Bandon Dunes' founder Mike Keiser's naturalistic vision is evident throughout the property, such as in this driftwood fence by a tee box at Bandon Trails.

Photos of "the Little Things" That Make Bandon Dunes So Special

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A few weeks ago, I had the chance to be part of a pretty special trip to Bandon Dunes.

A tremendous time was had by all, even the member of our group whose trip got off to a bit of a painful start.

Bandon Dunes' stunning natural beauty is intoxicating, and the temptation to take a bunch of pictures of the courses is strong. As a result, even if you haven't visited, you could probably recognize multiple highlight holes from the pages of glossy magazines online reviews and this very website.

So with that in mind, I took care to focus my photo-taking particularly on some of the "little things" that make Bandon Dunes so special.

Knowing how many Golf Vacation Insider readers have been to the resort, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the things that make Bandon Dunes stand out as one of golf's greatest destinations.

In the meantime, enjoy these photos of Bandon's special "little things":

Every golf course has hole signs and tee markers, but they're often generic in nature. Not so here at Bandon Dunes' original course...

...or at Old Macdonald...

...or this in-ground yardage marker at the Preserve.

The Preserve gets a lot of attention for elevating the short course as a golfing form, but it is not even the first of its kind on property. That honor goes to Shorty's, a charmingly simple nine-hole par-tree routing at the resort's main practice facility. Best of all, Shorty's is free to play when open (usually Thursday through Sunday).

Bandon Dunes' founder Mike Keiser's naturalistic vision is evident throughout the property, such as in this driftwood fence by a tee box at Bandon Trails.

What little man-made materials there are are presented in harmony and scale with the site and environment. This path is a perfect example: ideal either for a pushcart or two golfers or caddies walking abreast.

Another example of the attention to detail at Bandon Dunes is what's (intentionally) hard to see. This irrigation control valve box is a necessary part of the maintenance of the golf courses, but it is ensconced in the sand and long native grasses and partially obscured by railroad ties. We would have never known it was there had I not wandered over in search of an errant shot.

Here's a hidden item at Bandon Dunes that many golfers want to find: a box with a couple bottles of whiskey at a certain location on the original course. If you happen upon it, feel free to have a nip. After doing so, it's customary to write your name in the well-worn notebook in the box. We won't tell you where it's located, but your caddie might.

Speaking of which, if the courses are the flesh of the Bandon Dunes experience, the caddies are the blood. They're equal parts advisor, guide, local historian, confessor and post-round drinking buddy.

Bandon Dunes has some of the best halfway houses we've seen in golf. This is the one at Pacific Dunes, where you'll notice that on the right side of the roof, there are solar panels to help power it.

And here's a look from behind the halfway house at Old Macdonald, which one of our caddies called "the best view on the property."

The man-made touches aren't the only "little things" that make Bandon Dunes special. The constant winds have gnarled numerous trees on the property into unique shapes, like this one between the first green and second tee at Old Macdonald...

...or these beauties at the famous Sheep Ranch.

There are not many places in golf where the peripherals get so much attention, but Mike Keiser and the rest of his Bandon Dunes team have a vision of golf as both a physical, recreational pursuit and a form of communion with nature. Respect for the land, the local bounty and golf's classic traditions come together in harmony here unlike anywhere else.

What are your favorite "little things" - at Bandon or elsewhere in the golf world? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Jul 25, 2017

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Scott Yard's avatar
Scott Yard wrote at 2017-08-06 00:47:34+00:00:

The roaring fire outside the resturant was unique. A wonderful place to end the day sharing stories and enjoying a nightcap or two. Haven't found that in my trios to Ireland or Scotland.

Craig S.'s avatar
Craig S. wrote at 2017-07-28 20:53:54+00:00:

Just got back from Bandon Dunes. Played All the courses. Hard to pick a favorite, but if I must it would be Bandon Dunes. For dinning I recommend Pacific Grill, it's by far the best restaurant at the resort. I left Bandon Dunes resortwith this final thought! "I thought I dieded and woke up in golf heaven" can't wait to go back

Keith H's avatar
Keith H wrote at 2017-07-28 15:34:50+00:00:

Heading back to Bandon in September and I can't wait. Pacific Dunes is my favorite course in America.

Having been to Scotland several times and Ireland once, I can verify that Bandon Dunes is as close to that experience as you can get here in the U.S. My favorite saying is that going to Bandon is like going to Edinburgh, although Edinburgh is easier to get to!

Jon Kaull's avatar
Jon Kaull wrote at 2017-07-26 11:23:25+00:00:

I love the walks around the resort at night. My favorite is from the lodge to the inn. So serene and beautiful.

Bruce's avatar
Bruce wrote at 2017-07-25 23:30:53+00:00:

Those are great pictures that make a course extra special, I hope within the next few years to play the courses and expierence these wonders myself

Bob and Nancy Wickman's avatar
Bob and Nancy Wickman wrote at 2017-07-25 23:04:04+00:00:

A spectacular five days at one of the memorable places in all golfdom! Thank you Mike Keiser!

David Gaines's avatar
David Gaines wrote at 2017-07-25 16:54:19+00:00:

I was office manager for William Church, FAIA, Architect who designed the clubhouse and the rental housing at Bandon Dunes when it was first built. The thing that was most important to Bill in working with Bandon Dunes was to blend the buildings into the landscape and fauna of the location. Both Mr. Keiser and Mr. Church worked very hard to maintain the natural beauty of the site.

Allan's avatar
Allan wrote at 2017-07-25 15:19:38+00:00:

The natural beauty, the ocean views and the creative and challenging golf holes

Ron Brandon's avatar
Ron Brandon wrote at 2017-07-25 15:01:54+00:00:

I was born & raised in Coos Bay for 47 years before I moved to the Portland area. Need less to say, I have played all the courses at Bandon Dunes many times including the SHEEP RANCH. So, if you have a BUCKET LIST, this is a must for you, you will not regret it.

Ron Brandon (1940)

Richard L Bridwell's avatar
Richard L Bridwell wrote at 2017-07-25 14:15:12+00:00:

Bandon Dunes is the closest that a golfer can come, in the U.S., to the feel, sights and experience of true links courses outside of Scotland, Ireland, or England. Aside of the magnificent golf, the outstanding accommodations, and wonderful dinning experiences a trip to Bandon Dunes is an experience of a lifetime for the golfer. This is a venue to not miss. Value for the dollar is far better than a trip to Europe,even though a trip to the home of golf is an outstanding experience in it self. Mr Keiser and staff have created the ultimate golf experience right here in the U.S.

Steven Lee's avatar
Steven Lee wrote at 2017-07-25 14:13:11+00:00:

Golfing in and with nature.

Raymond's avatar
Raymond wrote at 2017-07-25 14:10:07+00:00:

I love the way some of the adjacent tee boxes flow from the greens on old mac like from from 1 to 2, 3 to 4, 17 to 18.

Joe Wood's avatar
Joe Wood wrote at 2017-07-25 13:56:12+00:00:

My Son-In-Law and his Dad played a couple of the Dunes courses and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Bandon is on my bucket list as I spent most of my life in Oregon (younger years in Winchester Bay). Graduated from U of O and now live in Southern Ca. Your pictures bring that unique perspective of what a golfer should take note of while taking in a round of golf between concentrating on that little white ball. Thanks for the Vision.

The Ultimate Loop's avatar
The Ultimate Loop wrote at 2017-07-25 13:32:10+00:00:

One little thing that I am a big fan of is when a golf course has one small piece of food/snack on the course that is unique to that course--Olympic's burger dog, Cypress's oatmeal cookie, PBJ and Bacon at Fisher's Island, and I heard Streamsong has tome type of BBQ sandwich. Certainly nothing fancy (Cypress just has some cookies wrapped in plastic sitting in a basket), but it adds to the personality of each course and gives you something to look forward to.

Craig Better

Staff Writer

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,, and co-authored Zagat Survey’s book, America’s Top Golf Courses.