Travel Destinations

Friday, June 27, 2014

Braving the Weather for a Round of Golf at Bandon Dunes

Fog Over Bandon Dunes Golf Resort Pacific Dunes Course Oregon

Our road trip to Oregon included breweries, restaurants, distilleries, a few tours, breweries, a few hikes, museums, and breweries.  Also on the agenda was a stop for a round of golf at the storied Bandon Dunes Golf Resort.  Bandon Dunes is a west coast mecca for golfers and lovers of the game will want to brave the Bandon Dunes weather for a chance to play this course.

There are a lot of tracks I’ve been really stoked to see that, in a word, have not “delivered.”  You get all excited to behold this magnificent man-made wonder of sod and sand, and then you get there and it’s . . . just another golf course. Bandon Dunes is not that golf course.  Bandon Dunes delivers.

We arrived a bit early so I could sample Bandon Dunes’ practice facilities, but it was raining so I decided to try to get going as soon as possible.  The folks were very accommodating and let me head out before my designated time.  There are five courses at Bandon Dunes.  They are all different and spectacular in their own ways.  The most highly rated (in some circles rated as the best golf course on the planet) and the one I played was Pacific Dunes.

Ocean View Bandon Dunes Golf Resort Pacific Dunes Course Oregon

I tried to take pictures, but Pacific Dunes is one of those things that just needs to be seen in person.  The way the course moves and sounds both terrifies and invites.  You can take a million pictures of the Grand Canyon but unless you’ve been there, I assure you, you do not know what that looks like.  Same sort of thing.  The rolling fairways look like Mother Nature only smoothed out a few spots for you to play in; it’s all very organic and unrefined looking.  Picturesque is not a strong enough word.  They don’t even allow carts except for folks with conditions.  I think it really adds to the beauty of the place not to see mini cement highways meandering all about the grounds.  Many of the holes are set above the cliffs of the Pacific Northwest with waves breaking on the shores below.  Bandon Dunes is rugged; you’ll almost want to grow a beard before you go. 
"Numbers are as irrelevant [at Bandon Dunes] as at the Old Course at St. Andrews. It’s just man against course - and weather. And golf really doesn’t get much purer than that."    – GOLF Magazine
Ocean and Cliff View Bandon Dunes Golf Resort Pacific Dunes Course Oregon

I opted not to get a caddy though they are highly recommended.  The starter set me up with a waterproof trouble book which was key.  I was nervous on the first tee, even more than usual.  It’s hard to gauge how far the ball’s going to fly in that much wind and how far it’s going to roll on that terrain.  Hence, the highly recommended caddies.  It’s the kind of course I really enjoy because, although there are places to lose a ball, they are fair in that if you do loose one, you probably deserved it.  And, a shot that is not just right means you won’t have the best lie or angle.  So it’s pain in increments of shot weakness.  Conversely, a great shot is rewarded with a good look and opportunity for birdie or better.  Pay close attention to the weather in Bandon, Oregon on your visit, you’re most likely going to need rain gear.  Be ready for wind for sure.  Be ready to see a deer.  Be ready. 

Bandon Dunes Golf Resort Pacific Dunes Course
Can you spot the deer on the golf course?
Bandon Dunes is one of those places that you mention and if anyone around has had the opportunity to play, they’re going to have words.  They’re going to have nice words for that place.  It’s like becoming part of a really cool club. Grown, burly men get giddy over it.

I’m a decent golfer.  I try my best not to shoot double digits when I play a new course.  It was raining and howling hard enough to blow my stand bag over twice even though I positioned it in the most aerodynamic way possible.  I’m sure if a pro tour was there they would have called off the tourney for weather.  The only people I saw that day (Memorial Day) who were actually playing were two off-the-clock caddies, and they asked me if I was nuts.  

I may have been nuts but I was happy.  I failed to come in under two digits.  I shot 10 over, missed by one putt, a ten footer on the last hole.  ’Twas maybe the finest 82 I've ever shot.  And now I can say I played golf at Bandon Dunes.

Know Before You Go:

Tee times can be reserved up to 21 days prior to play for non-resort guests.  Green fees are paid upon reserving a tee time and are non-refundable.  Green fees and contact information can be found on Bandon Dunes Golf Resort’s website. And of course, be sure to check the weather in Bandon before you head out.

Travel the World: Golfers traveling to Oregon will want to play Bandon Dunes no matter the weather.

Katherine Belarmino and Romeo Belarmino are the authors of Travel the World, a travel blog for the everyday working stiff. They work full-time in non-travel related jobs, but take every opportunity they can to travel the world during their limited vacation time.