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Bandon Dunes Playing Tips


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I'm about three months out for my first trip to Bandon (November 7-11). I've read just about every thread there is regarding course reviews, travel tips, gear, accommodations, amenities, etc. That said, I haven't seen much when it comes to actually playing the courses. Curious to hear some playing tips that are relevant to playing Bandon, both in general and maybe more specific to an early November trip.

 

A little about my game to provide some context...I have very little experience on links courses. I took a trip to Ireland and played Ballybunion, Old Head, and Tralee, but my game was in a much different place then and I was really just worried about advancing the ball (I played to about a 15 handicap then, I play to about a 6 now). I don't hit the ball very far (driver carries about 210-220 on average, 7i carries about 155 on average) and typically hit a mostly straight ball with a low trajectory. I tend to play firm, fast courses a lot better as a result - I can hit the ball straight, I don't put a ton of spin on the ball, and when courses are firm I see about 30 additional yards from my drives.

 

Curious to hear what tips and perspectives you have when it actually comes to playing golf at Bandon and how you all think my game might travel. Do you notice more rollout on the fairways? What other aspects of the game do you see as important to work on? Sorry in advance for yet another Bandon thread but it's getting closer and I'm getting more excited :)

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In short, it sounds like your game will travel very well. The ability to hit the ball low and straight is probably the most important shot to have in your bag at Bandon. You'll want to be able to do that with every club in your bag, including driver.

 

Another shot that I use a lot is the 50-75 yd pitch with a 7 or 8 iron. You can practice that shot all day long at Shorty's when you get there. The fescue lies are something that take a bit of getting used to.

 

The other thing to practice, if you can, is playing out of bunkers that have very fine, heavy sand in them. The sand at Bandon is essentially beach sand. You get a lot of plugged/fried egg lies in the bunkers. If you have a course nearby with those kind of bunkers, take a least a morning/afternoon and get used to popping it out of those.

 

As oregongolf mentioned, putting from as far away as you can imagine (and then some) will open up whole new worlds of strategy.

 

Don't worry about being not-Dustin-Johnson in length. The Bandon courses are strategic, first.

"take that, you miserable little white swine!"

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I'm about three months out for my first trip to Bandon (November 7-11). I've read just about every thread there is regarding course reviews, travel tips, gear, accommodations, amenities, etc.

 

Glad I'm not the only one, also going in November and I've consumed so much Bandon material it feels like I've practically been there already.

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The fescue grass is so fine, that your ball is essentially sitting on sand everywhere. This makes wedge play very difficult as you have to be precise in your contact. You can kind of get around it by putting when you are just off the greens, but it's kind of no man's land when you are 50-70 yards away. If you have a good short game, you can clip wedges all day. But if you chunk one or two, it can get to your head quickly and be a real struggle. Some guys revert to bumping 8 irons from 60 yards and others stick with the 60 degree. What you should do depends on your game, but it is something to be mindful of.

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The fescue grass is so fine, that your ball is essentially sitting on sand everywhere. This makes wedge play very difficult as you have to be precise in your contact. You can kind of get around it by putting when you are just off the greens, but it's kind of no man's land when you are 50-70 yards away. If you have a good short game, you can clip wedges all day. But if you chunk one or two, it can get to your head quickly and be a real struggle. Some guys revert to bumping 8 irons from 60 yards and others stick with the 60 degree. What you should do depends on your game, but it is something to be mindful of.

Your game is well situated for Bandon then. Low piercing flight with minimal side spin plays best. There are few forced carries on all courses. The dead tree hole on old Mac, and one par 4 on the front of pac dunes are the only two that I remember (plus Bandon 16, but that's a short hole). Everything rolls out. Aim front of green and let it chase out. Full 56 degree wedges (normally check 3 feet back) rolled out 10 yards.

 

Around the greens, play what you are comfortable with. I tried the bump and runs, but that's not my game. I switched to a 52 opened a bit and played my normal shot. Expect to be able to putt a lot off the green.

 

The wind is brutal at times (up to 35 mph gusts, 25 mph sustained when we played). Any side spin is exaggerated, and anything lofted will hit a wall. Choking up on the club and lowering the trajectory helps immensely.

 

Bunkers are variable but playable. Greens are solid but not spectacular. Get comfortable with lag putting. Remember to factor in the wind.

 

I used a 60 degree out of the bunkers, but didn't use it at all off the fairway. It's just too hard. I loved my 56 for knockdown wedge shots though.

 

Most of the bail out areas are on the right. There are very few doglegs or holes where you have to shape the shot. Most of it is straight in front of you.

 

Feel free to ask if you have anything more specific.

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low ball

bump and run

don't be afraid to putt from 100 yards

eat the meatloaf

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You will find out how good you are with your contact, especially with wedges, very quickly.

 

I ended up putting a lot of approaches with a 4 hybrid from around 100 yards out. With the wind up, low runners are a must.

 

Wow so the turf is that tight there. So on tee shots one should expect like 30+ yards of roll out?

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You will find out how good you are with your contact, especially with wedges, very quickly.

 

I ended up putting a lot of approaches with a 4 hybrid from around 100 yards out. With the wind up, low runners are a must.

 

Wow so the turf is that tight there. So on tee shots one should expect like 30+ yards of roll out?

Not necessarily. I generally don't notice a lot of extra roll out off the tee due to the turf. It's tight but not like unpadded astroturf on concrete. (caveat: I've never gone in the summer, only November to February, when it tends to be wet.) Where I noticed unusual roll out (either significantly more or less) is dependent on wind direction, and sometimes the little bumps in the fairways. A bunch of the holes there have a lumpy texture similar to what you see in pictures of Scotland. So you may land on the far side of a mound and get a big bump forward, or on the near side and not get the roll out.

 

Regarding the wind, it has a much greater effect. I have a naturally low ball flight but still get drives that stop dead into the wind, no matter how "piercing" I hit it. I've also hit some unusually long drives downwind if I happen to get it up and riding the wind. Being able to judge what the wind will do is very important because it's tough to hit it low enough for the wind to have no effect.

 

My usual advice in these threads is play your normal game because trying shots you've never practiced on the course before often doesn't work. That being said the suggestions made above about bump and runs from 40 to 100 yards being useful spot on. I recommend picking a club you like for that (7 iron, hybrid, putter, whatever you're comfortable with) and working on it so you know how to vary the distance. But if you're dead nuts with a 60, just use it. Whatever you're best with.

 

Also, as Spud said, the sand there is a different animal. If you don't have some very thick sand to practice out of, mentally make the leap to hitting sand shots much much harder than normal. I don't think I've ever had one of those little short bunker shots where you intentionally just bury the club in the sand and pop it out. Be prepared to swing through the sand to get it out.

 

Just remember, despite the mystique of "links" play, it is a golf course, not the moon. Have fun.

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You will find out how good you are with your contact, especially with wedges, very quickly.

 

I ended up putting a lot of approaches with a 4 hybrid from around 100 yards out. With the wind up, low runners are a must.

 

Wow so the turf is that tight there. So on tee shots one should expect like 30+ yards of roll out?

Not necessarily. I generally don't notice a lot of extra roll out off the tee due to the turf. It's tight but not like unpadded astroturf on concrete. (caveat: I've never gone in the summer, only November to February, when it tends to be wet.) Where I noticed unusual roll out (either significantly more or less) is dependent on wind direction, and sometimes the little bumps in the fairways. A bunch of the holes there have a lumpy texture similar to what you see in pictures of Scotland. So you may land on the far side of a mound and get a big bump forward, or on the near side and not get the roll out.

 

Regarding the wind, it has a much greater effect. I have a naturally low ball flight but still get drives that stop dead into the wind, no matter how "piercing" I hit it. I've also hit some unusually long drives downwind if I happen to get it up and riding the wind. Being able to judge what the wind will do is very important because it's tough to hit it low enough for the wind to have no effect.

 

My usual advice in these threads is play your normal game because trying shots you've never practiced on the course before often doesn't work. That being said the suggestions made above about bump and runs from 40 to 100 yards being useful spot on. I recommend picking a club you like for that (7 iron, hybrid, putter, whatever you're comfortable with) and working on it so you know how to vary the distance. But if you're dead nuts with a 60, just use it. Whatever you're best with.

 

Also, as Spud said, the sand there is a different animal. If you don't have some very thick sand to practice out of, mentally make the leap to hitting sand shots much much harder than normal. I don't think I've ever had one of those little short bunker shots where you intentionally just bury the club in the sand and pop it out. Be prepared to swing through the sand to get it out.

 

Just remember, despite the mystique of "links" play, it is a golf course, not the moon. Have fun.

 

Excellent reply, thank you.

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Here's a question to the bandon vets: how is the weather in early September?

 

I haven't been in September, but the weather.com average shows mid 60's high, mid 40's at night. 4 or 5 days of rain. One thing that always gets said in these threads regarding the weather, prepare for everything, because it's very unpredictable on the coast.

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My take was more to the fact that you need to pick it clean if you are going to use anything with loft.

 

The other take was the fact that putters from deep in the fairway is fun. Bending low runners and being creative with your approach is part of the experience.

 

I fully plan on sending putter DEEP from the fairway. Gotta try at least one of those.

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#13 on the Preserve: putter off the tee is the play.

 

low ball

bump and run

don't be afraid to putt from 100 yards

eat the meatloaf

 

Dan knows what he's talking about...

 

I'll report back with my findings.

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My first two times are Bandon I came away feeling like I did. It hit one solid short iron, similar to the comments about using wedges. You may think that you strike the ball well or that you have very good control with a wedge but the fescue combines with sand will truly show most golfers that they aren’t quite as pure as they think they are.

If you normally really pinch the ball it will help a lot. I tend to pick it or sweep it and that does not work as well at Bandon. As others have said, practice long putts and also using a 9 iron for all sorts of shots from 120 and shorter.

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For November golf in Bandon, you better have the best of the best for rain gear - top to bottom. If/When it comes, it will feel like buckets.

 

Get a caddie.

 

Hit extra 1.5 club.

 

It is important to know where to miss.

 

I'm a bit of a gear junkie and if anything own too much decent rain gear now lol I picked up the FJ Dry Joy LTS (top and bottom), have a Galvin Green Gore-Tex Paclite jacket, a pair of ZR Gore-Tex Qualifier bottoms, and just picked up a set of the UA Gore-Tex Paclite tops and bottoms after trying them on. Despite dropping some coin on the FJ, I'm a little gun shy to depend on it as they don't use Gore-Tex. So I've got options!

 

Can you elaborate on the +1.5 club more advice? Is it coming from a place of "the ball won't fly as far on the coast of Oregon," "you're likely to be bundled up and your swing speed is going to suffer," or "learn to hit a lower lofted club to avoid the wind?" From a links perspective, I would think I'd be looking at less club and running the ball onto the green (with all else being equal).

 

Thanks to everyone else for weighing in. Lots of really great tips. My go to short game shot is generally a bump and run and I generally pick my wedges fairly clean and fly the ball low from about 75 yards and in. Definitely looking to give that 50 yard putt a go when the opportunity presents itself!

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I forgot, just hit a few balls on the range to loosen up (maybe 30, some wedges, a few irons, and drivers). Instead, roll some long putts, then go play Shorty's with a handful of balls.

 

Someone mentioned it earlier, but hitting the ball low is a good skill to have. The best tip I've ever gotten there is to learn to hit the choke driver. It's usually much straighter, launches lower, and goes close to the same distance.

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For November golf in Bandon, you better have the best of the best for rain gear - top to bottom. If/When it comes, it will feel like buckets.

 

Get a caddie.

 

Hit extra 1.5 club.

 

It is important to know where to miss.

 

I'm a bit of a gear junkie and if anything own too much decent rain gear now lol I picked up the FJ Dry Joy LTS (top and bottom), have a Galvin Green Gore-Tex Paclite jacket, a pair of ZR Gore-Tex Qualifier bottoms, and just picked up a set of the UA Gore-Tex Paclite tops and bottoms after trying them on. Despite dropping some coin on the FJ, I'm a little gun shy to depend on it as they don't use Gore-Tex. So I've got options! SHOES TOO! Some nice Air Bandons will make you a happy guy.

 

Can you elaborate on the +1.5 club more advice? Is it coming from a place of "the ball won't fly as far on the coast of Oregon," "you're likely to be bundled up and your swing speed is going to suffer," or "learn to hit a lower lofted club to avoid the wind?" From a links perspective, I would think I'd be looking at less club and running the ball onto the green (with all else being equal). Wind - 1st timers always underestimate the wind. Cold - morning especially. Bundled up - Swing suffers when heavily bundled. I consider myself a Bandon 'nut' and don't subscribe to the run the ball up as the norm...While you certainly can use that shot, it is not always the shot. e.g. Old Mac #1: not a run up #2: Not at all #3: Can be, but not really #4: yes. #5: no ....etc.

 

Thanks to everyone else for weighing in. Lots of really great tips. My go to short game shot is generally a bump and run and I generally pick my wedges fairly clean and fly the ball low from about 75 yards and in. Definitely looking to give that 50 yard putt a go when the opportunity presents itself!

IMO, I would personally learn/practice 7i/8i from these distances, I prefer that to putting....but I have a 8802 that makes long putts very tough...but I still like this shot as I learned on links in Ire and still use the shots today.

 

one last thing....pack some snacks in baggies! :)

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I went and dug this out of another thread, in regards to Bandon Dunes and why it's my favorite course there...

 

Like Spud I like 'em all, but for kicks...

 

1 - Option to safely stay short of bunker or go down the right to carry the rough and have a wedge in. Approach is pretty straight forward though, crest the slope on the front and don't go right.

2 - Judge the wind and pick something to bang off the back slope. Mid/back pin you want to roll up it, front pin you literally want to fly it into the hill and get the extra roll or you can try and fly it to the front pin. Must avoid overcooking into the back left and of course flubbing it and having it run down, way down.

3 - Fairly hum-drum I will concede, unless you have a chance to reach in two, then it's fun slotting it through the opening and avoiding the bunker/collection area.

4 - 6 - Don't really need any justification there :-)

7 - Need to pick the side of the fairway that best suits your approach ball flight and thump it as far down as possible. Approach shot can vary widely depending on wind and pin location. Not much room for error, strong second shot hole.

8 - Pick line based on furthest bunker you can carry and the pin; typically as long and as far right as possible. Going left can block you out on approaches, other than deep or right. Except front right, pin is not the yardage, as the ball can really release off the back of the dune and the green falls away left and long.

9 - Stay right, over the dunes to the pocket of fairway right of the bunkers or bail waaay left and have a very long second. If you hit that right bit, I will concede it's a fairly straight forward two hits to the green, barring strong winds.

10 - Fun blind tee shot over the dunes and bunkers. Tricky wedge in; off the back of the slope or fly it? Need to watch releasing off the back of the green, especially back left.

11 - Pick a wind (lack of wind) based line and have at it. Safe out right, but then a potentially tricky approach over the corner of the bunker with a front to back green - or - take on the left side bunkers for a much simpler open approach up the line of the green, with a nice right to left release.

12 - C'mon :)

13 - Maybe a silly roller coaster ride? But also a very fun second shot hole. Getting a good strike, up top left past the hazard gives you a much easier pitch and run or putt down to the green, versus a funky pitch or putt up from the bowl amongst all the divots.

14 - Fun driveable 4 in the right conditions. Take it right side of the green over the low dune, and have it release down to the surface or end up in the bunker 50yds short of the flag for a tough up and down. Conversely avoid the bunkers off the tee either left or short of them for a pitch into a really sloped green.

15 - 'Better' than 12 maybe?

16 - Another driveable 4 in the right conditions. Aim at the flag and let it rip. Lose it right into the icky stuff for a hard pan or muddy pitch up, go too far left and have a delicate tight lie pitch over one or two pot bunkers, or maybe hit one well but find a bunker or rough or run right through. Pull it off and have a two putt birdie.

17 - Another decision off the tee, to lay back and right for a longer approach shot over the ravine, try and pipe one down the middle or get lucky with a miss left with all those bunkers, or blow one way left for a safe but long approach in. Then really get your yardage to a deceptive and huge green.

18 - Another fairly uneventful teeball, barring a big leak right or hard hook left, then a basic 2nd, and basic wedge and I'll again concede it's not the best finishing hole. As I've said in other threads; IMHO 14 very fun holes... and the par 5s ;)

 

And what if I am going through withdrawals.

 

But really other than learning the courses over time, I'd not make any radical changes to you game/clubs for a handful of days. Play your game 90%+ off the time and mix in a few other options here and there.

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One thing inhaven’t seen mentioned is something that I practice regularly and have learned to use it on Parkland courses, putting with a hybrid or wood from the fairway. Practice it at home so you have some familiarity with it. It isn’t really a shot you want to try for the 1st time mid round. It is also a shot you can use a LOT down there. Just take a putting stroke with a wood or hybrid.

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One thing inhaven’t seen mentioned is something that I practice regularly and have learned to use it on Parkland courses, putting with a hybrid or wood from the fairway. Practice it at home so you have some familiarity with it. It isn’t really a shot you want to try for the 1st time mid round. It is also a shot you can use a LOT down there. Just take a putting stroke with a wood or hybrid.

 

I have attempted that shot a few times mid-round without practicing...like you said it’s definitely a shot you want to practice ahead of time!

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One thing inhaven't seen mentioned is something that I practice regularly and have learned to use it on Parkland courses, putting with a hybrid or wood from the fairway. Practice it at home so you have some familiarity with it. It isn't really a shot you want to try for the 1st time mid round. It is also a shot you can use a LOT down there. Just take a putting stroke with a wood or hybrid.

 

I have attempted that shot a few times mid-round without practicing...like you said it's definitely a shot you want to practice ahead of time!

 

Yup, I've found when I don't practice it I tend to swing it like a putter if you catch the sweet spot that ball is gone. I've practiced this shot quite a bit this year and once you get the distance down, the line seems to be the easy part. So if I really need to try and hole a putt I'll utilize this shot.

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