Old Macdonald adds to legend at Bandon Dunes
No. 7 at Old Macdonald is a short, uphill par 4 with the Pacific Ocean as the backdrop
BANDON, Ore. – The legend continues at Bandon Dunes.
In June America’s most iconic 21st-century golf resort unveiled its fourth course, Old Macdonald.
Contrary to the three previous courses at Bandon Dunes which are unique to its designer, Tom Doak and Jim Urbina approached “Old Mac” the way they believe Charles Blair Macdonald, the father of American golf, would have.
The result is a brawny links course characterized by wide fairways and massive greens. It’s modeled after Macdonald’s design of National Golf Links on Long Island, which in turn was inspired by the Old Course at St. Andrews.
Two degrees of separation from the world’s first golf course? So much for critics suggesting Bandon Dunes lacks history.
When Macdonald designed National Golf Links near the turn of the 20th century he did so with the intention of creating the finest golf course outside the British Isles. He borrowed the name and concept of several British favorites including the Alps hole at Prestwick, the Road and Eden holes at St. Andrews and the Redan hole at North Berwick.
Fittingly, Doak and Urbina used the same tactic at Old Mac.
“We had a palette of about 20 golf holes or features which were favorites of Macdonald's,” Doak said. “In the end, we managed to include 16 or 17 out of those 20 features.”
No. 11 is Old Mac’s Road Hole. Though this long par 4 doesn’t require a shot over a hotel like at St. Andrews, it does favor a tee shot down the right side, with a crescent green protected by a pot bunker that’s every bit as devilish as the original.
Old Mac’s characteristics
Though the ocean is visible from several holes, Old Mac doesn’t play along the cliffs like at Bandon Dunes and Pacific Dunes. The greatest defense here is the greens, which, according to Doak are “probably bigger than any set of greens anybody has built in 30 years.”
No. 8, for example, is a straightforward downhill par 3 guarded by a behemoth green that’s 216 feet from front to back. If the pin is back-right and you leave it short of the green, the longest putt of your life is a real possibility.
Two holes later you’re reintroduced to a double green that Nos. 5 and 10 share, which is the largest green surface in the world (it takes the maintenance crew an hour to mow). A shot that skips long-right past the hole could catch a slope and roll into No. 5’s portion of the green, leaving a putt that would cause even the most creative short game guru to have a conniption fit.
None of the 18 greens at Old Mac is fewer than 110 feet in depth.
But while the greens are tricky, the fairways are incredibly wide. Like any great links course, hitting your tee shot to the correct side of the fairway is paramount if you want to get your approach shot within birdie range.
Like the aforementioned 11th, No. 1 is also a prime example of this design trait, and for this reason it’s one of Doak’s favorite holes.
“I think the first hole is the perfect starting hole for this course,” Doak said. “There is an ocean of fairway to hit into, but a poor tee shot makes getting the second shot close to the hole much more risky.”
One of the true links characteristics of Old Mac is that it can be played a number of different ways. Planning on using the same “aim and fire” tactic you use at your weekend muni course? Good luck. If you leave it on the wrong side of the hole, four putts and pot bunkers beckon.
Old Mac is much different from Pacific Dunes and Bandon Dunes. There aren’t any holes where the ocean is your water hazard – except No. 7 if you blade it over the green.
Though you’re not required to take a caddie at any of the courses at this walking-only resort, you should definitely get one at Old Mac because aim points are hard to find and there aren’t any hole signs.
The huge greens, many of which transition into the next tee box, are the biggest at the resort and are reminiscent of St. Andrews. The layout is hillier than the Old Course, and built on a larger piece of property with no out of bounds. Other than the gorse, there really isn’t a place where you can lose a ball.
In some ways Old Mac is the easiest of the four courses at Bandon Dunes, but it’s also the most tactically challenging. It’s by far the best match play course at the resort, and the Bandon Dunes staff says it’s likely the course will be used in the rotation of courses when the men’s and women’s U.S. Amateur Public Links visit simultaneously in 2011.
Big, brawny and a heck of a lot of fun to play. Just how Bandon Dunes drew it up. Old Mac would be proud.
Watch: Daly makes birdie from 18-foot-deep bunker
John Daly on Friday somehow got up and down for birdie from the deepest bunker on the PGA Tour.
The sand to the left of the green on the 16th hole at the Stadium Course at PGA West sits 18 feet below the surface of the green.
That proved no problem for Daly, who cleared the lip three times taller than he is and then rolled in a 26-footer.
He fared just slightly better than former Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill.
Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters
Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.
Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.
In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.
Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.
“I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”
Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking.
Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup
In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.
Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.
Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.
“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”
McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.
“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”
September can’t get here quick enough.
Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.
There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.
In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.
“I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”
The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”
Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.
Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.
The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.
The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.
“My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.
Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.
After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.
It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.
Tweet of the week:
Welp I didn’t get hit by a ballistic missile today so that’s a plus! #imalive— John Peterson (@JohnPetersonFW) January 14, 2018
It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”
The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.
Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake
Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.
While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.
“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.
Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.