Two weeks have passed since I played Old Macdonald and Pacific Dunes, the former still heavily on my mind. As many mentioned Old Macdonald is arguably the most polarizing course at Bandon. Some may be put off by its rugged nature, deep bunkering and exposure to the elements.
Playing Old Macdonald in December, I was fortunate enough to get on during a calm day. Sunny 45 degrees Fahrenheit, with a 20-mph wind. Perfect day for golf is you must ask.
The first and second hole I feel primarily serve as quality warm up holes for what’s to come. I don’t wish to detract from them as standing alone they are superb golf holes. However, they play differently than what you will experience throughout your round. Covered and somewhat protected from the wind #1 and #2 are great starting holes winding you up for the round ahead.
Hole #3 is arguably the most famous hole on the course which may or may not have something to do with the ghost tree. However, I much of the excitement lies after your tee shot over, and hopefully left of the ghost tree. Once you climb over the hill, after your tee shot, you are rewarded with one of the most stunning vistas of the entire property. Doak’s usage of many templates holes such Sahara for hole 3 is ingenious welcoming golfers onto the spender of Old Macdonald.
Tom Doak’s Old Macdonald has many steep uphill walks, you are strongly rewarded with pure golf magnificence regardless of the days weather. Take hole 7, climbing up the steep hill towards the green, you can hear the crashing of the ocean. But until you reach the green you don’t get a glimpse of it. Hole 7 in my opinion was equally as polarizing as hole #3 which formally introduces you to the property and elements.
Of any I would say that Hole 8 was a bit subdued for an otherwise polarizing course. #8’s Biarritz features only a minor swale much more subdued than that of Yale’s, which may be the most extreme rendition.
#18 Punchbowl, is a superb finishing hole which one of the most aggressive punchbowls that I’ve seen to date. 17 and 18 seem to serve as holes that get you back to the clubhouse. 18’s Punchbowl in what seemed like a previously heavily wooded area is a great way to make a strong and firm last impression.
Of the two courses I’ve played on this trip (Old Macdonald and Pacific Dunes), it is Old Macdonald that struck and shook me. We will see if this changes after playing the rest of the Bandon courses in February.
Date: December 29, 2021