Building a 9-hole track, an “academy course” or an “executive course” is quite the fashionable thing to do nowadays at large golf facilities where there’s already at least one 18-hole course in operation, especially if the land available for development is limited in size.
At Bandon Dunes, architects Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw were given a small, 22-acre site squeezed in between the sand hill holes at Bandon Trails and the closing holes at Bandon Dunes to fashion a short, thoroughly entertaining 13-hole par three circuit that’s full of fun.
There are two sets of tees in use at every hole, with the longest of the back tees measuring no more than 150 yards at the 2nd hole. Only two of the forward tees, at holes 7 and 12, are more than 100 yards in length, with the shortest of the short tees measuring a mere 65 yards at the 3rd.
Described by one commentator as “a joyful excursion around a beautiful property that overlooks the ocean,” with “a staggering number of outstanding individual holes,” the course is of such quality that most of its visually stunning holes would fit neatly into any of the other Bandon Dunes courses.
Opened in 2012, Bandon Preserve features a double green at the 4th and 7th holes, a dramatic drop in elevation at the 5th, with Cut Creek threatening the tee shot at the 11th. Several holes require semi-blind tee shots whilst creative contours on most greens test putting skills to the full.
No matter how many times you play this 13-hole par 3 course, it’s not enough. Whether you choose to take a small carry bag or go old school and carry a couple of clubs under your arm, you once again have another golf course to rave about at the Bandon Dunes resort. Coore/Crenshaw were aware of this piece of land for more than a decade, especially with its close proximity to their course at Bandon Trails.
Many of the holes, if not all of them, would be well respected on any of Coore/Crenshaw’s 18-hole regulation length courses. There is beauty, there is imagination, along with countless punchbowls and views of the ocean. Changes in elevation, blind tee shots or even the expectation to hit Putter from the 13th tee will keep you on your toes despite the distances! One common feature that no architect can build is the sound of laughter, or the ability to create human emotion. If you take a moment to consider your surroundings anywhere at Bandon, the sound of laughter will remind you of why people come back here year over year.
Bandon Preserve is everything people want to have fun, enjoy the short shots and get views of the other courses that they may not get to see every day. From one vantage point, there are beautiful views of Bandon Dunes, but interestingly, on the other side of Bandon Preserve's perimeter, there is an expanse of undeveloped land with white/brown stakes in the rugged dunes for green-sites that suggest that there was once plans for more. While I heard some interesting stories about this land, we’ll just enjoy what we have for now.
Okay how do you rank a 13 hole par three course as the 11th best course in a state that has some pretty decent layouts? Maybe get Coore and Crenshaw to throw the course together on a patch of land not quite good enough to support a full course but plenty good to find some fun and challenging one shot holes using dunes, deep bunkers, mounds and semi blind shots to challenge the very best of golfers. The beauty of the Preserve lies in the multiple teeing areas and large greens that allow a plethora of shot options for every hole. On the scorecard the holes range form 63 to 150 yards, but the longer holes can probably stretch up to 170 yards with the huge greens. The holes are beautiful and the course is great fun. It's hard to rate this course. Using the Doak scale in "The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses" I would I would give the course a 5, which is "well above the average golf course and a good course to play if you are in the vicinity." I will give it 4 stars and definitely recommend playing here when you come.
Click the link to read my story – Bandon Dunes - not only for the guys
Richard Smith, Knoxville, Tennessee
After playing all four courses at Bandon from Thursday afternoon to Saturday morning, I got to the end of the puzzle by playing this jewel immediately after finishing my game at Old Macdonald. And I have to say that although the piece of land and geography help, Coore & Crenshaw did some serious fine quality work with this design and construction.
Yes, it is a 13 holes par 13 course but it is one of the most fun I have played and I believe it can battle #1 in the world with the Par 3 Course at Scottsdale National which I visited but didn't play a couple of weeks before.
It is 13 holes of fun, challenge, creativity, shot making, tough conditions, maybe some lost balls even being par 3s and the ideal twilight round to gamble strong with your friends carrying some beers in your golf bag as I saw from many groups.
I think all 13 holes are fantastic and challenging, but will give it a shot on a bunch of them:
- 5th downhill facing the Ocean, played 140 yds into a 2 clubs wind. Very tough to judge distance and even tougher green complex.
- 6th with a ridge on the left side play straight into the wind for 160yds ... 4 iron!!!!
- Short 8th with a hidden green from the tee with wind left to right was a 70yds good bogey!
- 11th with left to right wind having to aim it directly into the bushes and pray for it to come back was awesome and my only real chance for birdie which I did not make.
- 13th is a great downhill wedge shot but everybody putts it from the tee trying to make an unreal hole in one. It didn't happen.
You can play this course every day after morning and afternoon rounds and will not be bored at all. It is even as "must play" as the other four courses. Greens are not as fast as the big courses (this could be a real nightmare) but they roll pretty good and fast. I believe this is the type of experience some courses in Scotland should add to make the experience even better adding some fun to the serious golf courses.
I hope there is some special event when they host US Fourball amateur Championship next year, could be extreme fun!
The Preserve is often touted as the best short course in the world and for the most part lives up to its billing. Each hole gives the golfer a different shot to contemplate (uphill, downhill, even a blind shot on the 8th hole). The green complexes have the most outrageous undulations I have seen on a Coore and Crenshaw course yet.
Whatever the architectural merits of the course (and there are many), this course is primarily there for fun. It is definitely set up for a bunch of golfers to go out, have a fun time, try a lot of different shots and get some great scenery to boot. Emblematic of this is the 13th hole which encourages the golfer to use a putter as the drive and darn it if I missed my hole in one by inches!
While the big courses await the golfer at Bandon, take an hour or two and make sure to hit up this course, you will be glad you did!
The newest member of the Bandon Dunes family is a wonderful little 13-hole par 3 course that goes by the name the Preserve. None other than Coore & Crenshaw were entrusted with the task of putting one of the most fun and wildest little courses together that has enough eye candy to equal every one of the other Bandon courses.
The routing is wonderful and runs through extremely wild and rolling sand dunes. Here you won’t find a little push over course but a well thought out roller coaster ride of short irons, punch and knock down shots that will challenge the very best of us.
With the wind whipping we ventured out and what a blast we had. I feel a few plays and careful attention will allow the keen player to figure out how to play the Preserve in the safest possible way. In typical Coore & Crenshaw fashion there seems to always be a safe way to play the hole for a par. Only most golfers attack the flag.