Our Roundtable on Bandon Dunes
Unending Pursuits of Golf Perfection
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At Tees and Coins, we are fans of the game first, experts a distant second. So rather than go down another piece on telling you what or what not to do, we felt it would be nice to kick back and talk about the fun we’ve had Bandon.
Funny thing is that all three of us have been to Bandon, but all with different groups. So one night, we kicked on FaceTime, all grabbed our drinks of choice, drank and talked about the one place that we all yearned to go back to.
If you know anything about the three of us, you’ll know that it’s always best to let Josh go first. One of the most gifted we know in terms of entertaining while not realizing it, we let him have the floor, because we know Eddie loves to suck the oxygen out of a room whenever he gets a chance and Don with his photographic golf memory will tell you how every putt breaks on every hole and which bunkers to avoid.
In 2016, a couple buddies I knew simply off of Instagram were in a bind when they had a man drop out of their Bandon trip and asked me to go. I didn’t know much more about them besides that they collected Scotty Cameron stuff and they all lived in California. At the time, I had never played much golf outside of Florida besides an occasional hour drive up I-95 to Sea Island. I wasn’t much more than a weekend warrior obsessed with golf trinkets because truthfully I was pretty damn shitty with a handicap probably running around 28 with 3 rugrats all under the age of 6. Putters, headcovers, and the other random crap that I thought was cool brought us together. The nerdy aspects of golf that have absolutely nothing to do with actual skills led me to a better understanding of the game and a new passion for destination golf.
Golf trips are always on peoples’ list of things they want to do. When planning a trip, so many people will always say they are in until the real dates and prices are set. This is when you will see who is actually in and who is dreaming about it.
So with that out of the way, I started to plan my trip to the mythical Bandon Dunes. I had 4 guys including myself who committed to this trip. We did our research on forums and from friends. The one thing they all said was to make sure we used ShipSticks to get our clubs there. Since each of us was flying in from different areas of the country each of us was on our own for finding tickets to get there. We all decided that we would land in North Bend which would put us only a taxi ride away from Bandon.
I started to pack for the trip bringing about everything you could think of. I mean I packed for every season imaginable. The only thing I bought new for the trip was the Sun Mountain 2.5 bag because I wanted to make sure I had one of the best carry bags available at the time. The one thing I did over pack was socks. I was told that a fresh pair after each 18 would make my feet really happy.
Just ship the sticks, it's easier.
Well if you guys over packed, I under packed. My trip was a seven day excursion out west, with four days at Bandon, and I had one checked luggage and my golf clubs. Let’s just say, I bought a lot of things at the pro shop to make up for some things I may have forgotten.
I found my way to Bandon to celebrate my brother’s birthday. I didn’t use a shipping service, I just checked them on every leg of the flights I had to take to get there. The puddle hopper from San Francisco to Bandon was rough, not going to lie. And one of the bags from SF did not make it onto the plane because of “weight restrictions.” In retrospect, I would’ve probably shipped the clubs, “classic Larry!” -obscure Golf Channel infomercial reference.
Things have changed but back then, it was get across the country, get to SF, then get to Bend, then take the shuttle.
We took a taxi instead of the shuttle. It was way cheaper.
True, but did your taxi play Caddyshack for you the whole way there? I just went with what was already planned.
Well shit, at least you had time to plan. For me, it was a late plan to go. It wasn’t super short notice, but I wasn’t ready. I told the guys “Yes I’m in” and that simple answer sent me down quite the rabbit hole having not planned much out besides packing some long sleeves and gortex but more importantly asking my wife.
To preface the latter, I am a stay at home dad and figured it would be a quick flight out west for 2 days and I would be back in no time. As I logged on to expedia I knew I was F&$^ed. For starters, getting to Bandon is a journey in itself that should come with a handbook. Everything from flights, to cities, to driving in, to golf club arrival all must be considered. At this point in the words of Kevin Kisner, “This ain’t no hobby.” By the time I messaged a few of the other guys for suggestions and itineraries it dawned on me, Steph’s birthday is right in the middle of the trip. What on earth was I going to do? I can’t bail on those guys and I can’t exactly roll out for 6 days with guys who I’ve never met to some unknown plot of land surrounded by plaid flannel, long beards, and birkenstocks.
Whoa whoa whoa, you did show up to Aloha without socks wearing some loafers on the golf course, so Birkenstocks would’ve aligned correctly.
Low blow bro. They had spikes, it’s just the Floridian in me.
We proceeded to ramble for about a good thirty minutes of memories from a past trip, one that coincidentally served as a catalyst for us to start Tees & Coins, but alas, we digress.
Back on Topic.
What did you guys do first once you got there? After getting settled and checked in, the first thing we did was go to the range. Maybe it’s the Northeasterner in me used to small ranges, but the wide open feel of the range was such a breath of fresh air for me.
I remember hitting a good 200+ balls on that range. I’m a range rat, so it just felt nice to be in the middle of nowhere with nothing but golf around you. Look at all those buckets, they stopped making pyramids and just brought mega buckets for my brother and I. That’s when I knew this place was unique.
Well we got there and played the Preserve as soon as we got there. We can talk about courses later, but after the round, we decided to goto the Punch Bowl to putt around have a few drinks. This was the first moment I knew this place was special.
We set our clubs on top of the hill and made our way down with our putters. Once we got there there were cup holders on each designated hole. We were like “Wait, we can drink on this thing?” As we made our way back up a waitress was coming down to take our order for drinks. She introduced herself as Nicki and said “You guys dont need to go up to order. I will bring down anything and everything that you would want.” How dangerous was this?
After a few putts and a lot of drinks later we decided to have dinner. After dinner we had a few drinks left on the table and the waitress asked if we wanted to go cups for those? WHAT??? To go cups for our drinks? What was this magically place and why would I ever want to go back home. We took the shuttle back to our villa and crawled back to our beds. We had an early tee time so we knew we had to wake up early.
You know people always ask me which course was the best etc etc. I’m not the best one of this group to get into that, but I knew Bandon was special when I walked into the first pro shop.
I’m a pro’s pro when it comes to Pro Shops so when I say Bandon has it down to a science they are the crème de la crème. The main Bandon Dunes Pro Shop is the mecca and carries everything you could ever need from essentials to trinkets. Should you forget anything possible they have you covered from every major and boutique manufacturer all of which are the same retail price that the normal non logo’d item would cost. You name the brand, if it’s worthy of being on hand they normally stock it unless of course it was a hit and sold out. Depending on when you go there can be some very limited offerings that have appeared in the shop that aren’t readily produced so it is common to have buddies pick stuff up on various trips.
The Pro Tip is to check out the clearance corner at the Main Pro Shop where you can score huge. The Lodge has a smaller shop for more boutique resort style items that aren’t golf performance specific as well as an assortment of leather goods and glassware. Each course including The Preserve have their own pro shops that stock all of your expected logo softlines and accessories.
But yeah, we had fun putting at the Punch Bowl and pretty much everywhere on the course.
An Ode to the Caddies
I was fortunate enough to meet Felipe Chavez back in 2016 and he has been my caddie or has caddied for other friends quite often. The most laid back dude I now consider a friend who was an important factor in my first real golf trip.
For the first 3 holes at Bandon my nerves got to me and I proceeded to top my way to the green. By the 5th hole Felipe served as more of a psychologist and disaster control. This is the beauty of Bandon and its course layout.
No one needs a 60* wedge and truthfully you could probably shoot the same score with only 8 clubs. Felipe had me hitting 5 irons, punching 7 irons, and chipping hybrid while putting me in position to make long pairs. As my confidence grew he knew where I could miss and what I could do.
Having played competitive golf for as long as I have, it’s hard for me to trust caddies. The one thing that I will tell you is that you need to listen to your caddie.
He knows the place like the back of his hand. Hopefully you get one that gets along with you because thats part of the fun at Bandon. The one thing that impress me the most was as we were walking up 18 he said it must be 10:30am.
I was like why do you say that. The wind is starting to pick up. Every day I was there the wind literally picked up at around 10:30am.
Which holes left a lasting impression with you?
I’m sitting this part out, you guys can go back and forth, I hear kids yelling downstairs.
We can agree on Bandon 12 right? I mean, we both have pictures of it, so that means it has to be good.
I don’t remember which hole it was, but on Trails, after you take the steep ascent up the hill, and tee off from way up, that short par 4. I remember hitting one of the best 3 woods I had hit in recent memory onto that green. But the view, even without water, was memorable. Pac 10 was also definitely memorable.
You can’t forget Bandon 16. We played it on a day where the fog came rolling in, what a beautiful sight. Hit the shot blind, and I would recommend most players just aim 10 yards left of the green and go for it.
So which course was the best? I mean, they are all great. But I am a sucker for coastal golf. Anytime I can feel like I will fall off the face of the earth and my ball will end up riding ocean waves and end up in another continent, I love. So I’m going Bandon. I know Pac Dunes ranks higher, but I’m going Bandon. So many memorable holes, and 17 with that nasty drop off, my goodness.
The one thing we all agreed on was Bandon Trails was our favorite course among the 5. I mean you really cant say any of them were bad but the layout and design of Trails was what we liked the most. The one thing with Trails is that it is easily 10 degrees hotter there than any other course since it is not on the Ocean.
Ok what did I miss? Which course was best? Ok well I’m going to go way off the grid and say Preserve and I’ll tell you why. No one Bandon Trip will ever be complete without a round on The Preserve 13 par 3 course. Our group would typically be the last 2-4 slots on the tee sheet where we would play 8-16 deep. At that point it can quite the chaotic shit show but one that will make a trip. It doesn’t hurt that the Preserve and Trails share the same Pro Shop and dining which create the perfect pre/post round spots to socialize and hangout. Nothing about the preserve was easy for me besides the 3 or 4 pure shots off the tee, miss the green and you’ll get the ability to let your imagination run wild to save par.
Favorite standout moment from your trip? Mine was the Treasure Box. It just kind of all brought everything together. The idea that there would be this box of gifts for strangers to pass onto each other, and it being quirky and hidden, that feeling of wonderment when you find it, then that feeling of having done something good when leaving something for the next group: it all encapsulated Bandon for me.
For me, the whole trip was just memorable. Just walking around with my clubs, going and ending up at the Punch Bowl almost every night pounding drinks with my friends, just great memories. So serene and natural, the whole place just felt right. I can’t remember enjoying a golf trip as much as I was on my first trip to Bandon. There is just something with the people there and the course that makes you want to go back.
I’m somewhat with you there, but my picture is a little misleading. We went on the 4th of July like you did, which meant the resort was not crowded at all. But we ran into Steph, Dell, and Andre at the resort. They were as cool as could be. Why? Because they said everyone who was at the resort was there for the same reason they were: escape from the craziness of our daily lives and enjoy golf. Now, I have some crazy stories about them but I’m not saying anything in public (well maybe in the Lounge), but they were great guys, just like everyone else on the property. Everyone we ran into was happy to be there, as were we.
Any parting shots? Any advice to give to someone going for the first time. I’m going to say overpack, bring Advil because it’s $1 a pill on property, and take plenty of pictures. Bring great friends.
If you play Preserve with a large group, get a bright colored ball because it will be impossible to ID which of the 8-16 balls sitting on the green. And definitely go with good friends.
Learn to hit those running chips with a 7 iron before you get there, definitely pack more than you think you need, and yes, go with good friends.