No. 4 at Bandon Dunes - Most Interesting Holes Series
By Gretchen Yoder, Manager of Handicapping & Course Rating
Eleventh in our OGA series about the Most Interesting Holes is the #4 hole of Bandon Dunes.
With tees at 410, 362, 340, 308 and 228, and a dog leg right, Bandon Dunes' #4 is a test for ball placement. The initial fairway landing zone is fairly wide. Sandy dunes to the left, dunes with gorse to the right. Depending on how far the player hits the ball and which tee they are playing, they would want to be very cautious of the end of the fairway.
A long hitter playing forward would definitely want to think about laying up. A short hitter playing one of the further back tees may need to lay up the second shot to be able to see where they are hitting as the mounds on the right could block the view to the green or approach.
At the end of the fairway there is a small bunker which is a good aiming point off the tee, but recovering from the bunker in the correct direction might be difficult. The fairway turns about 30 degrees to the right with a landing zone just over 20 yards wide and a downhill shot to the green. While the view of the ocean from the turn is beautiful, a picture perfect moment, it also shows that the Pacific Ocean is perfectly positioned to receive balls when hit too long. The approach flattens and widens for closer shots.
The green is protected by a narrow opening, small but deep bunkers in front and to the left. It’s fairly large with lots of opportunity for risk reward shots depending on where the flag is that day. Hitting the green safely may leave a player with a challenging long putt that can turn into two, or more.
For the USGA Course Rating System, we need to assess each tee’s landing zones for both Men and Women, both the Scratch and Bogey golfer. While we know that a Scratch Male golfer may not ever play from the Orange tees at 308 yards, we still have to rate from there. Without knowing what the obstacles are for the Scratch and Bogey player from each tee, we wouldn’t be able to calculate the Course Rating/Slope.
Since the Scratch Male hits the ball about 250 yards off the tee, he would have to either hit a straight shot and lay up before going through the fairway or try to play to the right and carry almost 230 yards over the dunes to get to the approach area. If he took a layup, it would cause the Effective Playing Length of the hole to play longer. Carrying the dunes on the right would be a very dangerous play and depending on the direction of the wind, nearly impossible.
Which brings up wind. Anyone who has played at Bandon, or any other course on the coast, knows that wind can be a major factor in how the game is played. Since wind can change speed, gusts, and direction throughout the day, the USGA Course Rating System wouldn’t be able to assess wind on a shot by shot basis like other Obstacles. The OGA researches historical data for the average wind speed at courses where wind is a factor and adjusts the rating accordingly.
From the Bandon Dunes Website:
Use the bunker straight-away as a target for your tee shot. Club selection on your approach is vital, as the green is protected in the front left by deep bunkers, and the Pacific Ocean awaits any balls hit long. A low trajectory shot hit up the right side of the green may be the best play.
** The fourth hole at Bandon Dunes earned 97 fan votes to earn 11th-place recognition in the OGA 18 Most Interesting Holes Series contest. Throughout the year Gretchen Yoder, OGA Manager of Course Rating & Handicapping, will explain what makes each hole unique and describe the ideas behind rating these gems.