Hopefully you enjoyed Vacation One in Hawaii this winter. I am sure those Bostonians that took advantage were especially thankful after such a wonderful winter. For those who failed to make the trek I assume they received plenty of photos from their friends who found their way to the islands.
Congratulations on completing the first leg of the journey to complete the ultimate 10 golf vacations. As described previously these trips will allow you to play nine of the top 10 courses, 21 of the top 25 and over 50 of the top 100 as espoused by Golf Magazine in their rating of the top 100 courses you can play. Only an insane individual like myself would attempt to complete the entire list.
I presume you heeded my advice and took your significant other along to enjoy all of the amenities that Hawaii has to offer. Assuming that you did not make the mistake of playing 36 holes everyday (a few times is, of course, understandable) than you have banked enough brownie points to book a vacation late this summer, or during the fall at Bandon Dunes in Oregon. I strongly recommend booking a non-refundable flight before making the big announcement. Better to ask forgiveness than permission. You might also break the news while reviewing photos of Hawaii.
For many, Bandon Dunes is the ultimate golfer’s vacation. Four of Golf Magazines top 13 courses are located in this mecca. I have been told it is just like playing golf in Scotland, only more difficult to get there. The stark Oregon coastal location, primarily links designs and inevitable cold, windy, wet weather certainly remind me of golfing across the pond. Pacific Dunes is the top rated course according to Golf Magazine, with Bandon Dunes checking in at 8, Old Macdonald at 10 and Bandon Trails is number 13. Personally, I think the courses are overrated, but it is tough to live up to these expectations. In particular, I was less impressed with Old Macdonald, which has taken minimalism to an extreme. Nevertheless, Pacific Dunes and Bandon Dunes are definitely top 10 worthy, with Bandon Trails offering a welcome respite from the barren landscape of the other three.
Some helpful hints:
---There is no time of year where you can guaranty great weather. Since you are paying a fortune you might as well give yourself the best opportunity between June and September. The days will also be longer providing a greater likelihood of completing the requisite 36 holes per day. Prices are slightly lower during May and October, but you are taking your chances.
---Book a foursome with your preferred golf/drinking buddies. There is nothing to do but golf and drink in this part of the world. Leave the wife/girlfriend at home, unless they are intense golfers. No, leave them at home anyway. If they are adventuresome they can book their own group.
---Book well in advance. You will want to play 36 holes per day and the courses fill up quickly.
---The traditional trip is to arrive (via a circuitous route) early in the afternoon. Play one round that afternoon. Play 36 holes on each of the next two days, and book one early round before leaving. Three nights is plenty…especially on the wallet. If possible, play two rounds each at Pacific Dunes and Bandon Dunes.
---You will be flying into North Bend airport, a small regional facility, which ironically is over 200 miles south and west of Bend, Oregon.
---The best accommodations are the four bedroom/four bath cottages.
---All of the courses are walking only. The caddies are first rate, but you will still need to be in shape to complete the adventure.
Ultimately, Bandon Dunes is a wonderful golf only vacation. Bring your rain gear, work on your knock down shots and practice rolling the ball up onto the green. Other courses in the top 100 advertise “links” play, but none more accurately replicate the Scottish experience than Bandon Dunes.
Weekly Observation: I have now replayed Rory’s 3 iron toss into the lake at Doral multiple times and have come to the conclusion that his launch angle is off. Otherwise, the form looked pretty good.
Paul Laubach is completely unqualified to provide expertise with respect to golf course rankings and design, however, he is a highly opinionated golf addict who believes everyone should be entitled to his thoughts. He is in the process of completing the story of his journey to play America’s top 100 courses. Please visit this website regularly for more (im)practical information.