If you’re a true golf nut and want to check off THE quintessential US golf bucket list experience before your grips wear out, Bandon Dunes in Oregon better be top of your list. There is no finer destination for a buddy golf trip in the world — bar none. And we would know, having experienced the glory that is Bandon twice before and can not wait to return in 2024.
Situated on the rugged coastline of southern Oregon, Bandon Dunes is a collection of some of the finest golf courses in the world (Yep, the whole wide world!) that have been designed to test the skills of even the most experienced golfers.
The coastal golf Mecca consists of five courses: Bandon Dunes, Pacific Dunes, Bandon Trails, Old Macdonald, and the newest addition, Sheep Ranch. Each course has its own unique character and layout, but they all share one thing in common – a commitment to preserving the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape. Oh, and the wind. They share mother nature too. Sometimes lots and lots of wind. But that’s par for the course whenever you’re playing true links golf, or in the case of Bandon, spending time on the Oregon coast.
Bandon Dunes, the course that started it all, is a traditional links-style course that was designed by Scotland’s own, David McKlay-Kidd. He designed the course to mimic the classic links of Scotland and Ireland. With its rolling dunes, challenging bunkers, and unpredictable winds, Bandon Dunes will test your skills and leave you with memories that will last a lifetime. Currently ranked #46 in the US by Golf.com. Full list here.
Pacific Dunes, on the other hand, is known for its dramatic views and challenging terrain. Breathtaking and maddening when the wind whips, this course has been ranked as one of the top courses in the world by every golf publication or website known to man since the day it opened, and is a must-play for any golfer who loves to brag. Currently ranked #17 in the US by Golf.com.
Bandon Trails is a more “traditional” course, but don’t let that fool you. This course is still a serious challenge, with its tricky greens and forested hills. If there was an outlier on the property, this is the course. And a pure beauty she is. Currently ranked #40 in the US by Golf.com.
Old Macdonald, the fourth course at Bandon Dunes, is a tribute to the legendary golf course architect, C.B. Macdonald. This course features many of the classic design elements that Macdonald used in his courses, including deep bunkers, elevated greens, and strategic hazards. Currently ranked #77 in the US by Golf.com.
And then there’s Sheep Ranch, the newest addition to the Bandon Dunes family. This course is like the cool cousin who lets you get away with anything. It’s more relaxed and casual, with fewer hazards and more opportunities for creative shot-making. It’s the perfect course to end your golfing adventure on a high note. Albeit new to all of the “Best of” rankings lists, Sheep has quickly found a cult following and is currently ranked #97 in the US by Golf.com.
In addition to the courses, Bandon Dunes offers a wide range of amenities and services to make your stay as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. There are several restaurants on the property, including a pub-style restaurant and a fine-dining establishment, as well as several bars and lounges.
The resort also offers a variety of lodging options, from luxurious rooms and suites to cozy cottages and cabins. And for those who want to take a break from golf, there are plenty of other activities to enjoy, such as hiking, fishing, and sightseeing. And boozing. Cigars. It’s hard to find trouble at Bandon, but it isn’t hard to get a drink.
Where is Bandon? And what options do I have to get there?
Rich or flying in on your company’s/father-in-law’s dime, fly private.
Let me tell you, getting to this golf paradise is part of the adventure. Located on the southern coast of Oregon, this place is not for the faint-hearted, but for those who are willing to venture off the beaten path in search of epic golf. Remember, bucket list experiences tend to be more than just expensive, they take a ton of planning, and you need to spend some time at the destination once you get there. For those flying in from overseas or the East Coast, travel to Bandon can take a full day or more.
If you’re flying in, there are a few options to consider:
- North Bend: This commercial airport is the closest one to Bandon Dunes, just 35 minutes away. However, be warned that you’ll most likely need a connecting flight or two to get here. The good news is that you can take a shuttle from the airport and once you’re on the property, there are shuttles to take you anywhere you want to go. No rental car needed!
- Eugene: Definitely not my personal favorite airport to fly into because as a U of Washington grad I bleed purple & gold, Eugene Airport is about 2.5 hours away from Bandon Dunes. Eugene happens to be the city that Phil Knight built, home of the Oregon Ducks. Sure, it’s a bit of a drive to Bandon from Eugene, and you’ll pick up a bit of a duck poo on your shoes once you exit the airport, but the trip from Eugene through the gorgeous forests of Oregon and alongside peaceful rivers isn’t terrible (pretty cool actually). Plus, the excitement of knowing what’s waiting for you at the end of the road makes it all worthwhile.
- Medford: This smaller airport is located southeast of the resort and is about a 3-hour drive away. It’s worth checking out if you live in the western US, as it offers seasonal direct flights from hubs like Phoenix, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake City.
- Portland: Okay, so it’s the furthest option, but Portland International Airport is the largest airport near Bandon Dunes and offers more options for direct flights, especially from the East Coast. Plus, the 4 hours and 45-minute drive gives you plenty of time to get psyched up for your epic golf adventure.
So there you have it, folks. No matter which airport you choose, the journey to Bandon Dunes is part of the experience, so buckle up and get ready for a wild ride.
Just how expensive is it to stay & play at Bandon?
Well, my golf-loving friends, playing at Bandon Dunes may cost you a pretty penny or two (or more, depending on your taste in golfing extravagance). But hey, isn’t that what piggy banks are for?
For 2023, seasonal green fees for resort guests range from $110 (Jan/Nov/Dec) to $350 (Jul/Aug/Sep). But let’s be real, if you’re heading to Bandon Dunes, you’re not just looking for any old golf experience. You’re after a once-in-a-lifetime, unforgettable, “holy-cow-I-can’t-believe-I-just-played-there” kind of round. And if that means spending a little extra dough, then so be it. Day guest rates go up to $425 in the peak months. Oregon residents get a break, but it’s still pretty steep, coming in at $325 for peak play. For those who fall in love with a course in the AM can replay it in the PM at a discount as well.
For many golfers, it’s worth every penny for the chance to play legendary and breathtaking golf courses with family and friends. More info here.
Welcome to Bandon Dunes, where the greens are green and the lodging is… well, it’s not the star of the show. But hey, who needs a $1,000 room when you’ve got world-class golf courses to play on.
Now, we’re not saying you should skimp on your accommodations entirely, but we are saying that you should be spending as much time as possible on the fairways and greens. Lucky for you, the rates for double rooms in The Lodge, The Inn, Lily Pond, and Chrome Lake are all in the same price range. And let’s be real, they’re pretty darn reasonable for a destination that’s on every golfer’s bucket list.
But if you’re feeling fancy and want to treat yourself (and your golfing buddies), then check out The Grove. They’ve got 4-bedroom cottages that’ll make you feel like royalty, or at least like a high-rolling golf pro. And if that’s not enough, the Lodge has suite options that are sure to impress. Plus, the shared common areas are perfect for reliving the day’s victories (and losses), playing some intense card games, or just shooting the breeze with your pals.
Lodging options range from $120 for a single in the Lodge in Jan/Dec to $2,000+ for a Grove Cottage (4 bedrooms) in peak season. More info here.
Can I still book a Bandon guys trip in 2023?
Not unless you work for the management company or are close friends of the Keiser family. But hey, you can always try. We’re hearing that bookings right now are pushed out all the way to Q3 ‘24. (We’re headed there in March, ‘24.)
So get on it. Book your 2024 dream golf vacation at arguably the top golf resort in the world. Let’s goooo!
For more info, visit bandondunesgolf.com or call 855-220-6710.
Photo credit: Bandon Dunes