Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Pacific Dunes #11

Sitting inside watching it rain on another cool winter day in Florida has got me day dreaming about my upcoming trip to Bandon Dunes, the first of August. This summer will be my third pilgrimage to the Resort. Now with the new fourth course opened we will be playing 8 rounds over four days, instead of the six I have played the past two trips. The weather at the start of August has been in the 60-70 degree range, sunny, with average winds of 10-20 mph. It can be much stronger and the courses are designed with the ground game in mind. One of my most used shots is the hybrid runner from up to 100 yards out when the wind is gusting. Walking is mandatory with caddies and pull carts available.

Of the three courses I have played there, Pacific Dunes is my favorite followed by Bandon Trails. Pacific was designed by Tom Doak's team and came online in 2001. In fact of all the courses I have played to date, if I had one last course to play again, Pacific Dunes is the one I would pick.

There are endless ways to go about playing each hole at Pacific, with the many routes you can take on the ground or through the air. The fescue fairways are very generous and almost as firm and fast as the fescue greens. It is somewhat unconventional in the layout with two par 3's starting out your back nine. But they are so different that you never really get the feeling you have just played back to back one shot holes. Before your back nine is completed you will have another two par 3's and a short par 4 to experience. Par is 35 and plays a bit over 3100 yards from the back tees. It is one of the most enjoyable nines you will ever play. Who says you need length to have a great course?

The 11th hole is a short par 3 that plays from 110 to 145 yards. In the summer it usually plays into the prevailing NW wind which can get up to 40 mph or more. On the left is the Pacific Ocean ,110 feet below, with a deep bunker in between it and the green. Short is a series of tiered bunkers, gorse, and beach grass. To the right are three more bunkers to keep you in play. If that were not enough of a challenge, you are shooting uphill at the smallest green on the course.

When you step up to the tee this is one of the most beautiful and visual intimidating holes you will ever play. It ranks right up there with the 7th at Pebble and 17th at TPC Stadium that I have played. Actually, the hole has more bark than bite. I think of the five par 3's at Pacific Dunes it is the easiest for me.

I have played it in moderate winds, and winds of 40 gusting to 50 mph. That particular windy day I hit an exceptional 6 iron from 110 yards right over the pin to about 6 feet. I have hit as little as a PW. Missing to the right you will initially think you have got to be dead, but more times than not you will have a chance to hit it on the green and have a shot at par. The one place you don't want to go is left on the beach below, fortunately the stronger the wind the less chance you have of doing so. There are bunkers guarding the left side of the green, so don't be afraid to aim at these if the summer wind is up.

I have played this hole six times with the worst score being a bogey. I have had some good birdie chances but have only made one. Even par at #11 for my 6 rounds, is the best I have done on any of the holes at Pacific Dunes. Visual intimidation, beauty, and scoreablity are reasons why this is one of my favorites at Pacific Dunes.

8/1/10 Update. My favorite par three at Pacific Dunes did not treat me so well on this trip. I plugged in the left bunker and took a double my last round but was still able to shoot 78. The other two days produced bogies from the right side. This trip I played the other par 3's at even par.

Other notable short holes at Pacific: #2,#5,#6,#14,#16, and #17.

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