The USA took a public game from Scotland and turned it into this private thing. If Margaret Atwood, Aldous Huxley, or George Orwell wrote golf novels, surely even they wouldn’t dream up such a dystopia? In this context Oregon’s Bandon Dunes - admittedly a resort - is exceptional with its accessibility to multiple world class golf courses. It is appropriate that the playing experiences here may remind you of a round in the UK or Ireland. America could clearly do with a little more golfing philanthropy, until then they’ll have to make do with Mike Keiser.
The Pacific Dunes course at said resort is quite brilliant. We played in a stiff breeze, and as we fought our way around, we thought our way around, and appreciated every shot. I soon realized, as I tried to keep my ball out of that great big ocean, that this is everything that can be achieved with a good/great design, on good/great land, with the odd sea view thrown into the mix. It reminded me of Castle Stuart in this respect, but probably better. Amongst the collection of 18 excellent holes, some were more excellent than others. Yes, I loved dramatic ocean views at 4, 11, & 13, but at Pacific Dunes the inland holes, like 16 & 17, were equally engaging - the terrain, angles, and variety were top drawer - to the extent that sea views became almost irrelevant to the golf experience. I think the sequencing of holes on the back 9 was anything but standard, but presumably it was designed to take advantage of the land offered and disregard any kind of scorecard convention. It strengthened by view that this course was a bit of an outlier.
One of the minor highlights for me here was our playing partner, who owned a swing that made Jim Furyk’s Octopus falling out of a tree look like Ben Hogan’s textbook drawings. I actually failed to stifle a laugh - had to turn it into a cough - when he slashed away on the first tee, his ball heading towards Korea. We had never seen anything like it. It came back like a boomerang though, he birdied the hole, and he must have beaten me by a good 10 shots come the end. In some ways, his effective unorthodoxy mirrored Bandon Dunes place in American Golf. It’s a tough trip from some parts of the world, but all US golfers should make the pilgrimage here. One of the very best I’ve played so far
Date: January 04, 2020