Big resorts, short munis and a competitive dream

Asoka Elon
Bandon Dunes Bandon Trails

The second green at Bandon Trails is covered with hail as the author lines up his birdie putt on what turned out to be a perfect day at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Oregon. (Jason Lusk/Golfweek)

In April, I attended the media day for the 2022 U.S. Junior Amateur at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Oregon. The trip west included a perk: a round of golf with the then-defending champion Nick Dunlap on the resort’s Bandon Trails layout.

Bandon Dunes has become a mecca of American golf, not to be missed by anyone who loves the game. Each of the five full-size 18s at the resort rank among the best modern and public-access courses in the U.S., and while Pacific Dunes and several others rank slightly higher on the Golfweek’s Best lists than does Trails, the Bill Coore-Ben Crenshaw layout is the favorite of many, particularly among better players.

Something clicked that day for me, a short-hitting scratch golfer who somehow shoots 80 more often than 70. Playing the back tees, I made five birdies and shot 69 in the wind, cold and occasional hail. I didn’t want the day to end.

I tried to convince the rest of our group to keep going, but after soup in the Trails clubhouse, nobody wanted to join me that afternoon on Pacific Dunes for a bad-weather bonus round. So I did it alone, with almost no other groups on the course as the temperature started in the very low 40s and kept descending all the way to freezing.

Normally, I follow a great round with a dog of a second 18. Not so that day. Shot even-par 71 on Pacific Dunes from the back tees, driving one downwind par 4 (No. 6) and reaching two of the par 5s in two – rare for me these days. I didn’t have any observers, nobody to sign the card for me. But those three hours with Pac Dunes all to myself were as close to perfect as I can imagine any solo golf experience. As darkness fell on the 18th green, I recorded a short video for my wife, telling her that if my airplane went down the next day on my return home, not to worry for me, I was completely fine with whatever after one of the best days of golf in my life.

I used just one ball for the whole day. I travel a fair bit and can’t keep many souvenirs of all the courses I play, as they would just pile up too deep in my home office. But that ball from Bandon Trails and Pacific Dunes has earned a place of honor among all my keepsakes.

My year in golf travel: Big resorts, short munis and a competitive dream that lives on for 2023

Next Post

Top 2022 stories led by Tiger Woods, Cameron Smith

Jason Kokrak plays his shot from the 11th tee during the first round of the Charles Schwab Challenge golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports Jason Kokrak’s final shot of the 2022 Travelers Championship was a doozy, and it led to a most unusual disqualification from the tournament. Having […]