In the beginning there was Bandon Dunes.
The landmark David McLay Kidd design, which opened in 1999, has since been followed by four more world-class sister courses. But make no mistake — it was Bandon Dunes that put tiny Bandon, Ore., on the map and paved the way for Bandon Dunes Golf Resort to become arguably the world’s finest golf resort.
Kidd, a Scotsman, was hired by owner Mike Keiser to create a course on a high bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean that was “authentic and true to the Scottish tradition.” Mission accomplished. The stunning, highly acclaimed 6,732-yard, par-72 gem looks and plays like a links course on the Scottish coast rather than the southern Oregon coast. Wind and far-reaching ocean views are constant companions as Kidd takes us on a walking-only adventure atop firm, sand-based turf through native dunes, gorse and other indigenous vegetation.
Golfers must think on every shot as Kidd provides various options to reach each green, which is why it’s definitely best to use one of the resort’s outstanding caddies. Because of the wind, Kidd created generous fairways and emphasized the ground game on approaches to the ample-sized greens.
Four teeing options (74.1/143 course rating/slope from the tips) make Bandon Dunes both fun and challenging for players of all abilities. Ten holes play either along, to or from the ocean. It’s tough to concentrate on the task at hand, which might be why I double bogeyed 20 percent of those holes — Nos. 5 and 15.
The 428-yard fifth is a very worthy No. 1 handicap hole. The two-shotter plays dead into the summer prevailing wind, with breathtaking scenery beckoning our concentration. Unfortunately, missing both sides of the split fairway and a three-jack prompted me to cry “uncle”— plus a few expletives that included an even closer family member.
The 163-yard 15th plays down to the bluff, with the wind blowing hard right to left. The play is to favor the left side, where a bank reportedly repels pulled shots toward the green’s center. Instead, my attempted fade into the prevailing wind instead sliced through the gale and into the right-greenside bunker, the course’s deepest pit.
On the plus side, I got away with a high hook on the 411-yard seventh that was knocked down by the left-to-right gale, and, after a solid approach, made my lone birdie.
Yes, the wind at Bandon Dunes will giveth and taketh away. But what you’ll take away from Bandon Dunes is an unforgettable world-class golf experience.
Bandon Dunes, Bandon, Ore.
Rates: January, $75-$100; February, $95-$120; March, $120-$160; April, $165-$210; May 1-Oct. 27, $235-$280; Oct. 28-Nov. 24, $140-$185; Nov. 25-Dec. 31, $75-$100
Golf and lodging reservations: Call 800-742-0172 or visit www.bandondunesgolf.com