Bandon Dunes Resort long ago earned its bona fides as a golf destination, and a trip to that seaside retreat in south Oregon has become as much a bucket-list expedition for recreational golfers as one to, say, Pebble Beach or St. Andrews. The courses are the biggest draw, and Bandon boasts five 18-hole gems that are routed across windswept bluffs and in and around forests, meadows and dunes.
David McLay Kidd crafted the original Bandon Dunes layout, which opened in 1999, and in later years Bill Coore, Ben Crenshaw, Tom Doak and Jim Urbina fashioned four others – Pacific Dunes, Bandon Trails, Old Macdonald and the newly opened Sheep Ranch. Collectively, their designs make excellent use of rugged, well-contoured land, with holes running long and short and doglegging left and right.
Equally enticing are the sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean, the near-constant wind, the roar of the waves breaking on the beaches, the swathes of gorse that bloom brilliant yellow in spring and the way those links-style layouts compel golfers to play a traditional ground game. Bump-and-run is the call at Bandon, not bomb-and-gouge, and its Old World ethos is only enhanced by the presence of a robust caddie program and an insistence that golfers walk unless they have medical concerns.
What has also become clear over the years is that Bandon Dunes is an excellent tournament venue. That point was most recently underscored when the resort served as the site of the 2020 U.S. Amateur, with the original Bandon Dunes as well as Coore and Crenshaw’s Bandon Trails used for the competition. It marked the seventh time the remote outpost has hosted a USGA championship, and once again contestants heartily sang its praises. So did association leaders, and the likelihood of Bandon hosting more of their tournaments is a gimme, especially given the enthusiasm that Mike Keiser, the greeting card magnate who created the resort, has for the USGA and elite amateur golf.
“I have now played in three tournaments at Bandon, and I like the courses more and more each time,” said 58-year-old Gene Elliott, an amateur from Iowa who has competed in 34 USGA championships. “It’s as close to Scotland as you get in the U.S., and very well-suited for both stroke and match play. I also like the different weather elements you get on given days, the wind and fog and maybe a bit of rain, and the firmness of the fairways and greens, and how you have to be creative with every shot.”
Added Stewart Hagestad, a two-time Walker Cupper and winner of the 2016 U.S. Mid-Amateur: “Bandon really is an awesome place and a fantastic venue for a U.S. Amateur.”
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