Northwest Getaways

Bandon Dunes is the Northwest's Most Challenging, Maddening, and Gorgeous Golf Course

And it's time for you to tackle it.

By Rachel Ritchie February 23, 2016 Published in the March 2016 issue of Portland Monthly

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Image: Amy Martin

There’s something that feels ancient and primal about playing golf at Bandon Dunes. Perched on bluffs rising high above the roiling Pacific, the resort’s eponymous course unfolds naturally over Southern Oregon’s pristine native dunes, with indigenous vegetation and sweeping ocean views punctuating just about every hole. But despite the beauty, there is nothing easy about this particular brand of golf: the elements are unpredictable, as are the landscape’s dramatic contours. Brawny winds can pick up without warning, and the rough is very rough. It’s you against nature—and nature is mighty fierce.

Designed by Scotsman David McLay Kidd, Bandon Dunes transformed Oregon’s southern coast when it opened in 1999, creating the stateside equivalent to Scotland’s famed St. Andrews: an undulating, links-style golf course built on hard, sandy soil and without the protection of trees. With the 2001 opening of sister course Pacific Dunes, an arguably more rugged, challenging, and graceful response to the landscape, the resort secured its spot in the pantheon of internationally celebrated golf destinations, right along with California’s Pebble Beach and North Carolina’s Pinehurst.

But this is no country club. This is down and dirty golf, thrilling whether you’re a novice or a crackerjack. There are no golf carts. Caddies are customary not because you deserve luxury, but because you will require the guidance of an expert. (And Bandon’s caddies are true professionals—they know every pitch, every roll of the course.) Rooms in all five of the resort’s lodging options, from the main lodge to the four-bedroom cottages, are notably spare: your time here should be spent on the greens. If you’re wondering about the weather, yes, it can be extreme. Conditions are generally best in September, and February is a well-kept secret—but the truth is that wind, fog, or rain can spin off that ocean at any moment. And if things get rough, it’s a badge of honor to play through. In fact, it is a quintessential Northwest experience. Play through.

Three More Bandon Greens

Bandon Trails (2005): The resort’s only inland course, combining a tree-filled, parkland feel with stunning glimpses of the ocean

Old Macdonald (2010): A quirky but forgiving tribute to golf course architect Charles Blair Macdonald

Bandon Preserve (2012): A 13-hole, par-3 course for which all profits benefit the Wild Rivers Coast Alliance

Bandon Dunes Golf Resort

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