Golf Gold

11 Things You Might Not Know About Bandon Dunes Golf Resort

The Bandon Course You've Never Heard Of

Just up the road from Bandon Dunes is one of the game’s hidden treasures: the Bally Bandon Sheep Ranch. The no-frills layout has 13 greens on a raw, rolling plot, and chances are you'll have the place to yourself.

Much has been said and written (and Instagrammed) about Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, from its quartet of 18-hole stunners, to its sporty par-3 track, to its imaginative -- and free! -- putting course. But the coastal Oregon resort still harbors a few secrets. From its own microbrew to an on-site meditation retreat, here are 10 little-known facts about Bandon.

1. THE PATH LESS TAKEN

Sure, you can ride a shuttle from the 13th green to the 14th tee at Bandon Trails. But there’s a better way to go: Drop your clubs with the shuttle driver and follow the footpath that leads up the hill. Many players miss out on this short, scenic walk, a peaceful detour as you gather yourself for your next shot.

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2. A HIDDEN LABYRINTH

From the Chrome Lake Lodges, take the wooded trail around a pond to a tranquil hide-away called the Labyrinth. Built as memorial to Howard McKee, one of Bandon’s founders, the travertine marble maze is patterned on the famous labyrinth at the Chartres Cathedral in France, and it’s meant to be a place for meditation. Ommmm. Don’t take your score so seriously.

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3. THE GORSE, OF COURSE

Gorse blooms twice a year, in mid-spring and late fall, so try to plan a visit around those times, when the plant’s bright yellow flowers light up the coastline. You’ll never see the courses looking more alive.

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4. THE RUB OFF THE GREEN

There’s no fancy spa for a mani-pedi. But there is a newly renovated massage center, the perfect place to ease your post-round aches and pains. It’s at the north end of the main parking lot, next to McKee’s Pub. Treatments start at $110 for 50 minutes.

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5. A NEW BREW

Most guests know about the Whiskey Bar and the expansive wine list. But don’t ignore the beer menu, poured at bars throughout the resort. It features local finds like the new private label Bandon Ale, a lively IPA produced by a microbrewery in Eugene. You’ll recognize it from the tap, which looks like a golf grip with a ball on top.

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6. MR. ROGER’S NEIGHBORHOOD

Links golf requires a range of specialized shots, and Grant Rogers can teach you all of them, from the bump-and-run to the putt-from-anywhere. Bandon’s director of instruction is an old-school guru whose Yoda-like insights will put you at ease, even as they keep you entertained.

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7. PLAY MORE, PAY LESS

Replays rounds at Bandon are half-price, but why stop there? Any golf you play after that is free.

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8. THE MYSTERIOUS SHEEP RANCH

An aura of mystery surrounds Bandon’s other course, a rough-hewn layout just beyond the northern edge of the resort. To land a tee time, call Bandon Golf Supply and arrange a rendezvous with the superintendent, who’ll meet you at the property and collect a greens fee of a $100 per player. You can play the layout’s 13 holes in any routing you please.

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9. LOSE YOUR LOB WEDGE

The firm, bare lies at Bandon aren’t suited to flop shots, so consider swapping out your 60-degree wedge for another club (hint: hybrids come in handy around the greens). Or forget the substitution and just bring 13 sticks. You’re going to do lot of walking, so the lighter your bag, the happier you’ll be.

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10. SHIP YOUR CLUBS AND FLY STRESS-FREE

If you’re flying in, chances are you’ll be making a connection that your golf bag might miss. Avoid that risk by shipping your sticks instead. It costs only slightly more than airline baggage handling fees (for $60, ShipSticks will send your babies from New York to Bandon via 6-day ground), and your well-rested clubs will be waiting for you when you arrive.

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11. IT’S NOW (SLIGHTLY) EASIER TO GET THERE

In April, United Airlines began offering nonstop service between Denver International Airport and Southwest Oregon Regional Airport, in North Bend, Ore., about a 35-minute drive from the resort. (Previously the only commercial flights into North Bend originated in San Francisco and Portland.) The service offers twice-a-week round-trip flights (Sunday and Wednesday) from July 1 to Oct. 18.

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