Sunday, 26 December 2010
The first time I saw Bandon Dunes, I found myself playing a match against David McLay Kidd (the architect of the course). We played in high wind and had one heck of a great match and a lot of good laughs. I loved the way the course wound in and out of the coast and how David took you to the ocean and back away over and over throughout the round. It creates many high points and helps place an emphasis on the ocean side holes. The routing is a great lesson in presentation.
The routing is still the strength of the course, but on second reflection I find it’s the course has lost a little of its charm on second playing (don’t get me wrong, this is still a wonderful course). One reason is the resort has gone on an extensive gorse removal program to make the course very playable. Losing the gorse has removed some of the intimacy around green sites and occasionally affected the strategy on holes like the 11th. I really found the original course playable and fair, the key was to avoid the areas of disaster where the gorse or maram grass pinched in. You must have some intimate details and the contrast of open areas and more constricted areas to help create emphasis the key areas on the course (usually found at green sites).
The one detail that really caught my attention were all the area drains and catch basins in the hollows around the greens and on the fairways. They almost always stood out as unnatural. When I compare this with the other course and how well everything blends in because the architect did not using collection hollows, it tells me that I would be far better off allowing the short grass around greens to run naturally away.