(Second of two parts)
BANDON, Or. — The Bandon Dunes Golf Resort has such a great reputation around the world that golfers from 48 countries — and counting — have played one or more of the four 18-hole layouts, the one-of-its-kind 13-hole par-3 gem called The Preserve, and Shorty’s, a 9-hole par-3 course.
But one thing that really caught my attention during a recent visit to the facility that hugs the Pacific Ocean was a high school tournament — boys and girls teams — being played at Pacific Dunes, a 6,633-yard par-71 course, and a college tournament simultaneously being played on the nearby 6,944-yard par-71 Old MacDonald course, the newest course at the renowned resort.
At a time when attracting teenagers and 20-something year-olds to the sport is a challenge, founder Mike Keiser continues to go out of his way to lure kids to his fabulous courses.
“Mr. Keiser has always been very supportive in getting our local juniors involved in the game,” said Michael Chupka Jr., the Bandon Dunes director of communications. “It’s about growing the game and giving back to the community.”
The latest example was announced earlier this week — the debut of “Junior Bandonista”.
Starting on June 17, Father’s Day Weekend, and lasting through July 31, one parent can treat their junior golfer (22 years of age and younger) to a free round of golf on any of the courses, including the challenging 18-hole Bandon Dunes, Pacific Dunes, Bandon Trails and Old MacDonald layouts. Tee-times begin at 10 a.m. and each adult can play with sons, daughters, other relatives, or even friends.
The local youth, which includes high schools and junior colleges, has been part of the resort’s success story basically since it opened as a one-course facility in 1999. As the overall popularity has grown, so has the participation of boys and girls of all ages.
Junior tournaments are played on all four of the courses, averaging one event every other week between late February and mid-May.
And that’s not all.
“Every summer we have free clinics for the kids, ages 5 to 17,” Bandon Trails head professional Scott Millhouser said. “The kids are in awe. They feel very fortunate and lucky to come out here and play. They are definitely smiling from ear to ear.”
Millhouser, a man of many hats, also oversees the junior program at the golf resort and coaches the boys and girls golf teams at Bandon High and Southwest Oregon Community College in Coos Bay.
One of the most popular spots on the Bandon Dunes facility is Shorty’s, located at the Practice Center and named after Shorty Dow, the former caretaker of the property. It was designed by David McLay Kidd, the architect behind Bandon Dunes (the first course at the Resort) and Gamble Sands in Eastern Washington.
Open on Thursdays through Sundays, it is located just south of the one-acre putting green (“The Big Putt”), the first tee at Shorty’s sits up, looking south toward the first and second greens. The course is free to guests, but there is an honor box (pictured) just off the first tee that welcomes donations.
“Players can go there, put in a few dollars and all of the donations go to the junior golf program and the Evans Scholarship program,” Millhouser said.
Green (open) and red (closed) flags are used to let golfers know the playing status of the course.
“Anyone can play,” he added, “and kids play for free. “I’ve had my 4-year-old son out there to play a few holes. It’s a practice course and a great place to grow and learn the game. Every time Mr. Keiser visits, he always asks me about Shorty’s and how it’s doing.”
Like the rest of the destination golf paradise, Shorty’s is doing very well, thank you.