Monday, February 10, 2014

63 (World) / 34 (U.S.) / 8 (Public) Bandon Dunes


February 10, 2014

My first day at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort did not disappoint. It was everything I expected and more. As a plus, my new, small digital camera (Nikon Coolpix S3100) arrived two days before my departure. I arrived on Sunday night around 6 pm, after an eight hour drive from Seattle. The drive was fairly uneventful, though there was still snow and ice covering Portland from a storm that had rolled through the city a day or two before. The resort is definitely off the beaten path. I thought Streamsong was a long ways away from anything. Bandon Dunes definitely tops the drive to Streamsong. After turning off I-5, you drive 40 miles to the coast utilizing a two lane road. Once the road dead ends into the Pacific Ocean, I then took a left, where I followed another two lane road for two more hours.

Upon arrival, I checked into The Lodge, one of five lodging options at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort.  The staff was very friendly, helping me unload my truck. By the time I had parked, my bags were already in my room. They confirmed my tee times for the entire week. I was scheduled to play each course twice each day over my stay.

Looking down into the lobby of The Lodge from the second floor.
As should be expected from any top notch resort in the Pacific Northwest, hardwood and natural earth tones are a theme here at the The Lodge. It is very warm and inviting.  My room was as large, if not larger, than most Marriotts I stay in when I travel for work and I was quite happy with the space afforded to a guest, even when it is a single. One neat thing I found was that the windows in the room open via a crank, opening from the bottom, so the windows can be open, even when it rains, without the room getting wet.

After settling in, I went to bed early. I planned to wake up at 5:30 am so I could eat breakfast and then take in everything the facility had to offer before my 8:10 am scheduled tee time. There are several restaurants on the resort property and I opted for The Gallery Restaurant since it was literally a two minute walk from my second floor room and it opened at 6:30 am. I was not disappointed. Besides the normal breakfast menu, they have a fantastic buffet.

The breakfast buffet at The Gallery Restaurant.

After eating my fill, I headed out to the Bandon Dunes Practice Facility. It is open from sunrise to sunset. Free shuttle service is provided from The Lodge to any of the five courses and the Practice Facility. I arrived at 7:00 am, given me an hour to make full use of the facility.

The practice facility building that offers free coffee to early risers!

Just down the path from the practice facility is a neat looking clock to help keep track of your approaching tee time.

The range is all you can hit balls that are neatly stacked almost as soon as one stack is used.

There are several distances marked by various color flags to help you find a distance with each club in your bag.

There are also several chipping areas as seen from the photo above and below.

After finishing up my warm-up, and being able to make sure I was as ready as possible, I hitched a ride back with the resort shuttle and proceeded to the starter's hut. He called my by name before I could introduce myself, presented me with a scorecard, a ball marker, a pencil, and then introduced me to my three playing partners for the first round of the day. They were three friendly gentlemen from Oregon and I was happy to learn they had played the course numerous times. I put away my GPS and relied on their familiarity of the course to help guide me.

I had been checking the weather every day for 10 days prior to my arrival, and The Weather Channel App had been calling for storms, rain and wind for all week. I was pleasantly surprised to be teeing off to sunshine, partly cloudy blue skies, and barely a hint of wind. That good weather would hold for the first 11 holes. On hole 12, we were met with a brief time of driving rain and sustained winds of 10-20 mph. The rain and winds did ease up slightly, but our last seven holes were continuous rain and winds of varying degrees.

As always, I like to take photos of the flags at each course I play if possible.

The golf gods were smiling on me this day, at least to start the round, as I drove my first tee shot down the middle.

Looking down the fairway from the 1st tee box.
Looking from the 1st fairway towards the green. The play here is just to the right of the right bunker.
A closer look at the bunker you do not want to end up in.

A look at the flag from the right side of the green.

What I learned at the first hole was that the greens rolled true to form, the same as they had at the practice facility greens. Sometimes the practice green plays differently than the greens found on the course and I was happy that this was not the case here. Naturally, this is probably expected at a course of this stature.

A look at the number 2 green from the tee box.
Hole 2 is a short par 3. It plays across a chasm of junk you do not want to try to fight your way out of. It is also uphill so plays a club and a half longer unless the wind is at your back.

Looking down the fairway at #3 from the tee box.

Approach shot at #3. I love the trees that are found around the property similar to the one seen on the left.

A look at the #3 green.

As seen from the first photo of number 3 above, it is the first time the Pacific Ocean comes into view from the Bandon Dunes track. However, you can hear the ocean from just about anywhere on the course and it was much louder than I expected. Also, from my understanding, if the wind is blowing, it is coming right at you off the ocean, making #3 a very long par 5.

Gorse is a dominant feature on most links courses found in the U.K., and it is no different here at Bandon Dunes.

One thing I started to notice in greater abundance as we made our walk from #3 green to #4 tee box was the presence of a plant called gorse. According to Dream Golf: The Making of Bandon Dunes, gorse was introduced by Lord George Bennett, an Irishman that had a large role in establishing the city of Bandon, back in the late 1890s. The gorse plant is native to the British Isles. It has some value as winter fuel. In the spring, it is said that gorse is covered in deep green foliage and canary-yellow blossoms that emit a sweet, almond-like fragrance. I didn't note that smell, but I didn't get close enough to try either. As you can see from the photo below, the thorns can be downright mean to anyone getting to close. Irish gorse rarely grows much higher than six or seven feet, but apparently it thrives in Oregon weather as I saw patches that were 15-20 feet tall. Gorse is very desirable for links courses because it helps to stabilize the dunes of the course.

If your ball finds its way into the gorse, just accept that it is a sacrifice to the golf gods and just use a new ball.

The plaque advising #4 as one of the Best 500 holes in the world by Golf Magazine.

I was excited about playing hole four. I have seen photos of the dogleg right. I have read about it in the World's Best 500 Golf Holes. In that book, not only is #4 listed as one of the world's best 500 golf holes, it is also listed as one of the 18 most scenic holes in the world and one of the 18 best holes designed since 1970.  It lived up to every expectation I had of it.

It's a decent carry over the rough to a moderate size fairway. However when the wind is blowing in from the ocean, it can be tricky.

A view of the green from the dogleg turn of the fairway.

A closer look at the green, the bunkers protecting it, and the awesome view of the Pacific Ocean.

 The fourth hole did not disappoint. As you reach the fairway (and hopefully your ball), you are met with a spectacular view of the green and its backdrop of the Pacific Ocean that you can not see from the tee box due to the dog leg. It is the first hole where you are next to the ocean. The sounds of seagulls and the smell of salt water was simply put - awesome A fishing boat also came down the coast as we finished out this hole.

Looking back at #4 green.

A view from the tee box toward the green of the par 3, sixth hole.
The sixth hole was as stunning a view as the fourth. It is a shot you have to be careful with. If you go to far left, your ball will catch the hill and roll into the gorse. The wind blowing in from the ocean doesn't help make the shot any easier. You can also see the storm that met us at 11 is just starting to roll in.

A closer look at the sixth green and the bunker that tries to help you not lose a ball.

A look from #7 tee box towards the fairway
 To clear the rough between the tee box to the fairway on number seven was a bit nerve wracking as the wind was starting to pick up. Luckily, the fairway is exceptionally wide, at more than 100 yards, so there is some room for error to just get it over.

A look from the fairway towards the green on number seven.

 After you clear the crazy amount of rough from the seventh tee box, you are met with all kinds of challenges between hills, bunkers, and wind, on your way to the seventh green.

Number 8 tee box looking down the fairway.

Number eight is a tricky hole. There is plenty of room to bail out to the left but it is going to leave you a longer approach shot. That "belt of bunkers" across the center of the fairway plays anywhere from 180-220.  The wind is also coming straight at you from the ocean, making this an even tougher shot. If you can't carry at least 230, I highly recommend going to the safe landing area on the left.

Looking from the 9th tee box towards the fairway and The Lodge and clubhouse.

The 9th fairway is guarded by a fair number of deep bunkers. You definitely want to play this next shot right.

Looking toward the 9th green.
As we made our turn, it had been an awesome day of golf thus far. However, the fury of the links was about to hit us with wind, rain, and more rain.

Looking from the 10th tee box down the fairway.
 Those bunkers are deep and right at the average driving distance of the average player. With a wind blowing in, you are generally going to be saved from them. But, I can see where these can cause havoc on a still day.

Looking into the 10th green from the top of those bunkers.
I love these trees that line the back of the 10th.

The 11th is a short par 4 at 351 yards. However, it plays uphill and towards the ocean, making it a more difficult hole than it appears on the scorecard.

Looking from the 11th tee box towards the fairway.

Looking at the approach shot to the 11th green.

A sloped green makes for a difficult chip on, especially when the wind is knocking the ball around.
 The 12th hole is another fairly short par 3. However, it is wide open to the ocean, and it seems winds are constantly blowing here. Also, if you aren't careful, you could find yourself in the five foot deep bunker on the front left.
Looking from the tee box to 12th green.

Looking from the left of the green towards the flag.

The 13th hole was the longest of the day at 537 yards, playing from the green tees. We had the help of the wind at our backs, however, and the wind really likes to push the ball down the fairway.

Looking from the 13th tee box down the fairway.

The second shot from the fairway is wide open and lets you really rip a shot here.

Looking into the green from the approach shot at 13.
The 14th is a tough hole. Its a dogleg-right that has a shallow green tucked behind a distant dune.

A look down the fairway from the 14th tee box.

After you take the turn in the dogleg, the green can be seen, guarded by a high dune.

A closer look at the approach shot to the green.
 The 15th hole is the last par 3 of the is tricky as it plays uphill and towards the ocean, making the short 131 yards seem a lot longer depending on the strength of the wind.

Looking from the tee box toward the 15th green.

Number 16 was one of my favorite holes on the course. There is ocean to your right. You have a large canyon to carry if you want to have a decent shot at a green in regulation. There is also a safer, bale out area to the left. However, with the wind coming in off the ocean, the approach shot from the left is going to prove quite a challenge to record a GIR.

A look from the 16th tee box to the green.
I also thoroughly enjoyed #17. It is a par 4 that is helped by the wind pushing the ball down the fairway. You have to be careful to stay left because there is another canyon on the right.

Looking down the fairway from the #17 tee box.

Approach shot to the 17th green. Do not go right!

Today seemed like a very tough pin placement at 17.
The safe play at 17 is to play wide left so you have a straight look into the green.

The 18th tees off from a blind shot to the fairway. I am not crazy about blind tee shots so Royal Melbourne later this year should be interesting.

A look from the 18th tee box towards The Lodge and clubhouse.

A look from the rough toward the location of the green off to the left and still out of sight.

Finally the green comes into sight.

18th green guarded by a series of bunkers, and thick gorse to the right.
All in all, it was a fantastic golf experience with three awesome golf enthusiasts to enjoy the round with. Today's round started the week off right and made the eight hour drive definitely worth it.

Dave Pelz also did a short write up of Bandon Dunes Course in Fifty Places to Play Golf Before You Die and I recommend the book.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for a great write-up. Bandon Dunes truly is golf as it was meant to be.