Bandon Dunes is a special place for Ashley and I. I was first introduced to Bandon Dunes by Tyler Sweeney in 2005. Since then, Ashley and I have visited Bandon Dunes every year on the last weekend of March. Most years we have had 16 friends join us while some years there were as few as 8. Unfortunately, as the organizer of this yearly trip, I decided to cancel the trip to focus on the top 100 list with Ashley. With a wife and 3 small kids it isn’t feasible to chase down these great courses and go on a seperate 4 day golf trip. We will be back to Bandon Dunes one of these years and when we do it will be BIG!
Over the years, our Bandon Dunes trip has been the highlight of my year. The trip is simple: golf, friends, drinking, eating and gambling. What could be better! In fact, it is our many experiences at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort that inspired our commitment to playing Americas Greatest 100. Getting to Bandon Dunes isn’t easy. Flying into North Bend is a pain in the ass. The past few years the only direct flights have been through SFO. As we all know, San Francisco has frequent flight delays and issues. Hence, we usually get into North Bend much later than planned and with a few too many cocktails in our bellies given the time of day.
Over the years we tinkered with the format of our trip. We finally settled on 1 round Thursday afternoon, 2 rounds Friday, 1 round Saturday and 1 round Sunday. The past 2 years we had a Calcutta on Thursday evening. Then,we would play a net tournament with 27 of the 36 holes counting Friday (throw out your worst 9) and the whole 18 counting Saturday.
We had the same winner the past two years, Eric Cann. In 2011, Eric headed into the last round down by 1 shot and ended up winning by 8. Eric is the best player in our group as he is usually around a 1 handicap. His short game is amazing and playing Bandon Dunes in March is a big advantage for him. His chipping and putting is clearly superior to the rest of our group. Fortunately, for the rest of us, Eric is an awful poker player. The past two years he has won several thousand dollars for winning the tournament then loses it all back at the poker table. I still haven’t figured out if it is his poor poker playing or the fact that he drinks 8 Apple Martini’s every evening. I will miss playing poker with Eric in the Bunker Bar. He was an easy mark!
Overall, I have played over 40 rounds at the 4 courses at Bandon Dunes and have had numerous late night poker games in the Bunker Bar. While it is hard to evaluate each course independently; I would rank my course preferences as Pacific Dunes, Bandon Dunes, Bandon Trails and Old MacDonald. Additionally, as of this writing I would rate Pacific Dunes as my favorite course in the world. This rating will probably change over our journey but being on the Oregon Coast in late March with the gourse blooming, weather elements pounding and friends all around will be a hard experience to beat.