Tom Doak’s Hole-By-Hole Description Of Old Macdonald, Back Nine


We've made the turn from last week's hole-by-hole description of the front nine on Old Macdonald. In case you missed Tom Doak's thoughts on holes one through nine, click the link at the bottom of the page! Enjoy the back nine and don't forget to comment on your favorites below!

10.  "Bottle” -- As at Macdonald's eighth hole at National Golf Links, two sets of fairway bunkers narrow the driving zone, forcing you to make a carry to the left side of the fairway or funnel into a narrow area in the right side of the hole.  The second shot is one of the most difficult on the course, with the green sitting well up above the fairway and not much room through the back; chipping from the base of the green for your third is the best way to avoid a big score, while par is a great score.  Precedent:  Sunningdale (Old) #12, National Golf Links #8.

11.  "Road” -- The line of the fairway and green here are almost identical to the famous Road hole at St. Andrews.  Although the tee shot is visible instead of blind, a long drive down the very right of the hole opens up an angle to the green; any approach played from the left or center is threatened by the deep revetted bunker at the left, and a bank falling away at the back right.  Precedent:  St. Andrews #17, National Golf Links #7, Piping Rock #8.

12.  "Redan” -- The most-imitated hole in the world is the par-3 15th at North Berwick, Scotland, known as the Redan, after a Crimean War fortress in Russia which was in the news when it was built.  The plateau green runs away from a high shoulder at the right front to the back left, with a deep bunker guarding the left flank of the green.  Our Redan is a bit different; the left bunker does not come across the front of the green as far as would be typical for the hole, but the bank of the green feeds short balls out to the bunker.  Only a straight fade will work here.  Precedent:  North Berwick #15, National Golf Links #4, Chicago Golf Club #7.

13.  "Leven” -- One of Macdonald's favorite short par-4 holes was at the old Leven Golf Club, whose course has since been split in two; the hole is now the 16th at Lundin Links, Scotland, a few miles south of St. Andrews.  The hole is almost drivable, but the green falls away dramatically from the base of a big dune at its front left, down toward the right; so you would like to play your second shot from the right-hand side back up into the slope.  Precedent:  Lundin Links #16, Chicago Golf Club #5, National Golf Links #17.

14.  "Maiden” -- This short par-4 climbing up to an elevated green is named after the famous Maiden at Royal St. George's, the largest dune on any of the Open Championship links.  The original Maiden hole was a blind par-3 over the dune which Macdonald sharply criticized, however he admired the size and scale of the hill.  The green has elevated wings at the left and back right which demand a precise approach; the nature of the approach can be altered by driving well out to the right, so that the green lays out from front to back.  Precedent:  none.

15.  "Westward Ho!"  -- This long par-5 plays back into the setting sun to a green up on the primary dune, overlooking the ocean.  The heaving contours of the fairway are like ocean swells; the key shot is the second, which must either get past a deep bunker on the right or be aimed safely short and left of it, which makes the uphill third shot much more difficult.  The green is sharply two-tiered, so the correct length of the approach is paramount.  Precedent:  National Golf Links #18.

16.  "Alps” -- Macdonald's third hole at National Golf Links was not just an homage to the Alps at Prestwick, but an improvement on the hole -- instead of making the approach over a dune completely blind, his arrangement of the hole allowed a long drive down the right to get a peek at the green, while allowing a way around the dune for short hitters trying only to play the hole in three installments.  Our version is faithful to Macdonald's hole, except that we left a narrow open approach for blind shots from the left, instead of building a bunker all the way across that line as at Prestwick and National.  Precedent:  Prestwick #17, National Golf Links #3.

17.  "Littlestone” -- One of Macdonald's most daring ideas came from the par-4 16th at Littlestone, England.  The hole in his day was a long dogleg to the left, but Macdonald imagined an alternate fairway among the dunes on the direct line to the hole, which would enable daring players to cut the corner and get home in two.  His version of the hole was the par-5 fourth hole at Lido Golf Club, Long Island, a great course which closed its doors in the Depression.  On our seventeenth, driving over a small wetland yields an open approach to the green, but the carry is so long that most players will have to be content with playing away to the left off the tee and taking a three-shot route home.  Precedent:  Littlestone #16, Lido #4.

18.  "Punchbowl” -- Many greens on Scottish links were hidden away in natural bowls between the dunes.  Macdonald had a very stylized version of this concept, with a huge green surrounded by small hills sweeping down from left to right; our home green is an outsized version of the Macdonald concept, so that the scale and drama of the course will stay with you right until the last putt is holed.  Precedent:  Chicago Golf Club #12, The Creek #6.

Check out the front nine of Old Macdonald (Part One)

Tom Doak’s Hole-By-Hole Description Of Old Macdonald, Front Nine


Every golf course has its own personality. This is an abstract idea, but what does a course's personality look like? Is it aggressive? Does it reward specific behavior? Is it classical, or modern? Widen the lens on golf and famous courses come into focus. Widen the lens a little farther and the architects behind them appear. From that perspective, focus in on a modern course like Old Macdonald and you'll find a succession of holes based on interpretations of other famous holes.

An important distinction to make is, the holes are interpretations not replicas. They were designed to pay homage to CB Macdonald and some of the most notorious architectural concepts around the game of golf.

Ever wondered where the inspiration for each hole came from and how Tom Doak would describe each hole? For insight into the character of Old Mac as it relates to the complex tapestry that is golf as a whole we offer the first nine holes as described by Tom Doak.

Check in next week for Doak’s thoughts on the back nine with more descriptions and insights!

1.  "Double Plateau” -- This is my favorite opening hole that we've ever built. There is an ocean of fairway to hit at, but several choices on where to go. Straight up the middle is fine, but a drive up to the plateau on the right or wide to the left gives a better look at the green surface, and some strong hitters may even risk the bunkers to try and drive it up near the front of the green. No matter which way you go, getting your second shot onto the front left or back right plateau when the flag is there is an excellent shot. Precedent: National Golf Links #11, Yale #17.

2.  "Eden” -- This par-3 hole into the wind is based on the 11th at St. Andrews, judged by many in Macdonald's day as the ideal short hole. The green is defended by a deep revetted bunker at the front right [the Strath bunker] and another fearsome bunker left, with just enough fairway in between that a carefully judged running approach can be played. The green has a severe back-to-front pitch, so playing over the bunkers is never a safe option. Precedent: St. Andrews #11, National Golf Links #13, Mid Ocean #3.

3.  "Sahara” -- A short par-4 up and over a huge dune ridge, based on the old 3rd hole at Royal St. George's in England, which in Macdonald's day was a blind par 3. The safe line to the right requires only a 150-yard carry, but you can get near the green with the drive if you dare to flirt with the big tree on the left. The green is enormous for a short pitch yet it is still sometimes hard to get close to the hole, especially when the hole plays downwind. Precedent: Royal St. George's #3, National Golf Links #2.

4.  "Hog's Back” -- This hole is inspired by the par-4 seventeenth at Lundin Links, Scotland. The tee shot is up onto a narrow ridge that falls away sharply to both sides -- a perfect drive will either stay up or kick forward for extra yardage, but anything less will kick away to the side, leaving a very long second shot down the valley toward the green. There is a small plateau on the left of the green that's very hard to hold; when the flag is on that side, four is a great score. Precedent: Lundin Links #17, National Golf Links #16.

5.  "Short” -- Our shortest hole plays to one of the biggest greens on the course, but the green target is divided into several distinct areas and it is essential to find the right one to avoid a circus lag putt. The right-hand hole locations are especially severe because of the deep bunker to that side. If in doubt, miss toward the center of the green and take your chances from there. Precedent: Royal West Norfolk #4, National Golf Links #6, Chicago Golf Club #10.

6.  "Long” -- The longest hole on the course plays directly into the summer wind, so three solid shots will be required to get home. The dominant bunker 100 yards short of the green is modeled after Hell bunker on the 14th hole at St. Andrews, Scotland, and should be avoided at all costs. The green is also modeled after the 14th at St. Andrews, with a steep rise at the front right making it difficult to pitch from that side; a running approach might be more successful here. Precedent: St. Andrews #14, National Golf Links #9.

7.  "Ocean” -- This stout par-4 into the wind is not modeled after any particular Macdonald hole, but we were sure that Macdonald would have moved heaven and earth to site a green on the dune ridge overlooking the Pacific. Between the elevation change and the prevailing wind, the second shot will play much longer than the yardage, and it is best to hedge to the left as any shot to the right of the green will tumble well back down off the dune. Precedent: none.

8.  "Biarritz" -- A long par-3 playing from a high tee by the ocean, down to a wild green with a deep swale running through the middle of it. With the flag at the back, many players may opt to land just in front of the swale and let the ball run through it and up to the hole; with the hole in the front of the green, it's a much shorter shot but your ball must stop quickly to avoid running down into the bottom. The original version of this hole was built by Willie Dunn in Biarritz, France. Precedent: Yale #9, Piping Rock #9.

9.  "Cape” -- A sharp dogleg to the right, with bunkers and gorse on the inside corner keeping you honest on the tee shot, but if you play away from the corner you may be left with a fairly long approach to a narrow target that runs a bit away from you. This hole is based on Macdonald's 14th hole at The National Golf Links of America, though we substituted the gorse and bunkers in place of a pond which guards the dogleg at National. Precedent: National Golf Links #14, Chicago Golf Club #14.

 Check out the back nine of Old Macdonald (Part Two)

VIDEO: All Course Videos


Thank you for all the great feedback we've received on our online course videos. We decided to put them all in one place so you can watch them at your leisure. Tell us what your favorite shot is on your favorite course and mention the time code! What could we do better with our course videos? We are listening. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below and don't forget to share them with your closest golf buddies. Then come experience Bandon Dunes in real life!

Bandon Dunes


Pacific Dunes


Bandon Trails


Old Macdonald


Bandon Preserve


The Punchbowl

Recent Articles