Ranked 19th best in the US
Pacific Dunes @ Bandon Dunes Course Review
Pacific Dunes opened to the public in 2001 and was designed by Tom Doak, it ranks as #21 on golf digests latest rankings of the top 100 golf courses in the world. The course is part of a property with four regulation golf courses all in the Top 100 in the US and a 13 hole par 3 course called the Preserve. Bandon Dunes is blessed with sandy soil giving it that links feel to all of its courses. Pacific has 5 holes that run along the ocean and depending on the wind holes can play fairly easy to very difficult. The course measures 6623 yds from the tips, its a refreshing change from build it as long as you can to satisfy that half percent of players that developers feel they have to build to attract good golfers. Another great thing about playing here is it usually takes less than four hours to play your round and there are no carts, its walking only and caddies are available for $80 plus tip. The caddie program at Bandon is second to none so I recommend that you take one, your round will be that much more enjoyable. My take is if you want to enjoy your round of golf you should be walking anyways. The majority of play is off the Green tee’s and forward, there are lots short challenging par 4’s that will test your ability to land the ball in the correct area in order to have a clear shot at the green. Another thing very similar to play in the UK is the beautiful looking but very nasty yellow gorse bushes brought over in the early 1900’s by Scottish settlers, a good tip to follow is if your ball goes into the gorse leave it there even if its only a couple feet in, the thorns on these bushes are pure evil.
1st Hole 370 yds Par 4 – The first hole at Pacific Dunes is a shortish par 4 that is set in between dunes and pines on either side. The best shot here is a hybrid or fairway wood off the tee. From the tee there doesn’t appear as though there is lots of room in the fairway, keep your ball down the left side for a good look into the green. If your tee shot finds the right side of the fairway you may not have a clear look at the green. The putting surface is set at the bottom of a hill and has two bunkers on the left and back. The green slopes from back to front here and if you ball is above the hole your in for a fast putt.
2nd Hole 368 yds Par 4 – The second hole is another short par 4. There is ample room of the tee when the hole is downwind. If the hole plays into the wind a bunker placed in the middle of the fairway and one left can come into play. The line off the tee here is down the left side, from the right side of the fairway your blocked out by the two bunkers short and above the green. Your second shot into the green here should be played towards the middle of the green unless you can hit a left to right shot as the green has side boards that deflect the ball towards the middle of the green. The green is fairly flat in the middle and if you miss the green here, putter is still the best option as the grass is mown fairly close to green level.
3rd Hole 499 yds Par 5 – This short par 5 is reachable without any wind or when the hole plays downwind. Your aim point here if you plan on going for the green is left of the center bunkers to get the best angle of attack at the green. If you play it as a three shot hole the the aim point is between the center bunkers and right bunker. Your second shot to the green is slightly uphill here and you must stay left of the green side bunkers to get the best angle to the right portion of the green. The green here is long and wide and is situated almost perpendicular to the fairway, it has gentle slope throughout its surface.
4th Hole 463 yds Par 4 -The tee shot on this hole is one of the more intimidating ones at any of the Bandon Dunes courses. Your drive must avoid the right hazard that runs the length of the hole, although inviting to look at its not going to help your score. The aim point here is between the left bunkers and the left green side bunker. For the brave, the closer you can get to right side of the fairway the easier the shot into the green. The second shot depending on where you play from can have no obstacles (right side) on the approach shot or you could be semi blocked by the left bunkers if playing from that side. The green is long, wavy in undulation and fairly wide, the bunkers left of the green are very deep and you won’t be able to see the pin if your balls finds them as I found out.
5th Hole 199 yds Par 3 – This medium length par 3 tee shot is dependent on which way the wind blows. If the hole plays downwind you shot must be played at the left edge of the left green side bunker preferably short of the green to allow for the hard bounce. If wind is quartering off the ocean the aim point is at the right bunkers to let the ball drift back towards the center of the green. The green is guarded by large bunkers that contain a large amount of sand. The green complex has two levels which start at the front of the left bunker.
6th Hole 316 yds Par 4 – If this hole plays downwind it can be reached from the tee but if ball finds the left bunker or rough you’ll be working very hard just to make a par because birdie will be virtually impossible. Your drive here must find the right side of the fairway, anything to the right of the green off the tee here is good. From the tee there doesn’t look like a lot of room between the right fairway bunkers but there is plenty of room to the right of the nearest bunker. Your second shot is uphill to a very thin and long green with a 25 ft false front. If you ball misses right you’ll have a very delicate uphill putt back onto the green. The green complex has several areas of flat spots that a pin can be placed on so you’ll most likely have a nice breaking putt.
7th Hole 464 yds Par 4 – The longest par 4 on the front nine of Pacific Dunes. The fairway here is very expansive and slopes from right to left, the best line off the tee is at the bunkers near the green. There are lots of subtleties that make the second shot here a challenge to get the ball close to the pin. The shot into the green here is guarded by a series of 5 bunkers on the left and one bunker on the right and the green complex has lots of levels and undulation and generally has a back to front slope throughout most of the putting surface. If you find you trouble with your tee shot the best play is to layup short on the grassy noel and have a 50 yd pitch to the green. If you find yourself in one of the bunkers you’ll have a tough shot to get it close to the pin.
8th Hole 400 yds Par 4 – Your tee shot on the 8th is hit to a generous fairway. The bunker on the right isn’t far off the tee and does more to draw your eyes away from that side of the fairway. The line into this hole is between the left fairway pines and the green side pines in the distance favoring the left side more to open up the view of the green. Your second shot from the left side of the fairway will be open but if your ball is on the right side of the fairway you might not be able to see the putting surface and the bunker located middle front of the green. The surface has a false front at the front left of the green that you must get over in order to reach the putting surface. The green surface has three tiers on it the run from the front left to back right.
9th Hole 406 yds Par 4 – The final hole on the front nine of Pacific Dunes is unique, there are two greens here and depending on which green the pin is located on determines your drive placement. We played the upper hole so the line off the tee was at the highest point in the fairway – the right of the three humps or over the stairs in the distance. Your second shot to the green is guarded by very deep bunker on the left the protects the front of the green and there are also two bunker mid green on either side. The green itself is long and narrow and requires a shot that moves from right to left. The green complex has lots of undulation and from front to back. There is a big drop off behind the green so you’ll want to avoid going long and there is a nice side board you can use to the right of the green that can kick your ball back onto the green.
10th Hole 206 yds Par 3 – So much depends on which way the wind blows on this hole, its plays 20ft downhill to a green that sits at the edge of the beach, the wind can blow north, south or directly in off the ocean. There are no bunkers on this hole just lots of mounds to deflect your ball depending on where your tee shot lands. There are two tiers on this green with the bottom tier being the easiest to get to. There can be a vast amount of pin placements on this green with the hardest of them being at the back on top of the second tier. A shot to the middle of the green no matter where the pin is won’t hurt your score here.
11th Hole 148 yds Par 3 – One of the more picturesque holes at Pacific Dunes, your tee shot is hit to a smaller green that can play really small when the wind is at your back. The green is surrounded by 6 bunkers that can come into play depending on your tee shot and the wind. The green complex here set in a half punchbowl, its relatively flat and there is a good run up area just over the front bunkers that you can use to get your ball onto the green. The right side has areas where you may get a nice bounce back onto the green, also there is a backboard back right that can bring your ball back onto the green. It will be interesting to see the evolution of the bunkers on this hole especially the front two, being as the hole is so exposed to the wind.
12th Hole 529 yds Par 5 – One of my favorite holes at Pacific Dunes – When the hole plays downwind you have to aim your drive down at the right fairway bunker in order to reach the green in two. A shot hit down the left side will be blocked out by the huge mound and bunker guarding the straight line into the green. If the hole plays into the wind you just need to find the fairway, its the second shot that will setup the hole. For the longer hitter if your going for the green you’ll want to stay right of the mound on the left side of the green, going left is dead. For the shorter hitter you’ll want to aim right of the gorse to give yourself the best angle of attack on your third shot. The third shot into the green is wide open and you can use the side of the mound left to slingshot your ball onto the green. The green here is fairly flat for Pacific but still can be challenging as its exposed to the wind coming off the ocean.
13th Hole 444 yds Par 4 – Another stern par 4 test. The hole runs along the ocean from south to north so depending on what day you play this hole is might be fairly easy to downright difficult . There is ample room off the tee here with a scattering of bunkers down the right side. Your safe aiming point here is the big blowout sand dune near the green on the right side, for the brave take your ball at the left side of the green to have the best angle at the green. Your second shot is to an elevated green that has a very steep false front on it that will bring your ball back off the green. The green complex runs along the top of the ocean cliffs, its long and fairly wide and any shot just left of the green can easily find the ocean cliff marked with red stakes.
14th Hole 145 yds Par 3 – This is my favorite par 3 at Pacific Dunes, it just has that links feel that you get playing courses in the UK and Ireland. This hole reminds me of holes Royal County Down and Royal Portrush where holes are carved out of the natural sand dunes and gorse. The hole its self is a short par 3 that requires a deft touch, this is one hole where it actually helps if it plays into the wind. The green is surrounded by deep bunkers left and right at the mid green level and a bunker back right, there is also a steep drop off back left. The aim point here that gets your ball in a safe spot on the green is between the end of the gravel path on the mound fronting the green and the right end of the mound. The green complex is fairly flat with the bottom left corner having a small false front that may bring your ball back off the green or into the bunker.
15th Hole 539 yds Par 5 – This medium length par 5 is another strategic hole depending on the wind condition, there vast amount of room off the tee here but it where you ball ends up that is the key. A shot the stay left of the two bunkers on the right is the best angle of attack. The four bunkers you see in front of you cross the fairway and various lengths with two on the right being reachable. Your second shot here is where it gets tricky there is a bunker in the middle of the fairway here about where you will layup for your third shot. Depending on the wind you’ll either want to stay short of that bunker or go left of it, the left gives you a better angle of attack at the green, you can go right of it but the landing area is very narrow and there is gorse if you go to far right. There is approximately 30 yds between the bunker in the left side of the fairway and the bunker in the middle oft the fairway. The green is on a 30 degree angle from the fairway so the ideal shot here is from left to right. The green is fairly small and has minimal undulation, the front portion of the green has a false front so you’ll want to get your ball past that point.
16th Hole 338 yds Par 4 – A shorter par 4 that is setup with the tee shot. A good tee ball here is between the far left fairway bunker and the scruffy mound down the middle of the hole. The fun part of this hole is watching your ball bounce off all the tiny mounds down the left side of the fairway, a true links fairway you’ll never know where your ball will end up. Your second shot will be with some short of short iron and you should aim for the left side of the green as the right side of the drops off fairly steeply and you’ll have a uphill chip in which you wont be able to see the green. There are a couple of bunkers left and long at the green that have to been avoided, the bunker left of the green is especially tricky to get safely back onto the putting surface. The green complex is wide in the front and narrows in the back portion, there’s minimal undulation on this green.
17th Hole 208 yds Par 3 – The longest par 3 at Pacific Dunes plays shorter than its yardage, the tee shot is hit from a elevated tee to a green that is situated at a 45 degree angle to the tee box. There is an amazing amount of gorse on this hole and kind of reminds me of Royal Country Down #4 except your hitting over the gorse there. The play off the tee here is to land short of the right front corner of the green and let the ball bounce left towards the middle of the green. You can try to fly your ball onto the green here but it will most likely end up and the back of the putting surface or even over the green. For obvious reasons you’ll want to avoid the left side as if your ball finds that bunker you will only be able to see the pin. As you can see from the second picture the front part of the green and fairway are sloped towards the middle of the green, the back left portion is fairly flat with minor undulation.
18th Hole 591 yds Par 5 – The last hole at Pacific Dunes happens to be the longest hole on the course as well, your drive here must avoid the deep bunkers on the left side of the hole. The further right go here the more it opens up the view for your second shot, the best shot is one that can get up on the plateau that runs along the right side of the fairway. Your second here is at the left bunker behind the green, balls hit left of that bunker filter down to the middle of the fairway. If your coming in the from the left a shot over the lone fur tree will also get in the middle of the fairway, the key on your second shot is to avoid going right. The third shot into the green here is surrounded by some very deep bunkers, the right bunker guards is elevated so you wont be able to see the middle and back of the green. The green has some slope to it and generally runs from back left corner to the front right corner so stay right of the pin if you can.