Bandon Dunes at 20: Still Dazzling, Still Growing

An Improbable Success Story Just Keeps Getting Better

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The third hole at Bandon Trails. Photo by Brian Oar

Bandon Dunes Golf Resort turned 20 years old this month. That’s nothing on the centuries-long arc of golf history, but it’s something to celebrate.

Mike Keiser’s you-gotta-be-kidding me lark on a remote stretch of Oregon coast has, in my estimation, changed the game in ways we’re still discovering.

For instance, the natural, “let the land dictate the routing” design trend it helped revive from the world’s pre-heavy equipment days is still going strong.

The ingenious way it brought the very feel, smell and taste of a classic Ireland or Scotland excursion to the continental United States is now the model for countless golfer getaways from coast to coast.

Its strict adherence to the game’s sturdiest traditions — walking only, emphasis on amateur play, the heady mix of unspoken respect and childlike joy its rumpled fairways and giant greens engender — makes it seem like it’s been there far longer than two decades.

Just the word “Bandon,” with or without the Dunes, puts golf pilgrims onto a new plane of mental clarity. It’s that kind of place, that powerful an emotional trigger. It transcends score, wipes out swing thoughts, pummels self-consciousness and somehow sheds new light on your attitude toward the game no matter how many visits you’re lucky enough to pay.

 I’ll go ahead and say it: Bandon Dunes is up there in the golf pantheon with likes of Pebble and Pinehurst and St. Andrews now, and will be as long as the game draws breath.

Golf this good, this pure, this challenging, this stripped-to-the-soul beautiful, this real, should take some effort getting to.

So drive. Fly to a feeder city if you must — Portland is three and a half hours away, Eugene two and a half — and rent a car, which will allow you to explore beyond the resort’s boundaries, including the charming town of Bandon itself with its marina, downtown eateries, rock-studded beaches and, the area’s other golf courses, including the excellent Bandon Crossings.

THE BIG STAY

In the years since it opened with a dozen rooms and one golf course, Bandon has pretty much set a new standard for guy-friendly, golf-specific digs.

Today it boasts nearly 400 beds in several tasty configurations, from the single rooms of the original Lodge, where you can walk downstairs for breakfast and about 20 yards to the first tee of Bandon Dunes itself; to the Inn located between the Lodge and Bandon Trails, a great choice for large groups with a fine public gathering space with its own bar; to the convenient and comfortable Lily Pond rooms; to the two-story, four-bed Chrome Lake suites and brilliantly devised, built-for-foursomes Grove cottages, where each guy gets his own bedroom, bathroom and parlor.

If you’re all in for the golf and golf only at Bandon Dunes (the choice for the overwhelming majority of first-timers who want to play the resort’s quartet back-to-back and wall-to-wall until their legs fall off), you can’t go wrong with any of these lodging options.

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