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Sit on Every Bench at Bandon Dunes (Day 4 - Pacific Dunes)

It's been a minute, but I haven’t forgotten about you all!

On our last day at Bandon Dunes, we were rewarded with 60 degrees and clear sunny skies for one of the most beautiful courses I have ever laid eyes on. Pacific Dunes is saturated in true blue, rich teal, and vibrant yellow. The gorse here is… loud. Although we had seen it two days prior fading into the surroundings at Bandon Dunes, here, it unapologetically charged forth into the visual surroundings. It pierces the landscape, framing the fairways and greens, both bright and distinguished against kelly green and primary blue. The course is positioned cliffside against the beach, and there is no better security than the intimidating thorns on this plant, keeping golfers on the path by the awareness of their presence alone.

Speaking of awareness, it was somewhere at the turn of this course when I looked down and realized that the outfit I had picked for this day was deep blue and teal, comically matching my surroundings. (Okay full disclosure, I laughed my ass off with my caddie when I realized I was straight up wearing gorse-yellow underwear to match - I swear to God I did not plan this). The wind howled, the sun shone, and for the first time on our trip, the sky was so clear that the ocean and sky were truly distinguishable. Architecturally it is spellbinding here; this is the church of golf and there is a place for everything, and everything is in its place. We battled the wind with as much club as we could muster, and this may well have been the first and last time I laugh at the perfect tee shot making a full u-turn, and absolutely blasting it all of 50 yards… simply put, it just didn’t matter. We had our drinks, we had our laughs, we had spectacular weather, we had good shots and bad shots, and we soaked it in. 10/10 would play again, and again. And again.

We headed out for dinner on our last night and took the walking path that winds through the property. As we made our way up to the lodge I remembered, we have 1 last bench to visit. We make our way up the trail leading to the top of that hill overlooking the Lodge, and upon reaching the top, we both just stood there. Gobsmacked is a word that comes to mind. I had made it a point to sit on every single bench on every single course we played, and here we were, sitting down on our very last bench. Even now, I am still at a loss for words for how this moment felt, so instead I’ll leave you with one last photo...

Alright, I need a second to go off-course here for a paragraph (PUN INTENDED). I know, I know, I said I was at a LOSS for words, but this is a blog which means we BOTH signed up for words, so here we go)

It is so easy to ramble on and on, gushing about the significance of this place, but since I’m itching to create an adequate analogy – let’s see if I can actually sum it up here: If you were to take the average golfer, and discuss the nature of picking up this masochistic past time and the dollar amount they spend on average to participate, you could write a dissertation on the irony therein. The longer I play this game, the more I feel a shift in the connection between both myself and the game, in tandem with a growing distance between myself and those around me who do not play. There – I said it. In no way is that meant to be a slight to the non-golfer; if anything, it’s a snub to the one spending copious amounts of time, money, energy, and countless brain cells on this capricious past-time. If baseball gets into your blood, then golf gets in your brain. Golf looms in the back corners of your mind whispering words of encouragement like that high school friend that your parents were convinced was a “bad influence” on you. And just like that high school friend – I’ll have to admit, one has to be very mindful of their expectations about how much they get out of what they put into this game, or it can quickly turn into a highly toxic relationship. That being said, as a self-proclaimed emotionally intelligent individual, it is my humble opinion that Bandon Dunes is like the ‘love-bomb’ of golf, lavishing its patrons with an abundance of gifts and leaving them with the: “See! It WAS all worth it!” mentality. I mean just look at that photo, like, what the hell Bandon!? Where even are we right now?! When someone asks why I do it, I think I'll just show them this photo from now on; after all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

(Alright back to the fairway)

I feel like most vacations end with a sigh of relief and longing for my own bed and the comfort of my daily routines, but this one hit differently. Simply put, I was not ready to leave, I couldn’t believe the trip was ending. Chris and I had a lot of time to talk about this trip before we finally arrived, a year in fact. And in that time, it was gently ingrained in me that this trip was going to be highly influential in my deciding just how much I loved the game of golf. At dinner that night he asked me: “So, what do you think?” I told him: “I don’t really think like golf, I think I’m in love with golf” (*love bomb dropped*). From the moment you arrive on campus, Bandon holds your senses hostage. It commands your attention at every turn, but what you receive in return is personalized symphony sights, sounds, and feelings, all curated to your own specific rhythm. All you have to do is give yourself over to 'the walk'. There truly is no detail left unturned here, and the designers have exercised every opportunity to invite you into their immersive experience. There are little moments everywhere, from the plaques on benches, to the labyrinth walking paths, and even the bunker bar. It is impossible not to feel like you are the guest of honor at this special club and they have just let you in on all of its best-kept secrets. This is where golf addicts are born, and veterans come to feed their habits. That being said, I don’t think I’ll be able to stay away for long, my new goal is to make as much money as possible so I can get back here as soon as humanly possible.

It has been a pleasure writing about this place, to say the least. I am currently writing my "off-course" post with tales from the Bunker Bar so stay tuned...

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