Pacific Dunes Golf Course


Pacific Dunes Golf Course
57744 Round Lake Drive
Bandon, OR 97411

Course Review Date: 01.08.2013
Course Reviewer: Ian Favre

You ever have a golf course that you know is going to be amazing, but you duff the ball around like a total hack and end up hating the experience?  Of all these golf course reviews we have written, the toughest part is writing a review after you just totally stunk the place up.  I mean, who cares if you just played the highest ranked public golf course in the country if you hit the ball like a guy in jeans shorts and those ridiculous “golfing” sandals.  And so it goes, my relationship in two previous visits to Pacific Dunes at the Bandon Dunes Golf Resort has been strained to say the least.  It’s the only golf course I’ve played where out of frustration I picked a ball up out of the bunker and threw it at the flag stick….only to find I threw it too hard and it landed in the bunker behind the green.

Regardless of how well you play the game, Pacific Dunes truly is a golf course to marvel at.  These courses at Bandon all have a way to lull you to sleep in the opening two holes.  They all seem to start pretty pedestrian, with no eye popping views or jaw dropping design features to speak of.  Pacific, Bandon and Old Macdonald all start this way.  A few nonchalant, run of the mill par 4’s before “Boom!” the most breathtaking golf and scenery takes hold.  There’s a lot of varying opinion on which of the golf courses is the best and it seems as though every different person you ask will rank them in a different order.  Regardless of personal opinion, no course at Bandon gets the press and overall seal of approval like Pacific Dunes does.

This was my third run through Pacific Dunes and as I mentioned previously she has given me the business in ways I prefer not to describe.  There’s a definite reason I asked Jason to write the previous review…I would have simply wrote “poop” and hit the publish button.  Funny how dropping 20 strokes changes your perspective huh?  One thing about Pacific Dunes and the other Bandon golf courses is that every day you are playing roulette with the weather.  Today it’s sunny, 50 degrees with a slight breeze (I just checked), but for us we got sustained 25mph winds and temps in the low to mid 40’s.  Weather plays a huge part in your round at Pacific Dunes and even though it’s a fairly short track (6633 from the tips, 6142 from the middle tees) a howling wind turns that drive you smashed down the middle into a 180 yard 6 iron.  It can actually be a bit disheartening :)  Take the 18th hole for example. 575 yards from the middle tees, straight into the teeth of the wind.  After driver in the middle, then an ok 5 wood in the fairway, I looked at my yardage and still had 240 yards to go.  Driver – 5 wood and I only got 335 yards out of it?  Ugh!

If you can survive the wind, you are going to be treated to one of the more uniquely designed golf courses in the U.S.  Most of our modern golf course are created with heavy bulldozing and couple feature holes in mind.  How may courses have you played where you get 16 ho-hum golf holes and 2 spectacular ones?  Think Echo Falls.  Pacific is the exact opposite of anything you have ever played; a couple average holes, but for the most part the most jaw dropping golf you have ever seen.  My personal favorite, and likely the favorite of many players is the par 4, 4th hole.  Running the entire way along the side of the Pacific, the 4th hole is a 463 yarder that when playing into a strong head wind is one of the toughest pars you will every make.  From the tee box, block it right and it’s either in the gorse bushes or on the beach.  Call that shot an offering to the golf gods and re-peg one.  Fairway bunkers on the left keep you honest and greenside protection of additional bunkering and that 80 foot cliff thing on the right make every approach shot a knee knocker.  Even Bandon’s website throws modesty out the window on this hole calling it, “one of the greatest par 4’s in the world.”

Of all the remarkable things they have done at this golf course, it’s playability for all skill levels is what stands way out to me.  Regardless of conditions, if you are teeing it up from the appropriate tees, you should be able to get around Pacific Dunes without getting demoralized (emphasis on “should” no guarantees).  The majority of the fairways are massive and provide ample space for somewhat wayward tee shots and minus whacking one into the gorse bushes, you really are never in danger of full on losing the ball.

Tips for Playing Pacific Dunes:
1.  The bunker sand is very heavy and it takes an aggressive stroke to get the ball safely out.  Don’t try to be a hero in the fairway bunkers.  Advance the ball out and move on.
2.  How’s your shot making?  For a low handicap ball striker this is a shot makers dream of a course.  If you’re like me, just praying it stays in-bounds…club up.  The wind at Pacific Dunes will destroy shot.
3.  Practice the bump and run!  a 90 yard sand wedge from the tightest lie you have ever seen?  Hellllll no! A tidy little bump and run 3 hybrid….all day long.  It’s blast to hit shots at Pacific Dunes and the other Bandon courses you wouldn’t and probably couldn’t hit anywhere else (except Chamber’s Bay).

Memorable Holes:

4th Hole – As mentioned before, this hole is un-fricking-believable.  Let’s play “find me a better par 4 in the country.”  I dare you.

10th Hole – Gorgeous 206 yard, par 3 with one of the most amazing backdrops you will ever see.  With the wind playing against you its a super tough tee shot, but the backdrop is just remarkable.

11th Hole – Another epic par 3 running north on the bank of the Pacific Ocean, with an elevated green strongly protected native fescue grasses and natural bunkering.

13th Hole – 444 yard par 4 against the wind most of the time, playing what feels like 600 yards.  Running north on the Pacific your approach shot is long and into a narrow deep green.

Golfchops.com rating: 24/25
Customer Service: 5
Condition of Greens: 4
“Perceived” maintenance level of course: 5
Value: 5
Amenities: 5

Rating Notes:
– Bandon has a great staff across the board, clubhouse, starters, maintenance, etc.  They refunded a non-refundable tee time when one of our guys bailed out.
– Pacific has my least favorite greens on the property.  They roll fine, a bit bumpy from the sand, but I think they are just a notch below the greens of the other golf courses.
– Perfect.  Only way to describe it.  The golf course is in perfect condition every time we play it.
– $75 for an Oregon resident is an absolute steal and I think its the whole reason Mike Keiser created this paradise.  Create the best golf resort in the country, make it open for everyone and make it relatively affordable.
– No cart service, or carts period out there but there’s a good snack shack out there with any on course supplies you might need.  Bandon’s practice facilities are second to none and Pacific has an additional putting green for a final tune up.

Course Review Date: 01.28.2011
Course Reviewer – Jason

Pictures & Video Below

Pacific Dunes, designed by Tom Doak (also co-designed Old MacDonald), was opened in 2001. In 2005 Pacific Dunes was rated the number one resort golf course in the country by Golfweek magazine, placing just ahead of Pebble Beach. It is also consistently ranked as one of the top courses in the U.S. and the world by Golf Magazine (#16 in the world and #10 in the U.S. in 2009*). The course gives you a feel that it has been there for 100 years and at no point does it feel artificial. At just 6,633 yards from the Championship tees the course can give you a false sense of hope until you realize how much trouble is out there waiting for you.

Pacific Dunes was our second 18 of the day after an early round at Bandon Trails. Nothing like rushing to the first tee of Pacific after grinding out 18 at Bandon Trails. I will say it is a great contrast of golf, Bandon Trails winds through a more wooded area of the property and Pacific Dunes is pure links golf at its best. The first tee at Pacific is deceiving, the landing area is much larger than it appears from the box. When you arrive at the second tee box you see why this course is so highly regarded. The Pacific Ocean is in full view and you start to realize what an amazing round of golf you’re about to play. If you are not completely speechless at this point you will be once you arrive to the tee at #4. It is a 463 yard par 4 that plays along the Ocean and is considered one of the greatest par-fours in the world. The Pacific is right and the fairway slopes right so you may want to aim a little left.

The back 9 opens up with back to back par threes along the ocean (see video below). Number 10 plays 206 yards with an elevation change and wind playing a major factor in club selection. Number 11 is a just 148 yards but miss left and the next piece of dry land your ball sees will be the shores of Hawaii when it washes up in 5 years. After the two par threes you are greeted by a 529 yards par 5 into the wind with a large cross bunker that will affect club selection for your layup shot. Number 13 is another unforgettable hole. A 444 yard par 4 along the shores of the Pacific with the wind playing a factor yet again. The back 9 ends with a massive 591 yard par 5. You must favor the left side to avoid trouble right.

The entire experience at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort was amazing and Pacific Dunes would be the best course I have ever played if it wasn’t for Old MacDonald. The staff was extremely friendly and knowledgeable, the rooms at the resort were amazing, the food was good, and the golf is second to none! If you have ever considered a golf trip make Bandon Dunes your number one priority! You will not regret it.

Golfchops.com rating: 25/25
Customer Service: 5
Condition of Greens: 5
“Perceived” maintenance level of course: 5
Value: 5
Amenities: 5

Rating Notes:
– The entire staff was extremely friendly and we really appreciate them having us out to play
– The only issue at Pacific were the bumpy greens (most likely due to high volume of play and our afternoon tee time).   Debated a 4.5 here, but can’t justify giving the #16 rated course in the world a lower score on their greens.  Fescue greens can get bumpy from time to time.
– Depending on the season, prices vary, but golf is Pacific Dunes is not cheap by any means. Your best value is the winter rate of $115.
– Restrooms in a couple different places, access to a snack bar in a couple places, solid practice green, lots of instruction and help from staff, perfect. *source golf.com (Golf Magazine)

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About ifavre

Creator of Golfchops.com, a resource website for Pacific Northwest Golf.

Posted on November 10, 2011, in Oregon Golf Course Reviews. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. The Mecca of golf in the US as far as I am concerned. $75 to play one of the best courses in the US?? Plus the experience of links golf is fantastic. A must do for anyone who loves the game!! I suggest you stay on property, you wont be disappointed!

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