The 18 Best Holes at Bandon Dunes

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The 18 Best Holes at Bandon Dunes

December 02, 2013

Photo By: Stephen Szurlej

The mere thought of planning a buddies trip had always intimidated me. But my friend Tom Freemanand I bonded over our desire to experience Oregon's Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, a place we'd read so much about but never visited. We each invited a friend -- Charlie Kautzand Ryan Mathre-- and hoped for the best, which is exactly what we got. For four days, nothing existed beyond this golf sanctuary.

After playing 118 holes in four days, here are our 18 favorite holes at Bandon Dunes, in no particular order:Bandon Dunes, No. 4Bandon Dunes, No. 5Bandon Dunes, No. 12Bandon Dunes, No. 16Pacific Dunes, No. 4Pacific Dunes, No. 7Pacific Dunes, No. 11Pacific Dunes, No. 13Pacific Dunes, No. 16Bandon Trails, No. 5Bandon Trails, No. 8Bandon Trails, No. 11Bandon Trails, No. 13Old Macdonald, No. 7Old Macdonald, No. 14Old Macdonald, No. 15Old Macdonald, No. 16Bandon Preserve, No. 2

Bandon Dunes, No. 4 (Par 4, 410 yards)

We got our first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean from the third tee, but it's only once we approached the fourth green, after the fairway bends sharply to the right, that we REALLY saw the Pacific. The green sits on a cliff; we collectively gasped.

Bandon Dunes, No. 5 (Par 4, 428 yards)

Dramatic dunes frame the rumpled fairway on this hole, and several knolls guard its large green. The entire hole is set on a cliff, with the Pacific Ocean on the left.

Bandon Dunes, No. 5 (Par 4, 428 yards)

Here's how the fifth hole looks from the tee box. It's the first hole we played that runs along the ocean.

Bandon Dunes, No. 12 (Par 3, 199 yards)

This is the first hole ever built at Bandon Dunes. The backdrop of the ocean is stunning, but it's the small, sod-faced bunker just short of the green that captured our attention. (Photo by Charlie Kautz.)

Bandon Dunes, No. 16 (Par 4, 363 yards)

Drama on this course reaches its peak on the 16th tee. A drivable par 4 set along the Pacific, it forced us to decide whether to lay up to the left or try to drive the green, which is surrounded by several mean pot bunkers.

Bandon Dunes, No. 16 (Par 4, 363 yards)

Any experience at Bandon Dunes is incomplete without a late-afternoon round at Bandon Dunes. Here's how the 16th green looks when the sun sets.

Pacific Dunes, No. 4 (Par 4, 463 yards)

This is the first hole at Pacific Dunes that runs along the ocean, and wind was blowing at our backs when we played it. Ocean on the right and nasty fairway bunkers on the left make the landing area really narrow. When we played it the second time, we realized it's best to keep our approach shots low.

Pacific Dunes, No. 4 (Par 4, 463 yards)

Here's how the hole looks from the tee box. Our caddies, Brooks and Jerry, were fantastic. They were paired with us for the duration of our stay (as all caddies are), and they added priceless knowledge and lots of laughs to our rounds.

Pacific Dunes, No. 7 (Par 4, 464 yards)

This is one of the toughest par 4s on property, if not the toughest. It's long, which meant most of us used woods to approach a green that is guarded by mounds and bunkers and drop-offs. Sounds like fun, eh? (Photo by Timothy Scahill.)

Pacific Dunes, No. 11 (Par 3, 148 yards)

It's impossible to walk off this tee box without grabbing your camera. The tiny green is guarded by a cliff on the left and large, blowout bunkers on all other sides.

Pacific Dunes, No. 13 (Par 4, 444 yards)

Perhaps the single-best hole at Bandon Dunes, it's flanked by the Pacific Ocean on the right and a gigantic dune and several blow-out bunkers on the left.

Pacific Dunes, No. 13 (Par 4, 444 yards)

I'm not exaggerating when I say this greenside dune is "gigantic."

Pacific Dunes, No. 13 (Par 4, 444 yards)

Here's how the 13th hole looks from the tee box.

Pacific Dunes, No. 16 (Par 4, 338 yards)

This short par 4 is rumpled from tee to green -- none of us ever had a flat lie -- and it bends to the right. Tom Doak says it reminds him of the ninth hole at Cypress Point since it has a narrow green that sits on a ridge against a big dune. (Photo by Stephen Szurlej.)

Photo By: Stephen Szurlej

Bandon Trails, No. 5 (Par 3, 133 yards)

This is the shortest hole on the course, but its undulating green, which is surrounded by several deep bunkers, has a huge swale. It's all about the tee shot here. Only one of us (Tom) placed it well; the rest of us were caught off guard by its stealth difficulty.

Bandon Trails, No. 8 (Par 4, 321 yards)

Like many other reachable par 4s on property, this one carries a good deal of danger. Rugged bunkers frame nearly the entire hole, and if you DO try to drive the green (it'll tempt you), the large, undulating green doesn't easily give up a two-putt.

Bandon Trails, No. 11 (Par 4, 445 yards)

We couldn't see the green from the tee box -- it's nestled below and to the right of the tee -- so we had to trust the line our caddies gave us. We were told to favor the left side, and once we walked down we understood why. A huge bunker protects the right side of the fairway and a lake surrounds the right side of the green. It's an intimidating, but beautiful task. (Photo by Stephen Szurlej.)

Bandon Trails, No. 13 (Par 4, 401 yards)

This hole bends to the right and a beautiful forest frames the green. It's this bending and framing that makes the approach shot perhaps the most engaging on the entire course. Since the walk from the 13th green to the 14th tee is long and steep, a golf cart picked us up and ushered us along. It was a gorgeous ride that ended on the highest spot of the course, which is also the spot where Mike Keiser decided to buy the property.

Old Macdonald, No. 7 (Par 4, 363 yards)

The seventh green at Old Macdonald, which is elevated and very tough to hit, sits atop a hillside that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. It offers one of the most beautiful views on the entire property.

Old Macdonald, No. 7 (Par 4, 363 yards)

As you can see here, the approach shot to the seventh green is blind. This elevation only added to the anticipation we felt as we climbed to the green.

Old Macdonald, No. 7 (Par 4, 363 yards)

The seventh green also leads way to Old Macdonald's halfway house, which is the most beautiful snack shack any of us had ever seen.

Old Macdonald, No. 14 (Par 4, 370 yards)

Besides these crazy fairway bunkers that protect this drivable par 4, this hole has one of the most interesting greens we've ever played, full of sweeping undulations.

Old Macdonald, No. 15 (Par 5, 535 yards)

A three-shot par 5 that brings you back to the ocean. The view from the tee box made us pause and reflect on the beauty of the entire course.

Old Macdonald, No. 16 (Par 4, 455 yards)

A huge sand dune sits in the middle of the fairway and obstructs the view of the green. Standing on the tee, I was underwhelmed, but my buddies predicted that the dune would eventually unveil a dramatic green complex. They were right.

Old Macdonald, No. 16 (Par 4, 455 yards)

Since golfers can't see the green from the tee box, we had to ring this bell as we walked to the 17th hole.

Preserve, No. 2 (Par 3, 142 yards)

It's tough to say any one hole at Preserve is more fun than the other, since nearly every hole at this 13-hole par-3 course features rugged sand dunes, ocean panoramas and undulating greens. But the second hole has a deep gorge that runs along the right side that is stunning, dangerous and thrilling. The longest shot you'll have at Preserve is 164 (most are under 130 yards), eightsomes are allowed, and the snack shack is accessible from holes 4, 8 and 11. It felt like a party.

Our Least Favorite Hole: Bandon Trails, No. 14 (Par 4, 325 yards)

The 14th at Bandon Trails is the ultimate letdown. The preceding hole is amazing, then we took a beautiful ride up a steep road to reach this peak where Mike Keiser decided to buy the property. The panoramic view is incredible. We wanted the 14th hole to symbolize Keiser's eureka moment, but it's too gimmicky. Reachable par 4s can be a bit goofy since they need a greater defense (the sixth hole at Pacific Dunes is another reachable par 4 that straddles the line of being too gimmicky), but they shouldn't force a golfer to hit an iron off the tee, then a mid iron into a green that doesn't easily hold long approach shots. There are a handful of great, short par 4s at Bandon Dunes -- including the 16th hole at Bandon Dunes -- that strike a balance between tempting the golfer to go for the green while presenting a hefty, yet reasonable challenge. This one doesn't strike that balance. (Photo by Charlie Kautz.)

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