A golf trip or a work trip? How four of our editors made their Bandon Dunes excursion both
Taking a week-long golf trip presents a dilemma when your golf buddies are your co-workers. We wanted to go somewhere special, but knew we’d never be able to all take off for a week at the same time. While playing some beat-up muny in Queens in 40-degree weather in February, we had the idea to head out to the West Coast for a week, but needed to put the logistics together. Where could we spend a week, play different courses and still put in a full work day? The answer was obvious: Bandon Dunes.
A week-long trip to Bandon in May was attractive for a few reasons: one, we could continue to “work from home” and maintain our team’s New York-based schedule. With sunset after 8 p.m., we could get 3:30 p.m. tee times and comfortably be done with our rounds with daylight to spare. Two, the majority of our team could work together in-person and have the feeling of being in an office again (our pitch to the boss: productivity will soar!). Also, it’s Bandon Freakin’ Dunes. It’s bucket list-type stuff. The very top of it. After presenting the plan to the group, we decided to make the dream a reality.
We booked our flights for a week in early May with no shoots (we make up 4/6 of the photo and video team). A Saturday to next Sunday round-trip flight was the best schedule to make the most of it, with 36 holes planned for the first day, 18 after work every weekday, along with a closing round and some fun on the putting and par-3 courses on the last day. We flew from Newark to Eugene, then made the two-and-a-half hour drive to Bandon.
Instead of staying on campus, we booked an AirBNB five minutes from the resort for a fraction of the price. The “Bungalow by the Big Tree” ended up being the best HQ for Digest’s temporary Oregon office.
After booking our rounds, and a car, it was time to plan our golf competition. Every round we would play a different betting game, with points awarded based on the round’s finish that added up for a week-long final score. Our menu included Wolf, Sixes, Hammer, Quota, Vegas and then some. A mix of partner games and every man for himself wagers kept it varied and fun. Everybody puts in the pot at the beginning, winner take all at the end.
When that Saturday morning came, we loaded up our clubs, rain gear, high handicaps and higher expectations and made the pilgrimage. I could describe every shot from every round in detail (let me know if you want the director’s cut of this “intro”) but I think you’d rather gawk at the photos. Here’s my best tip: if you want good shots of your dream golf trip, consider inviting the guy that photographs the Masters. He might be able to snap a good frame or two.
Every Hole At Bandon Dunes' Sheep Ranch
Some highlights of the week:
-We really did wake up every morning at 6 a.m. and work a full day, and it was great to be back together again. Fully vaccinated and fully safe, it was a taste of office life I didn’t know I missed.
The crew on one of its pre-golf early morning Zoom calls.
-Every course blew us away, and that was after coming in with impossible hype. My fifth-rated Bandon Dunes course is the fifth best course I’ve ever played.
-I ordered a cheap little trophy beforehand and surprised our winner of our contest after the end of our final round, sitting around the fireplace at Sheep Ranch. He was our highest handicapper and he smoked us, breaking 90 for the first time in tough conditions. We mobbed him on the 18th green after he secured the 89 with a triple bogey.
Ben Walton with his winnings after a clutch 89 to close.
-We ate dinner and got drinks a few nights in town and I’d recommend that to anybody. Major Newport, R.I. vibes for this East Coaster, with the nicest locals to boot.
-Saw Mike Keiser outside the Bandon pro shop and considered doing the Wayne’s World “WE’RE NOT WORTHY” bow but decided against it. A few more Bandon Pale Ales on the back 9 and things might’ve turned out different.
-The putting and short courses might’ve been the most fun to play. We stopped keeping score, took more beers than clubs, and soaked up every dwindling minute of our last day in paradise.
-I got a hole-in-one. We went absolutely nuts and they gave me a framed scorecard at the end. Everybody at Bandon gets it, including and especially the little things. High-fives all around and drinks for the house on me when we got back to the bar.
Although I’ve rambled well beyond what my editor was probably expecting for this piece, it really is hard to find the words to describe the week. To be back together again with some of my favorite people, at the Mecca of golf, after a tough year, was, to understate it, special. Oh and this might not be the best way to break it to my boss, but we’re already planning the next one.