My Usual GameNovember 1, 2014

Reader's Trip Report: Bandon Dunes in a hurricane

Mike Goldman, a reader, recently spent several days at Bandon Dunes with seven friends. Here's the local forecast from part of their trip:

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They played that day and every other, naturally, even though the Speed Golf World Championship, which was supposed to take place on Old MacDonald during their trip, was canceled because of the weather. Here's what the wind did to the speed-golf scoreboards:

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From Goldman's report:

*While the entire trip was a home run (mainly because my team won), the lasting memory will be our trudge through the hurricane on Saturday, on Bandon Dunes. What started as a light mist and a stiff breeze quickly regressed into a wind and rainstorm so dramatic that one member of our group said, on the second tee, "We've already passed the point of bringing all the animals inside and duct-taping the windows." **

I'm not an agronomist, but my understanding is that gorse is a hearty plant and that it's unusual to see it rolling down fairways like tumbleweeds. At one point, on the sixth green, we suspended play and hunkered down in a catcher's stance, and leaned into the wind to keep from blowing off the cliff. We were a little nervous, but, mainly, we were laughing hysterically at what we were going to have to do to complete the match. Here's one of our caddies climbing uphill into the wind:

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On the seventh green, as we were trying unsuccessfully to mark our balls, one of the caddies said, "Whatever you do, do not get within 10 feet of that cliff." No. 9 at Bandon is a straightforward par 5. On a normal day, it's two good shots and a little pitch, and then you're putting for birdie. Playing dead into he storm, I hit driver (hard), 3-wood, 3-wood (again), and then a torched 8-iron to the front fringe, 50 feet from the hole. I'm more pleased with that result than hitting it in two on a normal day.*

**At the end of nine holes, much to the relief of our caddies, we suspended play for a burger and a beer, and strategized about how best to complete the matches. We settled on the Preserve, Bandon's new 13-hole par-3 course. The longest hole is only about 160 yards, but many holes turned out to be unreachable. On others, you'd hit a simple pitch shot and watch the wind whisk your ball over the green and into the gorse. At the end of the day, we were tattered, wind-damaged, and in possession of a golf experience we'll all remember for a lifetime.  **

*Here's the winning team. (Marty Hackel: note the wardrobe.) From left to right, they are Mike Kemmet, Trevor Dyer, Mike Goldman, and Steve Harry. Dyer (a.k.a. The Captain) organized the trip, and kept everyone up to date with a website he created for that purpose -- an excellent idea.

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Here's Dyer during the hurricane. It looks like he's swinging, but he's actually just being bent into a pretzel by the wind:

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And here's a picture of Goldman during a round once the storm had passed:

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And here's a golf quiz: when you read Goldman's account of their Saturday rounds, did you wish you'd been there, too? I did. (That means I passed the quiz.) I visited Bandon back in February 2007 with Tony and Ray. We played ten rounds in five days, all in the rain. During lunch between eighteens each day, we parked our rainsuits in some industrial-strength dryers in the clubhouse. Here are Ray and Tony with our caddies:

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During that trip, a starter told me that, several winters before, on a day when the wind blew hard and Bandon received almost seven inches of rain, all 85 golfers on the tee sheet played -- and so did two walk-ons, who were passing through and thought the day looked reasonable for golf. They were right!

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