The course setting feels unique to the Bandon Dunes property. Even though it is just north of Pacific Dunes, the landscape is almost completely different. The “ghost tree” is located just off the tee on the third hole and is the only tree that players will have to contend with throughout the round. The rest of the course requires precision and strategy. As is the case with all of the courses at Bandon Dunes, Old MacDonald will not overwhelm players with length. This course is all about the green complexes and uses the template designs made famous by CB MacDonald.
The opening hole will immediately make players aware of what they will encounter during their next four hours. The tee shot is wide open and the green looks extremely inviting from the fairway. However, the green is the Double Plateau. If you are not able to hit the right sector or quadrant of this green, a two putt will be an accomplishment.
The only hole that plays to the oceanfront is the seventh. A second shot to a raised green will leave players with the view that both Bandon and Pacific offer throughout the round.
The eighth hole is Biarritz with tee shot down hill with the expanse of the back nine sitting in front of the player.
The Redan hole is tricky. It is not an overly long par three, but anything over the green towards the right will be met with an incredibly difficult up and down. With the tight lie, players may be drawn to use the putter, but the hill is so dramatic that reaching the green is a challenge. Also, should a player get too aggressive with their putt, it is not out of the realm of possibiulity to putt the bowl over the green into the bunker guarding the green short.
As is the case with all of the courses at Bandon Dunes, Old Mac is very playable. Good scores are possible and players are tempted throughout the round to take an aggressive line. Should you choose to cut a corner or carry a deep bunker, you will be rewarded. However, if the shot is not pulled off, big numbers can happen quickly. A great example of this is the 16th.
The 16th hole is the Alps hole and is perhaps the most dramatic version of the template that I have played. If the tee shot is hit down the left side of the fairway, it is almost guaranteed that the approach shot will be blind. The hill guarding the green is so large that a marker is located on top to serve as an aiming point for approach shots. The green opens up if players challenge the bunkers down the right side
The final hole is the punch bowl template and it is a really fun way to end the round. Once again, with a couple of well struck shots, players will have the opportunity for birdie on the last.
Old MacDonald blends the old school Scottish links design style with the Oregon coastline. The West Coast may not seem like a logical place for this design, but it works perfectly. The sound of water is omnipresent and sandy surfaces, fescue grass, and gorse lead a landscape that is unique to the United States. It may not have the photogenic coastline holes that are present at both Pacific and Bandon Dunes, but Old Mac is a solid compliment to those two highly rated tracks.