By Jacq Lacy
Just months after opening its fourth course in June, the Bandon Dunes Golf Resort has completed the permitting process to add a fifth course to its collection of world-class links golf courses, which are games along the coastal sand dunes, the environment in which the game originated.
The new 3-par course will provide players of all skill levels with 12 quick holes that can be played in an hour or two. Hank Hickox, general manager and vice president of the resort, says that the earliest opening date would be "summer of 2012, under the most ideal circumstances."
Now that all necessary permits and approvals from the city and county have been finalized, the resort owner, Mike Keiser, has contracted course architects Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw to design the course. The pair designed the resort's third course, Bandon Trails, in 2005.
The exact design of the course is in the works and expected to be finalized this month. Coore has been on the ground checking out the green sites and Crenshaw stopped in to Bandon recently while on a west coast three tournament tour. In February, the pair will journey to Bandon to begin major work on the course.
In 2009 the resort experienced a drop in both golfers and resort visitors. This year has been different. Hickox saw an upswing in revenues in June with the opening of the fourth course, a memorial to golf course architect C.B. Macdonald.
"We've seen an amazing comeback this year," Hickox said. "... The economy is better and a new golf course that's world-class has helped our brand stay on course."
Although the course will be smaller than the previous four and will not allow motorized vehicles, Hickox said that staff additions would be required. The resort is already the ninth largest employer ins the southern coastal region with 340 jobs, according to a list compiled by the Oregon Bay Area Chamber of Commerce at the end of 2009.
"There will be added responsibilities in the pro shop, in agronomy (the science and technology of using plants), and other areas to help with transport. Whenever a facility is added, it adds to additional hiring," says Hickox.
Keiser wanted a fun and enjoyable 3-par course and told Crenshaw and Coore to route the course with as many holes as they could possibly fit on the property. Crenshaw described them as miniature golf holes that will be a lot of fun for people and ideal for those who enjoy walking a course.
The new course will wind around the existing trees and vegetation, serving as a natural plant reserve for the endangered native Oregon plant, Silvery Phacelia, a beach grass that once thrived on the coast until the non-native European Beach Grass took its place.
The resort continues to draw players from all over the U.S. and the occasional foreign visitor. There is no other location in North America that provides links golfing.
In June of 2011 Bandon Dunes will be the first location to host both the USGA Men’s and Women’s Amateur Public Links Championships at the same time and location. The resort already has accommodations booked for players and spectators of the event.
Jacq Lacy is an associate writer for Oregon Business.