In my opinion, Pacific Dunes is the strongest course at Bandon Dunes. After playing all of the courses on the property, I could not get past just how much I enjoyed the design and the view. Every course at the Bandon Dunes Golf Resort provides something different. For me, Pacific Dunes is the course that I would put at the top of my list if I had to choose just one.
Pacific Dunes blends a surreal setting with a challenging yet fair test of golf. While the yardage on the card does not seem overly long, only 6700 yards from the tips, this course will test almost every club in the bag. Depending on the wind, this course can play incredibly different. For many days, the yardage book is inconsequential as you will be forced to choose shots based on trajectory rather than distance.
The course tested my patience and mental game throughout the round. It is a relentless track that finds the proper balance between challenging and fair. There are numerous tough shots, but if you are able to make a good swing, often times you are rewarded.
Pacific Dunes utilizes the ocean front cliffs on both the front and the back nine. The third hole is a strong par five that plays into the prevailing wind. Upon arrival on the tee, it is hard not to get lost in the view. While not directly on the cliff, the hole is very exposed to the wind. A par on this hole is a good score, especially if playing into the prevailing wind. The fourth hole is probably the most picturesque on the course. The cliffs are just off the right edge of the fairway and any shot hit in that direction will end up a couple of hundred feet below. It is a classic risk/reward design. The closer you aim towards the cliff, the easier the second shot becomes. If you choose to play it safe, bunkers guard the entire left side of the fairway making par almost impossible.
Following those to holes the course shifts back into the dunes. After leaving the ocean, I was a little concerned about being let down. Simply put, it doesn’t happen. Some of the best holes at Pacific do not involve an ocean view. The sixth hole was one of my favorites. A short par four that plays into the usual wind. Off the tee, the fairway looks tight, but in reality it is quite wide. A shallow green that feels like a bit of redan is located at the top of the hill. Short and left leads to one of the deepest bunkers on the course and right leads to a near impossible up and down. It does not seem tough on the card, but this one will test all of your skill.
The seventh hole is also one of the toughest on the course. The ball needs to find the fairway or par becomes nearly impossible. The second shot is forced to carry nearly 200 yards to the green. There is some fairway, to run up a long iron, but the landing area is so small. A missed fairway off the tee will likely require a layup. This one is tough, but again, very fair.
The back nine makes it way back to the ocean with back to back par 3’s. The tenth hole is down the hill some 160 yards to a green with the ocean directly in the background. The tee box is totally exposed to the wind and the ball seems to hang in the air forever. The hole typically plays into the breeze making pulling a club even more difficult.
The eleventh hole is just a s short 130 yards but plays straight into the breeze. The green is severe and the ocean is immediately on the left. The view, the wind, and the short iron all make this tee shot phenomenal. Hitting the green is just the first challenge as this green has some sever undulation.
The thirteenth hole is the last one immediately on cliff. Again, players will be presented with a visually challenging tee shot, but in reality the landing area is quite large. Anything hit left will end up down the cliff, but there is room to bail out to the right. A huge dune guards the right side of the green and makes for a visually stunning second shot. The green is fairly deep meaning most shots struck well will be rewarded with a putt. From the back of that green, players can look north and see the cliffs that will be a staple on the new Sheep’s Ranch course scheduled to open in the summer of 2020.
The finish of the course winds back through the dunes and is highlighted by a redan style seventeenth hole. A solid 175 yards downhill to a green that slopes hard from front right to back left. The green is protected by the tradidional deep bunker in the front left. During summer months, the gorse blossoms and the hole is surrounded by bright yellow flowers. Truly a spectacular hole proving that you don’t need an ocean as a backdrop for the hole to be beautiful.
Pacific Dunes will take you on a journey that is quite remarkable. Some holes are tucked within the trees and dunes while others play in front of the large expanse that is the Pacific Ocean. Shots will challenge players but can be executed and good rounds can be had. This course finds the right mix of beauty and challenge. It is certainly worthy of its lofty rankings and reputation.