Bandon Preserve is the best way to start your Bandon Dunes trip. On your first day at the resort, as long as you arrive by 6pm or so, you will have time to fit in this 13 hole par three course by Coore & Crenshaw. It gives you a taste of the terrain, the ocean views, the weather, and the tough bunkers that you will encounter throughout the rest of your play at Bandon.
The hardest part of this course is getting your distances correct. The winds are often intense and there is a fair amount of elevation change. And, if you get the distances wrong, there is a lot of trouble to be found out here. So, don't come out thinking that you are going to shoot par because most of the holes are less than 150 yards.
It is also such a fun course to have some match play on. My brother and I had a back and forth match going until the final hole. On the line, a plunge into the freezing Pacific. This is becoming a bit of a tradition after I had to go in after my loss at Lahinch in Ireland. Very little (until we go golf in Iceland) will be colder than the North Atlantic off the west coast of Ireland in late April. So, when I lost the match on the final green at Bandon Preserve, I could at least tell myself it was not going to be quite as bad as Ireland. Well, it wound up being worse. The water was marginally warmer than Ireland (in the low 50s), but it was 40 mph or so winds on that Oregon beach, while my dive in after Lahinch was on a still evening. I really got to get better before Iceland.
Now, onto the holes.
There is a huge green here, so pay attention to pin location and get your yardage right otherwise you will three putt it (you may very well have a lot of three putts while you are out here).
Big front bunker protecting this green. Don't go in it.
This played as a super short hole when we were there. We each hit multiple balls and could not stop the ball from going over the green. It felt like we got to a point where we were barely swinging the wedge, but the ball, with the help of the wind, would just shoot over the green. But, the prudent play is to aim a bit left and let the left slope funnel your ball back down towards the hole.
From behind the third green with the slope kicking balls back towards the pin.
This hole plays straight downhill so it is even shorter than what the card reads. It is also one of the most intense greens on the property. At the front of the green is a huge mound. If you do not fly it, you will be left putting over it and there is simply no way to get that putt within 8 feet of the hole, so a two putt from there will require you to make a long par putt.
Mound at the front of the fourth green. Alas, I was stuck behind it.
This downhill shot provides spectacular views of the Pacific. This is a hole where the difficulty of judging yardage becomes apparent due to the wind and elevation change.
Maybe my favorite hole on the course. Left is dead in the bunkers. Too far right is dead in the dunes. Just the correct amount of right will give you a kick back towards the green. Then throw in a very long green to make yardage more difficult and a three putt likely.
As you can see in the below video, this day was full of punch shots to keep the ball out of the wind.
Sixth green. Would love to try a back left hole location.
This is a shot to an elevated green that is full of contours. Again, if you are on the green but not within the vicinity of the pin, you will likely three putt.
Looking backwards toward seven tee.
Shortest hole on the course. From the tee, you may not see the pin depending on hole location because of the large dune obscuring the green. Pick your yardage and hit it confidently because the bowl shaped green will likely assist your shot.
The guidebook says that "sensory overload is the cause for a miscue on this hole." There are sweeping views of the Pacific and the Bandon Dunes course. As to the hole itself, don't go long as it falls off steeply. If anything, go a little left to get some help from the mound. The below video is of me on the ninth tee.
My brother went over the green on nine and it caught the hill and ran way down. He was lucky to even find it. Then, as you can see in the below video, he tried to get too cute and land it right on the edge of the green. That did not work and the results were not good. At this point, I was already thinking about him running into that ocean, but, as it turns out, I got ahead of myself.
This hole is a partially blind tee shot due to the enormous bunker in front of the green. The green complex is huge, but again, full of ridges and bumps that make putting, especially in strong winds, quite tough.
Tenth tee. If you can make it out, the flag is just to the left of the tree in the center of the photo.
This is one of the more "what you see is what you get" holes. You can see most of the green, you know not to go left, and can see that a bail out to the right is a safe shot.
Another one of my favorite holes. Reminded me a bit of the dell hole at Lahinch--surrounded by dunes and a ridge bisecting the green.
What a fun way to close out the course--a 100 yard hole straight downhill. The truly fun and unique aspect of this hole is that it was designed so that you could putt the ball from the tee onto the green. My brother and I first hit our actual tee shots. Then, we stood up on the tee for ten minutes hitting a dozen putts to the green. Ultimately, we got the hang of it and started getting the putts fairly close.
The below video shows the best of the putts we hit--mine ending up about 18 feet from the hole.
That's it--don't forget that it is only a 13 hole course! I wish it could have kept going. Like I said, it is a great way to ease into your trip, allows you to practice a bunch of shots, learn the greens, get a feel of the wind, and just have a blast. The course is really laid-back and people are just looking to have a good time out there. Nobody was around on the day we played, so we hit tons of extra balls and tried shots from lots of interesting places on the course. You could really spend the whole day out there and have a great time. If you put your mind to it, you could probably finish the round in an hour, but we were having so much fun we were probably out there close to 2.5 hours. And we could not have asked for a better match. We were tied going to the final hole and my brother holed a 20 footer down the hill for par. My 15 foot par attempt burned the edge and I was headed to the ocean!