Day Six: The Practice Center at Bandon Dunes--Oh My God!
Let me tell you bout a place, somewhere down a Bandon way, where the people are so gay, putting/chipping/pitching the night away.
That’s a song. Gay doesn’t mean homosexual there, just happy. Giddy, even. Delirious is pushing it, but why not.
After he designed Bandon Dunes, David McLay Kidd stuck around to design the practice center at the resort. It is so sweet, it’s sweeter than the cranberry treats at all the stores in Old Town Bandon. To begin, it ain’t no open field. The major range is 400 yards deep, with about ten target greens protected by the same swales and sand pits that you find on the courses. The flags are color-coded, and the distances are listed on boards up and down the tee line. It seems to be about 250 yards wide, so you can change the angle of the sun and wind during practice, too.
The minor range, facing the opposite direction, is “only” 305 yards deep, but is a revolutionary concept in practice range evolution. It doubles as a par three course. Nine target greens, replete with swales and sand holes, can be played sequentially for that mini-Bandon experience. How freakin’ cool is that? I actually saw a bunch of guys playing the range around 6 one evening. Since I was punishing my 3 and 4 metals for their substandard play that day/week/year (you choose), I did not have the proper instruments to joing them.
The putting green was a disappointment. It is only 75 yards deep, and does not have the same mounding found at the Himalayas of St. Andrews. You can only accomodate seventy-five golfers or so, before things start to feel cramped. Actually, the one true knock I heard about the place is that the putting green does not replicate the feel of the greens on the courses. To that I have two replies: use the smaller practice surfaces by the first tee at each course; and, you can either putt your ball or you can’t. Don’t look for excuses.
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