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Bandon Preserve Course Tour by Jon Cavalier

BANDON PRESERVE – A COURSE TOUR & APPRECIATION

Bandon Dunes Resort, Bandon, OR – Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw

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Bandon Preserve sits on a nook of cliffside dunes between Bandon Trails to the East and Bandon Dunes to the north.  The setting for this little gem is spectacular — every hole has views of the cliffs and the ocean.  The course itself has everything a golfer could want from 150 yards and in (the longest hole from the back tee measures 147 yards) including shared greens, huge undulations, blind shots, ground game opportunities, and wind.

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There isn’t much I can tell you about this collection of one-shot holes — the photos themselves do a better job than I could.  But I will tell you that anyone who misses out on playing the Preserve on a trip to Bandon Dunes is doing themselves a major disservice.  As with the Punchbowl, the Preserve is one of those elements that makes a trip to Bandon so special.  The uniqueness of a short course in such a beautiful setting; the opportunity to add to long travel day with a quick loop; the fun of plunking down a few wagers with your foursome (or fivesome, or eightsome – closest to the pin, anyone?); or perhaps best of all, a solo walk around these thirteen holes at dusk, with only your wedge, your putter and your thoughts of rounds played and rounds to come.

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Hole 1 – 134 yards (back); 90 yards (front)

A player knows right from the start that Coore & Crenshaw treated this thirteen holer with the same love and care that they do each of their full size projects.

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Hole 2 – 150 yards (back); 93 yards (front)

The second at Preserve is as good as any par-3 at the resort.

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The view from behind the second.

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Hole 3 – 87 yards (back); 65 yards (front)

This diminutive par-3 is the second-shortest hole at Preserve.

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Hole 4 – 118 yards (back); 83 yards (front)

This gorgeous hole starts a three hole stretch which takes the player down across the property to the edge of the dunes.

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The fourth shares its green with the seventh hole, with the putting surface as a large “L” shape.  This view is of the long side of the “L” used by the fourth hole.

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The full green.

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Hole 5 – 142 yards (back); 95 yards (front)

A gorgeous hole.  Putting from the tee is an option here.

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Hole 6 – 131 yards (back); 77 yards (front)

The sixth is benched into the side of the dunes bordering the property . . .

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. . . and provides some of the best views at Preserve.

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Hole 7 – 147 yards (back); 119 yards (front)

The longest hole at Preserve, the seventh can play entirely blind, depending on which section of teeing area the player chooses.

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A side view of the seventh green.

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Hole 8 – 63 yards (back); 40 yards (front)

The shortest hole at Preserve plays to a tiny punchbowl green.

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This hole must see more aces than any other at the Resort.

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Hole 9 – 134 yards (back); 88 yards (front)

Perhaps the prettiest hole at Preserve, the ninth plays directly toward the ocean and the endless field of gorse below.

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The ninth also boasts one of the most contoured greens at Preserve.

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Hole 10 – 120 yards (back); 93 yards (front)

The tenth plays to a green fronted by a large mound which obscures a sizable section of the putting surface.

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The view from the mouth of the tenth.

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Hole 11 – 142 yards (back); 95 yards (front)

The eleventh plays along the edge of the property and begins the return to the clubhouse.

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The views to the left of the eleventh are breathtaking — the lone tree near the sixteenth green at Bandon Dunes is center here.

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Hole 12 – 132 yards (back); 108 yards (front)

Two framing bunkers short right and short left guard the mouth of the punchbowl-like twelfth green.

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As seen in this photo from behind the twelfth green, shots played up the right side will carom on to the large green.

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Hole 13 – 109 yards (back); 75 yards (front)

If you’ve never hit a 100 yard approach to a green with your putter, this is your chance.  All downhill and fronted by a rolling downslope leading to the mouth of the green, a well-struck putt from the tee will leave a birdie opportunity.

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Just make sure you avoid the bunkers.

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I cannot speak highly enough of the Preserve.  If I lived near it, I would play it every day.  And if you make the trip to Bandon, I strongly urge you to make time to play this little thirteen hole gem – you’ll regret it if you don’t.

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Copyright 2016 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf


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Bandon Trails Course Tour by Jon Cavalier

BANDON TRAILS – A COURSE TOUR & APPRECIATION

Bandon Dunes Resort, Bandon, OR – Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw

Among the four full courses at Bandon Dunes Resort, Bandon Trails stands out as the most different from the group.  Though the course starts just south of the Bandon Dunes course and plays through dunes for its first two holes, the course quickly leaves the shoreline dunes for the wooded areas inland.

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The uniqueness of Bandon Trails among the courses at Bandon Dunes, coupled with the beautiful terrain and the outstanding Coore/Crenshaw design, make this golf course a favorite among many Bandon visitors.  Within our group of 8 players, fully half listed Bandon Trails as their favorite of the Bandon courses.

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One notable difference to consider is that Bandon Trails has more elevation change than the other courses at the resort.  It is not a brutal walk by any stretch, but since many players are cramming in 36 or more holes, it bears mentioning that Bandon Trails can make for a more difficult walk at the end of a long day.  The back nine climbs to the fourteenth tee, plunges back into the valley, and then climbs again to the sixteenth green.

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Variety is one of the attributes that makes Bandon Dunes so special, and Bandon Trails provides more variety than any other course at the resort.

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Hole 1 – 356 yards – Par 4

Playing southward through dunes, the first hole plays as a slight dogleg right to an elevated green.

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The fairway is wide, but level lies are rare.

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The view to the west after ascending the first green is one of the best on the property.

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The writhing first fairway, as seen from behind the green.

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Hole 2- 166 yards – Par 3

The massive landing area short of this green is largely obscured by the large surrounding dunes.

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More room than appears from the tee . . .

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…though missing left presents difficulties.

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The first of a fantastic set of one shot holes at Trails.

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Hole 3 – 532 yards – Par 5

This gorgeous par-5 begins the course’s transition from dunes to hilly woodlands.

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The centerline bunkers provide additional challenge and interest for the second shot.

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Interestingly, none of the bunkers at the third actually touch the green.

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A beautiful setting.

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Hole 4 – 363 yards – Par 4

A lovely hole, the fourth plays out to a diagonal ridge bisecting the fairway.

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Drives that carry this ridge or play to the left will have a view of the green.  Drives that miss right will leave a blind approach.

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Three bunkers wait long right to gobble overly aggressive approaches.

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This view from behind the green reveals the scale of the fairway ridgeline.

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Hole 5 – 124 yards – Par 3

A beautiful short par-3.  Trees have been removed over the years to open up gorgeous views in this area of the course.

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Incorporation of the surrounding features into the greens adds great interest to Bandon Trails. On a different day, this ball may have ended up as a tap-in.

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The wonderfully contoured fifth green.

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Hole 6 – 359 yards – Par 4

Amazing what a small, well placed bunker can do to an otherwise simple drive.

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Playing to the high right of that bunker provides a view of the green but a crooked lie.

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Note the seamless transition from wide fairway to green.

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Hole 7 – 406 yards – Par 4

A terrific and difficult par-4, the seventh plays up a long and well bunkered fairway to an elevated and sloped green.

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The green is open in front, allowing players to work long approaches in along the ground while using the green’s contours to get close to the pin.

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The huge seventh green slopes significantly from back to front.  Putting back to a pin from the rear of the green is slippery.

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Hole 8 – 299 yards – Par 4

After the long par 4 seventh awaits the short par-4 eighth. A fantastic risk/reward hole.

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Though this green is reachable for many players, missing comes with a high cost.  Anything left is likely lost.

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The entire hole is designed to encourage players to take on the green, perhaps foolishly.

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Hole 9 – 522 yards – Par 5

The ninth is a classic par five which provides a bit of a breather for the golfer.

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The wide fairway is bunkered, but not oppressively so, and the hole continues to provide width through the green.

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Even the green complex is wide, with fairway ringing the putting surface for yards in all directions.

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The serene ninth hole.

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Hole 10 – 393 yards – Par 4

The tenth presents a very wide fairway, but the closer the player hugs the left, the better the angle and the shorter the approach.

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The large tenth green may lull players into a false sense of security on the approach.

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Hole 11 – 429 yards – Par 4

This lengthy par four presents the only internal water hazard at Bandon Dunes.  A rolling dogleg right around a waste area and a greenside pond.

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Having played several rounds without so much as thinking about a pond, the impact of the water hazard hugging the right of the green is large . . .

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. . . though it is quite pretty.

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While the eleventh is one of the longest two shot holes at Trails, the terrain and the open front of the green allows most players to hit the green in regulation.

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One of the longest par-3s on the property, the twelfth gives the player a massive amount of room to miss with the tee shot, particularly to the right . . .

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. . . but this large greenside knob makes recovery from misses right very difficult.

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From the rear, the player sees that short is the best place to miss this large green.

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Hole 13 – 374 yards – Par 4

Accuracy is critical for both shots on this rumpled two shot hole.

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Left is better off the tee, as it allows the approach to be played up the center of this narrow green, which falls off substantially on both sides.

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Approaches missed left will run up to twenty yards down this steep sideslope.

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And chipping from the sides of this green is no easy task.

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Hole 14 – 306 yards – Par 4

The first thing the player notices on this controversial short par four is the sheer beauty of the view.  The ocean and dunes to the right and rear, mountains in the distance straight ahead, the fourteenth tee is one of the prettiest spots at Bandon Dunes Resort.

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Tee shots short right will leave a steeply uphill, blind approach.  The left leaves a better angle.

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The green is small and treacherous.  Anything missing right or long will roll forever, and anything left leaves a delicate chip from a small depression to the narrowest part of this green.  2 or 20 – both are in play here.

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Hole 15 – 367 yards – Par 4

The ideal line off this tee is at or right of the cross bunker . . .

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. . . which will allow an approach up the mouth of the green.

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This beautifully bunkered green is one of the prettiest on the course.

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In fact, the stretch of holes from 14 to 17 is uniformly gorgeous.

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Hole 16 – 494 yards – Par 5

A short par-5 on the card, the sixteenth plays like it’s 100 yards longer.  It’s into the summer wind, and it’s drastically uphill.

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The slope in this wild fairway is STEEP and can add distance to a tee shot up the right.

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The green is well bunkered and contoured, as this view from the left side shows.

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The toughest walk at Bandon, but undeniably a standout par-5.

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Hole 17 – 159 yards – Par 3

The last of the one shot holes, the seventeenth presents a narrow green with a false front that must be carried.

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Distance control is at a premium.

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There is not much room to miss here, and no great spot to do so.

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Spectators add to the pressure.

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Hole 18 – 363 yards – Par 4

The final hole at Trails plays back through the dunes and up to the clubhouse.

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The fairway is riddled with mounds and lumps, making level lies rare.

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The large final green provides one last challenge.

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As noted above, Trails is different from the other three courses at Bandon. As a result, opinions on Trails vary more widely than those of the other courses. Some consider it the best course at Bandon. Others consider it their least favorite among the four.  But there can be little reasonable debate that Bandon Trails is an exceptional golf course in its own right, and that few who play it will place it anywhere but at or near the very top of the resort courses they have played.


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Copyright 2015 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf


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Pacific Dunes Course Tour by Jon Cavalier

PACIFIC DUNES – A COURSE TOUR & APPRECIATION

Bandon Dunes Resort, Bandon, OR – Tom Doak

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Pacific Dunes opened in 2001 and immediately skyrocketed up the rankings lists.  It currently holds the title of best overall public course per Golf Magazine, second only to Pebble Beach per Golf Digest, and is considered by Golfweek Magazine to be the best public course built since 1960 (trailing only Sand Hills overall).

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Pacific Dunes occupies the northernmost section of the coastal property at Bandon.  Several of its holes sit hard against the cliffs overlooking the beach.  Most of the holes that sit further inland still provide ocean views.  And as with all the courses at Bandon, the isolation of the property is striking – there are no houses in view, no roads to be seen, and other than the clubhouse and the course itself, not an inkling of anything man-made to distract from the golf.

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In short, Pacific Dunes is simply stunning – it is one of the most beautiful places to play golf that I have ever seen.  But beyond its sheer beauty, it is also an extremely well designed and very enjoyable golf course.  As with most Doak courses, Pacific Dunes feels very natural – the course meanders its way through dunes and gorse, making its way out to the ocean and the bluffs and back inland.  The course looks and feels like it was simply laid down over the wonderful existing terrain.

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Hole 1 – 304 yards (all yardages taken from the green tees) – Par 4

Pacific Dunes opens with a short two-shotter to an inviting cupped fairway.  A large sandy mound sits waiting to the right to intimidate slicers of the golf ball, but any reasonably struck tee shot should leave only a wedge into the first green.

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The first green sits slightly below grade and is protected by mounds in front and sandy areas and bunkering to the sides and rear.  While most players will have a short shot into this green, the putting surface is small and significantly sloped, and approaches will often be played from an unlevel lie.

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As is frequently the case at Bandon, approach shots can be played via the ground — here at the first, the fairway slopes down and bleeds seamlessly into the green.

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Hole 2 – 335 yards – Par 4

The ocean first comes into view on the par-4 second at Pacific Dunes.  This is a great strategic driving hole – the wider, safer tee shot is up the right side, but this leaves a more difficult angle into the green over a dune and some bunkering.  Tee shots that successfully take on the left and middle bunkers will have an open approach to the green.

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This view from the right of the fairway shows the dune and bunker that must be carried on an approach from this side.

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The second green, with the elevated 6th green behind.

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This reverse view shows the undulation of the second, as well as the expansive apron surrounding the green.  As with many Doak courses, interesting pin positions are prevalent.

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Hole 3 – 476 yards – Par 5

Standing on the third tee at Pacific Dunes is where the beauty of the course really starts to hit the player, and threatens to overwhelm.  The ocean comes into full view to the player’s left, with the dunescape ahead and parts of Old Macdonald to the right.  A spectacular hole, made more so by the flowering gorse.

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A wide par-5 with many possible routes off the tee, the third is pocked with pot bunkers throughout its length.  As this is not a par 5 of extreme length, the smart play is to focus on missing the bunkers off the tee and, if laying up, on the second.

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This view from a centerline bunker shows the elevated green, perched perfectly between two large dunes.

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The approach is open to the left of the green, but very closed from the right.

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Anything long of this green is in trouble, as it will end up deep in a back bunker, buried in long rough on a mound or, if unlucky, rolling a dozen yards or so down the slope behind the green.  A rather intimidating hole for a short par-5 . . .

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. . . and yet, so pretty.  What a green site!

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Hole 4 – 449 yards – Par 4

A long par-4 which often plays downwind, the fourth is one of several holes which could vie for the title of “signature” at Pacific Dunes.  The safe play is up the left, but the fairway bunkering must be avoided.  The cliffs eat into the fairway not once . . .

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. . . but twice on this gorgeous par-4.  The closer one plays to the cliffs, the better the angle into the green.

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The cant of the green from left to right allows for approaches to use the terrain, but balls moving left to right and riding the prevailing wind carry a real risk of running through the green and into oblivion.

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The internal contours within the fourth green make two putting after an indifferent approach quite challenging.

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A gorgeous hole.

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Hole 5 – 181 yards – Par 3

The first of five one-shotter holes at Pacific Dunes, but the only par-3 on the front nine, the fifth hole has elements of a reverse redan, as shots up the left side will kick onto the putting surface.  But the green is multi-tiered and only front pins can be accessed in that manner.

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Though the fifth is the second longest par-3 on the course, the prevailing wind is generally helping on this hole, which shortens it considerably.

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The green is deep but relatively narrow.  Again, a beautiful site for a green complex.  The sixth hole at Bandon Dunes is in the background.

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Hole 6 – 288 yards – Par 4

A brilliant short par-4, this sub-300 yarder has teeth for the unthinking golfer.  The fairway is massive – nearly 90 yards wide at its maximum.  Anything from 40 yards left of the pin to 20 yards right and long of the right fairway bunker is in play.

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Anything left will have a blind shot over the massive front left bunker to the shallowest part of the green.

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The best play off the tee is to challenge the right side bunker and leave an approach from as far to the right as reasonably possible.  From this angle, the player’s approach is down the heart of the shallow green.

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Any approach shot or chip that reaches the darker grass at the bottom of this photo will continue to roll some 20 yards down and away from the green, leaving an extremely difficult chip back up the hill to the narrow green.

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Anything from a birdie to a triple bogey is reasonably in play.

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Hole 7 – 436 yards – Par 4

A long but typically downwind par-4, the seventh hole plays to a generous fairway.

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The challenge at 7 comes from the long shot into the green.  Ringed by areas of rough, natural grass, mounds and bunkers, this approach demands precision.

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Playing down the left side into the green shortens the carry over the natural areas and bunkering, but the mounding can send even well aimed approaches offline.

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The seventh is the opposite of the sixth in many ways, including the green, which is one of the largest and most contoured on the course.

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Hole 8 – 369 yards – Par 4

The eighth runs in the opposite direction of the seventh and is typically upwind.  Once again, the golfer has the luxury of hitting to a wide fairway, but once again, finding the proper angle of approach is critical to scoring well on this hole.

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A small, deep bunker guards the front of this green, and depending on the day’s pin, the approach may be more favorable from the left or the right.  Today’s pin is virtually impossible to attack from the right side of the fairway.

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The shallow green slopes significantly from high right to low left.

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One of the more difficult greens at Pacific Dunes to chip to or putt from distance on.

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Hole 9 – 379 yards – Par 4

The ninth plays to one of two different greens – the upper (right) or lower (left).  Though the fairway is extremely wide, the player’s aim might differ by as much as 50 yards depending on the green to which he is playing.  Longer hitters playing to the lower left green can challenge the bunkering.

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Though the ninth plays to identical yardages regardless of which green is in play, the lower left green plays much shorter.

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The approach to the beautiful lower green, with Bandon Dunes in the background.

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The undulating ninth fairway bleeds directly into the contoured lower ninth green, allowing for low, running shots to be played.

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The approach to the skylined upper green.

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Interestingly, the green to which the golfer plays on the ninth also dictates the tee from which the golfer plays the tenth.  Golfers will likely debate which is the “better” of the two greens and corresponding tees (I preferred the lower ninth green / upper tenth tee), but each route is exceptionally fun.

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Hole 10 – 163 yards – Par 3

Spectacular.  As this view from the upper tee illustrates, the tenth at Pacific Dunes is unquestionably one of the most beautiful one shot holes in the country . . .

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. . though the view from the lower tee is none too shabby.

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In addition to the setting and the large dune to the right of the green, two standout unique features at the tenth green bear mentioning.  The first is the large internal knob in the front left quadrant of the green, which provides for several outstanding pin positions and adds a required degree of precision to the approach.  The second is the beautiful left side bunker – part of which is an “inverted” mound of sand — which resembles a crashing wave.

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This view from behind the tenth green shows the placement of the prominent knob within the green.

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Hole 11 – 131 yards – Par 3

The second of two consecutive par three holes to open the back nine, the short eleventh plays hard up against the cliffs to a small, well-bunkered green.

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A large mound in the right rear of the green provides a backstop that will return balls to the middle of the green.

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Beautiful.

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Hole 12 – 507 yards – Par 5

The twelfth plays northward between the third and fourth holes, and back toward the large dunes that housed the third green.  Like the third hole, this three shotter places a premium on the angle of approach – right is favored.

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The wide fairway rolls beautifully into the twelfth green, which sits flush against a large dune.

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Any approach coming in from the left side of the fairway must deal with the large slope fronting the left side of the green, which can easily kick balls to the back of and through the green.

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The view back up the twelfth hole.

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Hole 13 – 390 yards – Par 4

One of the most beautiful holes on the property, and one of the best, the thirteenth hole plays northward along the cliffs to a slightly elevated green set at the base of a massive dune.

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As seen here, the closer the player’s tee shot hugs the cliffs, the better the angle of approach to the elevated green.  Note that shots falling short will roll back down the false front some 20-30 feet.

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This view up the right shows the more difficult angle of approach.

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The green itself, while large, provides little respite, as its internal contours make two putting a challenge.

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An incomparable setting for golf.

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Hole 14 – 128 yards – Par 3

The shortest hole on the course, the fourteenth is entirely exposed to the full brunt of the wind.

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Sitting on top of the dunes, the fourteenth green falls away on all sides, making a small green play even smaller and requiring a difficult chip shot after an errant approach.

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The reverse view of the fourteenth, with the tee and the thirteenth green behind.

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Hole 15 – 504 yards – Par 5

With the prevailing wind behind, this green can be reached in two with two solid shots by most golfers.

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Care should be taken to avoid the fairway bunkers, which are penal.

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As does the tenth hole, the fifteenth incorporates a large knob into the green, this time front right.  A unique and fun feature found twice at Pacific Dunes.

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Hole 16 – 338 yards – Par 4

One of your author’s favorite inland holes at Bandon Dunes Resort, the sixteenth is a short two-shot hole which doglegs gently right.

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An overly aggressive tee shot that attempts to challenge too much of the dogleg will find itself far below the green to the right.  Likewise, any shot missing the green short or right will run down to the bottom of the steep greenside slope.

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The one-of-a-kind sixteenth fairway.  Incredible.  Good luck finding a level lie in there.

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A beautiful short par 4 by the modern master.

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Hole 17 – 189 yards – Par 3

The longest one-shot hole at Pacific Dunes, the seventeenth has many elements of a traditional redan (though it lacks the rear bunkering).  The hole plays out over a large chasm and to a green benched into a gorse-covered hill.  With the gorse in full bloom, the beauty of the seventeenth rivals even the seaside par-3s at Pacific Dunes.

PacificDunes17-Tee-JC

The proper play is to aim short right of the green and use the kick slope to bounce the ball on to the large putting surface.  Note that shots taking the direct line at the pin must contend not only with the extremely deep front bunkering, but also risk rolling through the green and into the gorse.

PacificDunes17-Green-JC

Hole 18 – 575 yards – Par 5

Following the longest par 3 on the course comes the longest hole on the course.  The tee shot plays through a valley up to a rise next to a deep left fairway bunker.

PacificDunes18-Tee-JC

The long final hole provides plenty of opportunity to get into trouble, but also ample room to maneuver the ball with well-struck shots.  The fairway is wide, but the bunkers are brutal if found.

PacificDunes18-Fairway-JC

The beautiful and challenging final green at Pacific Dunes.

PacificDunes18-Green-JC

A look back at the player’s final triumph.

PacificDunes18-Greenback-JC

Pacific Dunes is a striking example of what modern golf can be.  Granted, it has its advantages, which include an incomparable setting and a top-shelf architect.  But the principles to be gleaned from Pacific Dunes can be used at other courses.  Wide fairways.  No trees.  No internal water hazards.  Short rough.  An emphasis on angles of play.  Fun greens running at reasonable speed.  Firm and fast conditions.  Together, these things make a round of golf fun.

The Patio at Pacific Dunes, overlooking the Punchbowl – a perfect place to reflect on a round.

PacificDunes-Patio-JC


MORE LINKSGEMS TOURS

 

 

Copyright 2015 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf


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AN APPRECIATION OF GREAT COURSES BY JON CAVALIER

Over the years, I have learned a great deal about courses and architecture from the creators of GolfClubAtlas.com and its community.  Perhaps no other contributor has shared his knowledge and experience in a more impactful way than Jon Cavalier though.

His course tours are at once visually stunning and packed with information.  His perspective, and the unsurpassed manner in which he expresses it, stirs up my passion for the game.

Below are links to Jon’s tours.  And for a daily dose of Jon’s photography, follow him on Twitter (@LinksGems) and Instagram (@LinksGems).


JON’S NEWEST TOUR – LONGUE VUE CLUB

Longue Vue is a course that is under the radar of most, but for those who enjoy their golf fun, fast and challenging, and with some gorgeous scenery sprinkled in, Longue Vue is not to be missed.  Read more…


MORE LINKSGEMS TOURS

BANDON PRESERVE

The Preserve is one of those elements that makes a trip to Bandon so special.  The uniqueness of a short course in such a beautiful setting; the opportunity to add to long travel day with a quick loop; the fun of plunking down a few wagers with your foursome; or perhaps best of all, a solo walk around these thirteen holes at dusk, with only your wedge, your putter and your thoughts of rounds played and rounds to come.  See the tour here…

BANDON TRAILS

The uniqueness of Bandon Trails among the courses at Bandon Dunes Resort, coupled with the beautiful terrain and the outstanding Coore/Crenshaw design, make this golf course a favorite among many Bandon visitors.  See the tour here…

BAYONNE GOLF CLUB

Bayonne Golf Club is, to put it mildly, one of the more unique golf clubs in the United States.  Built entirely from scratch by Eric Bergstol, the course represents the antithesis of the “minimalist” trend in golf course architecture, and yet, somehow, appears more “natural” than many other courses built in the last 20 years.  The result is, in a word, spectacular.  See the tour here…

BOSTON GOLF CLUB

I had the privilege of seeing this 2004 Gil Hanse design on a beautiful late-October afternoon, and while I had heard good things about the club previously, to say that Boston Golf Club exceeded my expectations would be a dramatic understatement.  See the tour here…

EASTWARD HO!

I have had the great pleasure and fortune of playing some of the most “charming” golf courses in the east this year and Eastward Ho, in my opinion, belongs on any list of such courses.  It’s an exciting, fun, playable and unique golf course that deserves more than the share of accolates that it currently receives.  I can’t remember having such an enjoyable time on a golf course.  See the tour here…

FISHERS ISLAND CLUB

Some golf courses are special.  We all know that feeling we get when we play one of these courses.  Our senses are heightened, our memories are sharpened, our spirits are lifted, and our love for the game of golf is strengthened and vindicated by the experience.  Fishers Island is a special golf course.  See the tour here…

GARDEN CITY GOLF CLUB

I can’t really express how much I enjoyed this golf course, so for the most part, I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.  See the tour here…

MAIDSTONE CLUB

On the other hand are golfers looking for something other than sheer difficulty in a golf course.  These players are looking for a course that provides something different, something out of the ordinary, something they’ve never seen before.  These players are searching for a place that provides an element of the game so often forgotten in modern golf: fun.  Maidstone is that place.  See the tour here…

MYOPIA HUNT CLUB

Suffice it to say that I loved Myopia.  There is a vibe emanating from certain of these old clubs that I find quite appealing, and Myopia has it in spades.  The building that houses the bar and dining areas was built in 1772.  The course is virtually unchanged from 19th century origins, save for a bit of added length.  It’s an incredible place.  See the tour here…

NATIONAL GOLF LINKS OF AMERICA

For me, this is sacred ground.  As a devout member of the church of MacRaynor, and indeed, as one who owes his very interest in golf course architecture and history to the golf courses these men left behind, playing a round of golf at the National was my pilgrimage, my Mecca.  Charles Blair Macdonald’s masterpiece did not disappoint.  See the tour here…

OLD MACDONALD

Drawing upon their extensive experience in restoring the classic work of Macdonald and Raynor, Doak and Urbina set about building a course that would allow players to experience this classic golden age style of design while independently providing a fun and engaging golf experience.  The result is an absolute triumph.  See the tour here…

OLD SANDWICH

Any modern architect working in the Boston area faces the challenge of designing a course that will inevitably be measured and compared to these venerable courses, which were built by Golden Age titans with names like Donald Ross, William Flynn, Herbert Fowler and Herbert Leeds.  Such is the tall task that faced Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw in the early 2000s.  Suffice it to say, these two gentleman, as they have so often done, rose to the occasion with gusto.  See the tour here…

OLD TOWN CLUB

When it became apparent that time had taken its toll on this old beauty, the members chose Coore & Crenshaw to perform an extensive restoration of the property. Suffice it to say, the duo did a magnificent job.  See the tour here…

PACIFIC DUNES

Pacific Dunes is simply stunning — it is one of the most beautiful places to play golf that I have ever seen.  But beyond its sheer beauty, it is also an extremely well designed and very enjoyable golf course.  See the tour here…

SHINNECOCK HILLS 

The rich tradition of championship golf at Shinnecock Hills continues this summer.  The collaboration between Superintendent Jon Jennings and Coore & Crenshaw has brought out every ounce of the brilliance of William Flynn’s Long Island masterpiece.  Shinny is ready to test the best.  See the tour here…

SHOREACRES

Shoreacres not only occupies some of the most gorgeous golfing land in the United States, but it is also maintained in absolutely perfect condition.  Note that this is not to say that the club is focused on providing a flawless, manicured playing surface (though they do), but rather that the club’s focus on giving players a firm, bouncy and fast surface tee to green allows the course to playexactly as Raynor intended, and brings out all of the best features that Macdonald and Raynor viewed as essential to the game.  See the tour here…

SLEEPY HOLLOW COUNTRY CLUB

Sleepy Hollow is, quite simply, one of my favorite places in the country to play golf.  Exceptional golden age architecture, spectacular views, exciting shots, fabulous conditions — Sleepy Hollow has everything a golfer could want.  See the tour here…

SOMERSET HILLS COUNTRY CLUB

From the moment I hit the entrance to the property, Somerset Hills exceeded my expectations in every regard.  It’s beautiful, strategic, interesting, unique and fun, and the condition of the course was fantastic and conducive to good golf.  See the tour here…

WHIPPOORWILL CLUB

Whippoorwill is a Charles Banks design and is generally considered to be his masterpiece.  I’ve had the great pleasure of playing several Banks courses, and Whippoorwill is in a class by itself.  While this course is smack in the middle of one of the most golf rich areas in the world, the degree to which it is overshadowed by its neighbors borders on criminal.  This is simply a fantastic golf course, and it contains one of the most dramatic and memorable stretches of holes that I’ve seen.  See the tour here…


MORE FROM JON CAVALIER

BIRTHDAY TRIBUTE TO C.B. MACDONALD

On November 14, 1855, Charles Blair Macdonald was born in Ontario.  After growing up in Chicago, he attended St. Andrews University, where he learned golf from Old Tom Morris.  In 1874, he returned to Chicago but rarely played golf until 1891, calling these years his “dark ages.”  Read more…

WALKER CUP COURSE PREVIEW – LACC

The 2017 Walker Cup is being contested at the historic Los Angeles Country Club’s North Course.  Originally opened in 1911 and redesigned by George C. Thomas Jr in 1921, the North Course was recently restored by Gil Hanse’s team, with an assist from Geoff Shackelford.  Read more…

2016 YEAR IN REVIEW

It is clear at this point that Jon is a very talented guy.  He is also extremely generous to put this amount of work into sharing his photos with us, with no concern for remuneration.  Those of us who have had the pleasure of teeing it with him will tell you this about Jon as well – he’s as a good a golf buddy as you’ll ever find.  Read more…

TOP 10 NEW COURSES OF 2015

The end of the year is a time for reflection on days past, anticipation of days to come, and most of all, a time for … LISTS!  Top 10 lists seem to be everywhere this week, and far be it for me to resist this trend. So, in that vein, here are the Top 10 Courses that I played for the first time in 2015 (along with some honorable mentions).  Read more…


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Sculpting the Earth – An Interview with Architect Dave Zinkand

“Remote” is a good word to describe the location of Apache Stronghold.  Why did I make the trek through the mountains of the Tonto National Forest, past small mining towns, to an Indian Casino golf course in the middle of nowhere?  As always, I was in search of golf adventure and great architecture.  In this case, I was also lucky enough to have a chance to tee it up with architect Dave Zinkand.

The course was truly special, and Dave was great company – a talented architect, good player, and an even better man.  For me, the evening was what this great game is all about.

As we walked and talked, I was consistently reminded of what differentiates architects from players, even GCA geek players like me.  Architects see the course differently, and it was a blast to hear Dave’s insights about the course and his work.  A few highlights:

  • Apache Stronghold has wonderful contours, washes and gullies that wander through the fairways.  Dave pointed out that by routing the holes such that those features are often at an angle to the tee, Tom Doak has created interest.  The player can decide how much of the carry they want to take on, and they get the thrill of pulling off the carry on their selected line.  An architect does not always need to use bunkers or hazards to create that challenge and fun.  A ripple or ridge in the ground creates the same effect.
  • Dave pointed out the interesting slopes and mounds of the green surrounds.  He was particularly interested in the close proximity to the greens of some of the high-side slopes.  A bold design choice that makes for interesting approach and short-game shots.
  • We also discussed internal green contours at length, and Apache Stronghold has great ones shaped by Kye Goalby and the Renaissance Golf Design team.  Dave noted that a bold contour that might seem over-the-top on first playing, can often provide more options to pull off a brilliant shot once the player learns to use that feature to his advantage.
  • And finally, Dave put into words what I felt makes Apache Stronghold unique.  It is routed in such a way that the holes feel very intimate and engaging.  And yet, every so often, when ascending to a tee or green complex, the course reveals a vista that reminds one of the awe-inspiring expanse of the land on which the course is built.  It is a choreographed walk that creates pure magic.

My luck with Dave didn’t end with our time at Apache Stronghold.  He was gracious enough to share even more in the following interview.  I hope you enjoy his perspective as much as I do.


THE INTERVIEW

How were you first introduced to golf?

My introduction to golf was rather stereotypical.  As a boy, my father would take my sister and I out to Fremont Country Club, our hometown club in Ohio.  When Molly and I were old enough, we began to play from the 150 yard markers.

When did you know that the game had a hold on you?

It seems the addiction of trying to improve upon the last shot or round is almost instantaneous.  As for the bigger picture, I now recognize golf for what it is, an adventure.  It blends an outdoor sport on varied playing fields with a great deal of social interaction.  Perhaps I was unaware of how fulfilling it is until high school when I could really begin to appreciate those benefits.  By college, trips with the golf team were a welcome diversion from our studies.  To this day, I still enjoy getting out with Dad.

How did you get into the business?

Every summer in college I gained experience at a new job.  First, I worked maintenance at Heatherdowns CC in Toledo.  The second summer, I was a laborer on a Hurdzan Fry course being constructed in Cleveland.  The third, as an intern with Arthur Hills’ design firm.  After graduating from Cornell with a degree in landscape architecture in 1997, I went over to Britain on the Dreer Award.  When I came back I went to work for Gil Hanse and then spent 14 years as a Design Associate with Coore & Crenshaw.

How did the year you spent in the UK change your perspective?

Fellow Dreer recipient, Chris Monti, referred to his year abroad as “the move”, meaning the career move.  I couldn’t agree more.  It may not have been a highly marketable commodity to most potential employers, but has provided limitless inspiration that still fuels my passion for the hands-on designing and shaping of golf courses.

Who are your favorite Golden Era architects and why?

There are such obvious choices as Alister MacKenzie, who blended great strategies with unparalleled aesthetics.  But considering historic golf architects as a whole, there are folks like Harry Colt whose somewhat reserved style always yielded admirable results.  The eccentric Tom Simpson created provocative strategies with quirky contours and odd features such as flat-top mounds.  There is Tillie and Perry Maxwell… So many designers have contributed to the catalog of great work and ideas.  That is a fantastic attribute of our game, the immense variety!

You have worked extensively with Bill Coore and Gil Hanse.  How have they influenced you?

My work with Gil was relatively brief, four projects in all.  But I have always been impressed with his routings and aesthetics.  In the fourteen years I spent with Bill & Ben, as well as with their long-time Associate, Dave Axland, I really had an opportunity to delve into every aspect of golf design and construction.  I could throw creative ideas out and see what stuck.  I had so many conversations and received so much feedback from Bill, when I run into a question of how to handle a certain issue, by now I have a pretty good idea of how he might attack the problem.  All of that interaction certainly contributes to my perspective on golf design.  Working with Bill and Ben really gave me a solid understanding of how to meld beauty and function into a playable setting.

What is your favorite element of a golf hole to work on?

Greens.  There is a heightened importance in the contours of a green, both in terms of strategy and aesthetics.  That is where I spent much of my time shaping for Coore & Crenshaw.  All of that said, bunkers provide powerful aesthetics.  It is great fun to toy with their endless variety to present such a splash of interest on the landscape.  Bill Coore and I have had a lot of fun heckling Jeff Bradley, the ‘Bunker Guru’, over the stardom he receives for his sandy exploits!

What are some of the challenges associated with renovating a historic course like Old Elm or Desert Forest?

There are so many aspects to this topic.  Change is difficult and any given club has hundreds of members.  This essentially means the designer has hundreds of customers.  As the saying goes, you can’t please everybody all of the time.  That is why it is so important to be reverent to the history and attributes of a course, while pressing forward with the task of fulfilling the client’s current and future needs.  Doing so in step with the leadership and staff is essential.

What should every Green Committee member study/learn before undertaking a renovation project?

Prior to selecting a designer, they should research each candidate’s participation in the construction process (that was not self-promotion).  Preliminary design is essential for game-planning, but extra time spent on a drafting board or AutoCAD document does not replace on-site participation.  You don’t have to shape your own features as I can (that was self-promotion).  I find an unparalleled depth of interest in the work produced by designers who consciously allow their work to evolve in the field.  Bill Coore is a master at this.  Some of the concepts and details are not immediately evident or may even seem arbitrary, but reveal themselves over time.  This lends greatly to keeping a course fun to play over and again.

Which courses are on the top of your hit list to play next?

Jason, you finally got me out to Apache Stronghold.  I thank you, because that was a real treat.  Cypress Point is at the top of the list of courses I’ve never been to and really need to see.  I’ll bet my wife could have her arm twisted for a trip to Royal Melbourne and the Sandbelt in Australia.  There are also a number of classic courses on the east coast I would still love to see, such as Fishers Island.

Of the holes you have helped to build, which are your favorites?

It was fun to build a classic Cape Hole on the Sixth at Shanqin Bay in Hainan, China.

Shanqin Bay #6 - Photo courtesy of Brian Morgan

Shanqin Bay #6 – Photo courtesy of Brian Morgan

The par five Third Hole at Bandon Trails has a great deal of interest in its green that carries all of the way back up the hole in terms of how to attack.

Bandon Trails #5 - Photo courtesy of Wood Sabold

Bandon Trails #3 – Photo courtesy of Wood Sabold

The short par four Third at Colorado Golf Club doesn’t overwhelm, despite playing over a natural barranca.

Colorado Golf Club #3 - Photo courtesy of John Klinkerman

Colorado Golf Club #3 – Photo courtesy of John Klinkerman

I really enjoyed the bunkering improvements Jeff Bradley and I made to the Fourth Hole at Weekapaug Golf Club.  An additional bunker down the left keeps big hitters honest and the bunkering front-right of the green provides a much more engaging target.

Weekapaug Golf Club #4 - Photo courtesy of Gary Kellner at Dimpled Rock

Weekapaug Golf Club #4 – Photo courtesy of Gary Kellner at Dimpled Rock

Reinvigorating the island green on the Fourteenth at Old Elm Club with Drew Rogers was an old-fashioned opportunity to introduce Harry Colt’s original intention of torn edges.

Old Elm Club #15 - Photo courtesy of Scott Vincent

Old Elm Club #15 – Photo courtesy of Scott Vincent

My alteration of the Fourteenth at Desert Forest into a short par four was a fun contribution to an already impressive routing.  It also had the benefit of shortening the following green to tee walk.

Desert Forest #14

Desert Forest #14

Freely admitting my bias, I have thirteen favorite holes on Bandon Preserve. I thoroughly enjoyed that project and wonder if I’ll work on such a powerful parcel of ground ever again.

Bandon Preserve - Photo courtesy of Wood Sabold

Bandon Preserve – Photo courtesy of Wood Sabold

You recently joined the Mickelson design team.  What attracted you to that opportunity?

I really enjoy collaborating and they already had a strong team that shares great insights, with Phil, Mike Angus and Rick Smith.  It should be a lot of fun to introduce not only my own design views, but also contribute my experience and on-site guidance to help advance our design intentions in the field.

What do you love about practicing your craft?

It may sound corny, but I just love sculpting the earth.  I started out in Cornell’s School of Architecture, but quickly realized how important an organic edge was to finding my fulfillment in design.  Having my office outdoors and providing others, who often spend much of their time indoors, with sporty and provocative holes to play is rewarding.  I can’t even count how many times I have been told by people they never had more fun playing golf than on Bandon Preserve.  That is spectacularly gratifying.

Any interesting or challenging projects on the horizon for you?

I will spend the next two summers guiding and shaping Phil’s project in Calgary.  As for potential projects outside of that, I will be happy to give you an update.

When you are not working or playing golf, what are you doing?

My wife and I just had our first child, a girl.  She is the very definition of adorable.  I am happy to put my other interests, such as redesigning our new yard and brewing some wickedly dry cider, on the back burner so I can concentrate on helping her and Momma!  Perhaps someday, I’ll be busy taking her to play with Grandpa John on the golf course.


Additional Geeked On Golf Interviews:

 

 

Copyright 2015 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf


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Journey Along the Shores – Part 6 (4 Course Concept)

Cutting down trees, hacking out brush, and hauling debris for hours on end gives a man plenty of time to think.  During one of these cleanup sessions recently, many of the thoughts that had been swirling around in my head crystalized into a new vision for what might be done with the golf portion of the Canal Shores property.

To be clear, my Grounds Committee mates and I are still in the early stages of planning what Canal Shores might ultimately become.  That in mind, this concept is not put forth as a plan, but rather as an answer to a question that has been hanging over the game for some time:

How can the game of golf be more flexible, family friendly and fun?

My answer is called the 4 Course Concept, and I share it here as an invitation for feedback.  Looking forward to hearing from you – leave your comments here, hit me up on Twitter @JasonWay1493 or email me at jwizay1493@hotmail.com.


Canal Shores – 4 Courses in 1 Special Place

After walking the property, exploring features and pacing off potential holes, it is feasible for the Canal Shores property to contain 4 distinct “courses” providing different, fun golf experiences for multiple generations of golfers.

Breaking the property down into multiple courses would allow golfers with busy schedules (which is most of us) the flexibility to enjoy the game without necessarily being on the hook for 4-5 hours.

The 4 Courses (as illustrated in the aerials that follow) would be:

  • Long Course – North of Central (Sections A-D), 12 holes, par 3s and 4s.
  • Putting Course – North end of the area adjacent to the clubhouse (Section E).
  • Chipping Course – South end of the area adjacent to the clubhouse (Section E).
  • Short Course – South of Central (Sections E&F), 6 holes, par 3s.

Please note that the routing only indicates the rough locations of back tees and greens.  Each hole would have multiple tees to maximize interest and enjoyment for all skill levels, including “Play It Forward” tees ~100 yards from each green.

This routing fits in line with our macro vision of a mixed use green space serving all of our stakeholders.

The Long Course

As the routing aerials below illustrate there is ample room to hold 12 holes – 4 par 4s ranging from 250-330 yards, and 8 par 3s with a variety of distances from 80-200 yards.  Only minor changes would need to be made to the holes in Sections B and D.

Real opportunity exists to create new and exciting holes in Sections A and C.  Section A could hold 3 fantastic par 3s in the shadow of the Baha’i Temple, including a blind Short and a Redan. The topography of Section C is currently drastically underutilized with hidden sites for new tees and greens that could provide truly thrilling shots if uncovered.

The Long Course is not likely to ever be considered “hard”, but we’re not concerned with difficulty.  We’re concerned with interest, beauty, variety and above all fun.  The Long Course could be all of those things, and more – it could be truly unique.
CSGC-SectionA_Sheridan-Linden-MasterPlanRouting_032215CSGC-SectionB_Linden-Maple-MasterPlanRouting_032215CSGC-SectionC_Maple-Isabella_MasterPlanRouting_032215CSGC-SectionD_Isabella-Central-MasterPlanRouting_032215
The Putting & Chipping Courses

Inspired by my visit to Bandon Dunes Resort’s Punchbowl, and similar courses in Scotland, these two courses would be in the section of the property that is “in the back yard” of the club house.  This section is between two busy streets in our community, and is adjacent to a Community Center.

Whether it’s businesspeople grabbing a sunny lunch break, families on the weekends, Northwestern University students decompressing, or gangs of joyful kids, these courses would be intended as a place of gathering for maximum fun as well as an introduction to the game.
CSGC-SectionE_Central-Lincoln-PuttingChippingCourses
The Short Course
This area of the course is relatively nondescript in terms of features, but with the exception of the location of #1, there is quite a bit of space.  The Short Course could contain 6 par 3s with low-moderate difficulty from the tee, but big, fun greens that would allow players of lower skill levels to be challenged without sacrificing fun.
Large greens could contain oversized “kids cups” as well as regulation cups to increase family playability.  The extra space could be used for Foot Golf or Frisbee Golf courses, thus expanding the multiple use options for the community, and revenue streams for Canal Shores.
ShortCourse1CSGC-SectionF_Lincoln-Noyes-MasterPlanRouting_032215
Whereas Canal Shores currently contains 18 holes that are laid out in a standard, rigid fashion, the 4 Course Concept would allow the player to choose the length of their round, the level of challenge, and the variety.  The golf would play in “loops”, with the player being the master of their time and experience.  Finish one loop of one course, feel free to try a different course.  Want another crack at the one you just finished?  No problem.  Hop back over to the first tee and have another loop.

As I write this post, I find myself excited about the possibility of spending my days looping around the courses at Canal Shores.  Am I the only one who feels that way?  I guess we’ll see…


More Journey Along the Shores posts:

 

 

Copyright 2015 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf


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Want to Improve Pace of Play? Start Firing Golfers.

The USGA has been studying pace of play extensively and sharing results at their Symposium.  They are amassing data that promises to help course operators improve “flow”.  Additionally, technological innovations like smart flags, GPS-enabled carts, and others will track players and help them keep the pace.

These initiatives may very well help, and I applaud the USGA for doing what it can.  Unfortunately, they strike me as unlikely to solve the problem of slow play because they don’t address the core problem – motives and behavior of course operators and players.

In my career, I have learned quite a bit about motives and behavior from my colleagues and customers.  Several basic truths have emerged for me:

1. Most people – customers and coworkers – have good intentions and are doing their best.  They have moments when they fall short, just as I do.  But even in those moments of carelessness, ignorance, or selfishness, they are not bad people.  They are imperfect, like we all are.

2. Every person does a better job if they are clear on expectations and ground rules.  Especially when those ground rules are based on the principle of providing maximum benefit to all stakeholders.

3. A small percentage of people just don’t “get it”.  Whether they are too ignorant, selfish, or stubborn, they simply can’t or won’t play by the ground rules and contribute to the success of the whole.  Upon identifying people like this, it is always best to fire them as quickly as possible, whether they are coworkers, vendors, or even customers.  They are a drag on the business, and not taking action to remove them will quickly start to degrade one’s ability to be of service to the good people.

Over decades of managing people, customer relationships, and companies, I have experienced very few (if any) exceptions to these 3 truths.

What does that have to do with pace of play?  Let’s return to my assertion about the core problem – people – using my experience with a favorite course of mine, Arcadia Bluffs, to illustrate.

Arcadia Bluffs is a really neat and challenging golf course on one of the most beautiful settings you’ll find, overlooking Lake Michigan.  The staff is great, and the service is first class.  I have a home 10 minutes from the course, and I have played it many times.

I have also brought quite a few friends to play there.  They have all appreciated the beauty of the course, but most of them never want to go back.  Why?  Because it takes at least 4:45 to play a round, and often upwards of 5:15.  Arcadia Bluffs is losing customers because of slow play, and not just among my golf buddies.  In speaking to people about it, it is clear that Arcadia has a bad reputation for pace of play that keeps people away.  That is bad for business, and Arcadia Bluffs is certainly not alone.

What can they do about it?

They can use data from the emerging technology and the USGA studies to improve flow on their course.  They should not just try to maximize rounds to maximize profits.  They should schedule the maximum number of rounds appropriate for their course (based on its difficulty and routing), and then actively manage bottlenecks.  This is a no-brainer, and they are probably already working on it.  It will help a little, but it won’t solve the problem.

To truly solve the problem, they also have to manage their players more proactively and effectively.  Currently, they try to do this by having the starter give a pace-of-play speech on the first tee, and by having rangers on the course.  This is obviously not working currently, and here is why:

The starter speechifies you to play at a decent pace, but doesn’t tell you how.  The rangers may tell you to play faster, but they don’t tell you how.  Based on the first two truths above, this means that people who would like to behave properly might not because they don’t know how.  They are therefore more likely to “have moments”.  It doesn’t take many of those moments to ruin pace for a whole day.

What the starter could do instead is lay out some specific expectations (local rules) for how to keep pace up.  Here are a few examples from my buddies groups:

  • Play ready golf, obviously.
  • The entire group plays from the tees that are appropriate for the highest handicapper.
  • Look for a lost ball for no more than 2 minutes – can’t find it, drop.
  • If you chip/pitch twice and you’re not on the green, you’re done.
  • If you putt twice and you’re not in the hole, you’re done.
  • Single-digit handicappers don’t hit the ball more times than par+2.  Double-digit handicappers, no more than double-par.

We play matches and we still use these rules.  Don’t like ’em?  Find someone else to play with.  Do they work?  We were the first group off at Old MacDonald last fall and got around in 3:30.  Needless to say, the group behind us was not keeping up.

If the starter and rangers at Arcadia Bluffs provided coaching on these rules, the good people will be more likely to respond.  Setting these expectations, and then coaching to them, also allows Arcadia to deal effectively with the “don’t/won’t get it” crowd.

If the pace of these players remains slow, and they refuse to change their behavior, Arcadia Bluffs needs to fire them for the good of every other player on the course.  They have to proactively defend the pace.  In practice, this means that the slow-pokes need to be given their money back and asked never to come back, mid-round if need be.

To service industry professionals, this might sound crazy.  To ignorant and/or inconsiderate golfers, it likely seems offensive because they think that having money in hand means that they are buying carte blanche.  But here is why it is necessary if Arcadia Bluffs really wants to fix pace of play and its reputation, and make its business continue to thrive in the long run:

All other things being equal, slow pace makes every golf experience worse relative to smooth, brisk pace.  Every time a golfer has to wait (regardless of their personal pace of play), they are unhappy.  In turn, they are less likely to come back.

Conversely, if I knew that Arcadia Bluffs was willing to fire “bad customers” to enhance the experience of good customers, I would a) be more likely to return, and b) drag my buddies.  Further, especially in the digital age with this issue so prevalent, it is hard to imagine something more likely to create buzz for a course than kicking chronically slow playersAlCzervik to the curb.

So keep doing the studies and keep working on the technology, and keep up the “While We’re Young!” campaigns to raise awareness.  But I beseech you Arcadia Bluffs and other course operators, give us your ground rules for how to keep the pace, and then fire the people who can’t or won’t.  I promise you that the rest of your customers will celebrate you for it, and to steal another Al Czervik quote, we’ll “make it worth your while.”


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Copyright 2014 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf


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The Art of Course – Why Golf Channel Needs a GCA Show

There is much hand-wringing and serious conversation these days about the state of the game.  Rounds are down, and so are the total number of players playing.  The talk revolves around how to get the game growing again through future-forward change and progress.

Making the game more fun is certainly part of the solution.  Initiatives like Tee It Forward, Play 9, and Relaxed Rules are well intended and, hopefully, effective.  However, efforts to make golf more fun are, by their nature, superficial.  If golf wants to remain healthy in the long run, its stewards need to guide current and potential players to connect at a deeper-than-superficial level.  Golf can touch minds and souls with its unique magic, but the current golf culture often distracts players from discovering that magic.

And that is why Golf Channel should have a show dedicated to Golf Course Architecture.

I’m a businessman and realist, so let’s get the business case out of the way first before returning to the idealism.  Golf Channel makes money when it engages its audience.  The digital era has allowed media outlets to target content toward ever-finer niches.  The existence and success of Golf Channel is evidence of this trend.  So, the question is, is there an audience for GCA content that could be engaged?  And even further, is that audience one that could be monetized by Golf Channel through advertising?

First, the audience size.  There is ample evidence that an audience interested in GCA exists:

  • Matt Ginella’s course design and development updates are highly anticipated and never fail to cause buzz.
  • Morning Drive’s themed “Architects Week” was a smash hit.
  • Architects like Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw, Tom Doak, and Gil Hanse have not only become widely known, they have become icons.
  • The rabid engagement of communities surrounding websites like GolfClubAtlas.com is at a peak.
  • Thought leaders like Geoff Shackelford and Brad Klein are no longer “niche” – they have reach and power.

Second, the audience quality for advertisers.  GCA devotees are the people who get on planes and travel to places like Bandon Dunes and Streamsong.  They buy golf equipment and clothing.  They have considerable spending power beyond their golf habits.

The audience exists and it is a good audience for the right advertisers to reach, but that is only the commercial argument for Golf Channel’s GCA show.  The intangible, yet larger, argument is that as a force in the game, it is in Golf Channel’s best interest to cultivate the game’s magic.  It is golf courses that are the source of that magic.

The course provides us with an outdoor adventure, exercise, and connection to nature.  The course also provides us with quiet space in our hectic lives to connect with family and friends, and ourselves.  The course is the opponent, providing us with endless challenges, both obvious and subtle.

Beyond the basics, great courses touch us at the deepest level.  When witnessing the beauty of man’s artistic vision merged with mother nature’s creation, it is hard not to be stirred.  Great courses also stimulate the mind – they give us options, sometimes confounding options.  They bait our egos.  They test our ability to think strategically, as well as remaining focused and confident in our strategic decisions.  Great courses are marvels of design, planning, engineering, technology, agronomy, and attention to detail – they are a magical blend of art and science.

Without the course, golf is a trip to driving range.  Without understanding of and exposure to the depth of great courses, people will not know why golf is the greatest game ever invented.  Superficial fun won’t keep people engaged without the deeper connection.

So, among informative and entertaining programs that Golf Channel produces, this is my call for them to give golf course architecture and golf courses their due attention.  The audience is there, and the game needs it.

I’m conducting a Twitter experiment to see if we can create a groundswell to get a show on the air.  GCA nerds and stewards of the game, join me in tweeting to @golfchannel to ask them to create the show.  Use the hashtag #GCAonGC so that we can track progress.  Let’s make this happen.

(Feel free to share your ideas for GCA show episodes as comments to this post, or tweet them to me at @JasonWay1493 and I’ll do it for you.)

If you are not Twitter inclined, you can also post to the Golf Channel Facebook page here.  Use the same hashtag in your post if you do: #GCAonGC.

Or, if you are just not into social media at all, you can email Golf Channel at programming@golfchannel.com and/or morningdrive@golfchannel.com.

Regardless of what media you use, if you think that a GCA show would be great TV (and good for the game), share your thoughts with Golf Channel.  If you don’t feel comfortable expressing yourself, then send them a link to this post and let my words do your talking.

If enough of us speak up, they will respond.

UPDATE: While we’re working on getting this show aired, I have started to compile links on this GCA Video Archive page for exploration.  Hope you enjoy!


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2013 Geeked on Golf Tour

2013 was the year that my reconnection to the game of golf took on a whole new dimension.

I was given the gift of a lesson with Butch Harmon in Las Vegas in the spring, as well as other rounds for my 40th birthday. To my delight, the birthday celebration seemed to go on all year.

I started playing rounds on business trips, and took three buddies trips (the first of my life) to Long Island, Bandon and Northern Michigan.  I also checked off bucket list courses in Chicagoland – Shoreacres and Westmoreland.  At the end of the year, I pulled the trigger on membership at the Kingsley Club (another first).

I ended my 40th year feeling very grateful, and yet wanting more golf adventures on great courses.

Here are the 2013 highlights:

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Special thanks to Golf Course Gurus for helping me memorialize several of the rounds with their photographs.  This photo wall in my home serves as a reminder of how lucky I am to have an understanding wife, great golf buddies, and the opportunity and means to spend time at special places like these.

40thGolfTourPhotos-Cropped

Looking forward to many more years like 2013 to come.


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Copyright 2014 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf


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From Putt Putt to Punchbowl – Remembering the Point of the Game

It’s easy to forget the object of the game of golf. It’s not perfect mechanics.  It’s not 300 yard drives.  It’s not money, FedEx points, trophies, or the latest greatest equipment.  It’s not handicap indexes to playing from the tips.  Every one of these things is a part of today’s golf, but none of them is the object of the game. BallinHoleThe object of the game of golf is to get the ball in the hole – in the fewest strokes possible, ideally while having as much fun as possible.  Not coincidentally, there is nothing more fun than watching the ball drop in the hole.  The farther away one is, the greater the fun. There is so much that goes into achieving that objective, and so much wrapped around it in today’s golf culture, that the point is sometimes lost.

I was reminded of the object of the game in a recent conversation with my coach, Scott Baines.  I was seeking advice on how to help a friend who wanted to start playing.  Scott’s initial response was, “Tell him to get a wedge and putter, and spend the first year learning how to get the ball in the hole.”  His statement surprised me into awareness of memories of how I learned the game. The first club I picked up as an 8-year old was a putter.  My dad took me to the putting green and taught me to get the ball in the hole.  As I improved, we had putting contests.  The next club I got was a sawed-off 9 iron.  He took me to the course when he played with my grandfather.  I got to drop my ball 50 yards from the green and play it all the way into the hole.  The more competent I became, the more clubs I got and the farther out I got to start.  By the time my parents set up my first lesson, I already knew well the object of the game – I had been getting the ball in the hole for years.

To reinforce the premium on short shots, my caddie friends and I set up chipping courses at our homes and at the club, and we played with every free moment.  Whiffle balls, tennis balls, golf balls, it didn’t matter.  We had our clubs out and we were playing mini matches practicing getting the ball in the hole. Puttputt

My sons are 4 and 12, and I am teaching them the game the same way.  We hit the links at the local putt putt courses every chance we get.  We celebrate holes-in-one with a “booty dance”.  My little guy exclaims “Win!” after every putt is made, regardless of the total score.  We don’t correct him, because in the purest sense, he is right. ChippingcourseWe took a further step one day when I came out of the house to find them chipping around the front yard.  Deciding that it was time for them to discover the wonder that is a chipping course, I installed a hole in the corner of the yard (using the cup from my wife’s immersion blender – oops).  We can be found out there most evenings getting in 9 or 18, or more.  Always, the ball goes into the hole before moving on to the next one, and we give kudos for every made shot. In these small ways, my boys are learning the joy of the game.

While I teach them, I am reminded of why golf grabbed my attention when I was a kid. Although an easy argument could be made that golf’s stewards (developers, pros, equipment manufacturers) have strayed from the game’s roots of fun and perhaps even lost sight of it’s object, there are signs that I am not the only one making this re-discovery.  Many courses have expanded their short game areas and still more now include additional forward tees, in support of the TEE IT FORWARD initiative of the PGA and USGA. Even better, on a recent trip to the Bandon Dunes resort, I was delighted to find three attractions that are often left out of the reviews focused on the 4 Top-100 courses on site:

  • The Shorty’s course is a practice course laid out by David McLay Kidd within the practice area.  It is comprised of nine par 3s.  It is a place to go “play around”, have fun and get warmed up for the golf ahead by getting accustomed to holing shots on the Bandon terrain.  And if one sneaks out to Shorty’s late in the day, cross-country golf is also a max-fun option.  No set par for a hole, just pick a green and the person with the lowest score wins.
  • The Punchbowl is an enormous, undulating putting course designed by Tom Doak and Jim Urbina.  Even as a kid, I doubt that I could have dreamt up a golf adventure that was more fun (and I spent many an hour doodling and trying).
  • Bandon Preserve is a thirteen hole par 3 course designed by Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw.  Playing this course was by far the most fun I had at Bandon (in spite of the fact that I played well to shoot 72, 74, 74, 76 on the “Big 4”), and it might have been my favorite course.  Plenty of challenge, but not too hard that an average player can’t meet the objective of getting the ball in the hole in a reasonable number of strokes.
Punchbowl

The 100,000 sq. ft. Punch Bowl

When I am asked about Bandon Dunes Resort, I give the 4 courses glowing reviews – they deserve the accolades.  But what really sets Bandon apart, I tell my questioners, are the “Little 3”.  They are unique (for now), and they maximize the joy of the Bandon experience by bringing golf back down to its basics. When they are older, if they are still playing the game, I will take my boys to Bandon Dunes.  I will take them not just because of the courses – there are great courses all over of the country, and the world.  I will take them because Bandon knows how to maximize fun for its guests. And I know that, when we go, my boys will be ready to take on Bandon’s challenges because they are learning well how to achieve golf’s primary objective – get the ball in the hole, and have fun while you’re at it.


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Copyright 2014 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf