The Ultimate Bandon Dunes Golf Trip


The Ultimate Bandon Dunes Golf Trip

Last month, I made my fifth journey to one of the great golf resorts on the planet, Bandon Dunes, in southern Oregon. My first trip to the original “Dream Golf” destination was in 2010. I have subsequently visited in 2011, 2014, 2017 and last month. I’ve learned quite a bit over the course of my visits and wanted to share my insights to help you get the most out of your visit to Bandon Dunes!


If you want to go to Bandon, you must plan ahead! For our visit last month, I booked our trip in January 2021, nearly 20 months in advance. If you book early the year before you go, you’ll have more choices regarding lodging (the biggest bottleneck) and tee times. We had a large group of 20 players, but even with a group of 4 or 8, I would suggest booking at least a year in advance, particularly if you want to stay on the property (which I highly recommend). When we were there last month, there were open tee times scattered across the tee sheet, so if you have a group of 4 or less and plan to stay off property, there is a possibility that you will be able to secure some tee times relatively close to the date of your visit.

Getting There

On the past four trips, I’ve flown to Portland and made the drive 5 hours south to the resort. This past trip was the first time I flew into the Southwest Oregon Regional Airport (i.e. North Bend; airport code OTH), which has United Airlines connections from San Francisco and Denver. While it ultimately didn’t save a ton of time (after the layover in San Francisco), I do think it saved money in the long run because I didn’t have to rent a car. You do not need a car once you’re on the property (it’ll just sit there and collect dust), and with rental cars and gas being so expensive these days, you might want to consider flying into OTH and taking a shuttle service to the resort (45-minute drive, about $40 per person each way). The drive from Portland to Bandon isn’t bad on the way down since you’re amped up to get there, but the drive back after multiple days of golf was always a bit of a struggle.


We visited Bandon Dunes on August 4-8, 2022, the same week as the U.S. Amateur the year prior. The great thing about Bandon Dunes is that it is playable year-round. However, summertime is definitely your best chance for ideal weather and conditions. You can find great deals during the shoulder seasons, but you never know what you’ll get as far as weather goes. My first trip to Bandon was in March 2010, and the weather was great – low 60s every day and hardly any rain. My second trip in March 2011 was the complete opposite – temperatures in the low 50s and steady rain the entire time. My past two trips have been in September and August, respectively, and the weather has been excellent and very consistent. The turf also played more firm and fast, so you get ideal links golf conditions. If you have a lot of Bandon first-timers in your group, it may be worth going during the peak season to ensure ideal weather and playing conditions, particularly since it’s not the easiest destination to get to. If you do decide to visit during the shoulder seasons, make sure to bring good rain gear, two pair of shoes (so one will always be bone dry), and plenty of comfy socks. And even if you visit in the summer, be sure to bring layers, comfy shoes and chapstick (the wind can wreak havoc on your lips).

Below is the monthly weather at Bandon Dunes Resort, taken from a Course Profile on our golf travel website. You can see course details, architecture history, tournament history and even weather history on our Course Profiles. Our website is free to sign up.


Day 1

Travel Day

Late PM – Par-3 contest at Bandon Preserve

Dinner at Trail’s End


Day 2

Early AM – Bandon Dunes 

Early PM – Bandon Trails

Dinner at The Forge Steakhouse

Day 3

Late AM – Sheep Ranch

PM – Free time

Late PM – Putting contest at Punchbowl

Dinner at Pacific Grill

Day 4

Early AM – Pacific Dunes

Early PM – Old Macdonald

Dinner/Awards at McKee’s Pub


Day 5

Travel Day

Itinerary Notes

  • I decided to hold the par-3 contest late on Day 1 since folks were coming in from all over the country. Flight delays can happen, so I thought if there was one round to miss, it should probably be the par-3 contest and not a regulation course

  • Based on past experience, the wind picks up in the afternoons, so I booked us at Bandon Trails during the afternoon of Day 2 (it’s located in the woods and is more sheltered from the wind) and Old Mac during the afternoon of Day 4 (it has the widest fairways and biggest greens so more room for error). Bandon Dunes is the hardest course on the property and I’d recommend playing it in the morning when the wind is typically quieter

  • We’ve played 36 holes per day in the past, but it can be a bit of a grind. You certainly can do this, but I’ve found it’s a better experience to build in a “casual day” in the middle of the itinerary where you can sleep in and have some time at your leisure and the opportunity to be spontaneous

  • Our itinerary factored in the proximity of each course to one another. For example, Bandon Dunes and Bandon Trails are closest to one another, as are Pacific Dunes and Old Macdonald. Sheep Ranch is more on its own, which is why we scheduled it by itself on Day 3. We also had dinner near where our last round was (e.g., Trail’s End after Bandon Preserve, Pacific Grill after Punchbowl)


You can start booking dinner reservations about 60 days in advance, which I would certainly recommend for groups of 8 or more. The Forge Steakhouse is the fanciest of the options, with Trail’s End and Pacific Grill being a bit more casual and McKee’s Pub being the most informal. Also, I recommend swinging by Charlotte’s BBQ next to the driving range for lunch. The pulled pork may have been the best meal that I had the entire trip! McKee’s Pub is a great spot for post-round beers, and the Bunker Bar at the main Lodge is the spot if you want to continue later into the evening. There is also a pool table and cigars at the Bunker Bar. There is an excellent breakfast buffet at the main Lodge and also a good breakfast at the Pacific Grill. Old Macdonald has a few grab-and-go items, but if you want more of a meal, you should visit somewhere else. However, they are in the process of building a sports bar near Old Macdonald, so this should change soon.


We had different games going throughout the trip, which made it really fun. For the 5 rounds on the regulation courses (Day 2 to Day 4), we had a two-person best ball (net) aggregate with an individual skins game (net) each round. This worked out nicely because even if your team was out of the aggregate tournament, you could still win individual skins. We also had the par-3 contest on Day 1, which was a 4-person scramble, and a 2-person alternate shot putting contest at The Punchbowl on Day 3. The scramble was a nice format on Day 1 as an ice breaker since many folks in the group were meeting each other for the first time (I planned this trip as part of the Crown Club, a golf society I co-founded). We used Golf Genius as our trip’s scoring app, which was fantastic. There is a “golf trip” version that you can buy for a single use that’s relatively cheap if spread across a group, and it definitely adds a fun element to the trip since you can go over the leaderboard each night at dinner and generate some good banter.

Other Tips

  • The Punchbowl is the place to be from the late afternoon to dinnertime every day. There is music, a bar, and plenty of banter going on. A fun scene! There are no lights, so the putting course closes at dusk

  • It doesn’t matter where you stay on the property because the shuttle service is highly efficient. We were in the Grove Cottages, the furthest from the main Lodge. However, you could call the shuttle, and they’d pick you up within 5 minutes. Bandon Dunes runs an incredibly efficient operation

  • Check out Shorty’s Par-3 by the driving range. It’s a 9-hole David McLay Kidd design with some fun greens and can easily be played in under 2 hours. The conditioning isn’t great, but it’s an enjoyable time, particularly with a bigger group. There are no tee times, so you can go out in any size group. The course is open from Thursday to Sunday as long as the green flag is waving by the first tee. We played a 2-person scramble as a tensome, and it was definitely one of the most fun times of the entire trip

  • Take advantage of the “replay” rate. Your 2nd round of the day is 50% off and your 3rd round is free. They’ll actually give you $100 if you finish a 4th round! We had a few in our group play 45 holes on Day 4 this past trip, so their last 9 holes was free

  • The caddies at Bandon are world-class, and I would highly recommend one, even if it’s just for one round per day. You’ll save your feet and get a ton more insights into the course, particularly if this is your first time at the resort. Many folks in our group used a pushcart (complimentary at the resort) for the AM rounds and got a caddie for the PM rounds. FYI- you can take out “Caddie Cash” at any of the pro shops if you need cash for your caddies and put this expense on your room

  • If you have some time (and some spare energy), take a hike! Coastal Oregon is one of the most beautiful places on Earth and there are hiking trail maps at the Concierge, and most are short and relatively easy. I walked the Beach Trail the morning on Day 3, and it was cool to actually get down to the beach that you look at the entire time you’re on Bandon Dunes and Bandon Preserve. If you don’t have much time, you can hike to the Labyrinth in about 10 minutes. It’s a peaceful place dedicated to Howard McKee, one of the resort’s founders. Highly recommended.

  • If you have less time, you could condense this itinerary into 3 days and still play all of the five regulation courses (18 in the afternoon on Day 1, 36 on Day 2, and 36 on Day 3). However, this would mean skipping Bandon Preserve, the Punchbowl, and soaking in the resort’s amenities. It’s an effort to get to Bandon, so I would highly recommend staying onsite and building in more time on your trip if you can so you’re not rushed and can enjoy the resort

  • Here are some popular tips from our social media followers when we asked them to list their best tip to first time Bandon travelers:
    • Rain gear layers are a must.

    • Change socks after every round, especially on 36-hole days. Bring two pairs of shoes in case one gets wet.

    • Have a caddie, or atleast one forecaddie in each group. And listen to your caddie!

    • Go meet Bob “Shoe” Gaspar, Director of Outside Happiness at Bandon. Possibly the nicest person ever!

    • Take a sunrise stroll to the 16th tee at Bandon and sit on the bench to soak in the sights.

    • Play the ground game! Bump and run shots and putting are your friends on the firm turf.

    • Maximize and immerse yourself in the golf!

    • Hit up the hot tub in the Lodge after 36-hole days.

    • Play Sheep Ranch in the AM – it gets windy in the afternoons!


I hope this blog is helpful for your trip planning to Bandon Dunes! Feel free to leave questions and comments below, and I’ll do my best to answer. Also, check out our free website to learn more about Bandon’s courses and help plan future golf trips. You can search courses and view them on a map, view/submit course ratings and written reviews, track courses played, create a wish list, and save course notes. To register for free, click here.

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