10 Things Only Bandon Dunes Golfers Would Understand

You probably know or have heard that Oregon's Bandon Dunes Golf Resort is a very special place.

I tell people all the time: "You need to go to truly understand it."

But I'm going to help everyone understand it...right here, right now.

I've put together a list of 10 things that make Bandon Dunes, well, Bandon Dunes.

If you've been there, you'll totally relate to these.

And if you haven't been, you'll instantly understand what everyone is raving about.

1. Meatloaf is a delicacy. You don't go to Bandon Dunes and fail to order Grandma's Meatloaf at McKee's Pub. It's just not done.

2. Rolling a pull cart across a green does not cause the Earth to explode. In fact, it's encouraged here. The pull carts at Bandon Dunes are equipped with wide wheels, which not only do no harm to the hardy fescue greens, they can actually help smooth them out.

3. You can literally use *any club* off the tee on par threes. Yes that includes your putter...

...and your driver.

4. Getting there is half the battle...and half the fun. From the East Coast, flying to Bandon via the small nearby North Bend Airport usually involves at least two stops on the way. But the last leg of the journey by air, your plane is bound to be full of fellow Bandon visitors, so the golf chatter and camaraderie gets started early. To the relief of many, United will start offering nonstop flights from Denver to North Bend starting July 1, 2015.

5. Band-Aids aren't for wimps...they're for warriors. Some resorts project a feeling of "all golf, all the time," but Bandon takes it to another level. With replay rounds costing approximately half-price (and any rounds beyond that being free), walking 36 a day here is the rule, not the exception. And with sunset as late as 9 pm in June, even 72 holes in a day is possible.

6. Short is sweet. Unlike many "short" courses that are pooh-poohed, the 13-hole par-3 Bandon Preserve gets much love and respect, partly because it was designed by the respected team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw (who also designed Bandon Trails). Likewise, the Punchbowl putting course was designed by none other than Tom Doak, who also designed the celebrated Pacific Dunes.

7. You're going to get very familiar with the likes of "Foxy," "Juggy" and "Tour Rich." Many members of Bandon's vast caddie corps have nicknames, and standard practice is for a group staying multiple days to use the same caddie(s) for the entire trip. Some guests even tee it up with their caddies on their off-days over at the nearby (but unaffiliated) Bandon Crossings Golf Course.

8. One of the only reasons to leave...is for more pure golf "The Sheep Ranch," as it's called, is an absolute must-see and must-play. It is a rugged complex of 13 greens and numerous sprawling fairways, littered with bunkers, where it is customary to play golf in "HORSE" fashion - win a hole and pick the green you'll play to next. Six of those greens sit against the coastline itself.

9a. It's the only place in America where you've ever worn your rainsuit. Even the fairest "fair-weather golfers" make concessions at Bandon Dunes because the golf is just that good. Fifty degrees and raining sideways? Let's play 36.

9b. ...and it's the only place where you need a sweater in summer and shorts in winter. Strong summer winds can really cool things down. And in between winter's predictably gloomy and chilly stretches, the area sees its fair share of sunny days when the temperatures can reach into the 60s and beyond. Those are the days when playing here -- at significantly reduced rates -- feels like stealing.

10. Mike Keiser has ruined a lot of other golf destinations for you. The greeting card magnate succeeded in creating "golf as it was meant to be." So, when you go to other golf resorts, you naturally compare them to Bandon Dunes...and few measure up.

Have you been to Bandon Dunes and have other ideas for, "Things Only Bandon Dunes Golfers Would Understand"?

Please share your thoughts or read what others are saying below.

Craig Better is one of the founding editors of Golf Vacation Insider. In addition to traveling to 15 foreign countries, he has twice traveled across America to play golf courses in all 50 United States. Prior to joining Golf Vacation Insider, Craig was a freelance writer who contributed to GOLF Magazine, Travel + Leisure Golf, Maxim Magazine, USAToday.com, and co-authored Zagat Survey’s book, America’s Top Golf Courses.
25 Comments
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James

Just returned from 3rd trip to Bandon (2017).
The comments of Mike O are pure East coast arrogance. This string of thoughts is particularly egregious:
"Pacific was longer and tougher, but isn’t vaguely memorable – I can not recall a single hole.Old Macdonald is ridiculous, just a vast green wasteland with random holes plopped down – but at least it’s memorable (for a lot of absurd sidehill lies, blind shots and greens the size of Texas.) With the wind and fatigue, I couldn’t wait to get off the course."
Either Mike O has no appreciation for the work of Tom Doak, or he's been head-in-the-sand forever. Pacific Dunes has a tapestry of memorable holes with #4 and #13 being perhaps the best coastal golf holes I've played (#13 gets the top nod from me). As for Old MacDonald, if Mike O takes a moment to refresh his understanding of CB MacDonald's golf design effort, then the appreciation of Old MacDonald becomes even that much greater. Tom Doak and Jim Urbina have done an admirable job bringing to life a reflection of CB MacDonald's golf influence.

Btw, I have also played Sand Valley(WI) and Cabot Cliffs/Links(Nova Scotia) in the past year. Both are destinations that the true golf addict should make the effort to enjoy.

The Bogeyman

I just returned from my 14th trip to Bandon so clearly I'm a certified Bandonista. However, I've been lucky enough to have played 16 links courses in east Scotland (many of them Open rota courses) and my overwhelming thought each time I stepped out onto a different Scottish links course was that "This is just like Bandon". Of course the Scottish courses were here first, so a more accurate statement would be "Bandon is just like here". I guess what I am hoping to add is that the seaside courses at Bandon Dunes are an almost exact replication of their linksland ancestors across the pond. If one were to write a review strictly about the golf, I honestly cannot see how he could draw a stark difference between playing Old MacDonald vs North Berwick, or Bandon Dunes vs Royal Aberdeen. They are all fantastic links golf courses with all the playing characteristics of such. For my money, and being a west coast guy, Bandon Dunes is extremely hard to beat.

RG

I get a little of what Mike O is saying relative to a factory.From a nose in the air and cost standpoint some of the rota courses are stuffy and underwhelming. RCD is spectacular, but...can be unaccommodating. Silgo area is my favorite. 3 days at Dornach in shorts and a consistent 2 club breeze with a flask of the local beverage. I've played Bandon seven different trips (live in Colorado) from when they first opened ($100 to stay in the lodge & $60 rounds w/ $30 replays) to last year. Always a great time. We do like to go into Bandon or Coos Bay for dinner and drinks a night or two. Looking forward to Cabot next September. Streamsong's courses are great, but it just doesn't do it for me. Crazy expensive, just my $0.02. Northern Michigan still the best buddies trip destination if you have varied skill levels and varied budgets. Wed-Sun after Labor days is optimal.

Pete

Wow - Don't listen to Mike O, the guy clearly is clueless. He had some caddie issue and turned it into a rant. Bandon Dunes is a place every golfer should go to. It is not a place to bring your wife, as it's not a cutesy place like the Pebble Beach area. There are a few restaurants in a nearby town, but this is a golfers dream spot.

What it has is 4 really good courses, and 3 of them show up on almost everyone's top 100 list. They added a par 3 course The Preserve which is expensive but perfect for the second round of your day. It's only 13 holes, grab a beer and a couple of clubs and enjoy.

The greens have always been in private course condition when I have visited in May-October. Be prepared for the weather I have played in shorts and the next day in full rain gear. No golf carts allowed, so be prepared to walk. They have plenty of caddies and you can have them do as much as you want (read putts and call the shots) or just carry the bag. Your the boss.

The pubs will not compare to those in Ireland & Scotland but they do have plenty of restaurants serving pints and good pub food, and of course great seafood and steaks. Once you arrive they have shuttle busses to take you everywhere on the property, and despite what Mike said, they have customer service guys standing out front to take care of everything. This is a well managed place, and a great buddy trip location.

RJ

Visited Streamsong in Sept. Very warm and humid. Rain two of four days. (just described most of FL).

While the courses are both very nice, they seemed to be overrated and definitely over priced. Rumor has it they have a golf package; but nothing that fit our needs. The rooms at the Lodge were beautiful and the restaurants were great. They brag about the quality of their caddies but that's a myth; just depends on who you get. Forecaddies don't forecaddie but ride on the back of the carts. And don't ask them to carry your putter; you'd think it was kryptonite. Probably for the better; might drop one or two trying to hold on to the cart.

Would only go back if that's where the guys were going for their buddie trip. Otherwise wait until 2017 when the bloom was off the rose and everyone has had a chance to visit. New Black course will be ready in '17 as well.

Gary

Great article. Thinking of staying offsite when visiting Brandon in 2016. Can some one tell me if it is still the case that you cannot book a tee time before 10am there unless you stay on site? Would probably sway my choice. Thanks!

Canadian golfer

Try the east coast of Canada for links golf, close and good value for your dollar.

Dave

For those of you on the east coast, you now have Streamsong in central Florida for a nice links type layout. I've played Bandon, Pebble/Spanish/Spyglass, Torrey Pines, Whistling/Irish courses in Kohler, Erin Hills as well as the Old Course, Carnoustie, Glenn Eagles in Scotland and Old Head, Tralee, Ballybunion and Killarney in Ireland, and Streamsong compares pretty favorably. Only an hour from Orlando or Tampa, you'd never know you were in central Florida (except for the summer heat). Two great courses and another under construction. Good caddies and a nice hotel and restaurants...fishing, shooting and a spa but nothing else nearby...

AJ

I can find much to agree with in Mike's assessment of Bandon since it has become so popular. I am in awe however at Mr. Keiser's boldness and marketing savvy. His courses play into the changing attitude and environmental concerns that have made "brown the new green". The irony is that all the private club golfers who wax romantic about Bandon would fire their superintendent if their home club imitated those conditions. I can't recall the exact trajectory of fees since its opening, but the value for the golfer has been impacted greatly since my early visits.
Since Mike is on the east coast, I certainly understand his preference for the historic links of the UK and Ireland which I have been fortunate enough to experience. I would suggest that for high golf IQ fellows like Mike a trip to Melbourne's sand belt and Mornington Peninsula ( as well as Tasmania) would be a worthwhile goal. For us on the west coast (SF),we take one 14 hour flight. For Scotland we go 9-10 hours to London, and then change planes to Edinburgh or Glasgow, etc. Once in Melbourne, you can count on mild weather and almost a dozen great tracks fairly close together. On our last trip, we stayed at the Victoria club house and our longest drive was ten kilometers until we went down to the Mornington peninsula which was about 60 miles. Some quality golf around Sydney, but nowhere near the number of good choices of Melbourne.

Lee

From the East Coast - Female golfer - went with my son, sister (who did not play)brother-in-law and a girlfriend. We played 4 rounds but only did 36 one day. If I were to do it again, I would play 36 at least twice (the female golfers I vacation with don't normally do 36 a day on golf trips and I was concered about how I would hold up - especially walking the entire time). Enjoyed every minute of it. I'm sure a lot of it had to do with the fabulous weather we had at the beginning of June. We did not stay on the resort because I didn't care for the accommodation with the odd number(we rented a house on the beach on VRBO in Bandon) but my interaction with the staff was outstanding. Everyone was so friendly and willing to help in any way. Shout out to my caddie Gary Moore for making me a better player out there. I have not been to Scotland or Ireland so I can't compare but with a 13 handicap I think I did pretty well. I have been to Pebble and Pinehurst and I put Bandon right up there with them. As for being held captive, I'm assuming that you all rent a car either in North Bend or Portland so you should have the freedom to leave the property and explore the area. I drove down from Portland (4 hours) because of a family wedding and didn't have any issues. I suppose if I went at a different time of year when they days weren't so long things might have been a little different.

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