FLORENCE, Ore. – He had to go inland a few miles to find it, but Sandpines Golf Links head professional Bob Rannow is resting easier now that he’s reclaimed that one piece of equipment he’s been searching for.
An old Hogan-autograph spoon? A Bobby Jones hickory-shaft putter? No.
Back in high school, Rannow owned a vintage Fender tube amplifier. He kicked himself for years that he let it go. Recently, he found one, in Springfield, Ore., and he’s got that big warm bass sound back.
The distinction between a modern tubeless amp and the late ‘50s/early ‘60s Fender is not lost on the people of Florence, where the golf is awful damn good, but it’s not the only game in town.
If all you know about central-southern Oregon coastal golf is the Bandon Dunes Resort, well, that’s where the conversation starts, and properly so.
If the two things you know about Florence are 1) the local sand dunes and 2) that it’s on the way to Bandon, well, the dunes are reason enough to come here in the first case, and in the second case you might plan to linger here for a day or so before you hurry on to Mecca, 70-some miles south down Highway 101.
Dudes, the dunes … they’re so cool that Rannow says visitors owe it to themselves to get out on ‘em.
For night lifers, foodies and Shopping Nation, Florence and its Old Town offer an unexpected worldly experience that is something wholly other than beach-town kitsch.
“I don’t know of a better Old Town on the coast than Florence, Oregon,” Rannow said. “The setting, the great old restaurants, really neat music scene, wonderful shopping … My family and I ride bikes there … you can grab an ice cream, walk across the river over an historic bridge …”
Rannow doesn’t mind talking up off-course Florence, partly, at least, because he lives here, with his family. He’s a part of the town’s music scene – he sits in on bass with a local blues band called Kush, which you might catch of an evening at the Traveler’s Cove in Old Town.
But it’s also because he knows Sandpines , the course where he’s been the pro for a decade, is golf enough to pull back the person who finds it inconceivable to travel anywhere without a bag of sticks.
The course, designed by the esteemed Rees Jones, opened in 1993. It offers significant challenges for good players, and lesser players can get around from the forward tees. The greens are, in a word, wicked.
“The more you play the golf course, the more you see the things Rees did, some of the strategic elements,” Rannow said. “I’ve been here 10 years, and I think I still have things to learn about the way the holes play.”
Yes, Florence is on the way to Bandon, which, like the town itself, is a nice place to be.
(Next: The Bandon experience.)