'Intro to Bandon 101': The Preserve

The fourth is another with excellent views of the Pacific Ocean, but going long can be a problem, not to mention off-line shots that can bounce in many different directions if not hit perfectly.

The fourth is another with excellent views of the Pacific Ocean, but going long can be a problem, not to mention off-line shots that can bounce in many different directions if not hit perfectly.

This spring, Mike Keiser will introduce golfers to a par-3 course the likes of which they've not seen.

In remote southwest Oregon, The Preserve will open May 1 as the fifth of the Bandon Dunes courses. Just as with the opening of Bandon Dunes, where Keiser introduced pure links golf to a country generally devoid of the experience, The Preserve will offer a primer on how the game can be enjoyable without the driver.

With views of the Pacific Ocean from almost every hole, The Preserve utilizes the beauty of sea and land. Architects Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw let the land dictate the flow of the course, never forcing the outcome.

“Mike (Keiser) allowed us to lay out the holes in the configuration that we thought best fit on that ground and to get to what we thought were the most interesting holes,” Coore said from his home in Scottsdale, Ariz. “Both in terms of the character of the holes, but you but also the direction they played and the length that they played. So I'm very, very pleased with it. I think that it's visually spectacular, but I think more importantly it's going to be a lot of fun.”

As an example of the architects' minimalist attitude, their openness to adapt to the land is evidenced by the fact that the course originally was designed as a 12-hole layout. As clearing of the gorse started, an additional hole came into view, the 146-yard sixth hole.

Keiser and Coore were together when they first saw the cleared area, and according to Coore, Keiser was all for the additional hole as soon as he saw the area.

“The good thing about par-3s is you can lay them into property with very little alteration of the property that you might not be able to do with longer holes,” Coore said, "be it par-4s or par-5s. So we were able to use the dunes very much as they were with very little alteration.”

The shot values of the 13 holes rival the best courses in the U.S. and makes the relatively short walk of interesting golf and breathtaking views of the Pacific an experience that will do justice to The Preserve’s addition to the Bandon courses.

“I think whether players use it to introduce themselves to golf at Bandon,” Coore said, "meaning learning how to deal with fescue greens and the tight lies around the greens and the way the ball goes and how far it runs on the ground or how much the wind affects it. That would be an extraordinary use of the par-3, to be an introductory to golf at Bandon Dunes.”

• • •

No. 1: 138 yards (from black tees)

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Analysis: Like many holes at The Preserve, links-style bunkers protect the first hole. Looking wind-blown and unkempt, the hazards are one of the significant design features of the 13-hole course. At 138 yards from the back tee, the first hole is a bit down hill and will play a little shorter than its yardage, but with the prevailing wind in your face, the club selection to a large angular green is critical.

• • •

No. 2: 142 yards

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Analysis: The front bunker is the defining feature of the second hole and while not visible looking back to the tee, it is very distinctive from the tee and makes short or left a difficult way to the play the second hole.

• • •

No. 3: 106 yards

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Analysis: A relatively flat green, the third hole opens the way to some of the best golf The Preserve has to offer. With few exceptions, the Pacific Ocean is visible from every hole on The Preserve, but it really is part of the feeling of playing the Preserve starting at the third hole.

• • •

No. 4: 124 yards

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Analysis: The fourth is another with excellent views of the Pacific Ocean, but going long can be a problem, not to mention off-line shots that can bounce in many different directions if not hit perfectly.

• • •

No. 5: 152 yards

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Analysis: Ok, can you think of a more spectacular look than the tee shot into the fifth green, with the Pacific Ocean and the Bandon Preserve forest in the foreground? Obviously the tee is elevated, and while finding the green looks easy from the 152-yard back tees, the green is not so benign.

• • •

No. 6: 142 yards

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Analysis: The sixth green looks relatively flat, but the right side will dictate the movement on the green that has the Pacific Ocean to its left. Expect almost everything to move toward the ocean.

• • •

No. 7: 164 yards

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Analysis: With a tee shot to an elevated green, the seventh is the longest hole at The Preserve at 164 yards. Since the green is hard to see and the hole location difficult to discern, the seventh may turn out to be the most difficult hole of the 13.

• • •

No. 8: 78 yards

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Analysis: Hidden and large, this view is only for those that have missed the green short or left. The view of the 8th green from the tee is completely different and reveals nothing of what the hole shows from here.

• • •

No. 9: 134 yards

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Analysis: An elevated tee on No. 9 provides a great look at the Pacific Ocean and a relatively easy shot compared to some at The Preserve. Short poses no problem getting up and down.

• • •

No. 10: 120 yards

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Analysis: The 10th hole shares a very large teeing area with the seventh hole and marks the unfortunate return back to civilization. The tee shot is a stunner, to an elevated green, hidden by natural mounding and a bunker, at 120 yards it seems so easy.

• • •

No. 11: 152 yards

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Analysis: Note the sloped green on the 11th that is not visible from the tee. Of course long is a problem with the large mound in the background, leaving the right side the safest route, but with the slope and mounding, getting up and down will be difficult.

• • •

No. 12: 148 yards

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Analysis: With the Bandon Trails clubhouse in the background, you know you're near the end of one of the best rides at Bandon Dunes. With everything visible off the tee, the 12th is a good transition to the 13th hole.

• • •

No. 13: 110 yards

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Analysis: From this view of the 13th green, the slight undulation of the green from back to front is visible as well as the difficulties if the hole location when positioned near the left side of the green. Playing the bounce will be required in many cases.

• • •

Further development

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Analysis: This was how the area looked before Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw put their magic touch on the area. How many more holes are available in the remaining forest? We may find out as the years go on.

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