For most golfers, Bandon Dunes isn’t a weekend golf destination that they can drive to on a whim. A visit to the remote southern Oregon resort is more like a pilgrimage that requires advance planning, a couple of flights (or more), and expending at least a few precious vacation days. But fret not, we’ve got your back. To help prepare you for your first trip (or a return trip) to the windswept mecca, we mined our all-star team of golf travelers—our Gold Insiders—for advice on how to make the most of your Bandon boondoggles.
WHO ARE THE GOLD INSIDERS?
The Gold Insiders are a group of more than 800 of our most well-traveled and discerning readers who contribute their opinions and expertise to the site. On average, they take seven golf trips per year and carry a handicap of 11.8. Want to join the Insiders? We’d love to have you on board! Click here to take our introductory survey.
WHO RESPONDED TO THIS SURVEY?
—218 of our Gold Insiders said they have been to Bandon Dunes
—67% of respondents said they have visited Bandon in the last three years
—27% of respondents said they have visited Bandon more than once
—95% of respondents said they could see themselves planning a return trip to Bandon
INSIDERS' FAVORITE COURSE AT BANDON
INSIDERS' ADVICE FOR A FIRST-TIME BANDON VISITOR:
1. “Get in Bandon shape. Walk 18 holes at your home course for a few weeks prior to your trip, and carry your own bag if possible.”
2. “Practice your greenside game. Figure out what club you will use to chip from the incredibly tight lies is. This will save you countless strokes.”
3. “For the best chance at good weather, go in the September-October timeframe.”
4. “The golf is spectacular but you MUST be prepared for any and all weather. May be torrential in the morning, howling winds and blue skies for your afternoon round. Invest in state-of-the-art rain gear, including rain gloves.”
5. “Bring at least a couple pairs of golf shoes. If it’s wet, you’ll want to change your socks and shoes after each round.”
6. “Ship your golf clubs in advance. The puddle jumper from Portland to the local airport [in North Bend] often doesn't have enough room for all the clubs.”
7. “Fly into San Francisco, then drive half way up, stop and play and stay a night, then finish the drive.”
8. “Be greedy and try and include Chambers Bay in your itinerary [a seven-hour drive north, in University Place, Wash.]. It’s very doable and very worth it.”
9. “On arrival day, play The Preserve course [13-hole, par-3] to get used to the ground. If you have time even go to the range or Shorty's for some short-game work. Add the bump and run to your game from 75 yards in using a hybrid club…Don't wear yourself out in the first two days. Finish at least two days on the par-3 course [The Preserve].”
10. “Do not book tee times in advance. There are no rain checks, so if you encounter bad weather, and cannot play, you lose your green fees. Rather, since you are a captive at the resort without much else to do other than golf, book your tee times the day before you want to play. You may lose some flexibility but you won't be losing any money as I did.”
11. “Don't shortchange yourself by not playing the less-famous Bandon Trails. It is so underrated; you will miss this outstanding layout otherwise. Added another Insider: A lot of people don't care for Trails because it’s not on the ocean, but it’s the second best course there behind Pacific.”
12. “Take your time. We rushed it trying to fit in four rounds in two days. Stretch out your golf with 18 and the Punchbowl (putting course), or 18 and The Preserve. And make sure to save some extra time for the Sheep Ranch. It’s pure golf as it was meant to be played.”
13. “Standing on each tee, look at your yardage book and consider how the architect is encouraging you to play the hole. Then follow that suggestion.”
14. “On shorter stays, take advantage of the replay rate and use it to play all the courses.”
15. “Go into town to the Italian restaurant [Alloro Wine Bar]. And get to the beach to watch a sunset."
INSIDERS' NITPICK LIST: 9 THINGS BANDON DUNES COULD DO BETTER
1. “Better microbrew selection. This is Oregon after all.”
2. “Would like to see a safe and small refrigerator in each room.”
3. “The rooms are very basic and geared toward men. The blow dryers are weak and there’s no makeup mirror or blush robe.”
4. “Some tee boxes are difficult to find without prior knowledge or a caddie. I would have appreciated better signage.”
5. “I've developed a tendon problem in my foot that doesn't allow me to walk the courses anymore so that's why I’m not planning on going back. If they allowed carts, more people could enjoy their courses.”
6. “More variety in food choices.”
7. “I’d like to see the par-3 course price lowered [from $100].”
8. “I would like the opportunity to meet/experience my assigned caddie before committing to him/her for every round.”
9. “The price: $290 for a round is very steep for us normal guys. Offer some specials!"