Monday, May 11, 2015

#20 (World) / #12 (U.S.) / #1 (Public) Pacific Dunes GC

December 3, 2014

Pacific Dunes is considered by many to be the crown jewel of the Bandon Dunes Golf Resort. Individual preferences may vary among people depending on preference of types of courses enjoyed, but Pacific Dunes is a fantastic golf experience. The course is challenging but fun. The views are as good as anywhere in the world. And the staff is top notch. It has received many accolades and the course can be found in Fifty Places to Play Golf Before You Die.

I detailed my first stay at Bandon Dunes Resort, including food and lodging, in my first blog about Bandon Dunes. I will update this website with more photos of better quality for that course soon. But, that blog entry can serve to showcase the time you will spend outside of the course.  As for this blog entry, let me show off Pacific Dunes because it truly deserves it's number 1 public ranking, as well as it's high rankings in the world and the U.S.  From the Bandon Dunes website, they sum up the course as "Designed by Tom Doak and opened in 2001, Pacific Dunes is remarkably different in character and shot making requirements than our other courses. Pacific Dunes doesn't feel like it was built as much as it was discovered. Rippling fairways remain just as they were found and natural bunkers line the landscape as they have for centuries. The course emerges from shore pines to spectacular 60-foot sand dunes. When the wind blows, precise approach shots are a necessity. Pacific Dunes is short enough to give you hope, but rugged enough to test every facet of your game."

Entrance sign to Pacific Dunes. The logo was missing on this day.

The group I was paired with included a father and son visiting from out of state and a local from Medford, OR.  We had the luck of being the first group out on the course for the day - one of my favorite things in the world!  I love seeing what feels like an untouched golf course, covered in dew. The weather also wasn't too bad for a December day in Oregon. It was low 50s and partly overcast. There was no wind to speak of so it made for excellent golf conditions.

There are five sets of tee boxes on the course. From back to front, they are Black, Green, Gold, Blue, and Orange. I was feeling pretty good on this day, and with the perfect weather conditions, decided to play from the green tee box.

A look down the fairway from the 1st tee box.
The flag found on each hole at Pacific Dunes.
The opening hole is a par 4 that plays to 304 yards and let's you have a chance at a good score to start your round. The fairway landing area is generous, so you want to try to gauge your tee shot to leave 100-125 yards into the green. A tee shot left of center provides a better angle to this green nestled into the sand dunes.
A look into the 1st green from 75 yards out.

A look down the fairway from the 2nd tee box.

The par 4 second hole plays to 335 yards. The best angle to approach the green is from the left side of the fairway, however, the left side features most of the trouble. Check your yardage and the wind to see if you can carry the middle bunker. With mounding on the left and right of this green, most balls will funnel toward the center.

A look into the 2nd green from 50 yards out.

A look down the fairway from the 3rd tee box.
The first par 5 on the course plays from 476 yards.  The view from the elevated tee presents the challenge of this par 5 as you head toward the Pacific Ocean. Choose your target either left or right of the second bunker depending on the wind. The second shot should favor the left center of the fairway to open up the green for your approach. Take enough club on approach as short shots tend to feed right toward the bunker.
A look into the 3rd green from 75 yards out.
A look onto the 3rd green from the hill behind it.

A look down the fairway from the 4th tee box.
This stunning par 4 plays long at 449 yards, especially if the wind is blowing in.  The entire length of this hole plays on the bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Take aim just right of the left fairway bunkers and hit it long. The approach shot should favor the left side of the green as a large slope front left directs balls to the right. Enjoy the view on the right but keep your golf ball left!

A look into the 4th green from 120 yards out.
A look back down the 4th hole from the dune behind the green.

A look into the green from the 5th tee box.
The first par 3 on the course plays to 181 yards. With the prevailing wind at your back, you will need to play this hole significantly shorter than the actual yardage. A shot slightly left of this green will filter down onto the putting surface. This two-tiered green is a challenge for even the best putters.

A closer look at the 5th green.
A closer look at the 5th green.
A look back at the 5th green from the dune behind it.

A look down the fairway from the 6th tee box.
The sixth hole, a short par 4 that plays to 288 yards, offers many options. Whatever you do, take enough club to carry the fairway bunker on the right. A shot to the right center of the fairway will give you the best angle into this small green. If you find yourself in the left green-side bunker, the best bet is to play out sideways instead of trying to go for the green. This green is extremely narrow and slopes dangerously off to the right.

A closer look at the 6th green. 

A look down the fairway from the 7th tee box.
The seventh hole is a par 4 that plays to 436 yards. Regardless of wind direction, this is one of the most difficult holes on the course. If you are forced to lay up, it is best to do so at about 85 yards to avoid bunkers. Approach shots that are not hit on line will fall prey to heavy contours in front of the green. While making your way to the green, notice the natural bunkering on the left side.

A look into the 7th green from 100 yards out.

A look down the fairway from the 8th tee box.
The eight hole is a par 4 that plays to 369 yards. Into the prevailing wind, a drive favoring the left side of the fairway will avoid the fairway bunker on the right and provide the best angle to the green. Getting the approach shot close on this hole can be a chore. A false front and a large pot bunker guard the front of the green. A nice bail out area is long right where a steep slope can funnel balls back onto the putting surface.
A look into the 8th green from 75 yards out.

The par 4 ninth hole plays to 379 yards. There are two green options on this hole so make sure to check the sign on the tee to determine which green you are playing. The fairway is much wider than it appears from the tee. If the lower green is being used then keep your tee shot a little left of center; the steep sloped fairway will help you toward the hole. To the upper green, use the tallest mound in the fairway as your target. The center of the lower green features a large mound. The upper green slopes away.

A look into the 9th green from 75 yards out.

 Holes 10 and 11 are back-to-back par 3s with incredible views. The tenth hole plays to 163 yards. The biggest obstacle at this hole, besides the distraction of the scenery, is the thick rough and mounding left of the green. A large elevation change from the upper tee combined with the prevailing wind, make club selection critical. You want to try to keep your ball flight low. A safe place to leave your approach is short of the green.
A look into the green from the 10th tee box. 

A look down the coastline and 11th hole from the tee box.
A look into the green from the 11th tee box.
This short par 3, that plays to 131 yards, is a tough challenge. The green is surrounded by native beach grass, bunkers, and gorse. The best way to probably attack this hole is to forget about the hole location and focus on getting your ball in the center of this green, the smallest on the course.

A look back down at the 11th hole from the dune behind it.

A look down the fairway from the 12th tee box.
This 507 yard hole is a par 5 playing against the prevailing wind. For a good aiming point, direct the tee shot at the cross bunker in the middle of the fairway. Check the yardage and the wind to make sure the second shot will clear that same bunker and if not, be sure to avoid it. There is plenty of room on either side. Don’t let the flat putting surface fool you. Putts on this green are fast.
A look at the 12th green from atop the dune behind it.

A look down the fairway from the 13th tee box.
The par 4 thirteenth hole plays to 390 yards. Venturing into the prevailing wind, this long hole plays even longer than what the numbers advise. The fairway is more generous than it may appear from the tee, however. With a deep and elevated green, it can be difficult to tell where the hole is located, so don't forget to take a peek at the hole location sheet.  The drop off the back side of the green is so severe that I could not find a good place to stand to get a better photo of the green. Do not go long under any circumstance.
A look into the 13th green from 120 yards out.

A look into the green from the 14th tee box.
This par 3 plays to 128 yards. An approach that misses the green on this short, downwind par-3 leaves one of the most difficult up-and-downs on the course. Figure the yardage to the front of the green because balls will certainly release to the hole.
A closer look at the 14th green. 

The par 5 fifteenth hole plays to 504 yards from the green tee box. This hole offers a generous landing area off the tee, so it is easier to relax and make a big swing. With the wind behind you, it is possible to reach this green in two good shots. A slightly elevated green means a good short game will be rewarded.
A look towards the 15th green from 250 yards out.
A look towards the 15th green from 200 yards out. 
A look into the 15th green from 100 yards out.  

A look down the fairway from the 16th tee box.
The par 4 sixteenth hole plays to 338 yards from both the black and green tee boxes. Make sure to check the yardage to the corner of this dogleg right hole. A long iron or fairway wood may be a good choice. The best option from the tee is to play to the left side of the fairway. The green will open up from there. The green slopes from front to back and the approach is downwind and it is a challenge to hold the putting surface.
A look into the 16th green from 80 yards out. 
A look back onto the 16th green from the top of the dune behind it. 

A look into the green from the 17th tee box.
This par 3 plays to 189 yards. A right-to-left shot shape is ideal. Deep bunkers protect the left front of the green, with a steep ridge running along the back.

A look down the fairway from the 18th tee box.
The long par 5 eighteenth hole plays to 575 yards. A sloping fairway toward an enormous left bunker puts a premium on the drive. Favor the left side of the fairway on the second shot to avoid trouble right. This green is slightly bowl-shaped so shots will automatically move toward the center. The green-side bunkers are nice to look at but not to be in.

A closer look at one of the very large fairway bunkers on 18. 
A look into the 18th green from 80 yards out.
A closer look onto the 18th green.
 A quote from Golf Magazine sums up the experience at Pacific Dunes perfectly. They advise, "Numbers are as irrelevant here as at the Old Course at St. Andrews. It’s just man against course - and weather. And golf really doesn’t get much purer than that." Bandon Dunes is still my favorite, most complete golf experience anywhere in the world. As the staff likes to say, "It is golf as it is meant to be." If you haven't experienced Bandon Dunes Resort, do yourself a favor and plan it, put it on your schedule, and make it happen. If you are a golf fanatic, or just an enthusiast, it is a lifelong memory you will be happy to have added.

No comments:

Post a Comment