Monday, February 27, 2012

Round #6: Oregon: Bandon Dunes - Pacific Dunes Course

We planned a stop-over in San Francisco on our way home from Hawaii to spend more time with the grandkids. It was also a good opportunity to jump in a car and head up to Oregon to cover one more state. Our arrival back in San Francisco on Friday, 17 Feb coincided with a business trip for Matt. He flew out to New York CIty on Sunday which provided Jill with two live-in babysitters during his absence. As it turned out, Jill caught a touch of the flu after our arrival so she was more than happy to have help with the kids.
On the following Thursday we headed out for Oregon after the kids went down for their afternoon naps. Our original goal was to avoid the rush hour traffic of a Friday morning departure, but we stretched the drive to 270 miles for a late evening arrival in Eureka, California. With a 9:40 AM tee time on Saturday morning, we thought we had plenty of time for the road trip to Bandon, Oregon. A check on the weather Friday morning made us re-think that plan. 
Bandon is on the Pacific coast. Winter is the rainy season with more than 9” of rain per month starting in November tapering off to more than 7” in February and March. I was hoping to play golf on a warm day (average February temperature = 56 degrees) and squeeze the round of golf in between rain showers. The weather report for Friday was sunny skies with temperatures reaching 56 degrees. With a storm front blowing in from the Pacific, cold rain was expected on Saturday with temperatures only reaching a day time high of 42 degrees. We called the course and moved my tee time up to Friday afternoon. 
We had 200 miles left to drive from Eureka to Bandon, a distance we would normally cover in under 3-hours. The most direct route is a scenic drive through national parks. The narrow road climbs over hills, weaves through redwood forests, and curves along the coast at posted speeds that varied from 35 to 65. Light traffic enabled us to make the drive in 4-hours. The good news was I arrived in time to play the round of golf in daylight; the bad news was I had no time to warm-up.

Round: #6
Location: Bandon, OR
Golf Digest Best-In-State Rank: #1
Date: 24 Feb, tee off at 1:20 PM
Conditions: cloudy, 11 MPH wind, 52 degrees
Yardage: 6,142
Lost balls: 1
Score: 95 on a par 72
Bandon Dunes is a course built in the spirit of Scotland’s ancient links; a rugged wind-swept course built on rolling terrain covered in sand traps and patches of thick grass. It is a walking course only - no golf carts. Caddies are available to carry your clubs and provide guidance, an option I selected to avoid carrying my own clubs. Two sales representatives from a New York based medical company decided to play golf on Friday afternoon and were paired up with me. Blake and Dave were from Portland, Oregon. They were working in the Bandon area and finished up early enough to squeeze a round of golf into their schedules. They specialized in selling medicines used in the treatment of spinal meningitis.

Blake, Garret, Dave

Sunny skies provided great scenery on the drive to Bandon that morning. In the distance we could see the approaching storm out over the Pacific, which grew steadily closer as we approached Bandon. The sun had disappeared behind clouds as I walked up to the #1 tee, but the weather remained warm and dry. 

476 yard par 5 hole #3 (view from the tee) 

Hole #3 (view from the fairway toward the green)
As expected, the challenge of Pacific Dunes is made more difficult by the wind. What I should have also expected was stiff back muscles from the 470 mile trip coupled with a lack of any opportunity to warm-up. When playing golf, I always strive to avoid carding double bogeys (2 over par) at all costs. That lofty goal was not realized Friday afternoon when I began to card double, triple and quadruple bogeys over the first 8 holes. I flipped a switch on the par 4 hole #9 when I hit a drive uphill into the wind, followed by a long approach shot into the green where a 2-putt gave me the 2nd par of the round.

379 yard par 4 hole #9 (view from the tee) 

Hole #9 (view of approach shot into the green) 

Hole #9 (view from the green back toward the tee box)

The storm front kicked up as we made the turn onto the back 9 holes. A light rain began to fall as the wind increased to 16 MPH (gusting to 25 MPH) and the temperature dropped to 44 degrees. I continued to hit the ball well, following the par on hole #9 with three more pars in a row. The light rain became steady by hole #12. With the blowing wind, staying warm & dry became increasingly difficult. My cold weather golf gloves became water soaked turning my hands icy cold; I began to stick my bare hands into my pockets in an attempt to keep them warm. The rain felt like small pieces of hail as times. I could feel my back tighten up under the cold conditions. Double bogeys started to re-appear, as did one more quadruple bogey (an “8” otherwise referred to as a “snowman”). Blake and Dave decided to give it up and walked off the course after hole #13. As the two young men walked off, I continued on with Garret, my 47-year old caddie. I did score one more par on the 189 yard par 3 hole #17; the heavy rain had running water rolling off of the green. The rain subsided as I played the final hole #18, were I missed a par putt to finish with one last bogey.

335 yard par 4 hole #2

131 yard par 3 hole #11

We awoke Saturday morning in Bandon; it was not raining but the pavement was wet from a recent shower. The temperature was 40 degrees under cloudy skies with a 70% chance of rain and a 26 MPH wind gusting to 31 MPH (windchill = 29 degrees).  The question of whether I had made the right decision in moving up my tee time to Friday afternoon was on our minds as we drove away from the hotel. The answer arrived within the first two miles when a quick shower began to pelt the car and cover the road with small hailstones. At least I stayed dry for 11 of the 18 holes of play on Friday.

Hole #18 (view from the green at the time of tee off)

575 yard par 5 hole #18 (view from tee at the end of the round)

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