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Sit on Every Bench at Bandon Dunes (Day 2 [Part 2] Bandon Trails)

I cannot recommend the chicken adobo bowl at Bandon Trails highly enough. With just enough heat, and complementing sweetness – this was the perfect meal to warm me up before heading back into the elements. This, more Aspirin, and another cocktail of course.

(If you don't golf, you may be thinking: "Damn she be drinking a lot." All I can say here is that there is a time for everything, and you’ve got to trust the process. If you do golf, all I can say may already be familiar with this process, cheers). At this point in time my neck was still killing me, but I could at least move it now. Feet tired and spirits high (both liquid and emotional), I wrapped up the meal and stood to face the onslaught. I had prepared for this round, I knew it would be my most challenging to date. There was no getting off the ride now, it was go time - round 2 at Bandon Trails.

We walk up to the 1st tee box at Trails and wait for the starter to walk up to give us his spiel. I look up at the relentless rain and watch as the sun tries to peek out through the heavy purple and gray clouds, just then something catches the corner of my eye. Two turkeys – yes - two very real, very large turkeys mindlessly walk across the fairway in front of us. My penchant for superstition kicks in and I just know it: “This is going to be an incredible round”.

Bandon Trails is like golfing in a Disney movie. It wasn’t just the salamanders that we kept encountering on fairways, or the deer wandering in and out of the brush, it was the entire picture, top to bottom, details and all. The colors here are 1,400 shades of greens, browns, rich burnt sienna and orange. This isn’t so much a woodland course as it is a rainforest course. When you reach the tee box at the second hole, it’s very clear that you’re embarking into an entirely different world compared to what you’ve experienced thus far at Bandon. The fairways and greens although inviting do offer plenty of challenging shots, that (with perhaps the exception of 14...screw you 14 green) are generally rewarded. The trees here are big and old; their height, the color of their bark, and their tinsel-like hanging moss create a marvelous and dynamic aesthetic set among the smaller trees and shrubs of every possible shape, color, texture, and size. Aside from a select few parallel fairways, you might never see another group on Trails. Every hole here is its own little world; the wood chip-lined trails between greens and tee boxes are resonant of something not golf-related at all.

This place was incredibly nostalgic for me who grew up running around in the woods of the Pacific Northwest. And there it is; childhood incarnate, but with golf. You can’t help but feel like a kid here, out enjoying a hike, building a fort in the backyard, running under a tree to get out of the rain, and out playing in the endless fun that nature has to offer. Only, you get to golf in it! Seriously, what could be more fun than that? Just like a hiking trail, the course layout is reminiscent of switchbacks that wind you up through the hills cresting with earthshattering views from a viewpoint behind the 14th tee box (maybe the only good thing about 14. Seriously what is the deal with 14? Okay I'll stop shitting on 14). It’s at this moment I finally caught my breath and for the first time broke out my camera and took a photo. This moment of repose where you’re above the canopy and catch a glimpse of the ocean on the horizon is insane, there is no other way to cut it. No justice can be done to describe this view or the feeling it invokes, so I won't try to. You'll just have to go see it for yourself.

The walk up to the tee box on 18 was like waking up from a dream – exiting from a short woodland trail that fades you back into reality with signature sandy dunes and a blind tee shot. I almost forgot we are right next to the ocean. Almost. Trails definitely stands alone as the mysterious redhead of the courses, with so much discovered, it only made me feel like there was infinitely more to be explored here.

Now, I define a great round as a feel-good time, with laughs, drinks, buddies, and stringing together a few good shots if I'm lucky. I am by no means a great golfer, as a 6-year golf veteran and 15 handicap I certainly don’t speak on any authority whatsoever (*cue thematic music here*), but I do know my own personal medicine If I am to have any hope of a great round: Gratitude and humility. The environment here alone makes it nearly impossible not to be grateful, simply by looking at where you get to spend your day. But the challenge of this course is where you let humility play a key role in the round. It’s not about falsely bringing myself down or t superficially talking myself up; it’s about meeting my game where it’s at for the day – for better or for worse – and filling in the gaps with whatever offerings surround me, literal or proverbial. I’m not saying this is always easy, but I am saying – that when I’m able to have those special rounds when I have simply resigned myself in service to the game, magical things happen. Call it faith, call it luck, call it whatever makes sense for you, I shot an 87 that round; my lowest of the entire trip. Now, time for a well-deserved hot shower, and a more than a well-deserved hot meal, and it was lights out at 8 pm (JK we went back to the bunker bar, again). The end of Day 2, Old Mac tomorrow...

Chris and I at the viewpoint behind glorious 14. I promise you, the photo does it zero justice.

Chris teeing off from 14. The narration is particularly choice here

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