After we finished up at Pacific Dunes in the morning the big question over lunch was if we really wanted to go back out into the severe weather for our second 18 holes of the day. We were tired from fighting the wind, we were soaked completely to the bone and the weather wasn’t really showing much sign of letting up. Of course in the end there was really no debate. If you’re not golfing at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort than you had better be sleeping because there isn’t much else to do. Obviously we were going back out . . . it was never even really a question.
During the discussion about our afternoon plans one of the guys in our group who had been to the resort before had a brilliant idea. Originally, we were scheduled to play the Bandon Dunes course which, like Pacific Dunes, is a true links course and very exposed to the elements. The brilliant suggestion was that we arrange to play Bandon Trails this afternoon and then play Bandon Dunes on Friday morning at the time that we were originally scheduled to play Bandon Trails. The Trails course was quite a bit more wooded and ultimately much more protected from the wind. There wasn’t any difference from a rain standpoint, but at least we could dial the wind factor down a bit for the afternoon. Fortunately, the guys in the pro shop at Pacific Dunes were able to make the change and set us up to play the afternoon game at Bandon Trails.
Once we were all sorted out our motley crew of amphibious golfers loaded into the shuttle to go back to the rooms for a quick change of clothes and then over to Bandon Trails. As we rode back to our rooms in the shuttle we were all lamenting the fact that our rain gear was soaked completely through. While we would have the opportunity to put on dry shirts and pants, the dryness would be short lived because our rain jackets and rain pants were so wet that our dry clothes wouldn’t last long. As we discussed this problem amongst ourselves the young lady driving the shuttle volunteered to take our rain gear to a dryer at the main clubhouse and get it dried while we changed into our fresh clothes. I don’t know if this is standard operating procedure at the resort, but if it is, we certainly weren’t aware of it. We accepted her offer as if it had been a tee time at Cypress Point and when we arrived at the main clubhouse our gear was waiting for us all dry and folded nicely. Wow! Unfortunately, I didn’t catch her name, but you can bet that I made a special point to let the resort know about her “above and beyond” customer service. Bandon Dunes Golf Resort is not the kind of place where the staff falls all over the guests with in your face service, but they get all the truly important things just right which is one of the many things that make this place beyond belief.
The Trails was the third course to come along at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort and was the first non links style course. While it has a very “linksy” feel at times the course cannot necessarily be classified as a links course because it is routed through the woods and not on seaside links land. The course also has considerably more elevation changes than the traditional links courses which tend to be located on sea level flat terrain.
Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw designed this course which opened in 2005 and this would be my experience playing a Coore/Crenshaw design. Again, the camera was not brought out because of the rain, so no pictures of the course. (Editors Note: Click HERE to see photos from another visit where I had better weather)
I enjoyed this course a great deal, but like my morning game at Pacific Dunes, it was a little hard to really take the course in when the sky is dumping heavy rain. It’s worth pointing out that I have met a number of people who cite Bandon Trails as their favorite course on the property. It seems that despite being ranked the lowest of the three courses on the Top 100 list there is definitely no lack of love for the Trails. Gerard, my caddie while I was there, is one who said that Trails is undoubtedly his favorite. I’m not convinced that his love of the course is not directly related to the fact that he shot 66 there!
As we were finishing up the rain finally decided to stop at about the 16th hole and the sun even started to poke out a bit. This was a promising sign for the next day and we really hoped that things might improve. I was afraid that we would go home having played every one of our rounds in rain. The holes that really stand out in my memory as ones I liked are the 2nd hole (166 yard par 3), 14th hole (306 yard par 4) and 17th hole (163 yard par 3). There were lots of great holes out there, but those ones for whatever reason are ones that I remember taking note of. Because of the heavy rain, I clearly missed a lot of the course, so I’m looking forward to making a return trip and seeing this course under different circumstances.
Speaking of the torrential rain, I’d like to make an observation that is not related to the course at all but is about my rain gloves. I must say that these little beauties may be the best golf invention since the wooden tee. The gloves are slightly sueded and when they get wet there is no problem whatsoever hanging on to the club. These gloves make the rain virtually a non factor which is really great. Playing in heavy rain is tough and anything that can be done to help make it a little more playable is a good thing in my book. If you’re going to Bandon Dunes Golf Resort absolutely make sure you pick up a pair of these gloves. If it rains, having these is essential.
I said there would be no photos of the course, but I will close out with a couple of shots of our room after we finished up this wet day. We took everything out of our golf bags, hung up all of our gear, turned on the fireplace and CRANKED up the heater in our room in hopes that we could get everything dry by the next morning.
Heres all of our stuff hanging with the heater cranked up and the fireplace going.
And the shoe drying station . . . that heat vent on the wall really kicked the heat out and could completely dry a pair of shoes in about 2 hours.
It was a long first day at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, but it we didn’t let the rain dampen our spirits one bit. We warmed up with a nice dinner at McKee’s Pub and readied ourselves for what we hoped would be better weather the next day.