All Things Golf in Bandon (2)
Brief History of Golf in Bandon
If you wanted to golf in Bandon from 1927 to 1999, you headed down to the friendly little 9 hole track of Face Rock Golf Course, the only game in town, and the westernmost golf course in the 48 states. Then Mike Keiser’s great gamble, Bandon Dunes Golf Course opened, and against the odds became a huge success. That was followed by Pacific Dunes and Bandon Trails, and golf history was secured. Bandon, Oregon had become a golf mecca. The addition of Old MacDonald, the Preserve, and the Punchbowl only raised the bar.
We are fond of saying: “Some land was made for golf, and Bandon, Oregon is one of those places”. But for those who aren’t on a corporate sponsored golf trip, it was hard to justify the expense of very much golf, and for those who have a hard time walking every round, there weren’t any good alternatives.
Thus the idea for Bandon Crossings was born around 2004. We found a great piece of land, about a mile inland, with less wind then right on the coast, with some great land movement and potential. We assembled a team and in only 2 years opened Bandon Crossings Golf Course, which was named one of the Top Ten new courses to open in 2007 by GOLF Magazine. Now it’s the best golf value in Bandon, giving golfers an opportunity to walk or cart their way through “18 Unique Experiences”.
We’re looking forward to continuing this blog with all things about Bandon Golf, including lots of info on Bandon Dunes Resort, so keep tuned, and please forward any questions. With our combined experience we should be able to answer almost any question about Golf in Bandon.
Bandon Dunes Golf Resort
Yes, we love Bandon Crossings, but we know that most of our out of town golfers are also planning to golf at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, which has been ranked as the top golf resort in the nation by Golf Digest. Bandon Dunes (the first and still amazing course) is ranked as the 6th best public course in the nation for 2014 by Golf Digest, Pacific Dunes (a widely held favorite) is currently ranked #3, Bandon Trails (newly re-opened with several improved holes) is ranked #16, and Old Macdonald (the great tribute to the great golf architect C.B. Macdonald) is ranked #12. So all of their 4 courses are in the top 16 in the nation. Not bad.
In addition to the four full length courses, the very entertaining 13 hole par 3 Bandon Preserve is available, with all of the net proceeds going to Southern Oregon conservation efforts. Not to be overlooked is the enormous practice area, including “Shorty’s” a par 3 practice course, which, when open, costs whatever you want to donate to the Evans Scholars Fund.
Of course, even with all those accolades, Bandon Dunes Golf Resort does not rest on its laurels, and the latest addition is the Punchbowl, a 2.3 acre (100,000 square foot) putting green course (18 holes that change every day).
We’re all looking forward to our next adventure with Bandon Golf, and to the opportunity to write about it here. Be sure to send any specific questions or comments and we will try to answer them.
How do we get to Bandon?
Bandon is in a rather remote area on the southern Oregon Coast. If you are lucky enough to live within an 8-10 hour drive of Bandon, and don’t have access to a private jet, just go for it and enjoy the road trip. However, if you need to fly, the closest airport is in North Bend (OTH) about 30-40 minutes away by rental car or shuttle service. It is a small airport with limited flights and can be fairly expensive with poor connections. Other airports are Eugene (EUG) a 2 ½ to 3 hour drive, and the larger airport of Portland (PDX) with a drive of about 5 hours. Check the connections and then decide if the longer drive may not actually save time. If you want to have an adventure, a drive from Portland down the Oregon Coast can be beautiful (but very lengthy) or you can hit all the Willamette Valley wineries (which could be even more fun and time consuming).
Given airline baggage costs and the risk of delayed luggage, many people highly recommend shipping golf clubs viaFed-Ex or ShipSticks. They can be shipped either to the resort or to Bandon Crossings, depending upon where you will be golfing first.
The town of Bandon is really small – 4 stop lights along US Highway 101, with a population of about 3500. But it does have one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and you really should get off the resort and take a walk along the beach at least once during your trip. There are also some great restaurants in town as well as at the resort. The resort is about 5 miles north of town, and has a good shuttle service between their various courses, lodging, and restaurants, and private shuttles are available as well like a taxi service. However, having a car at your disposal will give you more freedom, so look for our other posts about where to stay and what to do in Bandon.
Unique shops and restaurants
The Weather and Timing your trip to Bandon
You have no doubt heard the weather can be brutal at Bandon Dunes. While that is sometimes true, unless you get one of the few days in the winter when the rain is coming down sideways and you can’t see the fairway, much less where your ball went, it isn’t always bad. The weather is cool and mild all year, never ranging far from 38̊ to 69̊ degrees all year. It rarely gets too warm and rarely snows or freezes hard. June through September are the best months to avoid rain, but it will almost always be cool and windy at the coast (up to 30 mph) in the afternoons, and fog can roll in and occasionally obscure your ocean views even from the edge of the cliff. (I didn’t believe it until I experienced the cold of an August day with fog blowing past at 20 mph and only the sound of the ocean from below in the fog.) The most often I have played in short sleeves on the resort were on lovely winter afternoons in glorious sunshine (Short sleeves are more common at Bandon Crossings, a mile inland, or even at Bandon Trails in the meadow and forest holes.)
There are usually about 2 weeks in February that are divine, with loads of sunshine and warm after the early cool. Unfortunately, we never know which two weeks, so you can take your chances, get much lower rates, and then brag about the horrible weather you endured if you get unlucky.
At Bandon Crossings we have our own weather station, and our micro-climate boasts less wind in the summer, as well as warmer temperatures, such as a lovely 74 instead of 59 at the ocean, but three of the last four years of our warmest day was in January. September might be the best month overall for good weather.
Storms are most common from October through March, but the weather systems come in waves from the ocean, and in between the waves of rain you can get 4 to 5 hours or days of dry weather – enough for some great golf.
What to Wear: Layers, Layers, Layers!
Long pants are always safe (although we see shorts all year on some locals), and multiple soft layers (top and bottom), flexible and breathable, with fleece and a warm hat for winter. Rain gear should be included all year, and good quality gear: rain proof not rain resistant. It can work as a wind breaker in the summer, too. Rain pants also. For winter, especially if you plan multiple rounds per day, a second set of dry rain gear will not go amiss. A rain hat (bucket style with a chin strap) will be welcome in a real storm, and bring at least one pair of rain golf gloves. All the golf shops at Bandon Dunes and Bandon Crossings carry good rain gear seasonally, as does Bandon Golf Supply on Highway 101 on the north end of town.
A rain umbrella might be ok in light rain, but not in a real storm, unless you want to try flying like a kite (if you and it survive).
Bring more than one pair of golf shoes if you are planning on many rounds at the Resort (at least one waterproof) and plenty of comfortable socks. If you’ve ever seen the Nike Lunar golf shoes, you can see the kind of shoes the locals appreciate.
You may want to schedule your rounds at Bandon Crossings with a cart spaced so that you can let your feet rest. All of the Bandon Courses have plenty of elevation change, and can be a real challenge even to those who routinely walk.
What is Links Golf?
Bandon Dunes Golf Resort is known for having “pure links golf”, but not everyone understands what that means. Links golf is typically ocean side waste land that is not farmable with the golf course built into existing dunes. Natural features are utilized with minimal shaping. Fairways and greens may all be planted with the same grass, often with fescue and colonial bentgrass. High winds are a frequent companion of this type of landscape, and so golfers need to incorporate that into their strategies. With abundant sand and thin grass, the fairways are firm and fast, with a lot of roll available. This calls for a ground-game strategy that is unfamiliar to most players in the US, but thrilling and at times frustrating for many. All of this harkens back to golf’s origins, hence the Bandon Dunes saying: “Golf as it was meant to be”.
Some people look at the North nine at Bandon Crossings and call it links, but it is “links-like.” Less than a mile from the ocean, it is built into the existing contours and old sand dunes with natural features, and sand drainage, quite similar to links golf. But with ryegrass tees and fairways, and bentgrass greens, it is more receptive, with a softer playing surface, more what most US golfers are accustomed to, with some grass sitting under the ball. Bandon Crossings South Nine is more parkland style, as it travels through the forest following the undulations of old sand dunes. Bandon Crossings has often been compared to Bandon Trails, since they both traverse costal forest and share some common looks, with great challenges. But Trails continues to be classified as links golf in terms of requiring a links style play, due to the thinner grass.
Players coming from across the country to golf in Bandon may find Bandon Crossings, even with all its challenge, a little more familiar feeling. But if they are going to also play at Bandon Dunes, then watch this blog for upcoming hints on how to play true links golf.