The 17th hole at the soon-to-be opened Bandon Trails. <SPAN CLASS="picturesource">John Henebry</SPAN>
Tuesday, February 20, 2007

With the opening of the Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore-designed Bandon Trails, the sleepy resort of Bandon Dunes on the stunning Oregon coast takes its rightful place on the short list of pilgrimages all golfers must make before they die--because odds are the golf in Heaven can't compare.

"The most important asset we had in creating Bandon Trails was freedom," says Crenshaw. [Bandon Dunes impresario] Mike Keiser told us to go out and "find" the golf course and knit the holes together," he says. "Being given the freedom to depict the holes as we visualized them was a blessing."

Keiser also bestowed upon Crenshaw and Coore a prized plot of land. Three striking differences between the new course and Bandon Dunes and Pacific Dunes are the abundance of trees, the absence of gorse and multiple distinct enviroments. Bandon Trails opens amid massive Irish-style dunes, meanders through a meadow that's a cross between the Australian sand belt and British heathland, then plays into dense Pacific Northwest woodlands before returning to the meadow and finishing in the dunes. Chasing par through thick stands of shore pines, madrones, and manzanita and huckleberry bushes, it's hard to fathom that Bandon and Pacific are in the same country, much less the same area code. "I have never seen, nor do I know of, three golf courses that are contiguous that are so different--in style, appearance and terrain," says Coore. "We weren't trying to compete with Bandon Dunes and Pacific Dunes; we wanted to give people something different, add something of interest." Mission accomplished.

The look, the feel and the concept at Bandon Trails, like its sister tracks, remains decidedly un-American: no gas or electric carts, no encroaching real estate, no GPS gimmickry, no swanky spa, no theme-costumed staff. Bandon is about golf for golfers. If you can't get by on hot coffee before, expert caddies during (or pull carts if you please), cold pints in a cozy pub after, great food and fine wine, a hot bath, a comfy bed, service with a smile and three of the finest golf courses on Earth, well, it's time you take up tennis.

For the rest of us, Bandon Trails is now taking tee times. Unlike most things in life, the reality blows the doors off of the anticipation. "The reaction I hope to illicit is for golfers to choose to play this new course as much as the other two," says Keiser. Asked what he would consider the ultimate compliment from a golfer stepping off the 18th green after playing Bandon Trails for the first time, Keiser replies, "I want to play it again. Let's go."

For reservations call 888-345-6008, greens fee $175 resort guests/$225 non-guests, bandondunesgolf.com

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