Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Bandon Dunes #5 & #16- Where's the Gorse!

If you remember the little old lady in the TV commercial looking at the small hamburger on the big bun and yelling- Where's the Beef- that is what I feel like when I now play these two holes. Every trip back to the Bandon Dunes course I have noticed the removal of gorse throughout and the widening of fairways. These two holes are great examples of what is going on. To me this has always been the easiest course of the original three. My buddies on this trip called Bandon Dunes, Links Light compared to the other courses. Removing the gorse reminds me of a sickly animal losing its fur.

The Bandon Dunes course in 1999 was the first at BDGR, designed by David McClay Kidd from Scotland. I believe this was his first project and would think it was a big risk to have selected him. I was told by the various caddies that it use to play at least 6 stokes harder and take a lot longer to play due to the tightness of the fairways. Obviously, they have decided that this course is going to play easier and faster by the removal of all the gorse and rough. The caddies also said that the vast majority of golfers that come to BDGR can't break 100. I find that the fairways at all the courses are more than generous off the tee. It really is hard to lose a golf ball, if you bring more than two sleeves of balls you have over packed.
The first course I ever played at BDGR was Bandon Dunes, the day after the 2006 Curtis Cup. Conditions for the Curtis Cup had been unusual in that it was very warm with no wind. We got another calm day that morning and I was able to easily break 80. By the end of our first round the wind started to pick up and build for the next three days, until we had sustained winds of 40 mph with gusts of 50. It was not until 2008 that I would break 80 again on any BDGR course.

Hole # 5 at over 400 yards is a brute of a hole when the summer wind is up. It follows one of the best holes at BDGR. I prefer the angle coming in from the left side of the hole, so I aim to the left of the mounds off the tee. I usually have a long iron or hybrid for my approach shot into this narrowing FW, depending on the wind or pin position. This is a 4 club green as it is 48 yards deep. Easy bogey/hard par hole, I have made two of each on this hole in my four rounds.

With plenty of risk/reward, hole #16 is one of the better short par 4's you will play at BDGR. Now that all the gorse has been removed why not go right at the pin off the tee. Playing from the lay up positions usually gives a tougher angle into the pin. You have the Pacific bordering down the right side, which plays as a lateral hazard with cross ridges to deal with when laying up to the left.

I find that the first time I play a risky hole it is usually my best drive because I have no negative thoughts to clutter my mind of the potential danger. In 2006, the wind at my back had picked up by the time I arrived on the tee and my caddie Damon told me to go for it. As the crow flies it is less than 300 yards to the green, so I let it rip. To my surprise I flew the green and was left with a pitch on for a birdie chance, which I missed. The next time I played the hole I went for the lay up to the left and ended up with my only bogey here. If you can hit it 250 yards I would play the aggressive line off the tee.

Other notable holes: #4, #7, #10, #11, #12, #15, #17.

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