Bruno's Blog

Bandon Dunes Golf Resort - Keeps Raising Its Game PDF Print E-mail


Story and Images by Jason Bruno

Bandon Dunes.


Those two words bring instant smiles to golfers around the globe. If

you've been fortunate enough to have experienced this links paradise

along the shores of the south Oregon coast, then you know the euphoria.

The resort and it's six courses (the new Sheep Ranch opened on June

1st) is the only authentic links destination in the United States. Last

August, the world watched the incredible drama from the U.S Amateur

at David McLay Kidd's original - the 18 hole layout that bears the same

name as Mike Keiser's minimalist golf mecca. If you've never been, put

it at the top of the MUST do list



Since the spring, the resort has been dealing with the "new normal" of

this horrific COVID-19 pandemic (Bandon reopened in Mid-May with a

new set of safety protocols). We arrived at the resort on July 26th,

beginning the visit with a mid-morning tee time on Bandon Dunes.

Day two was a 36 hole dose of Sheep with veteran Bandon caddie

Jerry Lou on the bag - the anticipation was off the charts.



This view from a room at the Inn overlooks the 18th green on B.D

and the Lodge. For our visit, the week before the U.S Amateur, the

weather was ideal, low 50's in the mornings and mid 60's in the

afternoons (with typical summer winds out of the north 15-25 mph).

Ken Nice and his Agronomy Team had all of the courses in spectacular

shape. As stated earlier, the resort has Covid-19 safety protocols in

place, so before you arrive visit:

for updates on what amenities are open.






The newest member of the links rota at Bandon is the Sheep Ranch,

a Coore/Crenshaw design (that was previously an informal links created

by Doak/Urbina) that utilizes a small footprint perhaps better than

any American routing (with a possible exception of Merion), providing

the feel of a century old classic Scottish links (to learn more about the

Sheep Ranch, check out our feature:







Often overlooked by first timers visiting Bandon is the 13 holes of

par 3 splendor - Bandon Preserve. Whether you start your day of

golf here or spend the evening chasing the sun, you'll enjoy some of

the most breathtaking views and most unique short holes imaginable.

It may be the finest short course on the planet, and certainly is a safe

bet to be the most fun.







On this visit to the resort, we made it a point to see and experience ALL

of what Bandon has to offer, make some time to stroll around the nature

trail at Chrome Lake and visit the Labyrinth. The ideal meditation spot in

a very tranquil setting. The Labyrinth is dedicated to Bandon visionary

Howard McKee, for without him, Bandon as we know it, likely would not







You can't go wrong with any of the various lodging options at the resort,

but our personal favorite (where we've stayed several times, including

this past visit) is the Chrome Lake villas. Not all lodging options have

both shower and bath tub (Chrome Lake does), if recovery is important

to you after those long 36 hole days on the links, soaking in a hot tub

can be invaluable. This is the ideal set-up for those who prefer a secluded

cabin type of vibe.






Shorty's is the informal 9-hole par 3 practice course, ideally located

a few paces from the one acre "Big Putt" practice green alongside

the Bandon Dunes Driving Range. An eclectic short course that

caters to playing to different targets from varying spots (as long

as you don't endanger others), the scorecard is thought of as a

suggestion rather than a mandated routing. It's free to resort guests,

but an honor box beside the 1st tee welcomes donations that benefits

Bandon Junior Golf and the Evans Scholarship Caddie Program.





Planning Your Trip to Bandon:

There are a few schools of thought on how to plan a trip and itinerary

at Bandon. The two best routes to get to the Bandon area via air travel

is either thru Eugene or North Bend. North Bend is much closer (just 30

minutes away from the resort) but is generally more expensive and is

limited to connections (or direct flights) from Denver or San Francisco.

Hertz and Enterprise do have car rentals on site. The route from Eugene

offers more choices in terms of connections and deals. It's about a 2.5

hour drive to the resort, so plan accordingly. For our latest visit, we flew

into Eugene and spent the afternoon playing golf in the area (Eugene CC).

We drove to Bandon early the next morning in time for our 9:40 am tee

time at Kidd's original 1999 layout.


When to play each course at the resort can be an essential element

of every visit and needs to be planned accordingly. Savvy links

enthusiasts who frequent the resort - also known as "Bandonistas",

have a definite method of how they plan out their stay. Here is

the cliff notes version of how to plan your Bandon Dunes Golf itinerary:


1 - Use evenings, mornings and travel days to get the group together

for the pure fun of the Punch Bowl putting course, Bandon Preserve or

Shorty's. Each can be experienced in 90 minutes or less.



2 -Place the more challenging venues and those with the most wind

exposure in the a.m slot whenever possible. Of the courses, Bandon

Trails is the obvious choice for afternoon play because most of the

holes are played in relative seclusion through the forest and away

from the strong ocean gusts. Sheep Ranch is the wild card venue

that can be slotted anywhere in the schedule. It is exposed to the

fiercest winds at the resort, but it's the shortest layout with the

most generous fairways (and no sand bunkers), so Sheep is usually

more playable than say Pacific Dunes or Old Mac in the afternoons

when the winds kick up. Also the tee boxes are in very close proximity,

it's by far the easiest walk.





Bandon Trails is a magnificent walk through the woods with some of the

resort's finest architecture and is the ideal respite from the late afternoon

coastal winds. There is an element of Trails that reminds me of the great

dunes holes at Cypress Point. It doesn't have the spiritual ocean vistas

coming in like 16 at Bandon, but don't pass on one of Coore & Crenshaw's

finest works.




3 - Here's an example of our itinerary from earlier this summer with

a few dinner suggestions:


Day One - Leave Eugene at 6 am, arrive at Bandon Resort 8:30am.

9:40 am tee time - Bandon Dunes

3:10 pm tee time - Bandon Trails

8pm: Punch Bowl

Dinner: Pacific Grill (Tandoori Chicken)

Day Two -

8am - Practice area / Shorty's

9:10 am tee time - Sheep Ranch

3:20 pm tee time - Sheep Ranch

Dinner: McKee's Pub (Beer Battered Fish n Chips)

Day Three -

10:40 am: Pacific Dunes

6 pm: Bandon Preserve

Dinner: Gallery (Fish Tacos)

Day Four -

8:10 am tee time - Old Mac

Check Out - Fly out of OTH (North Bend)




4 - There will be days on the Southern Oregon Coast where mother

nature won't cooperate with your plans. Roll with the punches, our

morning round at Old MacDonald featured some serious marine layer

(fog) for most of the front 9, but the iconic "Ghost Tree" (above) still

stood tall. In cases where visibility is very limited and scoring is not

likely to meet expectations, don't let the conditions ruin the experience.

Keep the enthusiasm alive by engaging in match play.






5 - It's easy to consider Bandon Preserve an appetizer and just pass on

playing it. DON'T make that fatal mistake, it may be the most fun you

have the entire trip, and as we mentioned earlier, it might be the finest

par 3 course on earth.



6 - Be sure to be prepared for any type of weather. Speak with other

respected players that have visited the resort, wet weather gear is

a must. Our first trip out there 9 years ago, I didn't bring any quality

rain gear and got blitzed by an early a.m 40 degree rain on the first

hole of the trip (and a day later a hail storm nailed Ken Nice and I at

Preserve). Every visit since, I've brought the gear (and of course haven't

needed it). Layering is another important component - compression under

garments, sweaters, 1/4 zip pullovers are standard apparel to keep your

core warm during high winds. Several pairs of your most comfortable golf

shoes are perhaps the most important equipment needed. You're walking

some gnarly terrain, often in tough conditions - dry and happy feet (and

legs) are often the difference in how well you hold up on those 36+ hole



7 - Finally, and perhaps the best advice I can provide is to take a Bandon

caddie whenever possible. They are so knowledgeable about the courses

and will save your body from the rigors of carrying or pulling your bag

up and down the gnarly links terrain. Jerry Lou was my guy for this trip

and will be for my remaining visits out to the resort. An outstanding

vet at the resort that not only became a teammate out there, but the

conversation was just what I needed to make the walk even that much

more enjoyable. After our time together, I consider Jerry a colleague

and a friend. Remember, you're saving your body, a few strokes and

you're helping support some great hard working people. Tip well and

keep the bag light . . .



There are so many worthy hole designs created by Tom Doak and Jim

Urbina on Pacific Dunes, bring your "A" game for this gem. The par 3

seventeenth is among our favorite one shotters anywhere.







The par 3 third at Sheep Ranch is the shortest hole on the new Bill Coore/

Ben Crenshaw layout at 113 yards.







Our second spin around Sheep Ranch brought a bit of history, a hole

out eagle 2 here on the 443 yard par 4 fourth. As legend has it, the

eagle was the first of its kind on this hole, and when we arrived at

the clubhouse after the round, a staff member obliged with a cool

memento (below).






Bandon Dunes Golf Resort has introduced the links golf experience

to so many who's only previous perspective came from watching

The Open Championship on television each summer. Now, in a

relatively short span of time (20 years), over a million links enthusiasts

have flocked to the south coast of Oregon to enjoy the firm & fast

"feed the ball" origins of how the game was intended to be played by

the Scots several hundred years ago.

Keiser's vision has become the finest golf destination in North America

(perhaps the world), and somehow they have expanded the product

without losing sight of its original minimalist links ethos. After each of

our visits, it's been tough to imagine that it could get any better, and

yet it has. The recent opening of Sheep Ranch really has added another

dimension to the resort experience. The only thing we can think of that

would improve Bandon Dunes moving forward would be to have a world

without a pandemic, so all of the social aspects of the resort can resume.


For more info on Bandon Dunes, visit:




















Carr Golf Announces Ireland Golf is Back PDF Print E-mail



The return of Golf in Ireland
On Monday last, golf clubs across Ireland threw open their doors to delirious golfers, 7 weeks after their enforced closure in late March.
Fairways, pristine after months of uninterrupted maintenance, welcomed back members only under a government roadmap that lays the path for full access later this year.
Under Phase 1, members living within 5 kilometres of their home course were allowed to play in groups of three at 14 minute intervals. Golf’s unique and envious position as a sport that can be enjoyed safely has given rise to a huge surge in interest and demand across the local market.
Some clubs have reported a significant spike in membership sales as dusty sets of Slazenger & Spalding Irons have been unearthed in sheds up and down the country. Many a father or grandfather being ushered out the front door by their suffering spouses…. “No it’s ok honey, play 18…36 if you must!”
Under the 5 phase government roadmap, golf will gently open the doors to more golfers, from greater distances, and in increasing numbers and frequency; all the time migrating safely towards fourballs, visitors and full clubhouse facilities opening in early August. (We might even get to enjoy a Creamy!)
Amongst all the excitement, we must remember that we are in an enviable position and therefore we have a duty to protect and preserve the game we love so much, by golfing and socialising responsibly. And in doing so we will ensure that our fairways will become your fairways; to be enjoyed again by our clients as soon as the skies open up again.
Stay safe and, when ready, we will be ready and waiting to welcome you to our shores for the best and truest golf experiences across our shores. We might even sneak you a “creamy” or two!














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