I can't even remember the last time I played 13 holes of golf and walked off the course with a smile on my face. Usually playing that many means you either A.) ran out of time, or B.) had to bolt due to inclement weather.
Either way, the number has never had a place in the sport ... until now. Bandon Dunes may be home to four of the most stunning 18-hole tracks in the entire world, but on May 1st, the resort will add another gem to the rotation — the 13-hole par-3 Bandon Preserve that could end up being the resort's most talked about layout.
It's rare that a par-3 course could potentially overshadow Bandon Dunes, Bandon Trails, Old Macdonald, and Pacific Dunes, but after getting a chance to play the Preserve Course, there's a good chance it will become a staple for every golfer making the trek to North Bend, Oregon.
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Like a number of my colleagues that had the privilege of playing the course before it was opened to the public, I stepped on the first tee believing there was no par-3 course in the world that was worth playing for $100.
Yep, you read that right; the resort's going to charge golfers a cool Benjamin to play. I guess if you're going to Bandon Dunes in the first place the price tag doesn't really matter. But I honestly thought the price point should've been a little more reasonable.
At least that's was how I felt on the first hole, a straightforward 140-yard hole that plays a little uphill into a stiff breeze. I kept asking myself what was so special about the course. That was until I stepped foot on the second hole.
With the Pacific Ocean out in the distance on my right and the San Francisco lessingia in full bloom, I finally realized that maybe the price tag wasn't the only thing that mattered. Sure, money is important, but the second you step foot on the Preserve, you start to realize it's truly a one-of-a-kind place.
Views of the Pacific are the norm as you wind your way around 13 holes that range from almost 180 yards all the way down to 68 yards. Depending on the wind, you could literally use every club in the bag, with the exception of your woods.
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This course is a blast to play, but it will challenge you, making it the perfect place to warm up after getting to Bandon, or for a money game. Like most of the courses at the resort, the Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw design, which is adjacent to the first tee at Bandon Trails, sticks with the general Bandon theme.
The holes look like they were carved out of the mounds, with jagged bunkers that range in size from as big as a dining room table to the size of your shower. And the greens? Well, the greens are pretty spectacular. With the exception of the fourth and seventh greens, which are connected, every green on the course has its own identity, with severe undulations that have to be seen to be believed.
We played the course just a couple days after holes were cut for the first time, so the greens were terribly slow, but I'm guessing like most of the courses at Bandon Dunes, the crews will have them running firm and fast, making it a test for golfers of all skill levels.
Every hole at the Preserve is special, but the one that stuck out to me was the 164-yard sixth. Playing to a green guarded by bunkers short of the pin, you step on the green to a view of the Pacific Ocean and some of the resort's rugged vegetation on your left.
It's one of those views that makes you feel incredibly fortunate to be a golfer. Plenty of players will probably be thinking the exact same thing when they step foot on that green in the future.
Bandon Dunes was an incredible place before the Preserve became a part of the rotation, but with the addition of a stunning par-3 course, I can now say without a shadow of a doubt that the best golf resort in the world is located in Oregon.
(Ed. note: Officials at Bandon Dunes reported that all net proceeds from The Bandon Preserve Golf Course would benefit The Wild Rivers Coast Alliance, so your $100 is definitely going to a good cause.)
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