Golf Course Review: Bandon Trails (OR)

Bandon Trails Course Rankings:

Golf Digest: #14 US public, #74 US top 100, #4 Oregon
GolfWeek: #21 US modern, #9 US resort, #4 Oregon
Golf.com: #13 US public, #49 US top 100, #4 Oregon

Designer: Bill Coore, Ben Crenshaw (2005)

Bandon Trails, a consensus top 25 course in the country, is the perfect inland complement to the mecca of oceanfront golf courses at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort.

While it consistently is ranked slightly lower than the other three championship courses on the property (even though top 25 is certainly in an esteemed air!), it tends to rank very highly on property when discussed with golf enthusiasts who visit the resort.

“It’s like, ‘How many holes can you possibly walk along the Pacific Ocean?'” one golf writer told me. “It’s so nice to get out of the wind for a change,” another one said.

Certainly, as any staff member at Bandon Dunes will tell you, the ideal time to play the course at Bandon Trails is during the afternoon, when the winds are at their highest and the rich forests provide some shelter that is nowhere to be found on Pacific Dunes, Bandon Dunes or Old Macdonald.

“Bandon Trails was my favorite course at Bandon Dunes,” another writer told me, “Because it does what it does so extremely well. It is as good of a woodlands course as there is in the entire country!”

The world’s best golf course design team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw knocked Bandon Trails out of the park. The canvas they were provided for this project featured massive rolling dunes, vast oceans of fescue-covered meadows and deep, dense forests.

Coore/Crenshaw designed Bandon Trails with exceptional hole variety, too, and managed to create a playing experience that is equal parts Streamsong, Pinehurst No. 2 and Sand Hills golf. The result of their creativity and expertise is simply stunning.

Bandon Trails leads off with an intimidating tee shot that is as exposed as any other hole on the course to the extreme winds that blow over the Bandon Dunes Golf Resort. A slight leftward leaning par four with fescue everywhere, the first hole takes place on one of the highest points on the property, just outside the Bandon Trails clubhouse.

Hole 1: Par 4 (392/356/288/212/212)

Hole 1: Par 4 (392/356/288/212/212)

The natural swales of the first hole fairway at Bandon Trails:

Hole 1: Par 4 (392/356/288/212/212)

Hole 1: Par 4 (392/356/288/212/212)

A look back from beyond the pin on one:

Hole 1: Par 4 (392/356/288/212/212)

Hole 1: Par 4 (392/356/288/212/212)

The second hole provides the first “Wow” moment at Bandon Trails, with a highly elevated tee box that plays to a slightly hidden green downhill. The left side of the green is invisible from the tees, and expands a bit farther than expected in that direction.

Hole 2: Par 3 (214/166/142/84/84)

Hole 2: Par 3 (214/166/142/84/84)

Hole 2: Par 3 (214/166/142/84/84)

Hole 2: Par 3 (214/166/142/84/84)

The view back uphill from the second hole green:

Hole 2: Par 3 (214/166/142/84/84)

Hole 2: Par 3 (214/166/142/84/84)

Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw did a fantastic job building a world-class inland course at a facility that is best known for its coastal golf, and the third hole is a terrific example of their handiwork.

Clearing the first traps is job one off the tee on three, and the best line is toward the right side of the fairway.

Hole 3: Par 5 (549/532/513/346/455)

Hole 3: Par 5 (549/532/513/346/455)

Continue reading