Hello from Bandon, Oregon! I arrived here Sunday afternoon for my first pilgrimage to the famed Bandon Dunes Golf Resort. Now, I can finally attest that all the rave reviews you’ve heard from your buddies about this golfing mecca is 100% true (or even better), thanks to the kind folks at TaylorMade.
The equipment company invited 12 media types for its “Short Game Experience,” which included a short game clinic on Monday morning with legendary instructor Jim Flick (who might be my new hero/favorite person — oh, he also helped me track down my long-lost tempo in less than five minutes). Details to come in an extended write-up when I have time once I leave every golfer’s equivalent to paradise.
We had the opportunity and privilege to play the par-3, 13-hole track, Bandon Preserve, which is the latest and fifth course at this special stretch of land, built on sand dunes perched 100 feet above the Pacific Ocean.
The Preserve does not officially open until May 1st, so it was a treat to be the first non-staff members to preview this incredibly fun and challenging layout with breathtaking views. The track is so new (and not ready for the general public) that it was only last Friday when holes were cut for the first time into greens running so slow that they wouldn’t have registered on the stimpmeter.
As you can see in the top photo, I was teeing off a lie board, which was required, because, as I’ve said, the track isn’t completely finished. However, with the exception of the carpet-like greens, it sure seemed like it was ready for the grand opening!
At first I was very skeptical and freaking out a bit over the concept of teeing off these fitting instruments (especially since I don’t think I’d ever even used one before), but after a few holes, I got used to it (and trusted I wasn’t going to shank or top the ball). What’s more, I realized it was nearly impossible for me to miss a shot from one of these boards. Don’t ask me why or how because I can’t explain it articulately, but I’ll get the answer from one of the pros or experts today.
It’s been an incredible experience so far and I wish I had five more days, so I could try out all the courses here at least once. We’re lucky enough to peg it at Bandon Trails today.
I really, really can’t wait for my next trip to Bandon (hopefully that will be very soon) because I’d like to play Old Macdonald Golf Links, the fourth course at Bandon Dunes, which pays homage to golf course architect C.B. Macdonald by asking one simple question, according to the website:
What would Macdonald have created had the Oregon Coast been his canvas?
Inspired by Macdonald’s iconic work, course architects Tom Doak and Jim Urbina have crafted a course that seeks the answer upon vast greens, among myriad angles of play, and from the depths of fierce bunkers. By celebrating these classic concepts of design, we honor the traditions of this game we love.
I was already a big fan of Mike Keiser — and pardon by ignorance — but I didn’t know this before I read it on the Bandon Dunes website a few days ago:
The fourth course opened in June 2010, and it came from special inspiration. Of all the incredible tracks around the world Mike has had the opportunity to play, his favorite remains National Golf Links on Long Island. Designed by Charles Blair Macdonald, the course opened in 1911 and ushered in the Golden Age of Golf Architecture in the U.S. One question burned inside Mike Keiser: What would his favorite golf course architect have done with the pristine land at Bandon Dunes? Mike asked Tom Doak and Jim Urbina to return, this time to work the sand north of Pacific Dunes and design a course in the tradition of C.B. Macdonald’s masterpiece at National Golf Links.
As any of my longtime readers know, NGLA is my FAVORITE course, and I’m not a course design expert, but Seth Raynor (the mastermind who conceived Yale GC), MacDonald’s protege, is my FAVORITE architect.
Good news is I have to start planning my next trip back and I can also look forward to the opportunity to play Old MacDonald. First things first, though, big match tomorrow. I’m playing with TaylorMade EVP Sean Toulon, PGATour.com’s Mike McAllister, and luminary radio host Brian Katrek. I have dibs on Katrek as my partner.
Finally, here’s a group shot of our threesome on Monday…
Oh yeah, how did I play? I was really happy with my ballstriking (I think I only missed two greens if you count the fringe). I felt better about it than I have in a long time, thanks to Mr. Flick for helping me find my tempo after just a 3-minute pep talk/mini lesson and advice.