They say the Old Course at St. Andrews when viewed for the first time leaves the golfer slightly underwhelmed. The magic comes alive after repeat playings where the subtly of the course takes hold. Old Mac similarly presents the golfer with similar uninspiring views but doesn't contain nearly the same complexity as I imagine there is at the Old Course.
Old Mac's challenge resides in the greens which contain numerous false fronts which kick balls off the green or to other areas where the golfer will face further undulations. The challenge is made more severe given that Old Mac seems to use a different grass mixture for the greens than the other courses at Bandon (the mixture tending more toward sand than grass) thus leading to more difficulty in reading the putts.
Getting to the green is a lot less challenging as Doak has laid out the lines to the greens pretty clearly on a rather flattish piece of property. Sure there are rolling fairways and devilish bunkers lurking but to my eye it wasn't that engaging. The standout holes are when Doak does something different like the routing for the third hole which features a blind tee shot near the famous Ghost Tree coupled with a difficult second shot. The 7th hole goes up the slopes to a green complex nearly dangling over the ocean but allowing the golfer multiple ways to attack the pin from a lower down on the fairway.
It is tough to judge Old Mac in comparison to its Dunes siblings at Bandon (or even Trails) as it just isn't in the same league as those. Standing on its own, it is a true tribute to CB MacDonald but admittedly left this golfer underwhelmed about the 18 I had just played. Perhaps repeat playings will change my mind but for now it is "good" not "excellent".
Date: April 27, 2018