Getting to Bandon Dunes – North Bend Flight – Buyer Beware

Hey Everyone –

Just thought I would let you all learn a bit from my personal experience – I just got back from my second trip to Bandon.  On the way home we decided to give the shuttle flight from North bend to SF a shot rather than driving back to Portland.  WHAT A MISTAKE.  We were notified about 3 hours before our flight that it was cancelled.  United basically did nothing for us.  No vouchers, no hotel stay, no compensation for the rental car.  Instead, when we showed up to the airport, they basically said too bad and there may be a flight leaving in 2 days, although that one may be cancelled too.  After 3 hours we were able to get on a flight at 5am the next morning out of Eugene (about 2 hours away) and, after a connecting flight, going in to an entirely different airport (Milwaukee) than our home airport.  There were absolutely NO flights left out of Portland and nothing going into O’Hare or Midway.

After taking with our caddies, apparently this happens quite regularly (the flight was also cancelled the day before ours as well) and it is common for United to just leave the guest hanging with no compensation as they blame the “weather” for the cancellation.

Use this option at your own risk.  To me, NEVER again.  After having a great trip at Bandon, getting completely hosed really kills the buzz.  Bandon should post a warning on their website rather than advertise for this flight.

Hit’em Straight,

The Golf Sage

course review, course critique, golf blogger, the golf sage, bandon dunes, december 2014

Bandon Dunes

Jack Nicklaus Blames Golf Balls for Course Closings

Nicklaus Proposes Change to Golf Balls in Response to Course Closures – Disagree With Jack on This One

http://www.golf.com/tour-and-news/jack-nicklaus-blames-golf-ball-recent-course-closures.

undefined

Photo: Getty Images

FROM ARTICLE:

“Fact is, more golf courses have closed in the U.S. in each of the last 10 years than have opened,” Nicklaus said. “This is thanks in great part to changes in the golf ball and the distance it travels. Courses have had to change along with it. It’s now a slower game and more expensive than before, and that can’t be a good thing.”

Nicklaus’ solution is a creative one: create golf balls specifically tailored to each course instead of forcing courses to add length in response to longer-traveling golf balls.

“We don’t want to change the game for the core golfer, but we need to make every effort to offer alternatives to bring more people into the game and keep them in the game,” Nicklaus said. “I think we need to develop a golf ball to suit the golf course, rather than build courses to suit a golf ball. Whether it’s a ball that goes 50%, 75%, or 100%, you play a ball that fits the course and your game.”

Doesn’t Jack’s position assume that people can’t play the game?  In other words, for the people that can actually hit the ball (generally or most of the time where they intend to) wouldn’t the opposite be true?  Then an extra 20-30 yards per shot actually speeds the game up because more ground can be covered with less shots?

As far as cost of golf balls – so Nicklaus proposes courses use 50% or 75% balls tailored to each course?  So, then I need to buy golf balls at each course in order to play a round?  That seems more expensive to me since I, luckily, do not lose many golf balls.  In addition, why would I want to play a course when I have no idea how far I will hit any particular shot at that course because my golf ball is constantly changing?  Wouldn’t that actually slow the game down as now even the better players are missing greens and hitting hazards that normally would not be a problem because no one has any idea how far their ball will actually go?

Finally, I can see how distance makes courses more expensive to BUILD (because more land is needed).  However, distance of a golf ball does not to me force a course that is already open to close.  Are there really that many players out there who say, Gee this course is really too short for me now because I hit a Pro-V1 and a couple years later THAT causes the course to close?  The logic does not seem to follow for me.  The whole “tee it forward” movement must be completely off the mark by suggesting players move up to speed up the game only to then give them a ball that goes 50% as far as what they had the day before at the same course.

What are your thoughts?

Hit’em Straight,

The Golf Sage

Talking Stick North Golf Course – Not My Cup of “Tee”

Talking Stick North Golf Course – Not My Cup of “Tee”

I fully accept that this is going to be a controversial post.  Yet, to quote Hamlet, “to thine own self be true.”

Coore and Crenshaw have become a sort of golf course design royalty in recent years.  To offer a critique of one of their courses that does not flow with positive praise is generally met with accusations just short of blasphemy.  The biggest fans of their design strategy will often claim the author of any criticism of one of their courses simply does not understand true golf architecture, does not appreciate minimalism, does not place a priority on sustainability, or is only refined enough to appreciate the “dumbed down” American courses that do not place a priority on walking (rather than taking a golf cart) for the round.

Let me start by saying this… Coore and Crenshaw know more about course design than I will ever know.  I am a player.  My comments and reviews are based on my experience as a player and playing with a wide range of other players of various handicaps.  As a player, I am not thinking about course drainage (unless it is raining), irrigation, or how much dirt was moved to give me the final product.  I am seeing the product the designer has placed in front of me.  I pay my fee to play and I judge the result.

The questions that I consider for every course are 1) whether I enjoyed the course and 2) what types of players would enjoy the course if I were to recommend a course to someone else.  For this review, let’s start with #2 first.

There are two types of players that will most enjoy Talking Stick North.  First, the player who absolutely wants to walk a course.  For this player, it would be difficult to find a flatter piece of land anywhere.  Coore and Crenshaw are known for making their designs walkable and routing so their tee boxes are in close proximity to the prior green.

golf course review, course critique, golf blogger, the golf sage, golf blog, talking stick north, coore and crenshaw, scottsdale, arizona, november 2016

The second type of player who will enjoy Talking Stick North is, for lack of a better description, a player who has one ball left in their bag and would rather play a course as wide, flat, and relatively uninteresting as a driving range than buy another dozen to be challenged by any danger.  If a picture tells a thousand words, please consider this picture before you claim that is unfair:

golf course review, course critique, golf blogger, the golf sage, golf blog, talking stick north, coore and crenshaw, scottsdale, arizona, november 2016

And that is where my problem with Talking Stick North begins and ends.  I can play an open field anywhere.  There is no strategy or thinking on a hole like this.  A hole like this makes no distinction between a player that can hit the ball straight or someone that hits the ball all over the place.  Even the bunkers, which Coore and Crenshaw usually use to add interest to a course really seemed mostly plain and not much of a deterrant on Talking Stick North.

golf course review, course critique, golf blogger, the golf sage, golf blog, talking stick north, coore and crenshaw, scottsdale, arizona, november 2016

Fans of Coore and Crenshaw at all costs will tell me, they are minimalists.  They just use what the land gives them.  On this great hole (one of the few in my opinion) at Talking Stick North, that design strategy makes sense:

golf course review, course critique, golf blogger, the golf sage, golf blog, talking stick north, coore and crenshaw, scottsdale, arizona, november 2016

From the tee on this par 4, a player must decide to go right or left as a natural ditch slices through the middle of the fairway.

golf course review, course critique, golf blogger, the golf sage, golf blog, talking stick north, coore and crenshaw, scottsdale, arizona, november 2016

There is challenge and intrigue in this hole.  There is a choice.  There is execution that is required.  There is risk and reward.  Advantage and disadvantage.  Tell me where any of that exists here:

golf course review, course critique, golf blogger, the golf sage, golf blog, talking stick north, coore and crenshaw, scottsdale, arizona, november 2016

Even on one of the better holes, compare the drama of this hole at Talking Stick North:

golf course review, course critique, golf blogger, the golf sage, golf blog, talking stick north, coore and crenshaw, scottsdale, arizona, november 2016

To Sand Valley (another Coore and Crenshaw design):

golf course review, golf course critique, golf blogger, the golf sage, golf blog, Sand Valley Resort, Sand Valley Golf, Bandon Dunes, Coore, Crenshaw, Nekoosa, Wisconsin, August 2016

There is no comparison in my opinion.  Sand Valley makes a player go WOW and forces a player to execute a shot.  Those who can’t, get punished (but are still able to recover on their next shot).  The Talking Stick hole, aside from a relatively small bunker that should be carried, is just another golf hole.  Let’s try another… first, a decent hole at Talking Stick North:

golf course review, course critique, golf blogger, the golf sage, golf blog, talking stick north, coore and crenshaw, scottsdale, arizona, november 2016

Or Sand Valley:

golf course review, golf course critique, golf blogger, the golf sage, golf blog, Sand Valley Resort, Sand Valley Golf, Bandon Dunes, Coore, Crenshaw, Nekoosa, Wisconsin, August 2016

I say Sand Valley hands down.  Let’s try the bunkers at Tallking Stick North.  Pay particular attention to the greenside bunker on this par 3 as that was one of the more dramatic ones at Talking Stick North:

golf course review, course critique, golf blogger, the golf sage, golf blog, talking stick north, coore and crenshaw, scottsdale, arizona, november 2016

Now, let’s look at Sand Valley:

golf course review, golf course critique, golf blogger, the golf sage, golf blog, Sand Valley Resort, Sand Valley Golf, Bandon Dunes, Coore, Crenshaw, Nekoosa, Wisconsin, August 2016

My point of doing this comparison is this:  both courses are walkable, both courses are Coore and Crenshaw designs, and at both courses it is very hard to lose a ball.  I love what Coore and Crenshaw did at Sand Valley.  I would go back there tomorrow.  Talking Stick falls far short of making me excited to ever play it again.

As a player, I would rather have seen Coore and Crenshaw move a little more dirt to make Talking Stick North more interesting, even if it was to just exaggerate their famous bunkering.  I challenge any reader to find me a bunker on Talking Stick North like this bunker at Sand Valley:

golf course review, golf course critique, golf blogger, the golf sage, golf blog, Sand Valley Resort, Sand Valley Golf, Bandon Dunes, Coore, Crenshaw, Nekoosa, Wisconsin, August 2016

I can hear the chorus…but, that’s not what the land gave Coore and Crenshaw at Talking Stick North… For which I say, I am the player that judges your final product not what you were given.

Pete Dye once said, “Every time you build a golf course, it’s not a golf course when you get there.  You have to improvise.”  Dye went on to create some of the best courses and holes in the world that also make players go WOW.  Dye moved a lot of dirt to make this memorable hole:

img_4353

Unfortunately, there are not many WOW moments at Talking Stick North.  The land gave Coore and Crenshaw lemons and it seems, unlike Dye, they did believe the golf course was already there when they arrived.  Rather than fall back on minimalism with this property, I would have preferred Dye’s approach to move some dirt and make lemonade.  Without some effort to make the land something more than what it was, Talking Stick North (with the exception of a few holes) remains really nothing special or memorable to me.

Hit’em Straight,

The Golf Sage