PHOTOS: Sheep Ranch, Bandon Dunes’ sixth golf course, is coming to life

April 23, 2019

Ever since its low-key opening in 2002, the Bally Bandon Sheep Ranch, just up the coast from the Bandon Dunes Resort, has been enshrouded in a cloud of mystery. The course played without a definitive routing (golfers could choose their own adventures on the raw, rolling plot), it never had a proper starter shack, and it was a rare day when the course would attract more than half a dozen visitors.

That cloud is quickly lifting, however, with the announcement of a big-time expansion of the course. Sheep Ranch founder Phil Friedmann and Bandon Dunes founder Mike Keiser have tapped Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, who designed Bandon Trails at the main resort, to turn the Sheep Ranch into Bandon Dunes’ fifth regulation course and sixth overall. It will be called, quite simply, Sheep Ranch.

 

Friedmann and Keiser will co-operate the new course, and it’s easy to make the case that the property is more stunning than the land that houses Bandon’s other courses. It’ll tip out at 7,000 yards, offer more oceanfront holes than any of Bandon’s older courses, and will be entirely bunker-less. 

Sheep Ranch is set for a limited, preview-play opening in the fall of 2019, with a wider grand opening in the summer of 2020. Several days ago GOLF.com got a sneak preview of the property — and now you can, too. Here’s a look at how the Sheep Ranch is shaping up, a full year ahead of its opening. 

The view from the 17th tee box, tipped-out. The wind was whipping the day we snapped this image and, quite frankly, this tee shot seemed terrifying. Terrifying and beautiful.
Ashley Mayo

The trees at Sheep Ranch will likely become one of the course’s defining characteristics. The trees you see here are situated just left of the 17th green.
Ashley Mayo

This is the beginnings of what will be an enormous 11th green.
Ashley Mayo

Here’s what it looks like when you stand on the 16th green and look back toward its tee box.
Ashley Mayo

Back on the 17th tee box, looking south and pointing to the Pacific Ocean.
Ashley Mayo

Standing on the forward tees of the 17th hole, looking back at the 16th green.
Ashley Mayo

Sheep Ranch will offer one entire mile of oceanfront holes. For comparison’s sake, Bandon Dunes, Pacific Dunes and Old Macdonald offer two miles of oceanfront holes, combined.
Ashley Mayo

One of Sheep Ranch’s four course shapers, Jim Craig, takes some time out of his Saturday to discuss his latest tasks. He also mentions that there won’t be a single bunker at Sheep Ranch, at least not initially.
Ashley Mayo

On the 16th green, there’s a collection of golf balls that’ve been extracted from the beloved Bally Bandon Sheep Ranch.
Ashley Mayo

The back of the seventh green is treated with hydroseed and is ready for growth.
Ashley Mayo

Here’s a close-up look at hydroseed.
Ashley Mayo

Another look at the 16th green, this time with blooming gorse in the foreground.
Ashley Mayo

Here’s the 11th fairway taking shape, and we’re looking up toward the green.
Ashley Mayo

When you stand on the 16th tee and look down toward its green, this is what you’ll see.
Ashley Mayo

A CAT machine is taking a break for now, but it’s been working hard to prepare for a Fall 2019 soft opening.
Ashley Mayo

When you walk to the 17th tee box and look back, this is the view you’ll get of the 16th green.
Ashley Mayo

See what we’re saying about Sheep Ranch’s unique trees?
Ashley Mayo

We’re looking directly west over the 16th green.
Ashley Mayo

Looking up the 11th hole from its tee box.
Ashley Mayo

We’re fairly certain the oceanfront holes, even on days when the wind is howling, will always be stunningly gorgeous.
Ashley Mayo