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OK let’s wrap this baby up!  Sorry for taking so long with the final installment but I’m still in summer vacation mode and just got back from Tahoe where I played a terrible Robert Trent Jones, Jr. course – but that’s a story for another time.

We set out for Old Mac on our last day at the resort.  The chatter we had heard around the bar was that OM was the most polarizing of the courses on the property.  People either love it or hate it.  The greens are absolutely huge…I mean HUGE but they are super tricky and borderline unfair in some places.  Old Mac looks markedly distinct from the other three courses.  It’s another Doak design and has a large number of “template” holes that pay homage chiefly to the famous golf holes of the British Isles.   It has some actual “rough” in the traditional style of American courses and lot of people actually intentionally play their shots into the short rough because they feel it’s easier to play off of.  The fairways are quite wide – so much so that it would be really hard to lose a ball unless you hit it in the gorse which is abundant.

The weather for our round was overcast and gloomy but the wind was in check and it wasn’t terribly cold.  We elected to go caddy-less again as we had fun at Trails the day before figuring it out for ourselves using only our eyes and a yardage book.

The first hole is a straightaway par 4, relatively short with a huge 2 tiered green.  We were both able to put it in the short stuff and just like that we were off, eager to see how our final round would unfold.  We both played lofted wedges to the proper tier and Jordan rolled his in for birdie while I 2 putted for par.  A solid start but I was still 1 down after 1.

Hole 2 was a short par 3 with a green that was extremely wide although not that deep.  This one is modeled off of the “Eden” 3-par at St. Andrews and features the same nasty bunker setup on the left side of the green.  It turns out the threats of the green complex become less important when you lay the sod over your ball which is exactly what I did off the tee – perhaps my worst shot of the week.  I chalked it up to “warming up” and pitched it on, eventually knocking it in for bogie. Jordan had a textbook par and I was 2 down after 2.

Number 3 is a brilliant Par 4 of medium length requiring a tee shot into the prevailing wind.  Borrowing from Sahara at Royal St. George’s,  a properly positioned drive can carry the apex of the hill and bound down the other side ever closer to the green.  Jordan found the center of the fairway but mine was particularly solid, settling some 30 yards closer and within 8 or 9 iron of the green.  The course staff had a marshall positioned on the hill to aid players in locating their tee balls should they stray.  Since we were off early in the AM, we were one of the only groups so we chatted him up a bit.  I don’t remember the particulars but I do remember another helpful, cheerful, and generally pleasant fellow. It seems that’s all they had up there in Oregon – something about the water maybe (or just really good service!).  With the kindly man rooting us on, I fired a 9 iron that hit in the front portion of the green and bounded down pin high.  It was a slippery 8 footer but I converted it for my first birdie of the day and first hole won.

Four was a short par 5 and we both made uneventful pars and had officially settled in to nice starts.  Jordan at -1 and me at even after 4.  Hole 5 was an easy par 3 – at least it appeared easy from the tee.  My tee shot was solid and judged properly for distance but settled on a ridge about 20 feet to the right of the hole.  On most greens this would be an easy 2 putt but the tiers were at such a height differential that I had no chance to play at the hole.  After considering for a while, I decided my best hope for a  2 putt was to go up the hill, then rely on gravity and a series of mounds to give myself a look at a reasonable 3rd.  We grabbed a quick video to show just how severe this green was.

Despite a good effort there I didn’t make my par and settled for a bogie.  Number 6 was a long, flat par 5 that turns towards the ocean and features a large “pit” fashioned after the Hell Bunker of St. Andrews.  I believe this is it, looming in the distance.

And here is Jordan, trying to play out of it!

Number 7 is one of the most breathtaking par 4′s you’ll ever see.  The tee shot is flat but you can see your task straight ahead of you – you’ll need to turn left and go staight up a cliff to a green perched overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  Do you try to cut some distance off and work your drive up the hill?  Or do you play a safe shot to the flatland and launch a mid iron into the wind with height?  I messed up by not getting some better pictures of this great hole.  Here’s one I borrowed from the internet (on a sunnier day than our own):

I did manage to grab a quick video on the seven green that showed the backdrop you get to putt against:

After exiting this amazing hole, you can grab a snack at what I dubbed “The Snack Bar at the End Of the World!”…hot dogs just a few steps from the cliffs…

The 8th lets you play down off the cliff with a mid length par 3 that is all about club selection.  I failed this test and ended up with a green-in-regulation 3-putt.  Another bogie on 9 completed my standard run of bogies to close out the front nine.  Things get tough going into the back 9 as 10 sets you out on a LONG par 4 that forces you to play away from the fairway bunker in the middle.  Unfortunately my drive found it and soon enough I was playing out sideways.  This image shows the typical depth of the fairway bunkers on Old Mac.  You are lucky if you can advance it forward (I could not here and barely made it out sideways).

Bogie.  It didn’t get any better on number 11, a long par 4 inspired by the Road Hole. I pushed my drive into the rough and had a patch of gorse in front of me, maybe 6 yards ahead and directly in my line.  I needed a long iron to get close and thought I could elevate the ball fast enough.  Unfortunately, I hit the top of the gorse and my ball vanished – it just completely vaporized despite being struck fairly well.  That stuff is thick!  I had to replay and ended up with an ugly 7.  I now hate the Road Hole!

It got no easier on 12, the longest par 3 on the course where I could only make bogie after finding the nearside bunker with my 2-iron.  I thought that a par 4 on the easy 13th would right the ship but another 3 putt bogie on 14 meant today’s score was shaping up to be ugly.  15 was  a noteworthy Par 5 which represents your last trip out towards the ocean.  Straight into the wind, this thing is nothing to take lightly and I hit 3 really good shots to make par.  The 16th is another long par 4 taking after the “Alps” hole of Prestwick.  When my drive found the fairway bunker down the right side I could only advance it to the next bunker, a massive thing occupying the front left and hidden just over the mound that protects a short-cut drive.  Bunkers, bunkers, bunkers was the story for me on the back 9.  When I tapped in for bogie here Jordan had me dormie at 2 down with 2 to play.

A brave drive down the right side on 17 allowed me to take a shot at the par 5 in two with my Hogan 3 wood and I hit one of my best (perhaps out of desperation).  It curled up on the back of the green and I was able to give myself a chance, 1 down with 1 to play.

We both hit solid drives on 18, a medium length par 4 with a punchbowl green.  Jordan hit the shot of his life, weaving a 3 iron through a narrow opening between two grass mounds in front of the green.  I played off the backstop and rolled into the center of the green setting up a 20 footer.  My birdie putt missed but I converted the par putt forcing Jordan to knock in a 3 footer that wasn’t a gimme.  He put it right in the center and sealed a well earned victory, 81 vs. my 82 and 1-up.

Old Mac was my least favorite of the 4 courses we played this week.  All the modeled famous holes were fun but the greens were just too tricked out for my tastes.  You could easily hit 15 greens here and not break 80.  Perhaps as time moves on I’ll soften my feelings for Old Mac.   I will say that the Ocean hole, number 7, was visually one of most beautiful holes I’ve ever seen and almost worth the green fee by itself.  I can see why people either love this course or hate it.

That’s a wrap!  If you have the chance to spend time at Bandon, you owe it to yourself to make it happen.  You won’t find four greater courses or better service on the same property.  This was a trip I’ll remember forever and I thank you for bearing with me as I document my thoughts.  This site is normally very “outward facing” and for good reason, but part of the reason I can justify spending as much  time as I do is that I’ll have a record of my golfing memories over this period of time and Bandon is a big part of it this year.  Let’s enjoy the Ryder Cup!



2 Responses to “Bandon Day 3 – Old Macdonald”

  1. Loved the reviews Riley….next best thing to being there!

  2. Avatar of freddiec freddiec says:

    PGT, great post. Brandon Dunes looks like Holy Ground to me. It be a dream to stroll those foggy fairways with a classic set. Thanks for sharing. I didn’t get a chance to read the whole thing, but what I did was great. Will check it all out soon. Well done!

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