Bandon Dunes Golf Resort is adding even more golf to a resort already home to five 18-hole courses and a 13-hole par-3.
Set on an inland dunescape between the first hole of Bandon Trails and the Pacific Ocean, development is proceeding on a second par-3 layout (this one spanning 19 holes) affectionately being referred to as “Course No. 7” by the team behind the design—Rod Whitman, Dave Axland, and Keith Cutten. In fact, the trio will finish building and turfing the resort’s newest golf offering this year, with the potential for preview play in Fall 2023 and a formal opening expected sometime in 2024.
While no official name has been released, we do know plenty about the plans in place at the new course.
Bandon Dunes visionary Mike Keiser recognized the need for more golf—if you’ve tried booking tee times there, you understand that demand is high, and reservations must be booked more than a year in advance. The addition of another par-3 course—complimenting Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw’s 13-hole short course, The Preserve—made perfect sense, adding to the pool of golf options and allowing visitors to maximize their time on site. So, he turned his attention to the south side of the property and found that nature had already done much of the work for him.
Keiser has a scoring system when he walks a routing for the first time, ranking every hole from 1–10. When Keiser walked this proposed course, he presented it the highest cumulative score he’s ever given.
“Words don’t really do the site justice. It has so much potential,” says Keiser. “There are so many natural pockets for greens. It’s all chopped up with dunes that when you look at them, especially with Rod’s routing at hand, it’s like God laid them out. It’s great green site after great green site after great green site. It’s a much better site than The Preserve, in my opinion.”
After plans for Tom Doak to design the project ultimately fell through, the team of Whitman, Axland & Cutten were a natural choice to fill in. They already have a proven track record working for Keiser at Cabot Cape Breton in Nova Scotia—where Whitman designed Cabot Links and the threesome later joined forces to create the resort’s 10-hole par-3 course, The Nest—not to mention a wealth of other quality courses, predominately in Canada.
“It’s exciting to get the opportunity to hit the U.S. market with our talents,” says Cutten, who is leading the shaping efforts for the new course.
Keiser wanted a true short course; something that didn’t require players to carry more than a few clubs around. Whitman started with a 12-hole routing (Nos. 7–8 on the rendering below) playing around a large dune on the area’s more subtle, walkable portions. Subsequent proposals led to six more holes (Nos. 1–6) on the site’s most dramatic land, starting atop the highest dunes before plunging down into a bowl and up again out of it. A 19th hole was later added that split the gap between the clubhouse and the 18th green, which shares a horseshoe double green with the 6th hole.
Holes are in the range of 60–160 yards on the current scorecard, with the option of getting a few up to 180 yards. There are numerous teeing areas, including a forward tee where players can use their putter on every hole.
Although a forested section sits between the course and the ocean, Cutten estimates there are water views on roughly 80 percent of the course. It’s the other 20 percent he’s more excited about, where players drop below the treeline and lose perspective of where they are, something he notes makes Bandon Trails so special.
“My favorite thing about the property is it’s so varied that we were actually able to give 19 different looks to a short hole, which depending on your site is not very easily done,” says Cutten. “You want every shot to be memorable, and the landscape helps us with that.”
The layout begins and ends steps below a new clubhouse, located on one of the highest points on property. The structure will be comparable to the existing space at Old Macdonald, but while modest in size, the vistas stretching from Pacific Dunes in the north all the way down to the rocks outside of the town of Bandon will be a “holy shit visual” for guests, as Keiser puts it, and an unquestionably popular place to enjoy a Bandon sunset.
The price to play the new short course will be $100 (the same fee as The Preserve), and like The Preserve, all proceeds will benefit the Wild Rivers Coast Alliance.
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