(Photos courtesy of Bandon Dunes Golf Resort)
Nary a better warm-up or cool-down exists than the Preserve, Bandon’s 13 hole short course. In lieu of hitting the range (amazingly we didn’t hit a single range ball the entire trip), we started our trip off on Preserve and then thought it the only fitting way to end the trip, as well. Occupying some of the most spectacular land at Bandon, The Preserve offers up an eclectic mix of half-shots and full-throated eight irons as it meanders down from the Trails clubhouse toward the secluded forest and beach below, and then back up along a gorge. Aside from featuring the best logo on property, Preserve allows eightsomes and the layout is extremely conducive to betting. That’s a recipe for fun.
As for specific holes, the first two are relatively standard fare before you get to the 75ish yard third, which tests your touch like no other hole on property. The fourth features a double green (shared with seven) and can play anywhere from around 80 to 120 yards, a common theme. The sixth might be the hardest hole on the entire property, regardless of which tees you play. The green is seemingly 60 yards long and is fronted by bunkers on the left side and cliffs beyond those.
The seventh can stretch all the way to 147 yards and features a massive green with girthy swales. The eighth was my favorite on the whole course, despite the fact (or rather because of it) that it measures just 40 yards from the front tee and 63 yards from the back tee. A mound guards the front of the putting surface and distorts the view of the half-punchbowl green. You’ve just gotta get it there, which is trickier than it seems! The ninth is spectacular and juts out on a promontory – the views and the natural mounding around the green are delicious. The eleventh is another standout and plays along the creek, demanding a well-struck short iron to reach the green. The home hole comes in at around 100 yards and offers the opportunity to play anything from a lofted wedge to a putter or bumped 3-wood.
Bookending the trip with the Preserve allowed us to apply what we’d learned during our time at Bandon and play the holes differently than how we’d done the first go-around. We were also fortunate to have our caddie, Squid, come play it with us and display some of the butteriest hands on the planet and the creativity that could only be gleaned from years working at Bandon. I felt like I was watching Mark Burke on Golf Channel’s seminal masterpiece “Pipe Dream.”