Bandon Dunes - Golf Resort Golf in its Purest Form
Written and Photographed by Andrew Gegg
Imagine being able to look down an immaculate fairway, links style views, with an ocean breeze, constant throughout your round, while walking with some of the most incredible caddies you’ve ever met. Now do this 5-6 times, all on different courses, in the same trip. This is golf as it was meant to be played. The experience is unlike any other. I can only imagine how much better it would have been had I not been worried so much about capturing the most amazing photographs of my career. The images in this article simply do not do the experience justice.
It starts off with the brand-new Round Lake Lodges. Modern, contemporary design, on a lake front, with views of Bandon Trails golf course. The rooms are spacious and luxurious. Ample amounts of natural lighting due to floor to ceiling length windows occupying half of the room. Your view overlooks the lake, and the sunrise is directly east over the lake. I can’t imagine a better way to wake up each morning.
You can either drive or take the complimentary shuttle to your first destination of the day. Whether it be breakfast, an early tee time, or maybe you want to warm up at the largest practice facility I’ve ever seen on a golf resort. Full driving range, large putting green, practice bunkers, and even a shop to grab a snack or some coffee. If you’re starting your day on the course, I highly recommend shopping after your round, because you can get lost in those pro shops. There are so many items that are high quality brands and designers that you almost can’t decide in 5-10 minutes.
During your round, enjoy the caddie experience. Those guys are the greatest and really put in some tough work. Most carry two bags a round, while feeding you course knowledge the entire way. These caddies do not work for Bandon Dunes, yet they are some of the greatest ambassadors for the resort. My first round of the trip consisted of two younger gentleman who had great personalities and gave some great advice on the course and greens. I asked how long they had been caddying at Bandon Dunes, expecting to head 3-5 years, when they responded with, “About 3 months.” I was shocked. I did not hire a caddie, but carried my own bag, because I was also taking pictures throughout my round. These two caddies were fun to chat with and even helped me with some reads during my round. If you have the opportunity to hire caddies for your round, I highly suggest it. They only add to the experience in a positive way, and I can only imagine you’ll be less sore the following day.
My visit started with the final tee time at Bandon Dunes on Sunday, ironically paired with 3 others from my hometown. We finished our round during sunset, and it was absolutely gorgeous walking along the coast as the sun was coming down for the final 3-4 holes. While holes along the coast do consist of more wind, it doesn’t even phase you when you’re distracted by the views.
Monday morning, I played Old MacDonald, the first tee time of the day. Playing along side the Director of Communications for Bandon Dunes. Needless to say, I was a tad nervous, but once we got past the first hole, nerves faded. Walking down the first fairway you have an amazing view of the famous ghost tree. This tree appears to have stood the test of time, it’s unlike any tree I’ve ever seen. Tall, sharp jagged branches, dead, yet strong and sturdy, falsely appearing alive. I had seen tons of pictures of it, but did not realize how big it actually was until I walked past it climbing the hill to the fairway of the 3rd hole. The sun rises directly behind it, giving it the perfect silhouette. There is a lot of history on Old Mac, which would take multiple articles to cover, but the most important bit of history is that this course pays homage to golf course architect Charles Blair Macdonald, who built the first golf course on American soil in 1892. It’s inspired by what he would have done with this coastal canvas.
My afternoon round was at Pacific Dunes which is another coastal beauty. I place it one step behind Bandon Dunes, but it was just as awe inspiring. It’s an absolute must play with fairways laid as they were found and natural bunkers throughout.
The next morning, I started my day with Bandon Trails. Here you start at the top of a massive dune, then find yourself winding through the coastal forest, all to return to the dunes on the final few holes. Very challenging course with plenty of elevation change offering extravagant views. I finished my visit with the Sheep Ranch course. The newest of the course at the resort, but one of the most fun. It features one mile of ocean frontage, nine green sites right along the edge of the continent, and stunning Pacific Ocean views on every hole.
Beyond the unforgettable golf experience, the hospitality was just as unforgettable. Bandon Dunes Golf Resort sits atop the public course list for a reason. Exceptional food, service, and golf as it was meant to be.