First Time to Bandon Dunes? Plugged In Golf Has Some Great Tips!


Planning a trip to Bandon Dunes for the first time can be overwhelming. Our reservations team are experts and always available to help answer any questions you might have, but crawling into the mind of someone who has experienced the process from the guest perspective gives us all an insider's look at what you might be wondering. With that, Matt Saternus from Plugged In Golf offered to help shine a light on that moment you've booked a trip and started the countdown to arrival. This is the first in a series of shared guests and media friends posts so let us know if you'd like to read more of them in the comments section below!   


You've finally done it: you've booked your trip to Bandon Dunes. After weeks (or months or years) of thinking about it, and hours poring over all the combinations of traveling partners, lodging options, and golf, you've locked down your plans. You know how you're getting there. You know where you're staying. You know what courses you're playing and in what order. And now you feel... deflated.

The same thing happened to me. I'd thought about Bandon Dunes for years and when I finally got the trip booked, I was initially excited but then let down. The trip was so far away. What was I going to do for the next six months?

Thankfully I was able to put together a plan that allowed me to enjoy the run up to my trip almost as much as I enjoyed the trip itself. Follow these steps and you'll arrive at Bandon Dunes prepared and exhilarated.

Pace Yourself
If you've just booked your trip, you're going to want to rip through all these suggestions in the next week. Don't. Allow yourself one or two activities each week. Take your time to enjoy each one, and soak it in the way you will each day on the links.

Your Media Diet
There is no shortage of media about Bandon Dunes. From course reviews to podcasts to travelogues, virtually every golf outlet has done something on Bandon. I'd suggest taking a look at Plugged In Golf (naturally) and the podcasts that Talking Golf Getaways has done as a starting point.

Bandon Dunes also does a great job creating their own content. This blog is loaded with gems, and they also have Bandon Dunes Magazine which you can read online.

Finally, Dream Golf is an absolute must-read. You will gain a much greater appreciation of Bandon Dunes if you understand how it came to be and the difficulties that have been overcome. While Bandon is now one of the most revered destinations in golf, that wasn't always the case.

Mine Your Golfing Friends
As much as I enjoyed reading about Bandon, I liked listening to my friends talk about it even more. If you have golfing buddies who have made the journey in the past, ask them about it. Where did they stay? What did they eat? What course was their favorite? What were the most memorable holes or moments? Golf media is great, but I found that more personal connection drove my anticipation much more.

Preview the Courses
One of the things that I enjoyed most in the run-up to my trip was learning about each course. I ordered the yardage books and spent hours on the Bandon Dunes website looking at the flyovers. The technology Bandon uses to show you their courses is unparalleled, and you should definitely take advantage of it.

All that said, you need to realize that all this planning will not prepare you for the real thing. The scale, elevation, and, most importantly, wind, cannot be captured in drawings, descriptions, or video. Enjoy learning about each hole, but don't think you know the course until you play it.

Lock Down the Logistics
You won't want to deal with logistics in the middle of a golf trip, and you certainly don't want your journey derailed by a travel snafu. Take advantage of your long lead time to make sure every detail is locked down.

A few things to consider:
Do you have a plan to get from the airport to the resort?
Are you shipping your clubs in advance?
Have you put together a packing list? (Click HERE for a few things to consider)
If you have a big group, have you made a dinner reservation?

Prepare Your Game
With very few exceptions, playing golf at Bandon Dunes is going to be 180 degrees from your normal rounds at home. Use the time to prepare your game for the challenge of heavy, sustained wind and firm, fast turf.

You'll be able to putt from almost anywhere, so skip the flop shots and work on lagging 50, 80, or 100-foot putts close to the hole. Also, practice hitting iron shots at less than 100%. Rather than hitting an 8I from 150 yards, hit a 7I or 6I. This shot will hold up much better in the wind.

You can also think about gearing up your equipment for the links. Are there clubs you can leave home (all the courses are walking only)? Do you have an old long iron that could be useful in the wind? Make sure that you're bringing only the clubs that you're confident in because the wind will have no mercy on shots hit without integrity.

Get more tips from Bandon Dunes' Director of Instruction, Grant Rogers, HERE.

Share the Experience
If you're traveling with friends (and I hope you are), share your preparation with them. Set up a monthly dinner where you can compare notes and discuss your plans. Make Dream Golf a must-read and discuss it over beers. Start a group email or text where you can pass around the best articles you've read about Bandon. Talk trash about how many balls Joey is going to hit into the Pacific on #16 at Bandon Dunes. As much as anything, Bandon Dunes offers an opportunity to spend time with the people you care about. There's no reason to limit that to the few days you spend in Oregon.

Crafting Your Perfect Trip


When is the best time to play Bandon Dunes if you want to see the sunset? What’s the best rotation for a newcomer? What months are the calmest? Bandon Dunes’ Director of Resort Operations, Jeff Simonds, has been asked all the questions by newcomers and veterans alike. Planning the perfect Bandon Dunes itinerary is really dependent on what your goals are, Simonds explains. “The best time to come is when it fits in your schedule,” he says. With that in mind, the 14-year veteran of the resort offers his Bandon insights gleaned from his time at the resort interacting with tens of thousands of guests.

As seen in Bandon Dunes Magazine.


If you’ve never been here before, one of the more enjoyable ways to understand Bandon is to start on the 13-hole Bandon Preserve. You get the firm turf, the tight lies, the big greens, and the great ocean views. You’re going to be excited to finally play Bandon, and you’ll have the opportunity to be creative with your putts and pitches. We also allow up to an eight-some on the Preserve so it is a great start to catch up with your buddies who don’t live near you.


Old Macdonald is the course that is most exposed to the elements. So, if you’re trying to avoid the wind as much as you can, then you’d play it in the morning and then Bandon Trails in the afternoon.


For an epic day, you’ll want to finish on Bandon Dunes or Pacific Dunes so the round ends in the evening—the sunsets are truly incredible. But they are great to play in the morning when you are waking up with the golf course and you can smell the ocean and hear the waves as they are crashing— that’s pretty good as well. However, it is also great to play Pacific in a morning and then another day in the afternoon because the courses will play very differently. You want to see how they change from the morning to the afternoon and you’ll see how links golf changes throughout the day. A 440-yard par four can be driver and a 3-wood in the morning, but only a driver and mid-iron in the evening. It is about understanding the conditions.


Mid-July through the end of September is the calmest and predictable days out here. But you can get 70 degrees and calm any day of the year. If you’re playing the odds, that 90-day stretch through September is probably your best option. Our predominant wind changes in April and May, then back in October and November—you’ll see stronger links conditions and a lot of people love that.


There are many ways to craft the perfect four-day Bandon trip. It all depends on where you are in your life and how you define the perfect experience. The perfect trip for me is to play 18 on the first day at Bandon Dunes so you can see the sunset. You’re also going to want to have a caddie for the first course when you play it the first time—it’ll help immensely. Then on the full days, I’d be sure to play multiple rounds to take advantage of our replay rates and find time in my itinerary to enjoy the Preserve and Punchbowl. Finish with 18 or an early Preserve round on the departure day. You’ll be pleasantly worn out. And often you’ve messed up a hole and you want to go back and test it again. This way you have that opportunity to play two courses twice, and you spend four days absorbing everything at Bandon.


Caddies are really an essential part of the experience. Your GPS might say you have 220 yards into a green, but depending on how it is playing, it could be 275, or 150. Our caddies really know the course and the conditions and they can tell you so much about how each course is playing depending on the weather. They really are key. Out here you’re playing chess—not checkers.


Mike Keiser has set it up so that if we’re sold out from a lodging perspective, there’s always golf inventory. He likes to play quickly and he made sure that it doesn’t feel too busy when we’re full. With that in mind, on most days we try to get everyone out by 11 am, which allows players to replay in the afternoon. There’s no penalty if you book 36 and are too tired to play that afternoon. We recommend people just book it and we’ll roll with the changes.


Our reservations team are experts on the best way to experience Bandon. Give them a call at the number below or drop us a note on our Reservations page!


CALL (855) 444-1081

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