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Here’s the Lowdown (and How to Save Big) on Bandon Dunes Golf Packages

by Craig Better

Mar192013

bandon dunes golf packages

Bandon Dunes golf packages are a little different than at other golf resorts. Here’s what you need to know.

As popular as Oregon’s Bandon Dunes Golf Resort has become, you’d think booking a golf package there would be easy.

Nope.

You won’t find packages listed anywhere on the Bandon Dunes Resort website (but they do exist).

As for packages offered by third parties, they don’t exist.

Well, not in the usual sense, and usually not by anyone with a formal relationship with Bandon Dunes Golf Resort.

“Wait a minute,” you’re saying. “What about all the Bandon Dunes golf packages that come up when I do a Google search?”

Smoke and mirrors.

Bandon Dunes Golf Packages from Third Parties

Here’s the deal: most outfits offering Bandon Dunes golf packages have no formal relationship with the resort — they’re simply making reservations on your behalf, then adding on a profit for themselves.

So, unlike the typical travel agent scenario, you are the one paying a “commission” on the reservation, not the resort.

This doesn’t mean the firms marketing Bandon Dunes golf packages are scammers, of course. Everyone deserves to make money if they perform a service.

What gives me pause, however, is this lack of a formal business relationship with the resort; if something goes wrong after handing one of these firms a few thousand dollars, you could be left twisting in the wind.

Keep in mind, too, that some of these unofficial firms offer Bandon Dunes golf packages with off-site accommodations. This is important because, when you stay off-site, it can limit your ability to get tee times at the best prices and times.

For example, as a Bandon Dunes Resort guests, you pay $235 for golf in high season.

As a “golf only” guest, you have to pay $280; and if you want to make tee times more than 21 days out, it’ll cost you $330 and you can’t play before 10 am.

Bandon Dunes Golf Packages from the Resort Itself

As I mentioned above, you won’t find Bandon Dunes Golf Packages on the resort’s website, and they’re not offered all the time, but they do exist; you just have to ask about them.

The resort typically offers packages from November through April, it’s off-peak months.

Prime weather? Usually not, but you can get some glorious stretches during these times and Bandon’s courses are, after all, well suited to a windy and wet Ireland/Scotland-type experience.

This year, Bandon has two-night, three-night, and four-night packages through April 15.

To give you an idea, the three-night package ranges from $595 in January to $895 in April (per person, based on double occupancy) and includes:

-3 nights in the resort’s Chrome Lake or Lily Pond rooms
-3 rounds of golf
-3 buffet breakfasts
-2 dinners

Based on my back-of-the-envelope calculations, it looks like in April there is a couple hundred dollars worth of savings in there.

Not bad, but here’s…

The Real Way to Save Big on Bandon Dunes Golf Packages

You can craft your own Bandon Dunes golf packages directly with the resort — for any time you want to visit — and likely come away with a better deal than anything else out there.

For example, most third-party firms (official or not) offer a standard package where you play one round of golf per day.

So, if you wanted to play all four of Bandon’s 18-hole courses, it would cost you about $940 ($235 per round) in high season as a resort guest.

But if you make your own reservations, you can take advantage of Bandon’s fantastic, same-day replay rates: your second round is $120 and anything after that is free.

So, by my math, instead of paying $940, you could theoretically play all four of Bandon’s courses for $355.

Don’t laugh, given how long the days are around the summer equinox, there are people who have played all four courses in one day. But even if you “only” play 36-holes in a given day, it’s still a great deal.

I guess the one remaining question is: why doesn’t Bandon Dunes offer more packages, either directly or through third parties?

For one thing, it doesn’t really need to. It’s called “demand” folks, and Bandon Dunes has done a masterful job creating it.

Second, Bandon Dunes is set up and operates differently from other golf resorts. For example, at most other golf resorts, the focus is on selling room nights, otherwise known as “putting heads in beds.”

Bandon Dunes, on the other hand, has been careful not to overbuild the lodging side of the resort and therefore it has less pressure to bundle the lodging and golf into packages.

Many in the industry would argue that the resort’s room capacity is undersized given the breadth of its golf offerings. But that suits Bandon Dunes owner Mike Keiser just fine.

My sense is, he is quite content providing the premier golf experience in the United States without being overly worried about how he is going to fill his beds, particularly during the shoulder and off-seasons.

Speaking of shoulder season, here’s another great tip: Bandon’s director of reservation services told me the absolute best time to visit (in terms of availability, then rates) is April 1-14.

Makes sense. Everybody else is home scrambling to get their taxes done.

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Karel March 19, 2013 at 9:00 am

Great insight, great course,…missed an opportunity last year.

Re:
“So, by my math, instead of paying $900, you could theoretically play all four of Bandon’s courses for $335. Don’t laugh, given how long the days are around the summer equinox, there are people who have played all four courses in one day. But even if you “only” play 36-holes in a given day, it’s still a great deal.”

But how do you handle the tee time scheduling to make this happen??

2 Craig Better March 19, 2013 at 9:05 am

Unlike some resorts, Bandon allows you to schedule your replays, so you can set them up when you set up your initial tee times. I’d recommend leaving at least 5 hours between rounds (more if you want to enjoy a nice lunch in betweeen) because the pace-of-play is about 4.5 hours in high season. If you don’t schedule your replays, you can still get out, but it’ll be based on availability.

3 Scott Newell March 19, 2013 at 9:07 am

I have been fortunate to visit Bandon Dunes many times since 2000 and enjoy each experience, but maybe the best one in terms of value came when my wife and I went with another couple in February of 2009 for Valentine’s Day. We played 36/day x two days (barely snuck in each day playing the 18th at Pac in the twilight), each couple had their own Lilly Pond room for two nights, perfect breakfast buffet bar each morning, and a full dinner in the The Gallery restaurant one evening….cost was about $1k/couple (probably around 1/2 price vs. prime time rates). Didn’t hurt that we had maybe 2 holes of rain the whole weekend. :-)

4 Doug R. March 19, 2013 at 9:10 am

I’d argue a few points above. To attempt to say you can play all 4 courses for $335 means you are also staying too. And how many of you have walked 72 holes in a day??? I package deals for Bandon. The sweetspot group being 8 and typically enjoy staying together. Check out that option at Bandon. They have 4BR units for some ridiculous price like $1500 a night. I have packaged staying at very nice homes that sleep 8 comfortably and ultimately set up an average of 27 holes a day. 18/36/18…….more than most other than the youngsters wanna play. And the package comes out cheaper than staying at Bandon Dunes. Yea, Bandon has packages in the shoulder season……..When they have a need. But candidly there are so many other better places to go play golf during Bandon’s shoulder season………. I only set up deals where I know I add value, Bandon is one of them.

5 Jason K. March 19, 2013 at 9:21 am

2012 was the second year I traveled to Bandon in January over MLK weekend. Lodging rates were $101 ($1 per day for tax), golf was $75 plus $40 for a replay, plus food. Rates at Bandon don’t get better than this, and sometimes the weather is better in January than it is in July. I played in 55 degrees with rain and wind, 55 degrees with no wind, and 65 degrees and sunny over three days in mid-January. It was a blast and the guests were mainly local Oregonians from Portland. I traveled from Michigan.

6 rob March 19, 2013 at 9:31 am

On summer solstice, they offer special deal. Pay regular green fee for 1st round and $120 for replay and any subsequent rounds are free. If you complete all four courses on that day, they give you back $100. They’ll have a shuttle run you between courses and you better keep up as pace of play is actually around 3:40 min for first round, just under 4 hr for 2nd round. Each rounds pace increases about 20 min (per caddie’s info). This is all walking so get your comfortable shoes on and bring extra socks. If anyone is thinking about doing this, make sure you train your body as course does have undulation and isn’t the easiest walk. I teed off late so I only got in 3 rounds but next day, my legs felt like jello even though I walked 36 holes once every week for 2 month before coming out to Bandon.

7 AndrewM March 19, 2013 at 11:49 am

I agree with your weather assessment. I’ve played Bandon twice in the late fall/winter months and once in the summer. The weather was very similar each time. Clear and glorious one day, cloudy and windy another, raining on the third. Visiting during off peak months saves on everything, especially the room accomodations. A very nice treat is at least one night in the Lodge where you can get a King room with a jacuzzi bath tub. Very luxurious after playing a lot of golf in just a few days. Another tip if planning to play multiple rounds per day, bring extra shoes. Bandon courses are all walking courses, and the treatment of your legs and feet is the key to enjoying your stay as much as anything else. Wearing the same shoes puts a repeated dent in the same points on the bottom of your feet over and over again. You can get very sore very quickly. Trust the shuttle system. It is almost unfathomable how efficient and timely it is considering how few shuttles are actually in operation at any one time. Be good to the staff and they will be good to you!

8 Carla March 19, 2013 at 7:38 pm

I happen to be an owner of ocean front houses in Bandon we add to nothing to your costs but we do offer other less expensive alternatives. The Resort (Bandon Dunes) is a great place to play golf and offers golf that you may not be able to get anywhere else in the world. Most visitors arrive at the resort and are moved around with the on-site trasportation that is provided by the resort. This leaves all of your dining and experience there. However the only time you really see the ocean is during your round of golf. Other alternatives exist that have you renting an entire house directly on the beach for only $300 per night or less for the entire house not per person. This means that it costs you $280 instead of $235 for golf at the resort but do the math for the lodging. That gives you a barbeque, a refrigerator of your own, or even a chance to dine at one of the local places in town. You may even get a chance to enjoy a sunset and watch the waves after your round of golf. Yes I have an interest in having resort guests go into town for yet another experience since I have not mentioned the names of my lodging alternatives this is a little less than a shamless plug.

9 rob1863 March 19, 2013 at 8:29 pm

Perhaps you should have done your math on the front rather than the back of the envelope. According to my math a three night January visit would cost per person: 3×80=240 for the lodging. 3×75=225 for the golf. 3×14.50=43,50 for the buffet breakfasts. Add 2.40 for the lodging tax and that all totals up to 510.90. Don’t know what the dinner options are but the most expensive entree I could find was 39, so even if that is available you are looking at paying 595 and getting 588.90 in food, lodging and golf. Can’t see how you are saving a couple of hundred.

10 Craig Better March 19, 2013 at 8:40 pm

I was calculating based on April rates given that it’s now late March. 3-night package for $895 vs. $1,100 booked seperately. $205 savings.

11 Jeff Courter March 19, 2013 at 9:49 pm

Bandon Dunes is heaven on earth…and it doesn’t matter which month of the year you visit! I’ve been there once in late May and twice in early December. May weather was rainy one day/low 50s/30 mph wind + 75 degrees/sunny/no wind next day. Both December trips were upper 40s, some rain/wind, but not that much cooler than May weather. BIG difference, though, was Dec/Jan lodging and golf rates are about 2/3rd lower than high season. I’m told best month to go is February as days are getting longer/slightly warmer/less rain. But that’s part of the Bandon charm. For my money, it’s a great bargain in the non-high season months when rates are much lower. And if you want another unique links golf experience with less rain, schedule a visit to the Prairie Club in the Sand Hills region of western NE – a great 1-2 combo and both are managed by Kemper Sports Mgt.

12 Hans Berntson March 20, 2013 at 5:01 pm

I have been to Bandon twice, and that is quite a trek from Sweden. Both times have been in prime season which does cost. My advice would be to scale down on time spent at the resort and see some other parts of Oregon. The golf at Bandon is great, but not greater than driving over the Cascade Range and seeing Sahalee Falls etc. You don’t have to play all the courses twice, and $120 for a replay is only cheap if you do it once, doing it several days in a row is plainly stupid as you will not remember much of the rounds. The trick is to leave the place longing to come back, not exhausted.

13 rob1863 March 20, 2013 at 11:06 pm

Craig,

Thanks for the response. However it makes no sense. Comparing A March package with April rates and sayng that there is a $205 savings is total nonsense. Rates change in April. Golf rates go up from 120 to 165. Lodging rates go up also. Chrome Lakes go up from 240 to 320 and Lily Ponds go up from 220 to 290. Not going to do the math again, but I can’t imagine that there is any money saved.

14 Craig Better March 21, 2013 at 11:53 am

My comparison was April package vs. April rates since I figured April was the earliest most would be able to plan this trip, “given that it’s now late March.” Sorry for the confusion.

15 Rodger March 26, 2013 at 10:56 am

What is the best way to get to Bandon? Would like to experience it, but getting there seems to be very time-consuming and difficult if flying from the mid-west.

16 Mr Essex April 3, 2013 at 10:37 am

We had a good time at Hardelot Golf. Has anyone else travelled?

17 Sue January 7, 2014 at 3:22 pm

We will be traveling to Bandon in June 2014 as part of a road trip/vacation and are bringing our dog. It is my understanding that the resort does not accomodate dogs. We would love to stay at the resort primarily so that my husband has access to the early morning tee times. Any suggestions on how to book a tee time prior to 10am if we are not able to stay directly at the resort due to the pet policy?

18 Jodi April 7, 2014 at 3:42 pm

Sue,

Yes it’s true – dogs are not allowed to stay overnight at the resort. My suggestion would be to stash your dog at Riverview Kennels, 10-15 min drive from the resort. I have boarded my two big dogs there while I stay on the resort. Before and after my golf I stay at a dog friendly place on the beach. Bandon beach is really phenomenal and hardly anyone is down there. Your dog will be in heaven. Riverview did a good job with my dogs, and really got to know their personalities, and I am pretty picky. It is also very reasonably priced – compared to boarding in Seattle at least.

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