FLORENCE, Ore. — Bob Rannow hasn’t been around Florence-area golf courses nearly as long as the ocean, you know, that one, which you can sniff on the breeze at his current place of work, Ocean Dunes Golf Links.
Dude’s only 50. The ocean is, like, a kabillion-and-fifty, but it’s not talking coastal golf hereabouts like Rannow can.
Rannow was given a simple mandate by his bosses when he came to Ocean Dunes from Sandpines in 2012: work every day to make the course and the golf experience here better than the day before.
His employers followed through on a promise that he would have the resources needed to revamp the course that first opened in 1961 with nine holes.
Among other things, it meant removing lots of gorse and coastal pines. That work goes on: Rannow had a golf course architect of some renown in for a consult, and the guy said, What’s with all the trees?
This was even after hundreds of pines had been chopped down and rooted out.
“There’s some opportunity here to open up more of a dunal look,” Rannow said. Dunal: Is that a real word?
“I think it is,” Rannow said.
It is, in fact: “Of or relating to a dune,” according to Merriam-Webster. It now belongs to the Grey Goatee Global Golf Dictionary, too, perhaps never to be used in conversation again.
Ocean Dunes provides a dunal challenge on the very first hole, a shortish par 4, where a hulking dunal landform leftward of the fairway hides the slightly elevated target green tucked up behind it. Depending on where you land that first tee ball, your second shot could be a blind shot.
It’s a recurring theme, the shot you can’t see, and not unintentional in course designer Bill Robinson’s scheme. The courses of Bandon Dunes Resort, 70-ish miles south, are spiritual brothers in that regard, Rannow said, but it’s otherwise unusual on modern courses.
“It’s kind of a unique feature,” Rannow said. “You don’t see (blind shots) that much anymore.”
No. 12 is a funky par-3, and we mean that in the nicest possible way. It’s not a blind shot — all the wickedness is right there to see. Don’t be short — a deep ravine gapes in front of the green, ready to ingest your ball and gut your peace of mind — and the gnarly slope back to front leans sharply forward. If you land on and stay on the putting surface, you won’t look at a straight roll.
“It’s a local favorite, that hole,” Rannow said. “We created a drop area there to keep play moving and so you don’t want to commit suicide after you finish the hole … as well as empty out your bag of every golf ball.”
It’s the thought that counts.
We were fortunate, we Roadies, to have had greenskeeper/pinsetter Ryan Halpin in person on the teebox to lay some counsel on us: Don’t be above the hole. Easier said than done, dude, but okay. Maybe next time.