incredible find that thrilled the herpetologist in me. I did later mention this in passing to the caddy master, and he denied they had such animals on the property. I don’t think Bandon is quite Barnbougle & Tiger Snakes, but he was obviously concerned. Hopefully he didn’t dispatch a team of green keepers armed with rakes. Many Golfers surely enjoy their rounds in natural environments
Anyways. I decided that fortune favours the foolish, so took on the 16th green from the tee. I hit a good drive which just caught the lip of one the bunkers just short on the top section of the fairway, and there it stayed. One metre more carry and it may well have rolled out to the green. The ball lay delicately balanced in the steep grass face and in a show of my inadvertent inner Lefty, I managed to hit it backwards over my head onto the fairway behind me. The only time I’ve ever managed to pull this shot off. To compound the incompetent affect, I also fell over backwards into the deep bunker. Often during precariously moments like this for my playing partners, I’ve been known to start taking covert video footage. Fortunately my companion that day wasn’t so quick witted or cruel. Either way, a chip and a 2-putt later, the 16th at Bandon Dunes turned out to be the most memorable bogey I’ve ever made.
Bandon Dunes was quite a journey to reach from The Netherlands - an 11 hour flight to Portland, followed by a drive of almost 5 hours. After 6 hours sleep, we then had a 36 hole day, followed immediately by another 5 hour return drive. A trip here from Europe does require a bit of planning, but it is well worth the effort. 4 world class courses and another on the way. It is such a special place to play. Of course the UK & Ireland does already have a plethora of stunning links courses to enjoy, so this may influence your decision to make such a long trip. However, if you’re in North America and haven’t visited yet, you’ve really got no excuse! My advice would be to abandon June’s current Golfing schedule and plan a Bandon Dunes trip without delay
This was the first course my wife and I played on our recent trip to Bandon. I had heard many great things about this course so I was eager to see what the excitement was about. What we found was a magnificent links beautifully routed through rolling terrain. The bunkers are lined with wild grass that add to the look and feel of the course. David McLay Kidd uses the contours both of the fairways and greens to enhance the playability of every hole. The short par 3 second is a prime example. A steep collection area to the right will catch any shot not completely up to the pin and the prevailing wind blows the ball in that direction as well. However the grass is short allowing recovery shots via putt, hybrid, chip or flop shot depending on the players preference. In general the fairways are generous but every hole is well defined by dunes and bunkers. Four is a dog leg right par 4 that brings the player to the ocean for the first time with a beautiful sloped green awaiting the approach. Deep bunkers protect the left side, the Pacific Ocean the back, but room is available to the right for the approach. There are a number of other fantastic holes although I really enjoyed the blind second approach to the 10th. The course probably peaks out at 16 an absolutely fantastic par 4. The ocean and a shelf of rock guard the right side of the fairway, which is split allowing any number of plays or driving lines. The green drops off dramatically in the back so that each shot much be played with thought and nerve. I enjoyed the par 5 finishing hole and a player has a chance at birdie if smartly played.
I have been very critical of David McLay Kidd for the design of the Castle Course at St. Andrews, but this course is fantastic. I have read a few interviews with McLay Kidd and it seems like he realized he may have gone overboard on a few of later designs. He has returned to Bandon Dunes to go over the course and his last few designs including Mamouth Dunes in Wisconsin have received rave reviews from all. To design a course this outstanding shows the raw talent he has and I'm looking forward to playing more of his designs in the future. As far as which Bandon course is best, that is best left to each player. All four major courses are tremendous layouts, outstanding in their own way, and to come to Bandon and not play them all would be a mistake of epic proportions.
Click the link to read my story – Bandon Dunes - not only for the guys
Richard Smith, Knoxville, Tennessee