BANDON, Ore.– There is a culture at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, pervasive and authentic, and it’s part of the deal when you stay in its lodging and play on its golf courses.
It’s no secret you’ll spend some money at Bandon Dunes, but when it’s said and done the cost and the travel are far from your mind: you’ll be trying to think of any way to stay one more day and play one more round.
You’ll want another evening, at least, because you maybe didn’t make it to the Bunker Bar in the lodge, where you can smoke a cigar (indoors!) with your Oban.
Women are not barred at the gates, nor denied premium tee times. A woman at Bandon is treated with the same unfailing courtesy, at every turn, as anyone – it’s the culture. But it’s hard to deny the masculine vibe about the place. It’s the ultimate guys’ road trip destination, and with reason.
As for the golf, I played Pacific Dunes the first day and Old Macdonald the next, two of the four world-class courses on the property. A fifth course, a 13-hole par-3 layout to be known as The Preserve, is in the early construction phase.
My game doesn’t do justice to these courses, but few games do.
Beautiful, demanding, thrilling, humbling … better you experience Bandon golf than I describe it, and I strongly urge you to do so before you die.
Bandon by way of Olympia
The other side of the Bandon culture is this: My innocuous little interview with Jeff Brinegar, head pro at Old Macdonald, intended only to detail his ties to Olympia, had to be cleared with the Bandon Dunes brass.
Brinegar, a Southern California kid, had designs on a career in the music industry before he took a sharp turn to golf.
He came to Olympia to attend The Evergreen State College, and studied sound engineering and music production there under Peter Randlette. He graduated in 1998 with a degree in media technology, and soon set up shop in his house as engineer and producer for mainly local bands.
He was busy, but he had some spare time, and when he saw an ad for rangers and cart staff at (then) Vicwood Golf Course, he put in an application. Eight months later, Kevin Myers (then and now the head pro) called him and said, well, you’re really too young to be a ranger and too old to be on the cart staff, but come on out.
“Needless to say I didn‘t record another album,” Brineger said. “I was too into golf. I was playing every single day.”
Brinegar, who never played high school or college golf, one day asked Myers a fateful question:
What would it take to be a golf pro?
Brinegar, as a PGA apprentice, worked with Craig Foster, an Olympia-area golf club technician, to learn things like re-gripping and re-shafting clubs so he could pass the club-repair portion of the PGA certification process.
“He was a really nice guy,” Foster said. “Then the next thing I knew he was at Bandon Dunes.”
He had worked his way up to Myers’ first assistant at the complex now known as The Golf Club at Hawks Prairie when he went to Bandon Dunes in June 2005. Brinegar, 46, has now worked at all four of the Bandon courses.
The truth is, I didn’t need the interview at all. I got to play Old Macdonald with Brinegar, which told me all I really needed to know about him: good stick, gracious host, truly nice man.
A guy’s guy, and clearly, a Bandon kind of guy.