Bluebird Day at Old Mac

Course Notes, Links Golf

Words, photos and video by Jeff Marsh

Whenever Bandon Dunes is on the calendar, things are looking up.  Even when heading there in the dead of the winter. Being on the edge of the world, Bandon weather can provide just about any type of mayhem possible.  So, we pack for the worst, hope for the best. Saturday was our 4th day of the trip, and we had been blessed with some pretty awesome weather up to that point, especially considering it was February, and one of the wettest winter’s we’d ever had in the PNW. 

We rolled out to the tee box for the first-out tee times, a quarter-inch of rain in the forecast. Needless to say, we weren’t as excited about the day’s round. We had heard mixed reviews of Old Mac from the golf world, and with nasty weather potentially rolling in, the day was written off.

We were most certainly wrong.

Standing on that first tee box, looking out over holes 1, 2, 3 and 18, we saw nothing but a gorgeous setting under a gorgeous sunrise.  The stoke went from 0 to 100 very quickly. We had a group of 50, and we took the first two times. It felt like first tracks on a bluebird day after 18 inches of fresh powder fell overnight.  I tee’d off in the second group, and it was quite the site watching that first group roll out – guys were high-fiving, some were shaking hands in the first fairway having met for the first time.  And a lot of darts were thrown onto that first green. It was going to be a good day.

Chambers Bay is unofficially our home course, being that it is in our home-town, and 15 minutes from the office.  We are blessed to be able to get out there often. For those that have played it, you know what a beast of a course it is.  A long walk, massive undulating greens, amazing views, and incredible golf. But it is quite unique. So unique, it has long been impossible to find a course that really is comparable in layout, aesthetic, and overall vibes.  Until we played Old Mac.  I have walked hundreds of golf-courses all over the world, but I don’t consider myself a course-connoisseur or an architect critic.  I simply try to play courses for the fun of it, hopefully shooting more photos than golf shots. My only critical criteria of a course is five-fold:

  • Can it be walked? (we make excellent walking golf shoes)
  • Does it photograph well?
  • Was it fun?
  • If there are houses on every hole, it’s not for me
  • Give me links golf or give me death

Old Mac was a resounding yes to all three.  That third question is often hard to come by.  Many courses can simply be flat, with nothing by trees and houses.  That is American golf-cart Light Beer golf. And then there is Old Mac.  Massive. Undulating. Intimidating. Exhilarating. Exhausting. And good ole fashion fun!  I typically shoot around 90 when playing at any of the Bandon courses. I often let the excitement of the trip lasso my focus.  There is also so many great images to be made. If you have seen me on a course, you know I am nearly hitting every shot mid-run, while chasing after another great photo op.  Let’s just say I got my steps in. Regardless, my goal for Old Mac was to break 90.

Many folks had said it is very challenging, the greens are too big, and the layout is a little funky.  The best scorers of the week at the other Bandon courses in our group of 50 all shot in the low 80s at Old Mac. But JD, who was in my group, casually and quietly snuck in a 72. It was some fascinating golf to watch.  And it was definitely doable for a good ball striker, but having a couple trips around the place to get to know it would probably help.

I double-bogied 17 to end up with a 91, but I didn’t care.  It was definitely the most fun round of the weekend. I guess some vitamin D on a day where a hurricane was expected was enough to keep the good vibes going.

The weather held off entirely.  We ended up in short sleeves by the back-nine, and as soon as our round was done, we were scheming about how to get back out there for a replay.  Of course, with the way the weather turned out, and it being a saturday, everyone else had the same idea. We ended up at The Preserve for an evening round and witnessed one of the best sunsets we had ever seen on a golf course.

Old Mac, you are a good man, and we will be back for you.

– Jeff Marsh

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