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.
OB tee shot, bunker trouble dooms Rahm to MC
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The key to surviving Carnoustie is avoiding the bunkers.
Jon Rahm found three bunkers to close out the front nine Friday, the start of a triple bogey-double-bogey run that led to a second-round 78 and missed cut at The Open.
“All of them were as bad a lie as they could have been,” he said. “Besides that, things didn’t happen. I can’t give an explanation, really. I don’t know.”
Rahm’s troubles started on the seventh hole, a par 4 with a steady left-to-right wind. Out of bounds loomed left, and Rahm, who primarily plays a cut shot, hadn’t missed left all week. This time, his ball didn’t curve, and the OB tee shot led to a triple.
“Whenever I start missing shots to the left,” he said, “it’s really hard for me to play.”
After a career-best fourth-place finish at the Masters, Rahm has now missed the cut in consecutive majors.
“Right now I’m not in any mental state to think about what happened, to be honest,” he said.
Three of world's top 5 MC; not 60-year-old Langer
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Three of the top five players in the world missed the cut at The Open.
Bernhard Langer did not.
The 60-year-old, who is in the field via his victory in last year’s Senior Open Championship, shot even-par 71 on Friday. At 2 over through 36 holes, he safely made it under the plus-3 cut line.
"You know, I've played the Masters [this year], made the cut. I'm here and made the cut. I think it is an accomplishment," he said. "There's a lot of great players in the field, and I've beaten a lot of very good players that are a lot younger than me."
Langer had three birdies and three bogeys in the second round and said afterwards that he was “fighting myself” with his swing. He’s spent the last few days on the phone with his swing coach, Willy Hoffman, trying to find some comfort.
Despite his score, and his made cut, Langer the perfectionist wasn’t satisfied with the way he went about achieving his results.
"I wasn't happy with my ball-striking. My putting was good, but I was unlucky. I had like four lip-outs, no lip-ins. That part was good. But the ball-striking, I wasn't really comfortable with my swing," he said. "Just, it's always tough trying stuff in the middle of a round."
Langer, a two-time Masters champion, has never won The Open. He does, however, have six top-3 finishes in 30 prior starts.
As for finishing higher than some of the top-ranked players in the world, the World Golf Hall of Famer is taking it in stride.
"I'm not going to look and say, 'Oh, I beat Justin Rose or beat whatever.' But it just shows it's not easy. When some of the top 10 or top 20 in the world don't make the cut, it just shows that the setup is not easy," Langer said. "So I got the better half of the draw maybe, too, right? It wasn't much fun playing in the rain, I guess, this morning for five hours. I had to practice in the rain, but I think once I teed off, we never used umbrellas. So that was a blessing."
Kisner doubles 18, defends not laying up
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – It was only fitting that Jean Van de Velde was there working as an on-course reporter on Friday as Kevin Kisner struggled his way up Carnoustie’s 18th fairway.
Rolling along with a two-stroke lead, Kisner’s 8-iron approach shot from an awkward lie in the rough from 160 yards squirted right and bounced into Barry Burn, the winding creek where Van de Velde’s title chances at the 1999 Open Championship began to erode.
Unlike Van de Velde, who made a triple bogey-7 and lost The Open in a playoff, Kisner’s double bogey only cost him the solo lead and he still has 36 holes to make his closing miscue a distant memory. That’s probably why the 34-year-old seemed at ease with his plight.
“It just came out like a high flop shot to the right. It was weird. I don't know if it caught something or what happened,” said Kisner, who was tied with Zach Johnson and Zander Lombard at 6 under par. “You never know out of that grass. It was in a different grass than usual. It was wet, green grass instead of the brown grass. So I hadn't really played from that too much.”
Like most in this week’s field Kisner also understands that rounds on what is widely considered the most difficult major championship venue can quickly unravel even with the most innocent of mistakes.
“To play 35 holes without a double I thought was pretty good,” he said. “I've kept the ball in play, done everything I wanted to do all the way up into that hole. Just one of those things that came out completely different than we expected. I'll live with that more than chipping out and laying up from 20 feet.”
Wind, not rain more a weekend factor at Open
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – After a half-day of rain in Round 2 of the 147th Open Championship, the weekend offers a much drier forecast.
Saturday at Carnoustie is projected to be mostly cloudy with a high of 62 degrees and only a 20 percent chance of rain.
Sunday calls for much warmer conditions, with temperatures rising upwards of 73 degrees under mostly cloudy skies.
Wind might be the only element the players have to factor in over the final 36 holes. While the winds will be relatively calm on Saturday, expected around 10-15 mph, they could increase to 25 mph in the final round.