I was lucky enough to stay and play at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort last week (actually 2 months ago now!) and although I was only there for two nights I was able to play all 4 courses…Old Macdonald opened on 1 June 2010. I should start by saying that the resort is expensive….unless you are an ‘active duty soldier’, then the golf is complimentary and the accommodation somewhere between 50-75% off: Americans value military service unbelievably highly. So I was lucky...very lucky indeed!
The whole resort is fantastic. Beautiful accommodation ranges from ‘Queen’ and ‘King’ sized rooms in the Lodge or the newly built Inn to the exclusive several thousand dollar a night cottages for four. There are also several dining options from a somewhat twee Scottish pub – McKees – to fine dining in the Lodge. You can also eat dinner in the Bandon Trails or Pacific Dunes clubhouses. However not to be discounted is a trip in the evening (or lunch time) to Bandon itself. Ten minutes up the road the ‘Old Town’ is well worth a visit and the oysters and clam chowder at unimpressive looking Tony’s Crab Shack are sensational. Genuinely sensational. You must try them if you go there.
Although the resort is completely geared up for golf there are a few things for the non-golfer to do: scenic walks, horse riding and more scenic walks! Meanwhile the golfer is spoilt for choice though with 4 wonderful courses, an extensive Practice Center (forgive the American spelling!), a 4 hole par-3 course and an ‘executive’ par 3 course is being built between ‘Dunes’ (Bandon Dunes) and ‘Trails’ (Bandon Trails).
So, to the golf: Frankly all four courses are awesome but my pecking order was largely shaped by my golf and the weather! Old Mac, Pacific, Trails, Dunes. I played Pacific first and even though I was tired after a long day in the car I loved it. The first three holes take you towards the sea and the fourth makes the wait so worthwhile: just a great hole! The other notable cliff top holes are the par 3 11th and the par 4 13th. There are other great and interesting holes: the approach to the short par 4 6th will demand great touch and distance control. The par 4 9th has two greens – make sure you check which one your supposed to be playing to before you tee it up. The final three holes provide a great finish to what is a fantastic course.
Bandon Dunes is the course that will one day hold significant events – it can apparently be stretched to nearly 8000 yards! Not PGA tour events or majors…the location is too remote…but it won’t be long until the Amateur or a Walker Cup is hosted at Bandon. I didn’t enjoy it as much as the other courses but is a tough course and will test all golfers. The notable holes here are the 16th, 6th and 9th. Old Mac is one of the best golf courses I have ever played. It is frankly amazing that it only opened 3 weeks before I played; I would have had no idea. Designed to reproduce golf holes that Charles B Macdonald would have designed it is a terrific challenge. It must have the largest greens anywhere in the world and so hitting the ball to the right areas is critical if you want to avoid 3 and 4 putts! I nearly didn’t play this course but if I were to be able to get back to Bandon it is the course I’d play most. In my opinion there is not a weak hole on the course and the holes I still picture in my mind’s eye are 3, 5, 6, 7, 12, 15 and 17. Simply a sensational golf course. Now the 3 aforementioned courses are all true links courses…with an American twist. The anomaly at Bandon is the Trails course. It’s like a Surrey heath-land course….only on steroids! Again I loved it but by golly some of the holes are tough especially 16 and 17, a par 5 up hill and a long par 3 (200+ yards) both into the prevailing wind. Score early on this course because the last 4 are brutal!
In summary I wholeheartedly recommend Bandon Dunes golf resort to any keen golfer. It is a golfing paradise and the resort, which has no unnecessary frills, is designed to look after your every golfing need. I haven’t played any other big name US golf resorts but this place will be extremely hard to beat.
Date: August 11, 2010