BANDON, Ore. -- A golf trip to the Bandon Dunes Golf Resort on the Oregon coast is an epic bucket-list adventure.
Just minutes away is another pretty cool 6,855-yard course providing an entirely different experience. The resort is all about walking and cliff-top, ocean-front courses made of firm turf, like an Irish or Scottish links.
Bandon Crossings, a stellar first effort from architect Dan Hixson, attracts golfers for its polar opposite approach. Many golfers come simply to enjoy the comforts of taking a cart and putting traditional bentgrass greens. The rolling land through meadow, forest and marsh is also a nice change of pace from the windier, wetter coast. Its trailer for a clubhouse provides a more low-key vibe than the resort, where fancy clubhouses are the norm.
The five par 3s of Bandon Crossings can hang with just about any course. All three on the back nine are singular in their presentation and the shots required to score. The tee shot on the 11th hole must hug the right side of the green, so a ferocious slope can feed it down to the flat spots. The 190-yard 14th hole drops off an elevated tee with a beautiful view of the protruding marsh. Shots to the narrow 17th green must fly high and soft to avoid bunkers on either side.
Several of the par 5s feature a few twists: A hazard almost like a wall in front of the elevated fourth green, a second green on the fifth that turns a difficult 545-yard par 5 into a manageable 410-yard par 4, and an intimidating abyss that dissects the fairway on the 570-yard final hole.
At $100 peak rate for riding, it's the best bargain in Bandon. And it's still walkable, too, if you can't get enough of the ground game.