I finally crossed one of the most majestic golf resorts off my bucket list - Bandon Dunes - thanks to one of my best friends and her husband, Kenzie and Jimmy, for choosing to get married in Bandon. Thanks guys ;) I’m a California girl so I’ve been lucky to spend many summers of junior golf in Monterey and play almost all of the courses on 17 mile drive, including Cypress Point. I did a whole blog post on Cypress here if you want to check out how amazing that experience was and get a little, or a lot, jelly.
Bandon Dunes is like if Pebble Beach and Scotland made a baby. I mean that’s how I picture it, although I can’t say for certain as I have yet to go to Scotland. Someone make that happen, please? Bandon is much more of a links-style course than Pebble and as close as you’ll get to a Scotland links course on the west coast of the US. However, it still reminded me of Pebble with all of the ocean front views and how there are multiple golf courses apart of the resort.
Before we dive into it, let’s start from the beginning and my trek there. My friend and golf course photographer, Patrick Koenig, drove his infamous RGV Tour bus from Sacramento, CA to Bandon, OR. This was really my first time spending time in Oregon, other than a layover in the Portland airport, and it was a really cool drive. Many people don’t realize how rural much of California is, but if you drive on I-5, you’ll quickly find out. We saw Mount Shasta which was my first time seeing it (obviously I don’t head north much!), and it was breathtaking from afar. We stopped in Weed, CA for an actually really awesome breakfast. I’m not kidding, the Eggs Benedict at the Hi-Lo Cafe, Motel, & RV Park was actually one of the best EB I’ve ever had, and I am a self-proclaimed breakfast connoisseur. After we filled our bellies up, we stopped for gas in Eureka where we *almost* broke down and didn’t make it. Considering I was on dress duty, I told Patrick from the get-go that it doesn’t matter if I make it, just make sure to get the DRESS TO BANDON. Like literally, my arm could be severed off or I could die, but for the love of all things, please get that dress to her. Luckily, I am alive and well, and the RV just had some part not screwed on all the way after Triple A looked at it the day before.
After the RGV almost crapped out on us, we successfully drove through the small towns of Oregon, the sawmill, the windy road toward the coast and made it to Bandon Dunes. Our first stop was check in at the main lodge where Patrick and I walked out to the course to catch our first glimpse of the coastline.
Just kidding, but that’s really the word that comes to mind and was probably the first word out of my mouth when we saw the Pacific Ocean. Once we got all excited and checked in, we headed to The Trails to meet the wedding crew for some afternoon drinks. After hugs, kisses, salutations, and a couple glasses of prosecco, we teed off at The Bandon Preserve which is the Par-3 course. It was a perfect 13 hole warm up for the weekend ahead. The golden hour was actually quite magical and we shared many laughs, good shots, and bad shots before heading back to the Trails for dinner.
The next morning we woke up bright and early to get some grub in our bellies for the exciting day ahead. In typical wedding day fashion, the getting ready part started off chill, fun, and easy, but the last 30 minutes were total chaos. I don’t think it would be a real wedding if you didn’t have those last 30 minutes of rushing to get ready! Chelsea and I were scrambling to get Kenzie’s hair done and I am proud to say that we successfully made her look like a Greek goddess. Klutz and Klutch for the win (you had to be there).
The wedding was held at noon at Face Rock Beach, and it could not have been a more perfect day. It was 70 degrees and sunny with a low mist rolling along the beach. Straight out of a movie, I swear. It was a hike down the wooden staircase, so all of us girls held her dress to avoid the mud and sand. The groom, groomsmen, and everyone else was waiting down below, we began the ceremony. When Kenzie and her dad walked around the big boulder and appeared, it was actually magical. Cue the tears. The ceremony was absolutely beautiful, the speeches were the perfect mix of funny and sappy, and they began life as husband and wife by hitting drives into the ocean. Eco-friendly and biodegradable, of course.
After tears, laughs, and gorgeous photos, we headed back to Bandon Dunes and held the reception at the Punch Bowl. This might have been my favorite part of the entire trip. We played a couple rounds, with everyone teaming up in pairs in the second round for a cutthroat knock-out style competition. Based on the photos below, you will see why it was my favorite part of the weekend - drinks were flowing and we were all in a euphoric, happy, loving state as we had just witnessed our Kenzie and Jimmy embarking on a beautiful life together.
Dinner was held at McKee’s which was just as amazing and there were no shortage of tears from the speeches given by Kenzie’s father-in-law, dad, Maid of Honor - Tisha, and brother -Cutter.
Once the night was over, we stumbled back to bed and were able to sleep in since we had afternoon tee times at Bandon Dunes. Chelsea and I teamed up against Patrick and Tisha, and it was quite the showdown! Bandon Dunes is most definitely on my top 5 courses ever played. Of course the golf course is beautiful and the way golf was meant to be played, but the company and caddies also made it great.
Insider tip: to the right of the 10th fairway underneath a tree is an underground irrigation box that carries some hidden treasure! Not really, but it does have some empty whiskey bottles (sometimes they are full), little momentos and trinkets, as well as a book that you can sign.
If you are wondering who won the match, it all came down to the 18th hole where we were all square. Patrick and Tisha were up in the beginning, but Chelsea and I made a come back to get to all square. Unfortunately, Patrick made his 20 foot putt to win. Still bitter.
I still can’t decide which hole is my favorite at Bandon, but the easiest pick is number 16. Usually the 16th hole is always my favorite hole at prestigious courses because designers intentionally make the last three holes an amazing final stretch of golf, but also my favorite number is 16. Usually the 16th hole is the make or break of my round as well - birdies or doubles usually ensue.
We ate dinner outside at the restaurant above the Punch Bowl where we met some Shotmakers fans and legendary golf photographer, Evan Schiller. It was the first time Patrick and Evan met which was so cool to witness and they had a blast discussing golf course photography with one another.
Originally, Patrick and I were going to head home early morning on Monday but we decided to leave later in the day so we could get in another round and play Pacific Dunes. I’m so happy we did because I played with Kenzie and Jimmy, who were hungover from celebrating until 3am the night before (more so Kenzie than Jimmy!). Kenzie was FULL ON giggle mode, more than I’ve ever seen her before, which is a lot because Kenzie is notorious for getting the giggles. This time though, it was the still-buzzed-from-last-night giggles, hence her new nickname, Giggles.
Pacific Dunes was no shortage of unreal, and it is so hard for me to choose a favorite between Bandon and Pacific Dunes. Both are great in their own unique way, and I shot 84 at both courses! I’m not super big on keeping score and defining a round based on score, but considering I played about the same at both course, it makes it hard to choose a favorite!
Before heading out for our long 8 hour drive home, Patrick went to Bally Bandon Sheep Ranch which is set to open Spring 2020. Check out his experience at the course in progress here!
Once we were done at Bandon (cue sad music) we hopped into the RGV and headed out west. Well, south, but that doesn’t have a ring to it. We stopped at this awesome diner in Oregon before the border called (insert) for some burgers and milkshakes. It’s a total throwback to the good ol’ days and is a fun place to stop on the way. We finally made it home at midnight and all I could think about is when I’d be going back. Insider Tip: All the locals and employees said September/October are the best months for the weather but don’t go telling all your friends!
Bandon Dunes is truly a magical place to visit and play golf, so that’s why we booked a trip for my dad and surprised him on Father’s Day! He’s so excited, as am I, and we are counting down the days.
Go to Face Rock Beach
September/October are best months weather-wise
Find the underground electrical box to the right of the 10th fairway under the tree
Don’t forget about Punch Bowl and Bandon Preserve!