Being called “different” compared to two powerhouse courses like Bandon Dunes and Pacific Dunes could imply that a golf course is an inferior design. But, in the case of Bandon Trails, the third and newest course at Bandon Dunes Resort, different also means a delightful change of pace on your Bandon Dunes Golf Vacation.
Bandon Trails veers from its siblings in that the latter utilize the same landscape and geography, that of coastal duneland. The Trails course starts off in the dunes, but they’re inland dunes, much thicker and more mazelike. In fact, the first few holes are reminiscent of playing certain courses in Northern Ireland, where they charge downhill into dune-studded valleys.
Upon leaving the dunes, it becomes a parkland design, playing around, up and over a tall, wooded mountain ridge. As a result, this layout has by far the largest elevation changes at the resort, such as a drop of about 80 feet from tee to fairway on the short and perhaps drivable par-4 14th hole.
This mountainous section ads to the distinctly different feel of the routing, and is consequently the toughest and longest walk of the three courses (making playing 36 holes per day a challenge at this no-cart resort). That’s not to say that Bandon Trails disappoints, it just slips into a mode of one very good, rather than drop-dead gorgeous, hole after another.
In general, the fairways are wide, bordering on enormous, and most greens feature deep bunkers on one or both sides. These bunkers are much more ominous than most on the two links courses. There are plenty of times when you are immediately off the green yet the putting surface is above your head.
Still, with the vast expanses of grass, and shelter from the strong coastal winds, this may be the favorite layout for mid to high handicappers since you can really swing away off the tee. Viva la difference!
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