Tee Tattler

A very rainy greeting from the Illinois Valley Country Club golf course!
I missed last week’s column somehow and was half way through giving a little synopsis of our annual Bandon Dunes golf trip. I had mentioned that we brought 88 players and filled the St. Andrew’s Hall with two nights of a delicious buffet dinner. Usually we have a Super Bowl party to attend, but with the NFL adding an additional week of play the past two years, we just had dinner and nice conversation with old and new friends. Next spring, we will move our dates to golf Super Bowl weekend again and have a nice party with lots of yummy dishes available.
So we played the ever-grueling Bandon Trails course on Sunday which I described in the last column and then onto Pacific Dunes on Monday. Pacific was 16th rated course in America last year and is just a fabulous walk with 4 holes that border the Pacific Ocean with its beautiful blue water (gray when the sun hides behind clouds). A plant named “Gorse” was introduced to Bandon in the 1800s as a natural fence to keep their sheep in. Gorse is exceedingly prickly and spreads easily if it is not maintained.
The Gorse at Pacific Dunes was evidently not maintained in the past as it makes its presence known on every fairway. Plus, the Bandon ground’s crew does an excellent job in keeping it where they want. The No. 8 hole features a 40-feet tall cone-shaped green with a small moat of grass surrounding it and gorse as far as you can see around that. A slightly errant shot lands you in the gorse. I bet there are 10,000,000 balls out in that stuff that will never be found except by the little cottontails who call that stuff home. When leaving that green, you walk down a pathway of grass with a 12-foot tall wall of gorse on either side, if a bear happens upon you in there, well, too bad for you. Pacific also features a 5 acre putting green with “elephants” buried in it to provide huge breaking putts.
We had a group of about 25 of us out there till dark betting dollar bills against who could get closest to the pin.
Tuesday we played the original Bandon Dunes course. The first time I went to Bandon Dunes, it was raining very hard. They just had a small pro shop and McKee’s Irish Pub at the time. I inquired if they were offering rainy day discounts (as green fees in those days was $70—now they are $140 in the winter and $240 in the summer), the pro showed me a line of golf bags of about 30 just outside the door and said that those are the clubs of the guys waiting to go play. I resigned myself to sitting in McKee’s Pub for a few hours, watching the rain pour down and sipping on a Guinness beer.
Bandon Dunes features one of the most interesting holes in all of golf. The No. 4 hole starts off with just a view of small dunes and seagrass and Gorse beyond. It is impossible to figure where to hit the ball except straight ahead, but the distance is difficult to judge so a decent drive will end up flying over the fairway, over the seagrass and into the Gorse, like mine always does. Anyway, once you get out a ways from the teebox, the hole reveals itself with an almost 90-degree turn toward the ocean with a wide green and a sand trap on the right and then what appears to be a sinkhole with a bit of sand at the very bottom on the left. The blue Pacific Ocean appears to come right up to the back of the green, as the cliffs falls away precipitously, so picture tightly mowed bright green grass with the blue ocean everything else, just beautiful. A small second shot will often land on the green, much to the satisfaction of the golfer, leaving a usually long putt on super-fast turf.
After playing Dunes, we walked over to the Preserve, a 13-hole 3-par course which uses the entirety of the $70 green fee for wildlife and land conservation efforts on the Oregon Coast. The sun popped out in earnest as we walked up to the teebox and, coming up over the rise, an audible gasp can be heard from every player who is new to that course. John and I walked along (being short of funds to donate to the wildlife fund), between D’Lynn’s group, in front and Paul Miller’s behind us. It was fun to see the different way the five in front and five behind landed balls, some long and with backspin to back into the hole while others short and rolling up to the hole from the tee side. Some guys bounded off of the bowl-shaped banks on either side of the green, while others went straight at the pin. The little course is nearly always full in the afternoon as players just want a little bit more golf but hesitate to walk another 10 miles that it usually takes to play a Bandon course—more on that next week.
Dan and Laura say I am out of words for this column so next week I will have the ending course, Old MacDonald, and some more stories of our exploits so near home, yet seemingly so far away.
**Remember that kids 17 and under always play for free at IVCC!
**Next tournament is St. Patrick’s Day green beer and goldfish 4-person scramble March 16. Swallow a goldfish to earn a free Mulligan!