Review for Bandon Dunes (Pacific Dunes)

Reviewer Score:


I picked up on some advice regarding golf photography from Tom Doak a few years back as I was considering potentially pricey equipment to supplement my rather basic setup. I found a quote from Doak praising the standard DSLR setup that can be had at a relatively low price at most electronics stores. He offered some other tidbits about angles to the sun and such, but the crux of his argument was that if you understand framing, you can do much without doing excess.

The same could be said for Pacific Dunes. In fact, Doak has said about as much regarding the course, noting that the average golfer could easily find the incredible green sites at Pacific, whether that’s the descent toward the Pacific at No. 10, the following Par 3 into the wind along the coast, or the green parked against a significant dunescape at No. 13. Observing the black streaks and pebbles in the bunkers suggests just how natural this course is.

Is it possible that you or I is equally capable of creating a Pacific Dunes, should Mike Keiser call us tomorrow with a similar piece of property? Tom may suggest so, but he’s incorrect.

I’ll prove this point by highlighting my least favorite hole, No. 4. This long Par 4 covers 463 yards of shoreline, which — if we take liberty with Doak’s words a tad — implies it should be the most obvious hole on Bandon’s property, considering it has the longest chunk of cliffs at its disposal. It’s a tough hole, even with the wind at your back, as you’ll need to hug those cliffs with consecutive shots to arrive in regulation, and a relative lack of rolling turf doesn’t add much to that formula. It is a beautiful that you or I might have actually been able to dream up. That the majority of Pacific’s most strategically interesting holes are inland is testament that Doak is my superior.

There are any number of holes to cite, most of which have probably been included in previous reviews, so I won’t dwell. My favorites include the fall-away fairway and grassy mounds that maker No. 7 a Par 4.5 during matchplay. Or the Road-style green at No. 8 that, despite its 400-yard length, proves any hole with a Road-style green is a think-piece upon approach. The downhill Redan at No. 17, which ups the template’s challenge thanks to the gorse-covered dune at the rear (which distracts nubile American eyes like mine, who has never experienced such a sight). Finally, the largest bunker on the course off the tee at No. 18: You have the wind at your back for the final hole and are sensing the opportunity for of course there must be a monster for the hero to evade.

Apologies to No. 4; it’s not a weak hole by any means. Just the least successful child in a successful family (I know the feeling, No. 4). But I don’t generally give six-ball ratings to courses that have weak holes.

Looking doesn’t look like I’ve ever given a six-ball rating. Let’s break that streak today.

Date: October 26, 2020

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