Cannot say enough about Bandon

Reflecting on our four days at Bandon Dunes, I can’t say enough about the quality of the operation and the level of service.  A couple of further thoughts/observations since my earlier post about this.

Visit any hotel during the day and one of the prominent, inescapable things is the housekeeping staff and their carts in the hallways.  At Bandon Dunes, since it’s centered entirely around golf, housekeeping knows when your tee times are… so they clean your room when you’re on the golf course.  I had to look hard to find any housekeeping staff at all.  They used nondescript gray vans similar to the shuttle vehicles, and hurried from the van into the cottages as if trying to stay out of sight.  Good service is when it happens and you don’t even know it.

Good service is when it happens and you don’t even know it…

Same thing on the golf course, in fact.  We saw very little maintenance activity on the courses.  Other than spray-hawking on the first day, a very occasional maintenance vehicle, one guy on a triplex mowing the practice green one morning and another guy out divoting fairways, I didn’t see ANY maintenance staff at all. And of course the maintenance facilities are well screened to the point where one had to look hard to find them.

The guy filling divots had an interesting setup. He used a pull trolley with two five gallon buckets, one with sand and the other empty, for collecting pelts.  He used a long-handled trash picker to pick up the pelts, grabbed a scoop of sand and smoothed it out with his foot. Quick and clean.

The shuttle service was worthy of note.  They have eight vans running 24 hours a day. Simply call the customer service number, tell ’em where you are and where you’re going, and they’re there within minutes.  Occasionally they would swing by to pick up someone else along the way, but never really detoured very far.  One morning as I was still groggy in bed, my roomie  — Jerry Matthews 25-year CGCS — was up and ready to go out the door for his tee time.  He called for a shuttle and before he could walk the five feet to pick up his clubs, the driver was knocking on the door.  He must have been right in our loop since it wasn’t more than five seconds.  Jerry and I just looked at each other, shook our heads and grinned.

Several of the guys on the trip had been on one or more of the Ireland trips, so there were a lot of comparison conversations.

Travel to each place — Bandon or Ireland/Scotland — is about a wash for most.  Plane tickets are more expensive to Ireland, but then you have to get from either San Francisco or Portland to Bandon at extra cost.  You have to plan for an entire day either way, in both directions.

Once you get to Bandon, you’re there for the duration.  Unpack and settle in.  After the rounds, there was no rush to do anything other than have a casual lunch and a few beers.  Some guys hustled out to play another 18.  Some had a nap and then played the par-3 Preserve later in the afternoon.

Some guys hustled out to play another 18.  Some had a nap and then played the par-3 Preserve later in the afternoon.

Overseas, there’s hotel hopping and plenty of bus time.  The schedule is more rushed at times, but bus rides are conducive to camaraderie, beer and naps as well.

Obviously, the international cultural differences of traveling abroad are a big part of those trips.  Different towns, sights, pubs, hotels and side attractions, like the Cliffs of Moher or the Guinness Storehouse.  The Irish people in particular are very friendly and a lot of fun. We had several wives on each Ireland trip; not much for them to do in Bandon.

Since we visited five different operations on each trip to Ireland, we did more visiting with the course managers and touring their maintenance facilities over there.  It was fun to see the different methodologies and equipment they used.  Some of the Bandon staff played golf with us, but for some reason we didn’t do a maintenance facility tour.  Maybe next time.

The Tufted Puffin lounge in the main Lodge

I thought I might get bored of eating in the same places at Bandon.  Not so!  In fact, the outstanding Tufted Puffin lounge in the main Lodge and the grille at Bandon Trails were the only places I ate more than once… and even then, there were ten things on the menu I would have liked to try.  No boredom there; the food was great. Other than one breakfast, I didn’t eat in the main dining room, and never made it to McKee’s Pub or the Bunker Bar. And the prices were very reasonable.  A GREAT cheeseburger was $9, a turkey club you could barely get your mouth around was $8; bottled beers were $4, $5 for drafts, including some great local microbrews.

Golf?  You can’t lose either place.

So, in the end, it’s a toss-up.  There are arguments to be made for both destinations, so we’ll likely mix and match in the future.

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