Mike Keiser was hardly the first person to realize that the dunes of Oregon were an optimal place to build a golf course. The founders at Florence Links recognized the potential for the property in the title town, located next to a wondrous set of dunes near the town center.
The job differs dramatically from that of Keiser’s Bandon Dunes project, reflecting the personal style of Rees Jones and the prevailing architectural sensibilities of the day (Jones’s brother, Robert Trent Jones II, has his own ‘90s design in southern Oregon, at Eagle Point). Effort was made throughout the course to provide a more Scottish-style experience than that found at the average American parkland course and indeed the sandy soil provides a fair bit of bounce.
As you approach the final trio of holes, however, you’ll find characteristics very much in line with those of the American championship courses of the era. No. 16 is a short par four, beckoning big hitters to go for the green (without finding the pond next to it). No. 17 is a longer par three that also hugs up along the water. The closing hole is a reachable par five, with water playing all the way along the left side.
My initial visit to Florence Golf Links -- I personally dislike the tagline of "links" thrown into the new name for the layout. At least the former Sand Pines was a bit more authentic.
During my last return to Bandon I made a side visit to see if my initial thoughts about the course were on target.
When FGL first opened there was no Bandon complex of courses. That all changed in 1999 when the first 18 at Bandon Dunes opened.
FGL is simply manufactured. It's been done before countless times elsewhere. It's a shame because of its close proximity to the Pacific Ocean had possibilities to be really something.
What has elevated the array of golf course options at Bandon is how the design merges seamlessly with the actual site. This blending makes for a much more harmonious connection. At Bandon - you feel inspiration. At FGL you get 18-holes that provide a golf diversion but no real personal investment because the experience can hardly be described as riveting.
There's a clear distinction between the outward and inward sides. The former playing through towering pines and the back side being totally exposed. The course does have a few holes of note but the exercise is more perfunctory than eliciting a bond that lasts beyond the final putt holed.
Sites of this nature do not happen with frequent regularity. More could and should have been accomplished here.
M. James Ward
I feel sorry for the golf courses in Southwestern Oregon as all of them are overshadowed by the Bandon resort. Certainly when you have 4 world-class golf courses next door, any other course will pale in comparison but you would be remiss on missing out on this course when in the area.
The front 9 wends its way through the pine trees and the conditioning was top notch. Bonus points for the trees cutting down on the wind as this area of Oregon can get very windy at times and allows the golfer the chance to warm up for a bit until hitting the back 9.
The back 9 is simply a blast to play. Blind shots, whipping winds, crazy mounding, the back 9 will give you everything you want and then some from a course. The last few holes wend their way around a lake culminating in one of the toughest 18th holes I have played in a while.
Did Rees Jones probably wear out the tread on a bulldozer creating some of the holes on the back 9? Undoubtedly and while those types of courses are generally my least favorites to play, for whatever reason it works at Sandpines. This course was named the best new course in 1993 and has aged well and I highly recommend you checking it out when in Oregon.