In the late 1990s David McLay Kidd was hired by Mike Keiser to design and build a golf course on a section of the 1,200 acre parcel of land he owned along the rugged coast of Oregon. Building a golf course in such a remote location was a HUGE leap of faith on Mr. Keiser’s part as the “Build It And They Will Come” philosophy was not exactly a tried and true business model at the time. However, like all great entrepreneurs, Keiser did not let the critics and detractors discourage him and he forged ahead with his project. This wonderful new course, Bandon Dunes, opened in 1999 and became the foundation upon which the resort would build for the next couple of years.
Once the course opened a remarkable buzz began to build among golf aficionados and before anyone could say or even think “Keiser’s Folly” golfers began arriving from all parts to see the incredible golf course that had been built on America’s links land. I remember first hearing about Bandon Dunes while on a golf trip in Myrtle Beach with about 20 other golfers. One of the guys floated the idea of making a smaller trip to a place in rural Oregon that was supposed to have the best new golf course in America. I thought it sounded like a good idea, but we never really made the effort to make it happen. A full decade later it finally became a reality and the trip was planned.
During the twelve month period between booking the trip and the actual arrival date I obviously was very excited and wanted to learn as much as I could about the resort. As I was surfing the internet for information I picked up a copy of the book Dream Golf by Stephen Goodwin. The book gives a background on Mike Keiser, details the process of how the land was acquired, covers the construction of the first three courses and basically tells the full story of how a rural town on the coast of Oregon transformed into one of the greatest golf destinations in the world. It’s an excellent read and anyone going to the resort should absolutely pick it up. You can buy a copy from Amazon.com here
So here we are on the final day of our trip to Bandon Dunes Golf Resort and for our very last game we are scheduled to play the original Bandon Dunes golf course. As you may be able to guess based on my posts for Pacific Dunes and Bandon Trails . . . it was raining . . . again. And again due to the rain, there will be no photos. (Editors Note: Click HERE to see photos from another visit where I had better weather)
Luckily for us this was probably the lightest rain day we had on the entire trip. It was really just a drizzle rather than the heavy stuff we had grown accustomed to. The wind was not as strong as we’d had for our first game at Pacific Dunes, but it was certainly going to be a factor for the day. Suited up in our now well worn rain gear we headed off to the 1st tee.
If there were ever any question as to whether links golf exists in the United States there is no need to look any further than the Bandon Dunes golf course. Of the courses at the resort I thought that the Bandon Dunes course, with its pot bunkers, seaside holes and gorse lined fairways fits the stereotype of a traditional links golf course more than any of the others. Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying that Pacific Dunes is not a true links course. It most certainly is. I’m simply saying that Bandon Dunes, with its numerous pot bunkers, fits the traditional look of the quintessential links courses in the United Kingdom.
A few holes that stand out in my memory are the 4th hole which is a par 4 that played 362 yards and brought us down to the ocean. The green sits perched on the coast and this is really the start of the seaside holes. The wind had been blowing all morning, but I feel like this is where it really became a significant factor.
The 5th hole is an excellent long par 4 that played 400 yards on the ground, but was considerably more owing to the wind. A good drive is essential and with the wind blowing I hit my patented low shot and got it out there about as good as I could have expected. The approach here required a long shot through a tight fairway lined in scrubby vegetation on both sides. To be safe and to battle the wind I hit a long bump and run to manage a little more control as well as keep my ball out of the wind. I feel like this hole requires two really good shots to reach the green in regulation and is one of the more difficult holes on the course.
The 13th hole is a par 5 that played downwind and is reachable in two with a good drive. The only problem is that the fairway has massive mounds in it and its likely that the approach will be blind as well as require a good shot from an awkward stance.
Finally the 16th hole which is a short par 4 we played from 345 yards. With the right wind the green is driveable, but the smart player will hit a 200 yard shot to the left of the green leaving an easy pitch towards the hole. I love short par 4s so of course I loved this hole. Just for fun, I hit a second drive to see if I could knock it on the green. I came up short, but if I had hit it a little better it definitely would have been possible to putt for eagle.
As we finished up the last 3 holes the rain finally decided to stop and the sun began to peak out of the clouds – just in time for us to leave. I have to admit that even with the less than I ideal weather I had a great time here. The golf courses are all so good that you can’t help but enjoy yourself regardless of the weather. Besides wasn’t this game designed to be played in the wind and rain anyway??? As I’ve stated in my other posts about the Bandon Dunes courses, having the appropriate foul weather gear is essential in order to still have fun if you are playing in less than ideal conditions. When packing for a trip to Bandon it is best to be prepared and pack your rain gear whether you think you will need it or not. You just never know.