Review: Pacific Dunes

Pacific Dunes, which opened in 2001, was the second of four 18-hole championship golf courses built at the iconic Bandon Dunes Golf Resort . I classify Pacific Dunes as a modern golf course with a links-golf twist. Designed by Tom Doak, Pacific Dunes is very photogenic and the favorite of many, as it boasts some of the most picturesque views of the Pacific Ocean and offers some very unique features including dramatic bunkering.

We were fortunate to play Pacific under perfectly calm conditions. With the typically blustery winds along the Oregon coast, it could feel like a completely different golf course on any given day.

Pacific Dunes starts you off inland amongst the dunes with a short and quirky first hole. As you progress through the first few holes the course quickly ramps up its game as you play towards the ocean. You’ll jog inland again mid front-nine before once again being routed along ocean cliffs to start the back-nine.

Tee shot on the par 5 3rd hole:

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Tee shot on the par 4 4th hole:

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Looking back from the 4th green:

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The par 3 10th hole (from the upper tee):

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The rugged par 3 11th hole:

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Second shot on the par 5 18th hole:

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The experience you get playing Pacific Dunes cannot be disputed, it’s truly special. The ocean holes offer up some breathtaking views, while the inland holes offer many challenges with some strategic and polarizing holes that you’ll either love or hate.

When I hunkered down and really thought about how my golf ball reacted to Pacific Dunes, I noticed a few interesting things. In our foursome, on several occasions, tee shots of varying length and quality funneled to the same location. The other thing was that good looking shots ended up in unfavorable spots more often than any of the other courses, making it feel slightly less playable than the others. Or another way to look at it would be — it left a lot more to learn.

The rugged beauty of Pacific Dunes makes it one-of-a-kind. Although it ranked fourth for me from a pure golf standpoint, that isn’t a reflection that I didn’t like it. The shear beauty and elegance of the property made it almost impossible to get wrong, and I’ll always maintain that being able to not only enjoy this piece of property, but golf on it, is a privilege we should be thankful for.

I can’t guarantee that Pacific Dunes will always rank fourth for me. Part of the genius of Bandon Dunes Golf Resort is the obsession it creates in every golfer who sets foot on the hallowed grounds. It makes you want to go back again and again to figure out the nuances of each course. You want to re-live the shots that made you feel like a genius, and conquer the ones that made you feel foolish.

Pacific Dunes is no exception. The further I become removed from playing it, the more I want to go back.

Happy golfing!

Josh

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