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A dumped-guy buddy weekend is clearly in order, so why not go all the way—great windswept links-style golf courses with caddies, hearty comfort food, and a bar that welcomes post-round poker games? Such unreconstructed testosterone-fests could once be found only in Scotland and Ireland, but now they can be had right here on these shores, at the Bandon Dunes resort in Bandon, Oregon.
Forget Pebble, Pinehurst, and Bethpage. Bandon Dunes will be the best course you’ve ever played west of St. Andrews, at least until you tee it up on Pacific Dunes, Bandon’s sister course. When Bandon opened in 1998, it became Golf Magazine’s highest-rated public course built in this country in 80 years. Three years later, Pacific debuted higher.
Seemingly transported whole from the Old Country, towering sand dunes and all, the courses’ inland holes feature classic links challenges: sod-faced bunkers, vast waste areas, and knee-high rough. The coastal holes run along 100-foot-high cliffs with gaga views of the Pacific. The courses are so magically good that most guests try to play them both every day. And since the resort is windy and walking-only, you’ll have earned your fat slice of Bandon’s homemade meat loaf, your multiple rounds of Glenmorangie or Black Butte porter, and your seat at the card table by the time you reach the 37th hole.
On courses as challenging as these, pars or birdies become etched in your memory. My trophy moment came on Bandon’s sixteenth, set along the cliffs. The tee shot on this short par-4 requires a nerve-testing drive across a gorse-filled chasm to reach the upper level of a two-tiered fairway. From there, you’ve got a short pitch to a green seemingly floating on the edge of a cliff—anything long is lost at sea. Knees knocking, I stood in the tee box and cracked a solid drive smack in the middle of the fairway. I flipped a wedge to within twenty feet, lagged to ten inches, and tapped in. After walking off with my par, I felt like I had won the British Open. I suppose you could say I was in love.