Bandon Trails was the third course to open at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort and was created by the design team of Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw. After the incredible success of Bandon Dunes and Pacific Dunes the expectations for their effort at the resort were very high. Unfortunately, they did not have the advantage of working with a property located along the sea, so the deck was slightly stacked against them as the comparisons to the seaside holes were sure to come. Fortunately Coore & Crenshaw rose to the occasion and delivered a course that received the same type of accolades as the previous two courses at the resort and quickly found its way onto all the Top 100 lists.
We played two rounds at Bandon Trails during my most recent trip and each of them was played from the green tees which measure 6,260 yards. Again, I’ll state that with the wind conditions usually found at Bandon Dunes these courses usually play much longer than the yardages on the scorecards. I would normally consider a sub 6,500 yard course to be pretty short, but with a 30 mph wind 6,200 yards can feel like 7,000. The photos take below were taken during both of my rounds there. The first was played late in the day with the sun going down as we came up the 18th hole and the other was the first tee time of the morning with one other person where we played a leisurely sub-three hour round as the sun came up. As I’ve said here before my all time favorite way to play golf is in a two-ball with a wide open course ahead, and to be able to do that a course like Bandon Trails makes for my personal golf nirvana.
Hole 1 – 356 Yards – Par 4
Here we start off with a short par 4. The green tee box was having work done on it so we were up even further and only had to hit 7 iron off the tee.
A view of the short approach into the green.
Hole 2 – 166 Yards – Par 3
This hole is the first of a great collection of par 3s. Hitting the green is imperative as there is little forgiveness for misses. The best miss is short as there is quite a bit of fairway length grass in front of the green.
Here is a look at short grass in front of the green.
Hole 3 – 532 Yards – Par 5
At this point the course breaks away from the dunes and into the woods. The bunkers out in the fairway are in play from the tee so pick a good line.
Here is a look into the green.
This is a nasty little bunker that will require the dreaded long bunker shot to reach the green.
Hole 4 – 363 Yards – Par 4
The drive here is a blind shot over the hill. Something to the right side of the bunker will be just right. The further left the less club that should be used to avoid running through the fairway.
The view into the green.
Hole 5 – 124 Yards – Par 3
Here we have a great little one shot hole with a biarritz style swale in the middle of the green. Its not a long shot, but it there is no forgiveness short, so a little extra club probably doesn’t hurt when the hole is in the front of the green like it is here.
A look at the swale from the right side of the green.
Hole 6 – 359 Yards – Par 4
This tee shot can be played either to the left or right over the small bunker. Left will leave a longer approach shot into the green.
A view of the approach shot into the green.
Hole 7 – 406 Yards – Par 4
Here we have a long par 4 that plays straight uphill. The bunker on the left is in play from the tee so something down the middle will be ideal.
The view into the green from the middle of the fairway.
Hole 8 – 299 Yards – Par 4
This hole is one of the drivable par 4s at Bandon Trails. All it really takes is a 150 yards off the tee, but blasting a driver down the middle can reach the green or leave a puttable second shot.
Here is a closer look at the green.
Hole 9 – 522 Yards – Par 5
We have a nice three shot hole here with some fairway bunkers in play from the tee. I found playing the drive up the left side of the hole to be the best plan for me.
This fairway is really wide for the tee shot, but it narrows a bit as it gets closer to the green. For that reason I never hit my 3 wood here and just laid up with a club I was really comfortable with.
Hole 10 – 393 Yards – Par 4
This longish par 4 is a wide open fairway so take a rip at it here.
The view of the approach into the green.
Hole 11 – 429 Yards – Par 4
After a quick stop at the snack we reached the 11th tee which is one of the prettiest holes on the course. The hole looks long on the scorecard but it plays downhill which takes a little bit of the yardage out of it.
Beware the water along the left. If I’m not mistaken, this is the only non-ocean water that is found on any of the golf courses at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort.
Hole 12 – 235 Yards – Par 3
Here we have a lengthy one shot hole, but luckily there is not much trouble around it. There are a lot of misses that will result in a relatively basic up and down for par.
The green is pretty enormous. Below is a look from the right side of the hole.
Hole 13 – 374 Yards – Par 4
At this hole we have another par 4 that plays just a bit downhill and downwind for us. A good drive will leave just a short iron into the green, but when the hole plays into the wind it can leave a long shot to the green.
The approach shot into the green. The bunker on the right is well below the putting surface and players who find their ball there will have a blind shot.
A look back at the green and the deep bunker that flanks it.
Hole 14 – 306 Yards – Par 4
This hole may be the most controversial hole at Bandon Dunes. It is a short par 4, but it can be incredibly difficult. The drive MUST be hit straight and the longer the club the better. The green is definitely drivable as I saw balls hold the green or get darn near close to it both rounds that I played here. Balls that are hit to the right side will have a VERY delicate pitch shot to a VERY narrow green . . . what I mean by this is that it’s nearly impossible to hold the green from the right side of the hole.
The photo below gives a little bit of a feel for how narrow the green is.
And here is another view.
Hole 15 – 367 Yards – Par 4
This shortish par 4 is a tight drive with the a cross bunker directly in the middle of the fairway. Drives that are started too far on the left will run through the fairway, so choose the line carefully to avoid the bunker. The cross bunker is in play for longer players, but short hitters should be able to take dead aim right at it.
Here is a view of the green tucked away and surrounded by bunkers.
Hole 16 – 494 Yards – Par 5
This sub-500 yard par 4 plays directly uphill so it is quite a bit longer in actuality than the scorecard indicates. It will still be reachable in two for longer hitters. The fairway falls from right to left so drives hit up the right side are likely to fall down to the middle of the fairway.
A view of the approach into the green.
And here is a look at the green from short and left.
Hole 17 – 163 Yards – Par 3
This is the iconic Bandon Trails hole that is so often photographed. A simple little one shot hole that can be a real challenge. The wind blows across the hole most of the time which makes aiming and playing for the wind very tricky.
Here is a little more zoomed in look from later in the day.
And a close up of the green.
Hole 18 – 372 Yards – Par 4
The course ends with a par 4 that plays uphill and a little longer than it appears on the card. Something down the middle of the fairway is best here.
The green has some bunkers left and long so the preferrable miss is short or to the right here. Note the mounding in front of the green which will make the bump and run approach interesting.
Bandon Trails is often cited as the sleeper hit of a Bandon Dunes trip. Without any seaside holes it’s easy for it to be overlooked and maybe even skipped by golfers who come to the resort and don’t have time to play all four courses. Those golfers are severely missing out. In fact I know a number of people who say that Bandon Trails is their favorite course at the resort. I’m not sure I could agree with that, but I can agree that it is a great course and not to be missed. Our caddie from the morning round, James Bentham (GREAT caddie by the way, request him!), made the comment that a lot of guests had suggested a similarity between Bandon Trails and Pine Valley. While the actual golf design is not particularly similar the feeling of being secluded in the woods and each hole being isolated is very similar, so I can see where this statement came from. Keep in mind also, that the wind is not as severe amongst the trees of Bandon Trails, so this is a great spot for an afternoon round when the wind is at its worst out on the seaside holes. Overall its a great course that provides something completely different from the other offerings at the resort and a course that should not be overlooked.