Bruno's Blog


Bandon Dunes Experience - 2015 Edition PDF Print E-mail

 

It's the week of the 144th Open Championship at the Home of Golf, so what better time

to feature our latest visit to the only American golf resort that's an authentic links experience -

Bandon Dunes. True links golf of the highest order is rare anywhere, and in the U.S it's a

virtual unicorn . . . but on the south coast of Oregon there's five links layouts designed by

the best land shapers on the planet (and the coolest putting course you'll ever see on this

side of the Atlantic).

 

The scene at Bandon Dunes Resort as we arrived on the evening of June 9th.

 

 

 

Bandon Dunes Resort is one of those golf destinations that has been described and

showcased numerous times through brilliant images (and we have plenty more of those

to peak your interest). No wordsmith or photographer can adequately convey the

uniqueness of Mike Keiser's brilliant linksland (but we will try to do so). In 2012 we

presented each course in full detail hole by hole, but in this edition we'll focus on a

broader look at the resort thru my own personal experience of what it's like to be at

the place known as "golf as it was meant to be".

 

I flew into Portland, and waited as my Aussie friend Dean Lenerth arrived from his

long journey from Sydney. At the airport rental car center it appeared as though every

human being in the free world had descended upon the Pacific Northwest that week,

but finally we got on the road heading nearly 5 hours south towards Bandon. Our drive

south flew by, spending the time catching up since we last saw each other 2 years

ago while working together at Merion for the U.S Open.


 

Bandon Preserve

It was 93 degrees when we left the airport in Portland, but when we pulled in front of the

Bandon Clubhouse it was a cool and breezy 61 degrees . . . perfect links weather. First

thing after checking in, it was straight to the most scenic short course in America. If you

travel to Bandon don't make the mistake (as many do) of passing on Coore & Crenshaw's

13 hole Bandon Preserve par 3 layout. (second hole at B.P pictured above)

 

 

 

This visual says it all. Bandon Preserve's fabulous 5th

 

 

 

Bandon Dunes

Bandon's first tee staging area is where it all begins. During our first full day on the

grounds I like to hover around the clubhouse and pro shop to soak in the vibe from

the staff and visitors - before teeing off we had lunch at the Tufted Puffin with two

of my favorite staff members at the resort - Michael Chupka and the mighty Ken

Nice.

 

 

This June was my second run at the place I call my favorite spot in American

golf. I didn't change up the itinerary much from the first visit 3 years ago, but

did choose to tweak a few things schedule wise for self preservation (after all,

there would still be 10 days in Washington left on the journey, including a week

of work at Chambers Bay for the U.S Open and two more rounds at opposite ends

of the state. Therefore, a less cluttered slate was chosen, opting for quality

and moderation over quantity - only one 36 hole day was the intended plan

(choosing to space the tee times out to allow for more recovery time, and to

experience the various restaurants and sites around the resort). In doing so, the

7 hr drive back up to Tacoma (for our meeting at Chambers Bay before the U.S

Open) wasn't as arduous as it would have been had we packed in more rounds of

golf.

 

We also wanted to experience the best ocean holes for later in the day, so the

schedule reflected that, Bandon, Pacific and Old Mac were penciled in as late

afternoon rounds.

 

There are moments while walking and playing along the rugged shores of Southern

Oregon that are more than just golf, the points on the property where the land meets

the sea are so dramatic, to many (including myself) it can be as much a spiritual

experience as it is about golf  . . . especially late in the day as the sun retreats towards

the Pacific.

Perhaps the best example of this is the 16th at Bandon Dunes, I've mentioned many times

that it's my favorite setting in American golf, so bear with me as I gush over McKlay Kidd's

"Mona Lisa". It's a driveable par 4 with a chasm that runs diagonally across the fairway about

150 yards from the forward tee. An elongated dune runs parallel to the chasm and bisects the

fairway as it trails off into a greenside bunker. The ocean, which is rarely the supporting cast is

the perfect compliment here.

 

On this particular Wednesday, it was my Dad's birthday (June 10th), and although he hasn't

been with us for decades, thoughts of him are never far away, especially on a day and

place such as this. As the sun started to descend towards the horizon and the glistening

pacific below, hitting golf shots was just part of the experience . . . the scorecard meant

very little.

Another view of McKlay Kidd's finest, the sixteenth at B.D

 

 

 

Of course when the score becomes less a priority, you start to produce well executed

shots. As was the case on sixteen, two solid shots produced a tap in birdie (the only one

of the day), then it was time for a few moments at what I like to call "Serenity Point".

Thousands of golfers who have walked these links have looked out over the Pacific from

this spot. The setting, the tranquil sounds of the shoreline . . .

Can't get enough of this visual.

 

 


Punchbowl Putting Course

The Punchbowl putting course (designed by Tom Doak & Jim Urbina) that opened a year ago,

sits beside the first tee at Pacific Dunes. Every kind of putt you can imagine and then some is

out there on the various routings the staff can set up. They switch up the the tee and hole

locations a few times per week to add variety and to keep the fine fescue turf from getting worn

out from foot traffic. The two acre putting course was inspired by the Himalayas at St.Andrews.

Golf needs more of these types of creative uses of land, it fosters a social component and creates

interest for juniors that your typical practice green lacks.

 

 

 

The experience of hangin with friends or even your kids for a little flatstick showdown

as the sun sets, is a great time, especially at one of game's great venues. Memories of

shortgame competitions with buddies at places like Kiawah Ocean, Pebble Beach, Bethpage,

Whistling Straits, Streamsong, Chambers Bay, World Woods, Dorado Beach, Atlanta Athletic

Club, Winged Foot, Pine Needles, Erin Hills and Orange County National still standout as

great times with buddies. Just like those experiences, a stroll around the Punchbowl (we

made several) is tons of fun, and might be the ultimate casual social hangout for those who

just can't get enough golf. By the way, the Punchbowl is no cost to resort guests.

 

 

 

Bandon Trails

The Clubhouse for Trails and Preserve

 

 

 

For those who don't know, Bandon Trails is the Coore/Crenshaw design that is the resort's

only inland tree lined course. It's only a few hundred yards from the shoreline, but between

the rustic brush and mulch paths between greens and tees and elevation, you'll feel like

you're in another part of Oregon. For obvious reasons, the fiercest winds don't quite have the

same effect at Trails . . . but they do tend to swirl and confound golfers.

Bandon Trails is in my opinion the most underrated golf course in America. It rarely gets it's

due because it competes against the seaside courses at the resort, but for shot values it's

every bit as good as Pacific, B.D and Old Mac. The par 3 fifth is an example of why a par 3

doesn't need to be 230 yards to be a good test.


 

 

It was a pleasure to have my buddy Dean Lenerth along to share the whole Bandon

experience. High winds kept any kind of scoring expectations from being realized,

but you're not at Bandon for an ego ride, you're there for an authentic links experience,

breathtaking views and the company of your playing partners. We did manage to have

a few good matches - especially at the Punchbowl, where the smack talk was as good as

the action.

Two lads from opposite sides of the globe - Bandon Trails 1st tee.

 

 

 

 

Bandon Trails 9th

 

 

 

Every great golf destination has a flaw or two, and if Bandon has one it's the recent

invasion of Poa that has krept onto the putting surfaces at both B.D and Pacific.

Fescue greens are relatively new in the U.S, but as we've seen at Chambers Bay -

Fescue and Poa together are not a good combo. It's true, the nature of links golf is not

to be pristine, so there is some flexibility in the judgement of such things, but after you

play the other courses at the resort like Old Mac, Bandon Preserve or even Bandon Trails,

there is a definite distinction between proper roll and bumpy.

 

Ken Nice (Director of Agronomy) acknowledged that there are some definite challenges

going on, but they have learned so much more about Fescue in the last 5 years or so.

He feels it's likely the newer courses have a better chance of keeping the Poa under

control - lets hope so. The staff and management at Bandon don't have the arrogance

of many other top resorts, they know what they have and the right people are in place

to uphold that.

 

 

 

 

Accommodations

 

Chrome Lake room

A suggestion to future Bandon visitors over the age of 40 or those opting to carry or

tote their own bags multiple rounds per day. Trekking around the various links layouts

all day long (Bandon is walking only), is tough on your body, especially your legs, hips

and back. A good hot soak at the end of the day is almost mandatory. If it's your first

trip to the resort and you don't intend to splurge on one of Bandon's fine caddies, then

make sure you reserve one of the Chrome Lake villas, it's well worth the slight difference

in price. TRUST ME on this one.

 

 

 

 

If you take a less strenous schedule at the resort, accommodations like Lily Pond

(shower only) will do just fine.

 

 

 

Pace of Play & conditions


The pace of play of every round was excellent, right around four hours and that was

walking up and down rugged terrain and dunes with a constant 40 mph gale all week.

I'm not sure of another major resort, where the cadence of the round moves as well

as it does at Bandon. Helpful course rangers are strategically placed throughout

each routing to guide you along, or for just a cheerful chat.

 

The winds were strong, so strong that my bag & riksha pull cart blew over numerous times.

The teenager next to me on the range had his titleist hat fly off his head about a dozen

times in 5 minutes. Although the temps were moderate every afternoon during our visit,

a wool cap was definitely the way to go (keeping the wind off the ears made for a better

experience). If you could figure out the right club and execute the correct trajectory,

there were chances for a highlight or two. One of the rangers informed me that June/July

are typically the windiest months of the year at Bandon - blowing 30-40mph is pretty

average. *August/September I've been informed is supposedly much more tame.

 


Pacific Dunes

One of my favorite, and certainly among the most scenic par 3's in America - the

eleventh at Pacific Dunes.

 

 

 

The view from behind the eleventh. Everytime I walk off this green, I want to turn around and

play it again. That's the ultimate compliment to Doak's design.

 

 

 

The 444 yd thirteenth at Pacific is known as one of the best par 4's in America, I'd also add

that it's a pretty good look as well.

 

 

 

Old Macdonald

Old Mac is one of those courses, the more you play it . . . the more you'll appreciate

it, I know I do. Despite it being the newest of the championship courses, it has a classic

old school Scottish feel, which was Doak's intention with this Ode to Charles Blair Macdonald.

The greens are the largest and most complex at the resort, and is presently in the best

condition of the 4 championship layouts. It's hard to imagine better fescue surfaces then

those at Old Mac, pure.

 

The bunker that guards the front left side of the 16th green at Old Mac looks like it's been there

for centuries. Tom Doak's green complexes here are extraordinary.

 

 


 

The Ghost Tree guards the perfect line to the third fairway at Old Mac

 

 

 

 

It would be hard to find better fescue surfaces than those at Old Mac.

 

 

 

 

 

Often you'll meet people during your time at the resort and connect instantly,

such was the case with Kyle who was a single that joined us for our round at Old Mac.

Above, Kyle blasts out of this huge cross bunker on the sixth at Old Mac

 

 

 

Cuisine


Afterwards we met up with Kyle and his Dad for Dinner in the upstairs dining room at

McKee's Pub. The conversation was really fascinating as Kyle's Dad spoke about his

days of working for decades as a Division I College Basketball referee, including

numerous Final Fours.

 

 

The guys all ordered the signature dish at McKee's - Grandma's Meatloaf and raved

about it, I went with typical pub grub - Beer Battered Fish n Chips, which was equally

outstanding.

Usually I make it a point to keep in touch with those that make an impression, and

clearly I dropped the ball when I didn't get Kyle and his Dad's contact info (it was an

act of kindness for Kyle to invite Dean and I, and buy us dinner). After dinner, Dean

and I chased the sun down with another putting match at the Punchbowl, where a group

of 12 prepared for a chilly night of glow ball putting being set up by the staff.

 


Trails End restaurant at the Bandon Trails Clubhouse

 

 

 


This is the view from the dining room and outside patio tables at Trails End.

 

 

 

 

We sampled every restaurant at the resort, and some multiple times. We ate at McKee's

Pub twice for dinner, the Tufted Puffin twice for lunch. Trails End restaurant for all three

meals (this is the least crowded and most underrated eatery on the property). The Gallery

restaurant at the Bandon Dunes clubhouse has a breakfast buffet in the main clubhouse,

which is best if you're running short on time. We also had breakfast at Pacific Grill on our

last morning there.

 

Breakfast at Pacific Grill

 

 

A few suggestions of notable menu items that Dean and I ate during our stay at the resort:

 

Breakfast:

Trails End: Pressed Baguette Sandwich

Pacific Grill: Traditional Breakfast

The Gallery: Bandon Dunes Scramble *(previous visit)

 

Lunch:

Trails End: Turkey Wrap, Chicken Panini

Tufted Puffin: Bandon Cheeseburger, Roast Turkey Sandwich


Dinner:

McKees Pub: Beer Battered Fish n Chips, Chicken Pot Pie, Grandma's Meatloaf

Trails End (dinner menu is Asian Fusion) - Broccoli Beaf, Street Cart Chicken

 

 

 

We ran into a few other scribes from Golfweek as we shopped for items in the pro shop

at Bandon Trails, obviously those guys had the same idea as we did before heading to

Chambers Bay.

 

 


The clubhouse view of the putting green and 18th at Bandon Dunes on our last evening.

 

 

On our final morning, we packed the rental car for the 7 hour drive up to Chambers Bay

and had breakfast at Pacific Grill. It was another outstanding experience at Bandon Dunes

Resort, I'm already looking forward to my next visit to the place THAT IS - "Golf As It

Was Meant To Be" . . .

 

For more information on Bandon Dunes Resort: http://www.bandondunesgolf.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 
Q&A with Miura's Bill Holowaty PDF Print E-mail


By Jason Bruno


Bill Holowaty - Miura Golf


Bill Holowaty has worked for the Miura family for well over a decade now, and most

recently as the Vice President of Product Strategies. He's seen the company grow from

a little known forged iron maker to a cult favorite among it's loyal customers of their

premium forged irons. They've never intended to be the biggest, their only intention

was and still is to be the best . . . and many of the games most respected club builders

and equipment experts agree to their pedigree. Holowaty, a graduate of the University

of British Columbia with a degree in Economics, is not your typical golf company executive

. . . he's affable, articulate, and down to earth. Recently I caught up with Bill while he was

manning the ship at Miura's North American HQ in British Columbia and discussed all things

Miura . . .


Miura's MB001 blade




LinksNation: You've been with Miura for over a decade, How have things changed for

the company from a brand recognition standpoint?


Bill Holowaty: Certainly we've obviously seen a tremendous amount of growth in our

brand awareness. One measure of success that we see and can take some solace in,

but ultimately our customers have really invested in that growth that's something

that we've noticed . . . that's something that's reinforced by the simple act of pulling

up to the bag drop at the golf course and the attendant - instead of asking, what are

these? He comments "oh, you bought Miuras"! That's a really good discovery by our

customers that have discovered our brand, but also for us. One of our monikers is

"Discover Perfection".

Mr.Miura has a saying, translated from Japanese that means - "The good golfer will find

me", it doesn't mean the low handicap golfer will find us, what it really means is - if I

continue to make the best possible irons and deliver the best quality product, golfers

will discover who we are. That's what's happening, and it's a bi-product of continuely

delivering the best quality product to golfers.





LN: We've noticed when a set of Miura irons show up in somebody's bag at the golf

course . . . a group of players will go over just to check them out.


BH: It's difficult because we recognize in this ultra competitive industry, we view our

competition (every manufacturer) - we also see that we have to be careful that we

can't match the resources that the big OEM's have, so we have to be really aware of

where our advertising and marketing dollars are spent. We are very fortunate to have

really great people working with us like Mary Beth Lacy, and then it's the word of golf

writers and sites like yours who have a great following - allowing us get our word out.

Blogs and social media platforms have also allowed us to get our message out, and

we've really noticed a significant increase and positive reaction lately.


LN: Has there been any thoughts of bringing on a tour presence, or to just stay the

course building the brand as you have?


BH: The organic growth that we're having, allows us to be somewhat flexible in terms of

decisions we make in respect to strategies and continuing to grow. The Tour model as it

stands now is not something that allows us to compete on an equal playing field, because

it's a huge investment. Not only in many cases are you forced to endorse a golfer, but

you also have to spend the marketing dollars to tell everyone that you're endorsing that

golfer. It's just not where we are right now . . . with that being said, we've invested alot

of research dollars in seeing if that's a possibility for us at some level. Outside of those

players who have made it a point to seek us out, we've had a little bit of success with

golfers who have discovered Miura and have put into our products into play and have had

victories - like Ryan Moore or K.J Choi.

We've had some Web.com guys we've had success with as well. Our products are out there

for those guys, I can forsee at some point in the future a little bit more of an investment

from our standpoint to access the tours - whether that's the big tour or an LPGA, Symetra,

Web.com or Canadian Tour - we're looking at players like that, but at this point in time

nothing is planned for the remainder of this year.





LN: Jack Nicklaus has been using Miura irons recently, can you tell us about any news of a

collaboration?


BH: It's no secret that Mr.Nicklaus discovered Miura and used our irons at the Father/Son

event late last year, and also he made a Hole n 1 at the Masters Par 3 contest using our

CB57 irons. He has reached out to us, but at this point there is nothing imminent. I think

the fact that he would trust his game to Miura would say so much about our company,

but also about him recognizing that the best forged clubs in the world come out of the

Miura factory.


LN: Among the most serious equipment connoisseurs, Miura is known to be at the pinnacle

of forged irons. What separates what Mr.Miura is able to accomplish as compared to some

of the other highly regarded forgings on the market that are mass produced?


BH: Exactly what you just mentioned, the Miura manufacturing process does not lend its

self to mass production. That comes down to the tolerances that each of our heads attains

through the manufacturing process. When we say we deliver a clubhead at plus or minus

1/2 a gram, that speaks to the integrity of the manufacturing process. By not doing mass

production that allows us through each step of the 14 step process to hit those targets with

respect to the head weight. At the end of the process we are delivering exactly what we said.

Every forged club is in the hands of individuals throughout the process, and essentially getting

a hand made item .

With respect to how it compares to our brethren within the industry, Mr.Miura and the Miura

family have never concerned themselves with that . . .  it speaks to what I said earlier - the

good golfer will find us . . . concentrating on delivering the best product that we can. If they

do that, we hope that ours is the forged club against all others will be measured.





LN: We recently received started testing the CB57 irons, and the feeling you get when you

take them out of the box is a definite Wow moment. As someone who's reviewed many clubs,

that feeling doesn't happen very often.


BH: Everyone in the factory takes great pride in what goes out. Many years ago, when

Mr.Miura was in the process of building the company, he would often be in the finishing

room taping off club heads maybe in pre-sandblast, and doing paintfill . . . at one point

they were getting ready to deliver the irons out of the shop and Mrs.Miura was inspecting

the order and noticed a few imperfections. She picked them up and took them into his

office and said "these aren't good enough, We have to do these again." He tells the story

today, that he learned longtime ago that it was way easier to do it right, then have to face

the wrath of his wife - with respect to what was going out the door. That's what that factory

delivers on a daily basis, as good as they look, the feel and performance match that, and

there's something about a Miura club in the sense that you almost don't want to hit it in

fear of marking up this piece of art, but in essence, it was made to be hit .


LN: The closest analogy I can think of is taking delivery of that new car, and the first time

you put your not so clean shoes on the floor mats, and see the sand on your clean carpet.

You want it stay pristine, but you know with use and time it just isn't possible.


BH: Very true, but the quality of the club maintains its finish . . . The perception that they're

soft and are gonna get dinged up just isn't there. It's something that the longer you have it

the classic look is always gonna be there.


LN: What's the story behind the creation of the CB57 special Limited Edition?


BH: The Miura family is always looking to improve, we don't introduce a new model in

regular cycles like other manufacturers. Standard philosophy of the company is - if they

can improve on something that they have, they'll introduce it. The leading edge and the

bounce, and the ability for that clubhead to get through the turf and create good contact

was going to be paramount not only for good golfers, but for all golfers. The evolution of

that club was 1- to deliver a Miura forging that lived up to it's predecessors, 2- design a

club that always returns to square impact, and 3- to deliver club to ball contact through

the turf, all conditions . . . whether it's lush or hard pan.


A lot of testing went into that, the unique part of the Miura process is - Mr.Miura literally

is listening to the sound of ball to clubface contact when he's testing . . . he's looking for

that thing that you can't get hitting a ball off a mat, you can often see him on the range

(not watching the ball) just listening to what kind of contact we're getting. That was the

evolution of the CB57.


LN: What's next for Miura?


BH: In terms of things coming down the line, being a canadian based company - is to give

our due to the left handed golfers. 33% of new golfers in Canada are left handed, my Dad

was left handed and have lots of friends up here that are left handed. After a decade in the

business, you can just see the demand for left handed clubs just isn't the same . . . and

unfortunately that means that the offerings that we have for left handers doesn't match

those for right handers. It's a simple economic equation, but were going to offer the CB57,

and our MB 001 blade, which is essentially a Y grind with a softer leading edge and sole.

We're also going to introduce a left handed putter along the lines of our 005 & 006. We

retired our small blade putter (KM350) last year, but Mr.Miura is working on a replacement

for that - a throwback putter, but forged out of a single billet of carbon steel that delivers a

feel and performance that we feel is unique. We feel there's a little niche in respect to a putter

that delivers an old school feel. The factory is always working on the next great thing . . . and

we know there's more to come.


Thanks to Bill Holowaty.

 





 



 
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