Bernie alone with his thoughts along the cliffs of "The Motherland"
The usual third member of our group, JC, could not make the trip. He was too busy playing the likes of Oakmont, Merion, Ballyneal, organizing his national Hundred Hole Hike and raising literally hundreds of thousands of dollars through his foundation, One Diviot, to slum it with Jefe, Bernie and I. Suddenly, I feel very inadequate, although, I do have more hair. I guess that makes us even.
The general plan was for Jefe and I to fly out to Portland, then drive down to Bandon the next day for 4 days of golf. After that, Jefe would drive back to Portland to his family and work duties. Sap. Me, being relatively untethered, (translation = alone at age 40) would drive south to Monterey, for another 4 days and more golf.
The lineup of seriously high quality golf courses where seriously low quality golf shots would be played, broke down in this order....
Friday July 13
The drive down to Bandon from Portland was relatively uneventful, other than Jefe needing to stop every 10 miles for the bathroom. (note to self: Jefe's Christmas gift, a year's supply of Flomax, may be unnecessary while a year's supply of Depends, may be more appropriate)
As anyone who has made the trip from Portland to Bandon knows, the drive is scenic. The land is gently rolling and the road twists and turns through towering forests of mountain pine. The drive takes you through quaint coastal towns and along ever blue rivers.
Along the route to Bandon
For normal people, this drive would be pleasant and scenic, dare I say, enjoyable. For golfers, it is a torture test of patience as one maddening obstacle after another must be negotiated over a 4.5 hour span in order to reach the holy land, Bandon. And yet, as with any great pilgrimage, the journey is worth the effort, because, for golfers, Bandon is such a special place.
Pacific Dunes 3rd Hole
Pacific Dunes 4th Hole
Off we went into the howling wind. The first three holes at Pacific Dunes, two short par 4's and a par 5, play toward the sea and into the prevailing wind. On the 3rd hole for my approach I hit a solid 7 iron from 110 yards and came up short. I made three straight bogeys to open the round, and while that is highly normal for me, I felt that was a great start, given the wind
Pacific Dunes 11th Hole
From there, the slaughter began. I blew my drive over the cliff and into oblivion on the 4th hole. Doubles began piling up. Oddly enough, I was hitting the ball solidly. Solidly and Jimbo are normally two words not paired together. It's like pairing Congress and effective, Tiger Woods and cuddly, Cubs and World Series
Jefe at Pacific's iconic 13th hole
I was oblivious to Jefe's round and his difficulties because I was just trying to survive the conditions. By the end of the round I had shot 49-41 for 90 with 5 double bogeys a handful of pars and no birdies. Actually, I was somewhat pleased with how I hit it. Jefe, on the other hand, had carded a golfer's most dreaded score, "X," which essentially translates to, "Why did I bother?"
The Preserve 2nd Hole
It was early evening when we teed off. The course is somewhat sheltered from the winds, since it doesn't sit directly on the cliffs. And by the early evening hour, when we played, the wind had died down considerably
The Preserve 9th Hole
I was still hitting it solidly and Jefe soon picked up the pace. The greens at Pacific Dunes earlier in the day were fast, lightening fast if you were downwind. At The Preserve, it was like putting on the shag carpet I had in my childhood bedroom in the 70's (which I have done). The starter told us they were stimping at 9. Jefe and I thought they were more like 6. Soon Jefe was lasering quality shots at flags and I reverted to Normal Jimbo and started clunking it around, although I did make par on 9 of the 13 holes. Jefe got sorted out after his debacle at Pacific, shooting +2. Once the greens grow in and they get them up to speed, allowing players to use slopes to funnel the ball to the hole, the course will be a ton of fun to play. At $100 a pop, I probably wouldn't play it again, but, The Preserve is worth at least one look.
Jimbo's Infinite Kingdom of Space
Jimbo: "Jefe, I'm going to stash my stuff here on this desk and you can stash you're stuff on that table."
Jefe: "Uh, ok."
Jimbo: "That way we won't get our stuff mixed up."
Jefe: "Uh, sure
Welcome to Shantytown Jefe, U.S.A.
The careful observer will note I premtively staked out the prime real estate and maximum space for myself, while relegating Jefe to a one cubic foot table. I have no real explanation for this. I just blurted it out. Perhaps I was subconsciously trying to get a subconscious advantage on Jefe, gamesmanship and all. More interestingly, while he pointed out my idiocy, Jefe really didn't protest much at all. I take this as marital residue, since after being married for many years, a husband's vocabulary basically boils down to the phrase, "Ok, honey, whatever you want."
If that's the case, thank youuuuuuu, Natalie.
If that's the case, thank youuuuuuu, Natalie.
Saturday July 14
After a fitful night of sleep, (guilty conscience?) the next morning brought Bandon Trails, another Coore and Crenshaw design. I had seen Trails back in 2006 when it first opened, having played it twice. I remember liking the first 13 holes or so and disliking the closing stretch, because they were brutally hard.
Bandon Trails 1st Hole
We had the 7:30 tee time and the back tees, measuring at 6,765 yards, seemed manageable due to a lack of wind. I pulled my first tee shot into the bunker and hit a great hybrid 4 iron to a blind green and made par. Odd, because that was a quality golf shot. At the downhill par 3 2nd I badly pulled a hybrid 3 iron (do I have any other clubs than hybrids?) but it bounced off a mound and onto the green, 25 feet from the hole. A second straight par. Somewhat abnormal.
Bandon Trails 5th Hole
I sensed the sun may finally shine on this dog. I had been playing poorly all summer and it had been over a year since I had broken 80. Since my entire self image rides on the current state of my golf game, I was feeling pretty badly about myself. This was a chance for redemption and to cast myself as a valuable member of society, once more. My feeling is anyone who can't snap 80 every now and then should be locked up and the key, thrown away. What good are they? I have issues.
I cruised through the front nine with 8 pars and one bad double bogey, to shoot a stellar 38. On the outside, it appeared my life was all lollipops, rainbows and puppy dogs, being only 2 over par after 9. However, I was knocking the ball all over the yard, narrowly avoiding disaster multiple times and somehow still making par. On the inside, I knew I was a ticking time bomb.
Bandon Trails 14th Hole
I opened with pars at 10 and 11, made bogey at 12 but rallied with solid pars at 13 and 14. I was + 3 after 14. For normal people, all this great play would generate confidence. If you've read any part of this post, you've likely deduced I'm not normal. I mean, I opened the post by talking about my head cover, Bernie, like he's a real person, which, he is. Instead, the great play only served to ratchet up the internal pressure that is always simmering when I play golf.
Old Macdonald 7th Hole
The afternoon round was at Old Macdonald, a Doak design and nod to noted golf course architect, C.B. Macdonald. The scope of the place is enormous. You could put 3 courses where Doak laid out one. The quality of the turf is unbelievably good; perfect for links golf. With a 2 or 3 club wind, Jefe and I played Old Mac at 6,320 yards. I started out well enough making par, bogey and par on the first three holes. However, my herky-jerky-in-need-of-major-lube swing finally broke down completely, and I ended up shooting 44-46 = 90.
Bandon Dunes 4th Hole
This fact immediately began to prey upon my brain. In my demented world, if breaking 80 makes you a valuable member of society, then carding birdies makes life worth living. The food after a round of birdieless golf doesn't taste as good, the drink not as refreshing. The sun seems dim and you certainly don't sleep well. I looked over at Jefe, who had multiple birdies (4 at this point) for the trip and had just shot 78. He was casually strolling the fairways, basking in the sun and yucking it up, not a care in the world.
By the end of the emergency nine, I had played 76 holes without a birdie! I could envision myself playing 100 holes (sort of my own twisted Hundred Hole Hike) with no birdies. The pressure would only build from here. I knew I would not sleep well.
Super Slo-Mo Fan
That last sentiment became an understatement. After dozing lightly, I woke up at midnight bathed in a pool of my own sweat, again. The last time I was at Bandon the same thing had happened to me, due to a roommate who had turned on the room's fireplace, in July, and then fallen asleep. Gamesmanship? Perhaps. This time the room was boiling because the temps outside were unseasonable warm. I opened the room's one window with no measurable effect. Luckily, our $255 a night room came equipped with a ceiling fan. Unfortunately, neither Jefe nor I, with four college degrees between us, could figure out how to turn it on. We tried every switch, button and blasted lever in the place, all to no avail.
The only reason I'm still alive
It turned out the rooms were not equipped with A.C. However, Carrie said she could sent up a remote to turn the super slo-mo fan up, as well as a floor fan. I said we'll take both.
Sunday July 15
Pacific Dunes 11th hole in the wind and rain
Standing on the 1st tee, I knew this was hole # 77 of Jimbo's Anti-Birdie Tour. I also knew the longer the birdieless streak festered the more incapable I would become in handling it mentally and emotionally. If you haven't noticed, mental/emotional toughness are, perhaps, an issue for me. I blame 25+ years of golf whittling me down to the shell of a man you see today.
This birdieless madness had to end, and end it I would.
From the forward tees, measuring 6,142 yards, I got my drive in the fairway and stuck a 9 iron to 6 feet on # 1. The putt worked right to left, a bit uphill and I drained it, dead center. My all consuming birdie obsession was suddenly, over, only to be replaced by other recurring obsessions, too numerous to list here.
Bandon Dunes 6th Hole
The afternoon gave way to sunny skies, which afforded wonderful views of the coast and ocean at Bandon Dunes. Playing the course at 6,221 yards, Jefe continued his solid play, adding two more birdies to his total and carding an 82. Once the lid was off, I also carded two more birdies, but continued to shoot woeful scores, posting 45-43 = 88.
However, I was thankful for the clear skies and wonderful views. In all my previous trips I had played Bandon Dunes in overcast conditions. Sunday's PM round was perfect, with mild wind. Some people slam Bandon Dunes. I'm not sure why. I really enjoy the course. It's wide and fair and will allow you to score if you hit it well. The ocean holes are super scenic and I feel the entire course is fun to play.
Jefe at Bandon Dunes' par 3 15th
Monday July 16
Old Macdonald 1st Hole
Apparently, Jefe loves Old Macdonald like a fat woman loves Spanx. He picked up right where he left off, opening with five straight pars and shooting 36 on the front. There were a few struggles down the stretch and he three putted the last two greens to shoot 80.
Pacific Dunes 4th Hole
Whether playing in high winds or rain and fog, it is always a total joy to play Pacific Dunes. When playing the round with your brother, it can't get much better than that.
Pacific Dunes 10th Hole
Statistical Breakdown for Bandon Portion of Trip
Pacific Dunes: 102 (51-51), 84 (43-41), 83 (46-37)
Old Macdonald: 78 (39-39), 80 (36-44)
Bandon Trails: 84 (41-43)
Bandon Dunes: 82 (40-42)
Bandon Preserve: 41 (+2)
Score Average: 84.71
Birdie Total: 8
Pacific Dunes: 90 (49-41), 89 (47-42), 90 (42-46)
Old Macdonald: 90 (44-46), 85 (38-47)
Bandon Trails: 82 (38-44)
Bandon Dunes: 88 (45-43)
Bandon Preserve: 47 (+8)
Score Average: 87.71
Birdie Total: 5
Upcoming: Monterey Portion of Trip