The Best Golf Resort in America
That is a bold statement considering some of the great resorts in the US; Pebble Beach, Pinehurst, Kohler, etc. But having been to many of the greats, and having just returned from Bandon, there is no doubt in my mind that Bandon is the clear winner. I would choose Bandon Dunes 9 out of 10 times over all other golf resorts. Based on everything the resort offers to the golfer it tops all other golf resorts. I made a list below of the 9 reasons I want to go back to Bandon Dunes and the 1 reason that might have me choose a different resort.
1. Best Collection of Golf Courses
If you look at the list of courses that comprise Bandon Dunes Golf Resort property, you won't find a resort with a higher cumulative ranking of courses anywhere in the US, probably in the world for that matter. Pacific Dunes is a top 5 of any list created and Old Macdonald is my favorite which also ranks high, along with the original course Bandon Dunes and then throw in the overlooked, but awesome design of Bandon Trails and you have a line up that you honestly want to play them all over and over. We played 36 holes everyday and if there was more sunlight and our bodies could do it, we would have played more!
2. Old Macdonald
Old Macdonald has a "love" or "hate" relationship with most that play it. They either have it at the top of their list at the resort (like I do) or at the bottom of their list. It is golf on a massive scale. Everything is big, large tee-boxes, wide fairways and huge greens. In my mind this allows for great freedom and creativity on every shot. So even if you spay a ball here or there, you still have a good chance at scoring. If you can putt, you can tame this course, but if your flat stick is your nemesis, you will probably hate Old Macdonald. Our group was split often because the undefined lines from tee to green. There are a few blind shots, but it has some incredibly memorable holes and greens.
3. Pacific Dunes
Considered by most as the top course on the property, it can also be one of the most difficult courses on the property. The course is mostly shaped by mounds and gorse yet has an openness to many holes. It also has the most ocean holes and views of the courses on property. It certainly doesn't have a cookie cutter feel with a unique layout. The first time I played it I didn't like holes 10 and 11 as they were back to back par 3s, but after this trip, those 2 holes are fantastic designs and would be hard not to created them in their locations. Pacific Dunes has well defined holes all the way around and every green offered something different. There are a couple of extra tees that can make a few holes play very different, but often really cool.
4. Bandon Dunes
The 1st course on property sometimes gets a bad rap as being lesser than the others on site. I found a new appreciation for this course on my recent trip. It is a really fun design with many options off the tee and if you include the secret tee boxes it has some of the greatest variety of view points and angles of any of the courses. It is more open and less defined than Pacific Dunes, yet has some of the nicest Ocean holes on the property. I really like the variety of par 4s on this course as it plays more toward and away from the ocean. It is also the only course to have the turn back at the clubhouse. Don't overlook Bandon Dunes, the course that started it all as a really great course on property.
5. Bandon Trails
Bandon Trails is different from the other courses in that it has no ocean holes or ocean views. While that shouldn't hurt how this course is viewed, it often is looked down on because of that fact. If you moved this course off of Bandon Dunes property to another resort or even a stand alone course it would be raved about how good of a design it is. The truth is Bandon Trails is an outstanding design hole after hole. It offers amazing variety, excellent shot making opportunities and the best mixture of hole length. You never feel like your playing the same hole. The collection of par 3s is fantastic from the short 125 yarder, to the 250 yarder. Coore and Crenshaw did a marvelous job on this inland "links" course.
6. The Preserve
The Preserve is only a 13 hole collection of par 3s, yet it is one of the best courses on property. Every hole is fun, creative, unique and offers good shot making opportunities. This will fit nicely into a day of 36 holes planned on the other course, either before or after those rounds. Grab a drink, make a couple bets, take 4 clubs, a couple balls and have a blast. They offer "Sunday" bags for your use or get a Silo like I had to play these holes. You can get around in about an hour and the whole time you will be amazed at how fun a par 3 course can be. Make sure to play hole 13 with your putter. It makes for a great way to end your day watching a 100 yard putt almost go in the hole ( or if you are lucky enough to see it go in)
7. The Punchbowl
You might never imagine how much fun you can have playing "mini-golf" on a real putting green. The Punchbowl is one of the great recent additions to the property. A 27 hole/2.3 acre putting course that is well designed and so much fun. There are designated holes with tee-markers and a routing. Each hole has a double beverage holder for your drinks. Nikki will take care of your beverage needs no matter how many holes you play. Everyone that was on the Punchbowl had giant smiles on their faces as they had fun putting(and betting). If only it had lights, I would have played it until midnight easily!!
8. The Resort: Lodging, Food and Amenities
Bandon Dunes is a Golf resort. By that I mean they don't have 5 pools, 25 tennis courts, a giant spa or any non-golf related amenities. They are all about the golf from the time you arrive on property til the time you leave. They offer a wide variety of lodging options from single room to 4 bedroom condos. We stayed in the Chrome Lake lofts which are 2 bedroom units. Our 4some split into 2 different lofts which worked out just fine and is a little more budget friendly compared to the condo, but if it is important that you all stay together take a look at those options.
What really impressed me was the food. Many resorts really get you on food and beverage; $5 Cokes, $15 burgers and $50 dinners. Bandon does it right, they charge reasonable rates for their drinks and entrees. In addition to the reasonable prices, the food is very tasty and between the 5 restaurants on site, they offer just about any type of cuisine you prefer. We spent most of our nights at McKee's Pub because of the wide variety on the menu. A favorite has to be Grandma's Meatloaf, it is spectacular. Another thing that might not be on the menu, but our group enjoyed each night were Guinness floats; simply delicious.
9. The Secret Things
There are little surprises all around Bandon Dunes Golf Resort. Some are more obvious than others. The Labyrinth for example has signs to it off the walking path behind the Chrome Lake Lodging. The Shorty's course is on/just off the driving range and is kind of in plain sight. Hitting putter off the tee on hole 13 at the Preserve is a must. Finding all the secret tees on Bandon Dunes should be a fun quest for great angles and different looks on a variety of holes. Holes 2, 6, 7, and 17 all have little tee-boxes that can be found to play the hole slightly different than suggested. The secret gift box by the tree on hole 10 of Bandon Dunes will also be a cool find if others before you placed some nice gifts in it. (We did). The Sheep Ranch golf course, which you can see from Old Macdonald, is accessible for the day through the Bandon Golf Supply shop in town. I'm sure there are some others, but those were the ones we enjoyed while on site.
10. The Location (Getting here is the biggest challenge)
Unless you live on the west coast, getting to Bandon can be difficult. I thought we had a well mapped out plan to fly into Portland at a reasonable hour and then drive 4 hours to Bandon. But after some plane delays and lost luggage, we arrived a couple hours before our tee-time in the middle of the night (4am) after traveling most of the previous day without half of our luggage. Playing 36 holes on 1 hour of sleep after the stresses of travel didn't end well. If we weren't so cheap, we should have considered flying into North Bend from Denver and then it is only a short 1/2 hour drive. Bandon works with Ship Sticks as well so that you don't need to fly with your luggage. Or as my buddy found out, Bandon has the best rental program I've ever seen. Any brand and version of clubs you might want; they have them, even Miura. (unfortunately no PXG) Because of the remote location of Bandon Dunes in Oregon, it really is the only down side compared to some of the other major golf resorts. I highly recommend flying into North Bend.
There are only a few places in the US where you can play "Golf as it was meant to be" that is, links style. Bandon Dunes resort offers a true links experience. With firm fescue terrain on every course, you can bounce the ball in all different directions and play the "ground game" that most lush courses don't allow. While every golfer has to make their choices as to what clubs to bring and how to play shots, I suggest using your putter as much as you can. You don't need to get rid of your lob wedge like some say, but you do need to learn how to hit off very hard turf.
Based on the style of golf, the quality of courses, and the memories shared with buddies, Bandon gets my nod 9 out of 10 times as a buddies trip destination, a golf vacation or anyone wanting to experience the best golf resort in America.
Special thanks to @GolfSpy_Tim / @GetawaysGolf / @T_Fity for a great buddies trip.
For more information: www.bandondunes.com
Yuneec Typhoon Q500 4K Pictures of Bandon Dunes