The Ultimate Golfer's Getaway
A trio of courses on the Oregon coast— Bandon Dunes, Pacific Dunes and Bandon Trails—are a golfer's paradise in the middle of nowhere
From the Print Edition:
Emeril Lagasse, Sept/Oct 2005
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Grant Rogers heads the instruction staff. After a couple of lessons, you might ask Rogers if he would take you fly-fishing. He's got a lot of tales to tell about that sport, too. Rogers' wife, Janet, is the resort's naturalist, and you might be able to arrange a very worthwhile nature walk with her through the dunes, meadows and forests. She's spotted a bobcat in the area, and there are loads of deer, some that wander the fairways.
If you have been in the game for any length of time, you will be struck by an eerie familiarity about Bandon Dunes. Every person you see you think you've seen before or think you know. A lot of logos are on parade, the occasional Augusta National yellow America popping out of a sweater or shirt. But more likely, the logos reflect a player's home club or home area or special destination. Ballybunion and St Andrews logos are seen here and there, along with Portrush and Dornoch, Portmarnock and Troon, Lahinch and Muirfield. Though you may be surrounded entirely by strangers at Bandon Dunes, that's only because you don't know their names. You do know their purpose, because they are there for the same reason that you are: to get to the heart of the game. You learn very quickly that regardless of handicap, these are real players at Bandon Dunes. A scratch player knows how to play in four hours and ten minutes, and so does a 20-handicapper.
Pebble Beach once was that kind of golf mecca. Real golfers made the journey to Pebble not only because it was a special seaside course, but because other real golfers played it. But as a U.S. Open venue and PGA Tour stop, Pebble Beach has evolved into more of a glamour destination, a real resort rather than merely a golf resort. There is the story of a convention of corn growers at the Lodge at Pebble Beach with 40 reserved tee times and 40 sets of rental clubs. Think about that.
Bandon Dunes is unlikely to have a corn growers convention or an auto dealers convention, or any convention, for that matter. It won't host a U.S. Open or a PGA Tour event. It will host the 2005 Pacific Coast Amateur, the 2006 Curtis Cup matches and the 2007 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship. These are smaller tournaments for the connoisseurs of the game and so very appropriate to what Bandon Dunes is. Bandon Dunes is for golfers.
"There are far more avid golfers than I thought there were," says Keiser. "I assumed that it would be just about all men. I'm glad to see that we have women players here and they seem just as avid. We have built a facility for players, and despite the difficulty of getting here, they are coming. It's something to be very proud of." v
Jeff Williams is the golf columnist for Cigar Aficionado.
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