10 Things to Know About Booking a Trip to Bandon Dunes

By Brendon Elliott, PGA
Published on

My brother Graham recently visited Bandon Dunes, the iconic Oregon golf destination, for a guy's trip. We knew it would be special.
What we didn't know, however, is how it would reignite his love for golf and helped us reconnect as brothers through the game.
Graham got into golf later than I did. He played on our high school team and was pretty competitive. After finishing college at St. Bonaventure University, where he studied Journalism, he also ended up working in the golf industry at Golfweek where he used his journalism skills before becoming an elementary school teacher.
I asked him to share his experience at Bandon and his rekindled passion for golf by dusting off his writing skills, and giving some helpful tips for anyone traveling there soon. Enjoy!
Just do it! That’s my advice for anyone who is on the fence about visiting Bandon Dunes. I had all the reasons not to go … cost, weather in December (pro tip – better than a good summer day if you get lucky), flights, hip replacement, bad knees and, really, I just don’t play enough to justify going.
The first green of Sheep Ranch at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort.
The first green of Sheep Ranch at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort.
Boy I was wrong. The trip was worth every penny, and I ended up playing some of my best golf.
The brainchild was put into action about a year prior while I was a guest at my buddy’s golf club. At the time, I only played a handful of rounds a year. It sounded cool, but it wasn’t for me. My life had taken a new direction 20 years ago when I left the golf industry (I was a writer/editor for Golfweek) and turned into an elementary school teacher.
In fifth grade, the students have a unit about space, and after taking several class trips to Kennedy Space Center to listen to astronauts talk about how they train for their mission and what space really looks like, I could finally relate. The research, time, effort and dedication to finally make that journey into space is worth every second they’ll often say. I now truly understand where they are coming from because Bandon Dunes is also worth it.
Like I said, the prep work and anticipation are part of the fun. How many times will you be looking at pictures prior to your trip? At least 1,000. How many minutes will you watch strangers play from the live feed? At least 2 hours.

Bandon is a very special place, and you truly can’t appreciate it until you go there.

Landing in Eugene, Oregon, after a cross-country flight, we still had a nice two-and-a-half-hour car ride. At one point I joked in the car about this really being a pilgrimage and when you finally see it, you get to feel like Alan Shepard landing and playing golf on the moon.
As much as I would like to get into every part of the trip, I really don’t want to spoil it. Instead, here is a top-10 list of things that stood out.
  1. Play as much as you physically can (at one point I didn’t think my body would hold up, but that is when I started playing my best; the golf gods knew).
  2. Go with friends because the photo ops are priceless.
  3. Enjoy the food, it’s all good, especially the breakfast sandwiches at Sheep Ranch.
  4. Use the practice facility, you are there to play as much golf as you can so just do it.
  5. The Punch Bowl is a must, get creative and hit the longest putts of your life.
  6. Talk it up with your caddies, the more you engage the better the experience. Nick gave me a perfect line on my eagle putt that I nailed.
  7. Talk to Shoe. He wasn’t there when we were there, but he is an amazing part of the Bandon experience. Follow him on X where he gives each day a rating.
  8. Consider renting clubs (only if you are a higher handicapper). You will be hitting the latest clubs and it's a good test run if you are getting new ones. Plus, you get six balls each day too.
  9. Eat at the Ghost Tree Grill for dinner. Splurge because you came this far.
  10. Don’t worry about over packing, even if you don’t wear it. The weather is very unpredictable. The shoe warmers in the room are spectacular.
If you are on the fence, say yes to Bandon. If you are returning, well, you already know.
Bandon Dunes.
Bandon Dunes.
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Brendon R. Elliott, PGA


Executive Director/Founder

Sorrento, FL

Brendon Elliott is considered by his peers in the industry as one of the top youth golf coaches in the world. He is a multiple, local, state, regional, national and world award winning instructor with a focus on junior golfers ages 3-18. With numerous appearances on Golf Channel's Morning Drive, local TV, nationwide radio and countless publications, Elliott is one of the foremost experts in the youth golf arena. His Little Linksters 501c3 nonprofit is recognized as an example for introducing children as young as three to the game as well as how to help introduce youth with disabilities to our golf. Elliott has been recommended by industry titian's such as Nicklaus, Player, Floyd, Sorenstam, Speith and more. Among his numerous accolades, Elliott was named the PGA of America's 2017 PGA National Youth Player Development Award Winner in 2017.