Friday, October 26, 2007

Bandon Dunes - Great Golf Destination

I have been fortunate enough in the last 4 years to play at Bandon Dunes twice, once at the Bandon Dunes track and once at Pacific Dunes. If you love links golf, then this is the place to go in the US. I can't say enough about the quality of the courses there and how much it feels like Scotland.

The property sits on the dunes, high up over the beach below - a very typical Scottish landscape. There are currently 3 top level golf courses at the resort; Bandon Dunes, Pacific Dunes and Bandon Trails. Though I have never played Bandon Trails, I've seen many of the holes and it looks like it's right up there with the other two. If you can only play one course and you want the toughest one, then Pacific Dunes is for you.

If you're looking for a place to play golf and also party, then this isn't your destination. This is hard core golf at a fair price. The full price in peak season is a bit stiff, but it's greatly reduced from November to April. If you're worried about the weather, then you're not a real Scottish links golfer. You may encounter a bit of wind and rain, but this is golf as it's typically played in Scotland. (I once inquired of a Scotsman who planned a week's golfing trip in Scotland for myself and a friend about what would happen if we got rained out of a round. His response, 'I don't know, I've never known it to happen' - meaning they don't stop playing for a 'wee bit of rain'.)

You can also knock down the price of a round by staying at the hotel. It's not a bad idea to consider as there aren't many alternatives in the area. A bit of advice, don't get the room my wife and I had that is over the downstairs bar, you'll be up until the last golfer's go to bed. The food at the resort is not to die for, but it's reasonable fair.

If you go, plan in advance as the course can be booked out at certain times. Be prepared to walk, I don't think they even have carts. For those of you not used to hoofing it, there are caddies available. There are also pull carts readily available. It's an easy course to walk, as most links courses are because they are relatively flat. Though I haven't played the 'Trails' course, it looks a bit more up and down than the two 'Dunes' courses.

If you can possibly swing a trip to Bandon - do it! I'm not being compensated in any way by the people who own the resort to promote it. In fact, they don't even know I'm writing this. If you get a chance to play any or all of these courses, please let me know how you fared.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A Fix For Too Much Pro Distance

The PGA tour gets longer and longer. Everyone has been talking about it for at least 5 years. There have been many suggestions on how to deal with it, but the powers that be have not budged. Meanwhile top notch courses are forced to continuously add yards if they want to host the top events. Seems like an expensive way to fix a problem that results primarily from one club - the driver.

Take away the 340+ yard drives and the pro tour could continue as it has without all the expensive course modifications. The classic layouts in the game could be preserved as they are and not gimicked up as some say they've done at Augusta. Some have proposed limiting the distance of the pro ball, but this has some serious drawbacks that have been discussed at length. Why not just take the driver out of the pros' hands. I don't propose that they do it on all courses, just select ones. It would be just fine to leave some tournaments where the pros can bust the long ones. It would also work out well for the club manufacturers. They could still promote who's using their big sticks. With pros hitting their 3 woods like they did drivers about 10 years ago, we could roll back the clock with very little pain.

Who said the game can't be protected by limiting distance and still keep everyone pretty happy. And it doesn't have to be implemented all at once. Do a pilot at a couple of events next season at courses particularly vulnerable to monster drives and see how it works out.

Saturday, October 13, 2007