Did Bandon Dunes bring Scotland golf to America


There's no doubting Bandon Dunes Resort's place in the American golf scene. But did it really bring true Scottish-style links golf to America? Senior writer Rex Hoggard and travel editor Erik Peterson duke it out.


There may not be a better opening tee shot in the game than the first volley at Pacific Dunes. The original Bandon Dunes fits into the land like it was carved from the hand of Donald Ross himself. Old MacDonald, the newest edition to the Dunes family, has been dubbed the best of the bunch.

None of the three, however, is a true links course.

George Peper, the former editor of Golf Magazine, recently completed a book that identifies the 230 or so “true” links courses in the world.

According to Peper’s criteria – which is based on a number of factors including the sand content of the soil, proximity to the ocean and the type of grasses used for the layout – each in the Bandon threesome qualifies as a true links course.

However, missing from Peper’s criteria, and from Bandon’s résumé, is the importance of history in the links equation.

They were playing golf on the windblown turf in St. Andrews when man believed the world was flat. The land that is now Royal Dornoch was used to play golf as early as 1616.

In 150 years Bandon may ascend to true links status. Until then enjoy what they are, great courses.


When C.B. Macdonald, the father of American golf, opened National Golf Links in 1911, the United States had its first links golf course. In addition to brand-spanking new, this contrarian layout near Shinnecock Hills was also highly-acclaimed.

It’s fitting, then, that the same man who built America’s first links course would be the inspiration for the next great one. In June Old Macdonald opened at Bandon Dunes, giving the resort its third links layout.

But while critics suggest Bandon Dunes, Pacific Dunes and now “Old Mac” are three of the finest public courses in the country, many of them also say they should be described as “unique” before “links.” True links courses, they say, have history.

But just as important as age, Bandon has everything you’d want in a links golf experience: Awesome golf holes in a breathtaking seaside setting with generally mean weather. What's more? Bandon Dunes' location is even more remote than most Scottish courses, and its walking-only policy hearkens to St. Andrews, Royal Dornoch and most other Scottish gems.

Since opening about a decade ago Bandon Dunes and Pacific Dunes have been lauded as two of the best public courses in America, and with Old Macdonald the resort is now one of, if not the best threesome of links courses on any single property in the world.

Did Bandon Dunes bring Scotland golf to America? Saying “No” might cause Macdonald himself to roll over in his grave.