Bandon Dunes Golf Resort has been a bucket list golf destination since the day it opened, and I found out for myself last summer what makes it a special place. After spending a week in Bandon in July 2018, I can’t say enough good things about the golf, accommodations, hospitality and the overall experience. Bandon Dunes truly is THE links golf mecca in the United States.
My only complaint was that it was so remote and hard to get to, but that’s just part of the experience. The most dramatic landscapes for golf often are in very remote areas. Developer Mike Keiser was warned about that, but he thought if the golf courses and overall experience were good enough that people wouldn’t care how remote the place is, and he was right.
It has been one year since I walked the fairways of Bandon Dunes, Pacific Dunes, Old Macdonald, Bandon Trails and Bandon Preserve with my good buddies John, Tony & Bill. I still think about that trip on a weekly basis and look forward to returning someday. Since many people have yet to discover Bandon Dunes, and because it is such a unique experience, here are some tips to help plan your trip and get the most out of your visit!
Bandon Dunes Travel Tips
- Read Dream Golf: The Making of Bandon Dunes, by Stephen Goodwin which describes the process by which developer Mike Keiser found the land and proceeded to transform it into the most dramatic seaside golf resort in America. It’s a great read that will only help build anticipation for your trip. Plus, once you are there it’s awesome to be able to finally see in person what you read about in the book!
- It pays to be prepared. Golf is walking only at Bandon Dunes, so if you are not in top physical shape you should prepare several months in advance by walking four or five miles a few times a week to get your feet and legs ready for the firm ground and rolling terrain.
- To expand on the last thought – Bring a comfortable pair of shoes, some good socks, and some blister ointment and pads! I walked over 45 miles in 5 days. Take care of your feet!
- The logistics of getting there can be a challenge. For our trip, we flew into Portland (PDX) and drove down in a rental car. It’s 256 miles and took about 4.5 hours. The more expensive but far more convenient option is to fly into Southwest Oregon Regional Airport (OTH) in North Bend which is serviced by United Airlines. From there it’s a much shorter 25-mile drive that takes about 35 minutes.
- If I could do it again, I would have planned to spend more than 5 days in Bandon. Our plan was to get in, play 36 holes a day for 5 days, and get out. In retrospect, I would have loved a few off days to rest my feet and explore the town of Bandon or just relax at the clubhouse and soak in the views.
- To the point above – Arrive early and spend your first afternoon playing the 13-Hole Par 3 Preserve Course, followed by some time after dinner on the massive Punch Bowl putting green. It’ll prepare you for the links experience and help you get used to the greens.
- Speaking of the Preserve, play the 13th hole with a putter only. It’s an unwritten tradition. The hole plays abut 100 yards, straight downhill. Check out our video of the hole here.
- Expanding on the “putter from 100 yards” concept – You need to embrace the ground game at Bandon. Don’t just reach for the 60-degree wedge around the greens. Many times using a putter or chipping with a 7-iron will be more successful. Use your imagination! Take these two shots for example…
- Get Mamma’s Meatloaf in McKee’s Tavern. It’s all about comfort food at Bandon, and if you are walking 36 a day you’ll need the carbs!
- Take advantage of the replay rates to play 36 holes a day for maximum value. Your second round of the day is half price!
- If you plan to play each course more than once, which is recommended, schedule your tee times to play each course both in the morning and in the afternoon. The conditions are often completely different! (wind)