Review: Bandon Trails

In the last (but certainly not least) post of my Bandon Dunes Golf Resort series, I bring you my personal favorite, Bandon Trails. Opening for play in 2005, Bandon Trails was the third golf course built on the property. Bandon Trails is the most inland course at the resort, starting and finishing amongst the sand dunes while taking you on a journey through the coastal forest during the middle of your round.

Designers Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw faced a stern challenge following the hype of Pacific Dunes and Bandon Dunes — and they rose to the challenge.

Hole for hole, I think Bandon Trails offers the most fun golf on the property. I love ocean views as much as the next person, but there was something incredibly unique and exhilarating playing links golf amongst the coastal forest. Being sheltered from the wind, of course, is an added bonus.

The par-4 opening hole:

Bandon Trails #1

The par-5 3rd hole:

Bandon Trails #3

The par-3 5th hole:

Bandon Trails #5

The reachable par-4 8th hole:

Bandon Trails #8

The polarizing par-4 14th hole:

Bandon Trails #14

The par-3 17th hole:

Bandon Trails #17

The uphill approach to the par-4 18th hole:

Bandon Trails #18

From beginning to end, Bandon Trails had me elated. Coore and Crenshaw hit the nail on the head with an uncanny combination of challenge, fairness, and aesthetics. From a surprisingly fun and playable 240 yard par-3, to reachable par-4’s, and strategic risk-reward par-5’s, Trails offers a bit of everything. It offers you every chance to play conservative, but taunts you to play aggressive.

I could play Bandon Trails day-in and day-out and not get tired of it. It is a pure golfing experience mature beyond its years, and has the rugged elegance you’d expect from a links-style course. Trails’ subtle nuances, contours, and array of strategic options leave plenty to learn for the regular, yet remains intuitive enough for the first-timer to have fun and feel rewarded.

Bandon Trails offers everything I’d expect from a top tier course. It challenged me, rewarded me, humbled me, and elated me.

Most importantly, Bandon Trails left me yearning for more.

Happy golfing!


15 thoughts on “Review: Bandon Trails

  1. Aloha Josh,

    Great post and pictures, I like this course.

    One of my editors is an elderly guy who used to play on the Sunbelt tour. He is not competitive anymore but still starts one event a year because he enjoys the comradeship. On some holes he brings his wedge to the tee and simply chips from tee box to tee box until he can reach the fairway. I have to admit, on a 240 yard par three, I might have to consider that strategy.

    A Hui Hou,

    1. Thank you, Wayne! We have to take whichever strategy keeps the game fun for us. As far as long par 3’s goes, this was probably the most playable I have seen. It gives you a chance to use the contours and run it up. 240 yards was from the back tee, mind you, from the tees Beth played it was still a solid 200 yards!


  2. Josh

    Sounds like you had plenty of fun on this course! It is fantastic to find such gems. Playing on a course and wanting more is the ultimate compliment for any course. Thanks for reviewing Brandon Trails, it should be on everyone’s list of must plays!


  3. Hi Josh,

    I was wondering if you would do a blog on how you review a golf course. Do you have a list of questions? If so, could you share them.

    Just wondering if I have what it takes to be like you….well maybe a little like you.

    1. Hi Tina,

      I recently did a post explaining my rating system (, where I shared the questions I ask myself when determining the ratings for each course. As far as the rest of the review, I just try and be honest, constructive, and let it flow from the feelings I had from the course. Maybe I’ll do a “A Day in the Life of a Golf Course Reviewer” post, since I’ve had several questions about it before.

      Thanks for the comment!

      1. Hi Josh,

        I will check out the link. Also, as I was thinking about A Day in the Life of a Golf Course Reviewer. I was wondering does it distract you from the game?

        Thanks for being so opening to helping me. Maybe some day, I’ll give being a gc reviewer a try.

        Have a great weekend,


      2. Tina,
        Always happy to help. At times it can be a bit distracting from my golf game. Not only are you thinking about how to get your golf ball around, but you are also thinking about getting enough pictures and where to take them from, while also trying to pay attention to some of the finer details and engage with the staff. With time, it gets easier!


Let Us Know What You Think