There are few things better in the world than hitting the course with some good friends and good beers. White guy high-fiving after sticking it close, taking pulls off whatever is in the birdie bottle or absolutely eviscerating the sad sack who makes triple. Next month will be my fourth annual trip to Bandon Dunes, and despite having the same 4 courses, the same restaurants and in many cases, the same staff (big ups to Shoe, though), my mouth will almost certainly still be agape for the entirety of my visit.
I’m a Bandonista now, which is cool, I guess. I know which stops I’m going to make on the drive down, I know which time of day I like to play each course and I even know which whiskey and cigar I’m going to have at the Bunker Bar. The entire trip is planned out to the hour. The only thing about that is that it’s all completely worthless.
I’ve only been to Bandon Dunes 3 times (all in mid-April), but in those 3 times, I’ve experienced 40°F and sideways rain, I’ve experienced record-breaking 85°F and sunshine. In those 3 times, I’ve shot 10 over in the afternoon with 50 mph winds and I’ve shot 112 on a calm dry morning. In those 3 times, I’ve taken 3 different routes with 3 different people.
Nothing ever goes according to plan and it’s always magic nonetheless. But why?
I’ve been to a few different golf resorts, or golf areas. The Coeur D’Alene resort is nicer, Bend has more courses and things to do, and Gamble Sands, for me is a better course than any at Bandon Dunes. My conclusion is that the greatness that Bandon Dunes contains within its boundary is that it’s always on theme. You’re not going to have drinks delivered by some flirtatious young tip vacuum, but the golf is the most pure links experience in America. The lodging isn’t 5 stars, but like Vegas, it fits the purpose. The food options won’t win a Michelin star, but it’s just some hearty ass plates of good food after walking 36 or whatever holes.
It’s awesome; and much like human meat, once you taste it, you get the hunger and nothing else can satiate it.
Everything is right there, and being so contained and isolated makes you hyper focus on how great of a time you’re having. There is no distraction of driving back and forth, or figuring out where to eat. You don’t have to worry about anything for your entire trip. Hell, if I didn’t run this blog, I’d probably leave my phone in the room and shut out the world for the duration of the trip.
I’m hoping to have some good Countdown: Bandon content in the next few weeks, but I’m undecided on what to write. I’d love to convince even one person that they need to get to Bandon Dunes and have them feel the religious experience that it entails, but I don’t want to help plan trips or get anyone ready.
I read every review, how-to and what to see that I could find before that first trip. Instead of doing anything like a normal person, my friend Chris and I drove 8 hours through the night to make our 9am tee time. We ate gas station food, we didn’t sleep for almost 30 straight hours, and by the time we unpacked we turned around and hauled 8 straight hours of ass right back home so Chris could be home for his anniversary. It was one of the greatest times I’ve ever had.
It’s hard to put into words what it feels like to be there and it’s even harder to put in to words what it feels like to go back, so I’m not going to try. Just do yourself a favor and go.