Sunday, 26 December 2010

Bandon Trails

The 15th

This was the course that I made the trip to see.  While Old Mac was a draw – I was more curious to see the latest Coore and Crenshaw course. I’m such a fan of their approach to design, their body of work and the detailing they bring to their courses. I found the course fascinating and was glad I made the trip to see it. The opening five holes are outstanding with the opener winding through the dunes, the second plays beside a massive dune and down into a beautiful dell. The third shows their strength as architects where they took a transitional hole and made it into a very interesting hole despite clearly average land. The fourth – while controversial to some – is an outstanding example of how to use a diagonal crown mid-fairway to set up a quirky but compelling hole. It may be controversial to some – but is brilliant to me. Finally the 5th - with its roller coaster green - is a fine example of how important green contouring can be on a short par three.
The next set of holes was a mixed bag for me. There is nothing major to criticize through this stretch, but also very little that I would add to my "idea box." I was initially disappointed – but in hindsight that’s almost entirely based upon my high expectations of their work.

Things took an interesting turn with the nasty and difficult 13th – which was exceptional. But it was the 14th that I had come specifically to see. The 14th is a short drivable par four played from a very high tee to a second lower plateau. Missing the green is almost certain death – except perhaps left. The green is small narrow, severely contoured and tilted noticeably away from the one bail out option on the left. I’ll cut to the chase on this one – the routing is excellent – despite many thoughts to the contrary. The issue is the severity of the green. You can easily putt or chip off the sides or back and end up in deep trouble – even an unplayable lie. In my opinion - the green is too much despite the intent – because it’s almost impossible to play the hole conservatively. That’s my issue with the hole – you may not finish even if you play safe the entire way because you still have to chip or putt onto a green that will only except the absolute best you have. All others will be propelled across the green and into huge trouble.

The finishing four were outsatnding holes and provide great examples of why I’m a huge fan of their work. The 15th is one of the best green sites of the four courses and a great example of how to bench a green in a slot without using a tier to make up grade. The key is the central roll. The uphill 16th is amazing and finished on a wild but fair green. The 17th is a standout par three – often photographed – and tougher than expected at the green. The final hole finishes through back the dunes and up to a great green site.

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