Old MacDonald—Bandon, Oregon
Course rankings as of 10/24/11
-43rd best US course and 74th best course in the World (Golf Magazine)
-3rd best modern US Course (Golfweek)
Old MacDonald was the 4th course built at Bandon Dunes and it is owner Mike Keiser’s tip of the cap to CB
MacDonald, the Father of American Golf. MacDonald influence on golf in America is immense and profound…and
if Mr. Keiser keeps going, perhaps he could have a lasting influence as well.
The designers of the course, Tom Doak and Jim Urbina, blended together the ideals of naturalism with the template
hole concept dreamt up by Mr. MacDonald. To me, this is the highest level of art that golf course design can
ascend to. You see, I am of the opinion that the Golden Age architects were of two schools of thought. One was
spearheaded by Alistair Mackenzie and his cohorts, Max Behr and Robert Hunter, and it embodied the ideals of
naturalism and minimalism. Take from the land what it gives you, seek out golf holes that pre-existed on the
course, shape them just a bit, route the course from one of these natural holes to another to derive a natural golf
course. The other main ideal was CBM’s template hole idea, which Seth Raynor also espoused. The concept
behind this mantra is to seek out the best holes in the history of golf and reconstruct them (or at least their playing
principles) on each and every site you work on. Studying the history of golf architecture, it appears to me these two
schools of design fought each other for the hearts and minds of golf course developers in the Golden Age. And
perhaps they still do. But you see, I think Urbina and Doak have perfectly blended these two schools of design
together and have, arguably, built the “best” golf course in American history.
Regardless of whether that is true or not, the course that exists today is a great golf course; which is highlighted by
The course begins with a nice and easy introduction without much eye candy. You get treated to the opening
Double Plateau hole
and then the par 3 Eden hole.
And then you turn and face this mountainous looking dune with an odd almost dead looking tree. You drive your
ball over this mound and then walk up the hill after it.
When you reach the top of that hill, the magic of Old Mac smacks you right in the face. The course opens up, the
Ocean is in view, and are many of the golf holes.
This magic journey has 505 yard par 4 (from the tips, 475 from the middle tees), a par 3 with a 22,000 square foot
Hell will have to be traversed,
you ascend to the top of seaside dunes (twice),
attack massive gorges (disguised as bunkers), visit the Alps, and then sneak around the Sahara hill that got you
into this mess to begin with as you play the 17th hole (Littlestone), and end with the 475 yard par 4 Punchbowl.
Make no mistake: the golf is good and the journey is epic.
True connoisseurs of golf will love this course. Take a look at Mackenzie’s 13 principles. They are covered. Take
a look at MacDonald’s template concepts. They are covered. You like angles and options. They are available.
You think the obvious way to attack the green is the best way to attack the green. Think again. Try thinking
outside the box.
Old MacDonald is true gem and a must play.