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Bandon Dunes Trip Recap and Review

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I went on the No Laying Up trip to Bandon Dunes last week, and at @iacas's suggestion, I put together a little trip recap with some course reviews. Since I went to Sand Valley last summer with a TST group, you'll see some comparisons throughout. I was trying to appreciate both resorts/trips on their own merits, but that was hard to do sometimes.

Since this post turned out to be way longer than I was anticipating, I'm going to move up some bottom lines:

  • Go to Bandon. It's like golfing Disneyland. It took a good 48 hours for my giddiness to wear off.
  • Don't play 3 days of 36 holes. Give yourself 4 or 5 days here. Don't be exhausted the whole time like I was. It's walking only (unless you have a disability, I believe), so plan accordingly.
  • There is nothing to do besides golf there - this is not a trip to bring a non-golfing spouse on.
  • Don't get a caddy unless you know the caddy is going to be good. It's not worth it to have someone carrying for you.

I'm going to do this in multiple parts. This is post 1 of what will likely be 3.


Without any further ado, here is my definitive course rankings for all 5 full courses at Bandon Dunes:

  1. Bandon Dunes
  2. Old Macdonald
  3. Pacific Dunes
  4. Bandon Trails
  5. Sheep Ranch

I think, with another shot at Trails, I would probably flip it with Pacific Dunes. When I played Trails, I was in a frenzy for the first couple of holes because my original caddy didn't show up. And I was exhausted after traveling the day before and a terrible night's sleep. I could not find the clubface at all, especially on the back 9. I think my ranking might be based too much on that, and it might be a little unfair. I don't think it would get above either Old Mac or Bandon Dunes, but I could see it getting above Pacific Dunes.

Bandon Dunes

This was the first course I played. It is incredible. The first 3 holes are inland, but still a lot of fun. Some big elevation changes on all of these holes that you have to consider. The theme of this course is that the holes with the ocean are spectacular, but the inland holes are really good, too. I did not feel the same way about Pacific Dunes, which is why I have this ranked higher. Bandon also has a lot of room off the tee. There is definitely trouble around, especially on the back 9, but you're going to be able to find your ball and have a shot at the green.

Anyway, 1-3 are fun, and then you get to 4:


Semi-blind tee shot. You have a bunker to aim out in the distance (hard to see from that picture, but it's there), but there is way more room than you think. When you get to your ball, the hole opens up to the green, with the Pacific ocean in the background. Just incredible. First time you need a moment to look around and be giddy about where you are. That is probably why I forgot to take a picture of the reveal, haha.

The next couple of holes feature views like these:


(Both of those are on the tee box of Bandon Dunes #5)

The setting is amazing. You are actually only at the ocean for holes 4, 5, and 6 before turning back inland. Hole 7 is another great hole. It's another semi-blind tee shot, but with about 100 yards of fairway. The real trick is navigating the approach, which features a good 5-10 yards in elevation change with a green that sits way above the fairway. 9-11 are solid, if a bit forgettable, holes. 12 is a cool par 3 with the ocean behind the green. 13 is a solid par 5 that offers you a chance to go for it in 2 if you take on the risk of an internal water hazard. 14 gives you a break with a short par 4 before the end.

15-18 are all great holes. I would be happy just playing those 4 holes over and over. 15 is another par 3 with the ocean to the left of the hole. Tough hole, and there's a bunker short right of the green that you need to avoid at all costs (and I would know...). 16 is probably the signature hole:


Amazing hole, incredibly beautiful, etc. You can drive the green, but you have tons of room left. You get to decide if you want to risk the ocean/sand areas on the right or play way out to the left and have a full wedge. 17 and 18 are back towards the clubhouse. 17 is a tough hole - an ocean inlet on up the right side of the hole; bunkers in your driver landing area, and a green that is 60 yards long. You have to lay up short of the bunkers and then you're looking at a medium or long iron into the green. 18 is a fun finisher. A good drive gets you a shot at going for it 2, but it will probably be blind unless you're in the perfect spot. It's a fun finish, even though you're inland again.

I would give Bandon Dunes a solid 8.5/10. I think it's my 4th favorite course I've played. Ballyneal, Sand Valley, and Pinehurst #2 are slightly ahead of it. It's the course of the 5 at Bandon that I want to play again the most. The only thing that puts it down below 9 is that there isn't a ton of bite in the holes. I think that makes it more fun, but you can really swing pretty freely with driver and be fine here. I don't think it gives much of a test with driver. That said, if you shoot in the 60s here, it means you had a great driver day, because you're not going to get a ton of birdies unless you're in the best position off the tee. But I think you could be pretty comfortably near even par, as a good player, with an average driving day. Still, I think that's pretty minor in the grand scheme of things. I've played 2 McClay-Kidd courses now - this and Mammoth Dunes - and I've adored them both. He's quickly becoming my favorite course designer. I would come back to Bandon solely to play this course again.

Old Macdonald

This is a really cool course. It's all template holes that are homages to the template holes of C.B. Macdonald. The course is set away from the busy center of Bandon, and feels much more serene and laid back than Bandon or Pacific. It was a nice change after the bustle of Bandon and Trails. It was also a little foggy and cooler in the morning, so it felt more secluded than the other courses. Anyway, I'm not going to go through all the holes in as much detail now. Just want to pick out some highlights.

The ghost tree hole at 3 (Sahara) is awesome. If you draw a shot around the ghost tree, it can funnel down all the way to the green. If you go right of the ghost tree, you have no trouble but you are blind for the approach. I drew my ball around the tree:

I did not get on the green, but if it was a little drier, I might have. I was about 10 feet away from a huge downslope to the green. Still, I put the wedge to a foot and made birdie. Here's a shot of the approach from where my drive ended up (if you have good eyes, you can see my ball a foot away from the pin). Because everyone else in my group was off to the right, nobody realized I had a kick-in birdie until they got to the green:


And, obligatory ghost tree picture:


The other highlights were the holes that ended by the ocean. 7 is uphill to a green that looks like it falls into the ocean. Really cool shot and amazing hole:


The road hole replica was also cool. No hotel to hit it over, but you have to deal with death bunkers on the right side of the fairway, and there is a really cool recreation of the green and road hole bunker. Hole 14, Maiden, was also really cool. It's straight uphill, and you can get pretty close to the green off the tee if you take on the left side bunkers. But if you go right, you will be able to see the whole green. Here is a picture of the course from the green:


15, like 7, gets you back to the ocean with an uphill par 5 with a complex green ... uh, complex. 16 is an alps hole, which means your approach is over a huge sand dune. If you go right with the drive, you can have a view at a sliver of the green, but it's still likely to be a blind approach shot. It's a lot of fun to see where your ball ends up after your approach. 

Overall, I'd give the course an 8/10. I loved the various holes, overall, and the ocean reveal will stick with me a long time. I could spend a good 2 hours at the turn stand after hole 7. It's lower than Bandon for a few reasons, though. There isn't much, if any, use of the ocean. You never had to contend with it all, which is a bit of bummer given where you're at. Unfortunately, the redan hole sucked. Balls played short right did not get any kick from the slope. Even though I liked the short, I thought the green was too big. 2 putting isn't easy on the green, but I like shorts that are extremely difficult if you don't hit the green. The course is also really long, especially from the back tees. I did not play it back, and that was the right decision, but I would not recommend playing back for almost anybody. These are minor quibbles, but reasons I ranked it slightly below Bandon. I had my best round of the trip there, so I'm always going to remember Old Mac fondly. And I would came back to Bandon solely for this course as well.

I need to gather more thoughts on the next courses before I get more into it. Part 2 will cover Pac Dunes, Bandon Trails, and Sheep Ranch. I have some actual criticisms of Pac Dunes that I need to make sure I get right. Part 3 will talk more about the resort and overall thoughts. 

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-- Daniel

In my bag: :callaway: Big Bertha V Series (11 degrees) :callaway: Epic Flash 3.5W (16 degrees)

:callaway: Rogue Pro 3-PW :edel: SMS Wedges - V-Grind (48, 54, 58):edel: Putter

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Very nice.   Thanks for sharing.   


and I thought Michigan was the only place w/o sunshine!

From the land of perpetual cloudiness.   I'm Denny

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This is super fun. I take a guys trip to Bandon every year (I'm in Portland). It's f***ing incredible there. Funny how tastes are different. My order would be:

  1. Pacific Dunes
  2. Bandon Trails
  3. Bandon Dunes
  4. Sheep Ranch
  5. Old MacDonald

Also, for me at least none of your pics work.  Would love to see them!!


Mid-Weight Heavy Putter
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Post 2 of 3:


Pacific Dunes

So this course is generally regarded as the best course of the 5 at Bandon Dunes. I do not agree with that, at all. We did a little show of hands poll of people on the trip, and only 2-3 of 64 rated Pacific Dunes as the best course of the 5. I have two "issues" with this course. The first issue, and ultimately why I ranked it below Bandon and Old Mac, was that there was too much target golf on Pac Dunes. There were a few holes where you only had one play, and if you didn't play it correctly, you were making bogey, and a lot of times double bogey. 4 is a good example of this. I didn't get a good picture, so you'll have to deal with the overhead view from google maps:


That is the fairway and green of #4. The fairway bunkers are on the left side off tee and they pinch in your landing area. The Pacific ocean pinches in on the right side off the tee. Because the hole is fairly long, you've got to hit driver and take on the bunkers. The landing area is about 50 yards wide between the ocean and the bunkers, so it's fairly generous, but not overly so. I do not like this hole. It's a cool use of the ocean, but why are the fairway bunkers there? The bunkers have big enough lips that they are a 1 stroke penalty if you go in them. Also, why are there 4 different bunkers over there? 2 of them are blind from the tee, so you don't understand how penal it is from the tee. Plus, you cannot see the green if you approach the hole from the left side of the fairway. I don't get why this is so penal. It's like something Rees Jones would do. Take out those bunkers, and it would be a good hole. 

6 is a similar story:


Look at the funky shape of that green. It is really thin and at an odd angle. If you want to make par, you have to play it way out to the right. If you go even to the center of the fairway from the tee, your ball will bound left and you will have a horrible angle and no view of the green. That big bunker to the left of the green is massive, as I found out:


Left is dead on this hole. You are lucky to make bogey if you go left off the tee. And even right is no guarantee at par because that green is freaking tiny. 

This is the theme to Pac Dunes - you have one shot you can play, and you are screwed if you can't do it. Unlike with Bandon, where you can play a variety of shots and still make par. At Bandon, there is one path to a birdie, a lot of paths to an easy par or bogey, and maybe a handful of spots where double or worse is in play. At Pac, it seemed like there were a lot of holes where there was only one path to par, and every other path was a tough bogey or worse. Maybe that makes for a better rated course, but it's not my favorite. Proof of this is that I played out of divots 3 or 4 times on this course - everybody is playing to the same spots.

The other "issue" I had with Pac Dunes was that it seemed like it could have been plopped down anywhere in the country and be a golf course. There were 2 holes that made good use of the ocean - 4 and 13. The only other hole along the ocean was 11. I was disappointed that you have this great piece of land and only 3 holes along the ocean. I feel like there could have been better uses of the ocean. I think you could transplant this course to Colorado and it would be the same. The inland holes did not feel that unique to me - a lot of them were tree lined, heavily bunkered, etc. 7 and 8 were very unmemorable back to back holes. It was a sharp contrast to Bandon, where the inland holes were still unique.

Finally, I would not want to touch this course in the wind. We had amazing weather the whole time. If there was more than 10 mph of wind, I would not play out here. You will get your teeth kicked in.

It's weird because normally I love Doak courses, but I wasn't a huge fan of this one. I played it twice, and I had fun, but it's the course I want to play again the least. If that makes sense. If you're wondering why I rated it 3rd instead of 4th, it's most because I did not get in tune with Trails at all. More to come on that.

It's not all bad, though. I really liked a few holes. #3 was a shortish par 5 playing toward the ocean. If you drove it down the left, you had a shorter shot and a good view of the green. It's also a really cool view from the tee box:


I also really liked the par 3s. 11 was right along the ocean. Although the ocean really isn't in play (and I've seen many holes like this one in Colorado), it's still a cool setting:


14 was a short par 3 that I was better than the short at Old Mac (no pictures, sorry). If you hit the green, you were fine and had a good look at birdie. If you didn't, double was likely. 17 was a redan-lite par 3. It was a cool shot, playing downhill. 

The back 9 has 4 par 3s, 2 par 4s, and 3 par5s, which I think is cool. 16 was an interesting, drivable par 4 hole. Unfortunately, the play is not to go for the green because you'll end up with a blind pitch below the green that is at least 30 feet below the green. Unless you can hit a perfect baby fade about 295, I suppose.

Overall, I would give it about a 7/10. It's a pretty course, and there are some really cool and fun holes. Just too many ways to make double out there for me to think it's an elite course. 

That said, the clubhouse is next to the punchbowl, which is a putting course with 36 holes. It's a lot of fun and a cool scene before and after the round. Some pictures at sunset and in the morning:



Bandon Trails

This is the one I struggle with the most. I think I underrated this course because of things I shouldn't consider. First, I was really rushed here. I had about 40 minutes between my round at Bandon Dunes and Trails. By the time I got there, changed clothes, and bought lunch, it was time to tee off. And then, I was expecting to have a caddy, but mine didn't show up. They got a replacement caddy for me who showed up on the tee box to hole 2. He was fantastic (more about him to come), fortunately. But I was still eating my lunch until hole 4. And then my golf game did not come with me to Trails. Even though it was only the second round of my trip, I could not hit the ball. The whole round, I was struggling to find the clubface, especially off the tee. It culminated with a pop up and a chunk with my 3 wood on holes 15 and 18. I was just exhausted - I was coming off a night of bad sleep, and Trails is the toughest walk there. I think my ranking is unfair, and if I played Trails with my B game, I would rank it 3rd instead of 4th. 

Because of all this, I do not have a ton to say about the course. I don't think I would ever rank it higher than 3rd, simply because it feels like something I could play in Colorado pretty easily. It's through the forest and not directly on the ocean. There is a lot of elevation changes. Etc. While it's a higher-quality course, I can think of half a dozen similar courses within an hour of me in Denver. 

I liked the par 3s on Trails a lot. 17 was a cool hole, even though I ended up in my pocket in a deep bunker on the right side of the green. 5 was a cool take on a short hole, except the green was tiered and massive. 11 was a good par 4 - it had water on the right side hand near the green but plenty of room left to miss and get up and down (which I did!). Here is a shot from the tee box on 11:


You want to play on the left side of the fairway for the best angle, but too far left means that you will have a semi-blind approach. 

14 is a controversial hole. I thought it was fine. I didn't think it was great; I didn't think it was bad. 

And that is sort of how I feel about the whole course. It was fine. Nothing stood out as particularly bad, but no hole stood out as particularly great. A few shots from the clubhouse:


(That one is actually from the Preserve, the par 3 course that starts at the same spot as Trails. I didn't play all of the Preserve, so I'm not going to talk about it too much, but I wanted to include this cool picture.)

Final rating: 6.5/10, with the caveat that I think it might move to a 7 or 7.5 if I played it again. I want to play it as my only course of the day, with a working golf swing, and see what it's like.

Sheep Ranch

This course is fun! And it has some incredible views throughout. It probably uses the ocean the most of any of the courses, and that makes it a lot of fun to play. I rated it last, because there wasn't much, if any, jeopardy with the course. There are no bunkers, and the only ways to get in trouble are to hit into a gorse bush or hit it in the ocean on one of the ocean holes. I would recommend playing this course, but I would play it first or last. I think it's a good introduction to Bandon - you get used to the turf and see the best views early on. It's also a good capper - it's not going to leave you frustrated, and you'll remember how fun it was. But you won't look back at a good score and think that you really earned it. As proof of this, the course is rated 72.1/122 (par 72) from the back tees, which are 6636 yards long. 

If you transplanted this course to Denver, I would play probably 2-3 times a year because it's fun. I don't think it would be my regular stop, though. 

This post is already long enough that I'm just going to show some pictures and describe a few highlights.

1 is a cool opener. It's a downhill par 5, with the green backing up to the ocean cliff. Getting down to the ocean right away is awesome. It's a gettable par 5, and very gettable if you hit your drive long enough to catch a slope on the left (which is about 250 out on the left). 

6 might be the best tee shot on the property. Pick out how aggressive you want to be for the shortest approach. The best picture of the trip:


To emphasize the views part, there are just cool views throughout the course:


This is from the 9th fairway. The green is below the fairway, were that opening for the ocean is. Great little revealer as you get up to the green.


Just some incredible views.

This was the last round of 6 on the trip, so I was pretty tired. I really enjoyed the walk, even though my swing was very hit or miss at this point. I liked the course a lot, but I'm not dreaming of getting back out here and playing it like I am with Bandon or Old Mac. 

I would give it a 6.5/10. I don't think that will change much if I play it in the future. 

So, final rankings for the courses:

  1. Bandon Dunes (8.5/10)
  2. Old Mac (8/10)
  3. Pacific Dunes (7/10)
  4. Bandon Trails (6.5/10)
  5. Sheep Ranch (6.5/10)

Last summer, on our Sand Valley trip, here were my course rankings for comparison:

  1. Sand Valley (9/10)
  2. Mammoth Dunes (8.5/10)
  3. Lawsonia Links (7.5/10)
  4. Lac La Belle (5/10)

I think that is pretty fair, and my rankings of all 9 courses on these trips would be as follows:

  1. Sand Valley
  2. Bandon Dunes
  3. Mammoth Dunes
  4. Old Mac
  5. Lawsonia Links
  6. Pacific Dunes
  7. Bandon Trails
  8. Sheep Ranch
  9. Lac La Belle

I think that feels about right. I would rank Bandon a hair ahead of Mammoth, even though I rated them the same score. 

Last post will have some overall thoughts. Probably will be a bit shorter, too.


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-- Daniel

In my bag: :callaway: Big Bertha V Series (11 degrees) :callaway: Epic Flash 3.5W (16 degrees)

:callaway: Rogue Pro 3-PW :edel: SMS Wedges - V-Grind (48, 54, 58):edel: Putter

 :snell: MTB-X :aimpoint:

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Pics on the first post don't work for me. Excellent post. Thanks for the write up. If you don't mind my asking - where did you stay while there? Thanks for the fun posts.

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Part 3!


I have a direct flight from Denver to Eugene, and then it’s about a 2.5 hour drive from Eugene to the resort. Even though Bandon is really in the middle of nowhere, that’s not a bad trip for me. There are other options – you can go to Portland, and then it’s about a 5 hour drive. There are also flights to North Bend, which is about 30 minutes from the resort. You have to connect through San Francisco or Denver for those, and the Denver flight is seasonal from May-September or so. The flight from North Bend to San Francisco is notorious for being cancelled if you go that route, just so you know.

My recommendation is to fly to Eugene and rent a car. The drive is really easy – 2.5 hours, no traffic, and it’s very scenic. You can take a little more time and stop at some scenic points and get to the beach in a few places if you want. The Eugene airport is small enough that an hour before your flight is plenty of time.

It might be worth flying in Portland if the connection to Eugene adds 2.5 hours to the flight time. I think the 5 hour drive is a little more boring from Portland, but I can’t speak to that for certain. But Eugene was so easy that I would strongly recommend it.


Outside of golf, the resort was fine. It's probably a solid 3 star resort. It's not fancy, but it's nice enough. 


Functional. The beds are comfortable, which is awesome. The shower was hot and high pressure. There was a jacuzzi tub if you are interested in that. I was basically not in the room unless I was sleeping, so I didn't need much more than that. One slight negative is that a lot of the rooms are far away from the course. At Sand Valley, lots of rooms were right on the Sandbox or really close to the course. I believe there are some rooms like that at Bandon, but most are going to be a short shuttle drive or medium-length walk away. I would love to be able to sit on a deck and watch (heckle) people playing the course, but that's not really possible at Bandon. Not a big deal, and you're not coming here for the room.


The food was not great. It was not bad, either. It was fine. There were definitely some spots that were better. Bandon Trails and Sheep Ranch clubhouses had some good lunch options that were unique like Korean BBQ or nicer sandwiches. I had a steak at Bandon's restaurant, and it was solid. The food is nothing to write home about, but it’s fine. One positive is that it was very reasonably priced. While it’s not cheap, they are not gouging you with prices. It was $5 or $6 for beer, $14 for a cheeseburger, for example. My steak was $50, and I think that was pretty much what I would have expected to pay for the quality of that steak. Sand Valley was cheaper than that, but it’s roughly the same. Bandon does not have the $2 tacos like Sand Valley does. I liked the food at Sand Valley quite a bit more. But, it's a golf trip, and the food at Bandon was fine. Not a big deal.

Other Areas

The practice facility is good. There are two ranges, a large putting green, and 2 small chipping greens (one with bunkers). There is also a short par 3 course there called Shorty's that is free to play. I didn't get a chance to play it, but I heard that it was fun. One negative with the practice facility was the practice green was significantly slower than the other greens on the course. Practice at the Punchbowl putting course instead.

There were also some walking trails around. I did one on my last morning and got down to the beach. Some photos:


This next one is a view at the Bandon Trails course from that beach trail:


One thing that is important to mention is that there is nothing to do besides golf here. You can do the trails, but that is half a day at most. There is a cool town about 30 minutes north called North Bend that would be fun to explore for half a day. And I think the actual town of Bandon is similar, albeit even smaller. You cannot bring a non-golfing spouse here for multiple days and expect them to be entertained. It's not that type of trip.


I got caddies 4 of 6 rounds at Bandon. I had 4 different caddies. I thought I had one A/A- caddy, one A-/B+ caddy, and two C caddies. I thought the good caddies were worth it and added to my experience. The C caddies were not helpful and maybe cost me some shots. This may vary for some people, but I’m at the point where I really only want to know specific things. The good caddies picked up on that and gave me what I was looking for. The C caddies did not, and it would have been better if they just carried my bag and didn't try to help. I think one caddies was not giving me good distances, either, even though he was shooting flags with his rangefinder. From talking to other people, most caddies were in the C range - there are a decent amount of locals caddying. And a lot of the good caddies get taken by requests.

I think when I go back, I will probably not take a caddy. If I can get the really good caddy I mentioned above, I would consider taking him. Other than that, I don’t think it’s worth it. I know the lines now and can read the greens better than most caddies.

It’s a personal question, so I can’t answer whether you should get one. But, I do think lower handicappers will not get much out of the caddies.

(If anyone wants the names of the good caddies, I would be happy to pass them along.)


Go to Bandon Dunes. It's so much fun. You will not regret it. I will definitely get back out there. It is golfing Disneyland and you will have a ton of fun. That said, don’t schedule 3 36-hole days. That is too much golf. I am a golf sicko, walk all my rounds, and am in fairly good shape. I was beat by the end. Don’t be me.

The elephant in the room, possibly – would I rather go to Sand Valley or Bandon Dunes? They are about the same travel time for me, and actually fairly easy to get to. I think I would rather go back to Sand Valley, but it’s close. If I had just 2-3 days for a long weekend, I would go back to Sand Valley. If I had ~5 days, I would go back to Bandon. I want another shot at the courses when I’m not playing 36 holes a day. I will appreciate courses like Trails more, and I want to bring a non-exhausted game to a couple of the courses. Sand Valley, with only 2 courses, is a little more manageable for a short trip.

Overall, the golf at Bandon is so unique that it’s something you need to experience. The setting, the courses, the firm turf, and the weather are something you cannot really find elsewhere. It’s probably as close to going on a golf trip to Scotland you can get without leaving the country.

That’s all I have. Happy to answer any other questions anyone has.

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-- Daniel

In my bag: :callaway: Big Bertha V Series (11 degrees) :callaway: Epic Flash 3.5W (16 degrees)

:callaway: Rogue Pro 3-PW :edel: SMS Wedges - V-Grind (48, 54, 58):edel: Putter

 :snell: MTB-X :aimpoint:

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I’ve been there once. Only played Bandon, Pacific and Sheep Ranch. I’ll go again after they build their next course. I liked Pacific more than Bandon. Sheep Ranch sucked but I also had 30+mph winds or more and while the course was designed with that in mind, no thanks. 

Bandon probably is less in my mind purely because my caddy was bad. He was a guy who has caddied there since Bandon Dunes opened. I would never get a caddy there again if that’s what I’m getting. Many courses/pros in my area make annual group trips there. I may try getting my own going.

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Several years ago I played Bandon and Pacific Dunes, in the winter.  Stayed in the Lodge.  First day was sunny and warm at Bandon.  Second day at Pacific Dunes was rain coming down sideways and heavy wind.  7 golfers ventured onto the course that day; I was the only one to finish.  Although my caddie wanted to quit after 15 holes... I told him to give me the damn bag, I'd carry it.

Later that evening the strong winds caused a power outage, which was wonderful... because although I'm a football fan, all the TV's with the bowl games went out.  The generators that kicked in only powered the essentials.  Like powering a stove to prepare the Scottish meal I had that night at McKee's pub by candlelight.  That and a single-malt scotch made for a perfect golf trip.

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On 5/2/2022 at 12:11 PM, dennyjones said:

and I thought Michigan was the only place w/o sunshine!

Deadman played under grey skies because he didn't want to pay the additional fee for sunny skies.

It actually can be very sunny at Bandon in the summer months.

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It was actually beautiful the whole time. It was mid 50s and sunny. The second morning there was some fog and clouds but it burned off around 2. Basically no wind to speak of the whole time. 

The week before was biblical conditions, so we got lucky. 

-- Daniel

In my bag: :callaway: Big Bertha V Series (11 degrees) :callaway: Epic Flash 3.5W (16 degrees)

:callaway: Rogue Pro 3-PW :edel: SMS Wedges - V-Grind (48, 54, 58):edel: Putter

 :snell: MTB-X :aimpoint:

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So what's your ranking of the Bandon holes 1-18? Can you remember them all?

Erik J. Barzeski —  I knock a ball. It goes in a gopher hole. 🏌🏼‍♂️
Director of Instructor Development, 5 Simple Keys®/Golf Evolution • Owner, The Sand Trap .com • AuthorLowest Score Wins • Golf Digest "Best Young Teachers in America" 2016-17 • "Best in State" 2017-20 • WNY Section PGA Teacher of the Year 2019 • Penn-State Behrend Head Coach • • • • • • • • • • :aimpoint: :edel: :true_linkswear:

Check Out: New Topics | TST Blog | Golf Terms | Instructional Content | Analyzr | 5SK.com | LSW | Instructional Droplets

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44 minutes ago, iacas said:

So what's your ranking of the Bandon holes 1-18? Can you remember them all?

Do you mean a composite course? Or my top 18 holes on property?

-- Daniel

In my bag: :callaway: Big Bertha V Series (11 degrees) :callaway: Epic Flash 3.5W (16 degrees)

:callaway: Rogue Pro 3-PW :edel: SMS Wedges - V-Grind (48, 54, 58):edel: Putter

 :snell: MTB-X :aimpoint:

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13 minutes ago, DeadMan said:

Do you mean a composite course? Or my top 18 holes on property?

Best first hole, best second hole, etc. Like we did for WI.

Composite course, yeah.

Erik J. Barzeski —  I knock a ball. It goes in a gopher hole. 🏌🏼‍♂️
Director of Instructor Development, 5 Simple Keys®/Golf Evolution • Owner, The Sand Trap .com • AuthorLowest Score Wins • Golf Digest "Best Young Teachers in America" 2016-17 • "Best in State" 2017-20 • WNY Section PGA Teacher of the Year 2019 • Penn-State Behrend Head Coach • • • • • • • • • • :aimpoint: :edel: :true_linkswear:

Check Out: New Topics | TST Blog | Golf Terms | Instructional Content | Analyzr | 5SK.com | LSW | Instructional Droplets

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Here's what I think. There are a few holes I don't have much memory of, but I think that disqualifies them from the list.

Sheep Ranch #1

Downhill par 5 with an ocean reveal. You have a shot to go for it in two if you hit a good drive. The tee shot is semi-blind, and you're not going to see the ball land. But there is a ton of fairway, and when you get to your ball, you see the Pacific Ocean. It's not a great golf hole, but it's solid, and the ocean views put it over the top. Frankly, a lot of the first holes here are not that memorable because all of the courses but Sheep Ranch start with a hole that's entirely inland. That is a purposeful choice - McClay-Kidd has specifically said he wanted to have the clubhouse and start of the course away from the ocean. I liked a lot of the opening holes, but Sheep Ranch stands out for the early ocean reveal.

Old Mac #2

This is the Eden template par 3, based off the 11th at St. Andrews. Back to front sloped green, with a pot bunker in front of the green that is death. I think this is a bit by default. Again a lot of the 2nd holes are entirely inland and serve mostly to get you to other holes. Bandon has an uphill, long 3 par, that I liked, but I liked the Eden hole better. Pac Dunes #2 is entirely forgettable and feels like a copy of its 1st hole. Sheep Ranch's 2 hole is very meh. Trails has a long downhill par 3 that I also liked, but Eden is the best hole of the bunch.

Old Mac #3

This is the ghost tree/Sahara template hole. Might be the coolest tee shot on the property, and the climb up the hill after the tee shot is really cool. It's a very good hole, too, because the line you take off the tee dictates how difficult your second shot is. If you are aggressive, you have a great look at the green and can get really close. If you are more conservative, you will likely have a blind approach to the green. Really cool hole. The other 3s are par 5s, of which I liked Pac Dunes the best, and a solid 3 at Sheep Ranch. I liked all of these holes, but Old Mac #3 might be my favorite on property.

Bandon Dunes #4

No question on this one, either. Semi-blind tee shot that gets you to the ocean reveal. Just an incredible hole. Not sure how strategic it is, but I don't care. This was the first ocean reveal of the trip for me, so it will stick with me for a long time. It's also a hole that requires your attention on the approach - the ocean is long and there's a deep bunker left of the green. 

Bandon Trails #5

This is a short par 3. It played about 130 for us. It is a fairly big green, and we had the hole up front. The green is tiered, and a back pin would play about 150, slightly uphill. This edged out the short on Old Mac, a par 3 on Sheep that I don't really remember, a tough par 3 on Pac Dunes, and a long par 4 on Bandon Dunes. I think some would go for the Bandon Dunes hole, but it took me a while to remember playing it, so it's out. The green, which is huge, tiered, and has some crazy slopes, really made me like the Trails hole. I went with that one.

Sheep Ranch #6

This is the tee shot picture I posted above. This is another great tee shot. The hole is a dogleg right, and your line will have to go over a cliff. You pick how aggressive you want to be off the tee here, and that decide how long your next shot will be. I really like holes like that. The tee shot here is awesome and wins the comparison. Bandon is the runner up here, with a par 3 along the ocean. Pac Dunes #6 is not a good hole. Trails #6 is a par 4 where the trick is to navigate some pot bunkers off the tee. It's fine, but not great. Old Mac is the long template. I liked it, but not more than the Sheep Ranch hole.

Bandon Dunes #7

I really liked this hole, even though it's the turn back to the clubhouse and 5 inland holes in a row. It's a semi-blind tee shot, but the fairway is massive and nearly impossible to miss. Once you get to your ball, you have to navigate an uphill approach to a tiered green. If you don't get it up there, you're looking at a really tough pitch onto the green. Even on the green might be tough, because of the tiers on the green. A good approach has a good look at birdie, but it's not easy to figure out your yardage here. A cool challenge even though the tee shot is a break. Runner up here is the Ocean hole on Old Mac - it's actually sort of similar to this one. The ocean reveal there is really cool. On another day, I might pick it. The rest of the holes are a long par 4 on Trails and Pacific and a par 3 on Sheep Ranch that is simple, even though the ocean views are cool.

Old Mac #8

This is the biarritz template hole. A long, downhill shot, into a green with a swale running through it. It was a cool shot and was fun trying to get a ball to run onto the back of the green. Bandon was my other choice, and the trick there is navigating a sloped fairway with a few big bunkers. I flipped a coin and went with the biarritz hole, but I think Bandon's hole was solid, too. 8 at Pac Dunes is an unmemorable par 4. I don't remember 8 at Trails, even with the yardage book in front of me. 8 at Sheep Ranch is a dogleg right par 4 with a cool green. It's a fine hole, but doesn't stand out that much to me.

Pacific Dunes #9

This is a cool, unique hole. There are two greens here, and they alternate which greens they play. I played to both greens, and I thought it was a good hole both ways. It's a blind tee shot, but a massive fairway. If you go to the upper hole, you need to be careful or you're going to have an uphill, blind approach. I made a birdie on the upper hole with my caddy helping me to find the ideal line. Put it to 5 feet and jarred the putt. The lower green is drivable if you hit a good shot. I thought it was interesting and cool to have 2 very different holes on the same hole. Trails and Bandon had par 5s that were solid but not spectacular. Sheep had a par 4 with a blind tee shot, semi-blind approach, and an ocean reveal at the end. It was a pretty hole, but didn't stand out beyond that. 9 at Old Mac is a cape hole, but I've seen so many of those, it's not that memorable.

Pacific Dunes #10

A par 3 that plays toward the ocean. There are two sets of tee boxes here - lower and upper ones. It is a great hole from the upper ones, requiring a good yardage with a downhill shot, and a great view of the ocean and the next hole. The lower tees are not as good, but it's still a cool shot with the ocean behind you. Slopes can bounce the ball back towards the green, but they can also eat up your ball and completely bone you. The other 10s are par 4s, and nothing stands out about them too much. Nothing bad, but I liked the memorable par 3 the best.

Bandon Trails #11

I'm not 100% sure this is right. It's a long par 4 with water up the right. You want to stay to the left with the tee shot, but the negative is that your approach will be semi blind. If you stay left the entire hole, you have a safe bogey easily, and if you play it well, a good par. Right gives you a better shot at birdie, but also brings the water into play. I liked it, but I'm not sure I'm right, given that both of my playing partners went into the water on the approach. I played it safe up the left and putted from left of the green to a couple of feet for a simple, but workman-like par. The other holes here are the road hole at Old Mac (which might actually be the right answer, it's just that I've played a lot of road hole-like holes), another par 3 at Pac Dunes, a forgettable but fine par 4 at Bandon Dunes, and a volcano par 5 at Sheep Ranch. A good set of holes, but I really liked Trails here.

Bandon Dunes #12

This gets you back to the ocean. It's a downhill par 3, with the ocean behind it. It looks like the green falls off into the ocean. There's a big dune on the right of the green and a deep bunker left of the green. It requires your full attention, but it doesn't feel unfair. I liked getting back to the ocean here and having a solid par 3. Trails has a long par 3, which is fine but not as memorable as Bandon. Old Mac has a redan that is not a good version of it because balls will not bound much off the slope. Sheep is a long par 4 that is only tough because it's long. Pac Dunes has a par 5 playing along and toward the ocean. I liked it, but not as much as this one.

Bandon Dunes #13

Loved this par 5. If you take an aggressive line, you can go for the green in 2. But it will be a tough, blind shot. If you don't hit that line, you will lay up to a spot that is about 50-80 yards short of the green, and then you need to pay attention to how uphill the green is from where you are. I like having the ability to go for it on the right line, but needing to pull off a tough shot to get there. I might be wrong about this hole, though, because we all ended up in the same spot, about 50 yards in, after 2 shots. 2 guys tried to go for the green and didn't make it. 2 of us laid up. The runner up here was the leven template at Old Mac, and I think that might be the right choice. I'm sticking with Bandon, though. Trails had a par 4 where the approach was really tough with a massive slope and deep, deep bunker on either side of the green. Sheep Ranch was a par 5 that was shortish and uphill. Fine hole, but not as good as others. Pacific Dunes 13 is probably the most photographed hole on property. I did not like it, though. It has ocean on the left, massive bunkers on the right, it's really long, and it has a green with a massive false front. Just felt a little too tricked up. Call it a par 5 and we can talk.

Old Mac #14

This is the maiden hole. It's short, but entirely uphill. Picking a good line off the tee is important if you want a shot at birdie. This might be a winner by default. Pac Dunes 14 was a short hole that I liked, but it was really tough if you didn't hit the green. Sheep 14 I don't really remember. Bandon 14 is the last inland par 4 - it's fine but not great. Trails 14 is very controversial. I thought it was fine, but not better than Old Mac's 14. 

Bandon Dunes #15

Another par 3 with the ocean nearby. The ocean is behind and left of the green, so it's not really in play. This is a tough par 3, but I really liked it. There is a death bunker short right of the green, but if you miss that, you can make a par. A birdie requires a great approach. It can play fairly long, but not unfairly so. Trails 15 was fine but nothing stands out. Pac Dunes 15 is a reachable par 5 with a Pinehurst #2 like green. I thought it was fine, but nothing special. Sheep 15 was a driveable par 4, but there was nothing all that special about it. 15 on Old Mac was westward ho, a long par 5 back up the hill. It's good, too, but I liked Bandon best.

Bandon Dunes #16

This is the signature hole at Bandon, I think. Ocean right, lots of room left. Green is driveable if you are aggressive here. I love this hole and want to play it a lot more. Birdie is in play, but if you are lazy with the drive, you could find a bunker that means a double. The runner up here is the alps hole at Old Mac. Tough to leave that one out - the blind approach over a massive dune is awesome. But I give Bandon the edge. 16 on Trails is an uphill par 5 which was fine but not as good. Pac Dunes 16 was a driveable 4 where there play is not driver. Sheep Ranch 16 was a cool par 3 with the ocean left, but I liked Bandon better.

Sheep Ranch #17

Might be one of the coolest holes on property. It's a short par 4, with ocean all up the left side of the hole. It is driveable, but disaster lurks if you miss left. There is room on the right to miss and still have a wedge in. The tee shot here is so cool, and having the ocean up the left is great. It's not difficult (assuming you don't hook one into the Pacific Ocean), but it's fine. 17 at Trails is the runner up - a downhill par 3 where the trick is to miss the massive bunker on the right. 17 at Old Mac is a par 5, littlestone template. I liked it, but Sheep is more memorable. Pac Dunes is a redan-style par 3 that plays downhill. It's cool, too. Bandon 17 is a tough par 4 that requires less than driver and then a medium to long iron. I liked it, but Sheep is still better.

Bandon Dunes #18

Surprisingly, not a lot of great finishing holes here. Bandon was my favorite - it's a medium-length par 5. You want to be in the left half of the fairway so you can see the green on your approach. If you are right, you are behind some bunkers that block your view of the green. The clubhouse orients your second shot and is your aiming point if you cannot see the green. It's a fun finishing hole that is a bit of a break from a couple of difficult holes. I liked it, but it's not spectacular or anything. Sheep's 18 was a really short, uphill par 5. I liked it, but it's really a par 4. Trails 18 was an uphill par 4 with bunkers everywhere. It's fine but not better than that. Old Mac 18 is the punchbowl. Honestly, I've seen better punchbowl holes. And we didn't really have anyone in our group that was able to use it correctly (and some people got boned with the ball staying up where it shouldn't). 18 on Pac Dunes was meh. It's a par 5 with bunkers that Doak wants you to take on with the tee shot. If you get past them, then you have about 200 in. I saw nobody get past them, though. It's not doable from most of the tees. So you're playing a 3 shot hole where everybody goes into the same spots. It's a surprisingly weak bunch of finishing holes. I liked most of them, but not nearly as memorable as some others. Give me 18 at Bandon all day for these.


So, that's 7 from Bandon, 4 from Old Mac, 2 from Trails, 3 from Sheep, and 2 from Pacific Dunes. That feels pretty good. Surprisingly, a lot of par 3s on this list. Normally, par 3s are sort of meh, but I guess not here. I also tend to like par 5s the most, but only 3 par 5s on this list. Interesting.

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-- Daniel

In my bag: :callaway: Big Bertha V Series (11 degrees) :callaway: Epic Flash 3.5W (16 degrees)

:callaway: Rogue Pro 3-PW :edel: SMS Wedges - V-Grind (48, 54, 58):edel: Putter

 :snell: MTB-X :aimpoint:

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For poops and giggles, I went and looked at what my Apple Watch said I did for steps and such on the trip. Day 1:


Day 2:


Day 3:


Day 3 is shorter because Sheep Ranch and Pac Dunes are the 2 easiest walks. Day 1 is longest because I played a few holes at the Preserve after the 36 holes (not smart). 

-- Daniel

In my bag: :callaway: Big Bertha V Series (11 degrees) :callaway: Epic Flash 3.5W (16 degrees)

:callaway: Rogue Pro 3-PW :edel: SMS Wedges - V-Grind (48, 54, 58):edel: Putter

 :snell: MTB-X :aimpoint:

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I feel like the "flights" number is always low. Do you feel similarly? It's like it has to be a pretty steep climb to register or something. Going up two flights over 200 yards doesn't seem to count.

Erik J. Barzeski —  I knock a ball. It goes in a gopher hole. 🏌🏼‍♂️
Director of Instructor Development, 5 Simple Keys®/Golf Evolution • Owner, The Sand Trap .com • AuthorLowest Score Wins • Golf Digest "Best Young Teachers in America" 2016-17 • "Best in State" 2017-20 • WNY Section PGA Teacher of the Year 2019 • Penn-State Behrend Head Coach • • • • • • • • • • :aimpoint: :edel: :true_linkswear:

Check Out: New Topics | TST Blog | Golf Terms | Instructional Content | Analyzr | 5SK.com | LSW | Instructional Droplets

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