Was fortunate, rather lucky to catch Sheep Ranch on a sunny day in February. Much has been said about Sheep Ranch being the most exposed and thus windy course at Bandon. Everything is wide open from the moment you step onto the course. The putting green offers a full vista of the course and fun to come. The putting green is situated on the high side of the property which makes it one of the least windy places on the course.
#1 – Some may consider this to be the most beautiful starting hole and it’s a sight to be seen. A slight dogleg left par 5 to start off the round. As you get closer to the green, you’ll notice the wind becoming a larger and larger factor. A spectacular starting hole befitting of the next 4+ hours to come.
#2 I must say that walking off #1 green, I was a bit confused on where the tee box on #2 and fairway was. Admittingly this was a reoccurring theme throughout my round at Sheep Ranch. If any course at Bandon requires a caddy, Sheep Ranch may be the one.
#6 Sheep Ranch, features some of the most unique holes in the world let alone Bandon. Hole 6 by my collection is the only one at the resort to hit over the cliffs.
#8 The stretch from 7-10 may be the greatest use of land at Bandon. Coore & Crenshaw’s methodology on routing Sheep Ranch so that tee boxes play in clusters, playing out to wider fairways is pure genius. From a dummy’s perspective like myself, one would think that doing so would greatly reduce the quality of holes, but this is not the case. The most comparable example that I’ve played is 11-13 at Wannamoisett.
#9 Sheep Ranch plays most similarly to Links courses in Scotland. Hole 9 is a perfect example in which if the winds pick up, a rolling approach short of the green is needed. Going long will most certainly result in losing something.
#15-18 Like Old Macdonald and Bandon Dunes, Sheep Ranch has a heavenly stretch to finish it off. All 3 holes play near the ocean and are very strategic. Depending on how the wind blows the line will differ. #18’s “Bunker’s” will leave a strong resonating memory.
At Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, Sheep Ranch is the most like a Links course in Scotland. The routing is its biggest strength. Because of the clustering of tee boxes, fairways and holes feel anything but claustrophobic. Bunched teeing areas play off into larger and independent corridors. Bunkering or lack of is distinct at Sheep Ranch. I much enjoyed looking at the sandless “Bunkers” on #18 which highlight how hazards such as bunkers and water are much often overused. Out of all the courses at Bandon, Sheep Ranch is the one that I would love to have another know playing the course due to the high level of strategy needed to score, that and I was not able to find the tee box and fairways while on the tee box on numerous holes.
Date: February 14, 2022