The fourth and newest (18 hole) course at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort is Old Macdonald. “Old Mac” was designed by Tom Doak and Jim Urbina and opened in 2010. Doak and Urbina were inspired on Old Mac’s design by golf course architect Charles Blair Macdonald (1855-1939). Macdonald is considered the father of American golf, having built the first full size 18-hole course in the country. Macdonald is famous for designing some of the country’s famous courses like Shinnecock Hills, National Golf Links of America, and the Old White Course at The Greenbrier.
Old Macdonald Stats
From the longest tees (Black), Old Macdonald runs 6,944 yards. The slope from the tips is 131 with a course rating of 74.4. The tips will challenge the best of golfers. There are four other tee sets to choose from, down to the shortest set which is 4,985 yards, 65.2 rating and 104 slope. A wise golfer can bite of just the right amount for his/her game by choosing the proper tee. I chose the Green tees: 6,320 yards, 71.6/125.
Tee shots at Old Mac are extremely fun and entertaining. There isn’t a ton of complexity to getting the ball into play on most holes, except perhaps the 3rd which is a blind shot over a hill. With a little help from the wind and the severe downhill, the green is reachable from the tee on this par-4. Doing so would require a precisely positioned tee shot down the left side, or a hard draw down the middle, just right of the dead marker tree (photo below).
From the tee the golfer can make a solid guess as to the best landing areas and angles for the next shot. The challenge is calculating whether or not the ball will reach the multitude of fairway bunkers or natural hazards in play. Course knowledge or the advice of a caddie is great in those situations.
Many tee shots offer sizeable elevation changes, making calculating proper yardages interesting. A good case is the par-3 8th hole which has an elevated tee box with the Pacific Ocean behind the tee. Pulling the right club there requires calculating the elevation change, hardness of the ground, and the often prevailing left-to-right wind.
The fairways at Old Mac are fairly wide and present many “opportunities” for uneven lies or bunkered approach shots. They typically run hard and fast, like links golf should. The hard and fast style is my favorite. Well executed tee shots will find the fairway most of the time, though the finishing location may be in different positions than expected due to the hardness and undulation. Several holes provide multiple choices in terms of conservative and aggressive areas to play from.
Old Macdonald 18 Fairway
The fairway bunkering at Old Mac is as artistic as it is penal.
There are a few score-wreckers out there so positioning shots in the fairway and away from the bunkers is a wise plan. Many of the bunkers have stairways for easier entrance and exit. If only getting the ball out of the bunkers was as easy.
There is more green acreage at Old Macdonald than there is at the Old Course in St Andrews. That means a lot, since the old course has some of the biggest greens anywhere; certainly the biggest I’ve ever played.
Some of Old Mac’s greens have major undulations, like the previously mentioned par-3 8th (photo above) where a deep depression dissects the green. The par-4 18th has a tremendous punchbowl on the left side of the green which feeds approach shots or putts way right. It was fun to test out some shots there. I used a bit of that bowl effect to carve a 4-iron in from left to right and have the ball feed left to right. That led to an eventual birdie thanks to knowing the green.
There are some nice ocean views on the par-4 7th green and 8th tee. Stopping there to soak in the spectacular views is highly recommended.
Par-4 7th Green
The course is rugged and challenging with a nice amount of elevation change. The unsheltered and open layout can lend itself to wind that would make Scotland proud.
There are some neat design quirks, like the green complex on the par-4 16th hole. The green can be hidden unless the player’s drive is placed way right in the fairway. But going too far right means bunkers. Gotcha. The look at the green can be intimidating, especially if the pin is cut left like on the picture below.
When done playing the 16th there’s a bell on the path to the 17th green (pole in the photo above). When approaching players hear the bell, they know the green is clear.
Old Macdonald rounds out the courses at Bandon Dunes tremendously with a great variation in style, feel, terrain, and aesthetics.
Old Mac is an extremely fun and challenging design which makes the golfer think, and offers different choices in terms of being aggressive or conservative. It can greatly reward well executed aggressive shots and will certainly penalize poor shots, or poor strategy. It’s a course that one could play 1000 times and never have the same shot twice on any hole. I only have 998 more rounds to go to confirm that theory.
Old Macdonald photo gallery
Talking Bandon Dunes on the Back 9 Report Podcast
Review: Bandon Dunes Golf Course at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort
Review: Bandon Preserve – 13-Hole Par-3 Course at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort
What a fun time I’ve had “working” on this review, and rejuvenating my love of the game of golf at the same time. You see, for the last 2-3 years I’ve been playing “iron roulette” between my old 2001 Hogans and many other modern models, several custom fit to my swing. The quality level of my iron play has been slowly dying and it has been all I could muster not to bail on golf and take up something less painful, like plucking my own fingernails out with a pair of pliers. My greens in regulation tanked to the lowest of lows this spring. I realized how bad it was after reviewing the Shot Scope GPS watch and shot tracker. 20% greens in regulation isn’t going to cut it. My scores had gotten worse and worse but the most frustrating part was the poor contact. The feel of bad shots was driving me nuts. I started calling myself “Colonel Klank.”
Enter New Level Golf
I had discovered New Level Golf on Twitter earlier in the year and lustfully looked at their super sharp looking selection of forged irons, almost daily. At the time of this post, New Level offers three sets of irons: 610, 902 and 1031. They also make high end wedges, and I hope to be reviewing those later.
Thankfully I somehow manifested a set of the 1031 Forged irons to review. Typically New Level irons are custom fit to the player. Since there was no place near me which dealt New Level, and since all of the fittings I’d had in the past were failures, we decided to go standard loft and lie with KBS Tour 105 steel shafts.
1031 Forged Irons
The 1031 Forged Irons are super strong irons with a mid-sized forged head. The heads are forged out of 1020 carbon steel. The fine details and texturing is milled. I must say, the milling looks fantastic. The head has such a unique look.
The 1031 is what I’d call a muscle cavity back. It’s a cavity back iron but has a lot of muscle (mass/steel) at the bottom of the head. The topline of the club is thin while the sole is wide. This design puts more of the club’s mass very low and and back. A low center of gravity makes it easier for the player to launch the ball higher and in more control.
When I said strong I meant it. The lofts, even by modern standards, are very strong. The pitching wedge is 44 degrees of loft. Old school pitching wedges are often in the 48 degree range with more “modern” ones clocking in at 46.
I chose the KBS Tour 105 steel shaft. I’m quite happy with that choice. I feel like it provides consistent feel and control and is suitable for my swing speed (driver around 95-100mph). Other than the Tour 105’s there are many shaft options, none of which cost any extra money to upgrade to. Some of the key shafts available are from Aerotech, Fujikura, KBS Tour, True Temper, Project X.
The default grip provided is a “New Level” model by Lamkin. It’s a decent grip to start with, but I’ll be changing that out soon. I tend to be very picky with my grips, and because of the golfer’s elbow issues I’ve battled with over the years. There are many other Lamkin grip models available.
Every aspect of New Level’s irons is customizable: loft, lie, shaft model, shaft flex, shaft length, grip style.
Countless times on the course I’ve had golfers walk up to my bag and ask about my irons. They are visually stunning. The 1031’s are a pleasure to look at and when standing over them, they definitely help build confidence. Lack of confidence in irons is death. Total death.
The feel of the 1031’s is terrific. The perimeter weighting and low center of gravity help increase forgiveness. I can sense where on the club face I’m making contact and make adjustments when my swing changes, as needed. Naturally, as with any club, hitting the sweet spot results in perfect distance, trajectory, and accuracy. Shots which are not quite perfect still come off like a rocket. Very little, if any distance is lost depending on how far from center mis-hits are.
I’ve been spending the summer getting used to the 1031’s and I’m gaining more and more confidence in trying to “work” the ball and control the trajectory. “Working the ball” refers to controlling left-to-right or right-to-left curves. Trajectory is what angle of ascent the ball takes off from the club. Since I play many tree-lined courses, I’m often having to hit low shots under trees when I don’t place my drive in the proper place. So far so good. Still work to do.
I’ve gamed the 1031’s in a very wide variety of conditions. My current home conditions are very soft and heavily watered due to the summer heat and the attempts of greenskeepers to keep the grass green. In these conditions I’m able to throw darts with the 1031’s and watch them stick when they hit the green, even the long irons.
I also had the pleasure of playing the 1031’s in very different conditions at Bandon Dunes Golf resort. Bandon Dunes is “hard and fast” where the fairways and greens are so firm that it is nearly impossible to take a divot. Tight lies abound and there’s plenty of wind. Think Scotland. In those conditions low punch shots are best. I was able to club down and follow through lower to execute low punches and running shots, instead of the high shots needed for soft conditions.
I still have some work to do with the 1031’s in certain conditions. If I come down too quickly or too far behind the ball in thick rough the club can grab hard, killing distance and sometimes shutting the face down and sending the ball left. I need to make sure my angle of ascent to the ball is right on in those situations.
The New Level Golf 1031 Forged Irons are precision golf instruments which offer fantastic feel, accuracy, control, and massive distance. They’ve rekindled my game and helped me resurrect my greens in regulation by 40%.
Don’t be afraid to try forged irons. Some golfers hear the word “forged” and think the clubs are too hard to hit or are only for scratch players or pros. That is far from the case with the 1031’s from New Level Golf. The 1031’s design helps the golfer launch the ball easier, longer and more accurately.
New Level Golf image gallery
Below you can find the Back 9 Report podcast in which myself and fellow #GolfBlogWorldTour buddy Bill Cuebas (a.k.a. The Golfather) talk about our recent visit to the amazing Bandon Dunes Golf Resort. Enjoy. To go directly to the Bandon Dunes segment, scroll to the 94 minute mark.
Thanks to buddy Fred Altvater for inviting us on to talk about such a great subject!
In for review are samples of the four different Bridgestone Golf “Tour B” golf balls.
The Tour B series is the modern day B330 series of recent years. All of these balls feature a urethane cover, the magic ingredient for short game control found in most “Tour” balls. Other features include a gradational core and dual dimple design. You can see the dual dimple design in the photo below.
The Tour B X and Tour B XS are for higher swing speeds and the Tour B RX and Tour B RXS are for slower swing speeds.
I’ve gamed the Tour B330 for a long time and I’m anxious to check out these and see how the Bridgestone Tour B series has changed and improved.
I’ve got a few golf ball entries I’m still in the midst of reviewing, so it will be a few weeks before I will be posting my full Tour B review, so stay tuned.
Yesterday I took the HOG World Tour to play one of the few Utah golf courses I have not played, Canyons Golf Club in Park City, Utah. Canyons Golf is part of the Canyons Ski resort.
Many of the holes are on ski runs, which reminded me of some of the golf in northern Michigan where in the winter it is skiing and the summer it’s golf. The reverse is true of Michigan ski/golf. The skiing in northern Michigan sucks, but the golf is fantastic. Here at the Canyons it is the skiing which is far better than the golf.
There were a couple of decent holes, but overall I’d rate this course poorly. There is a lot of Mickey Mouse design and crowbarring them in to fit in awkward spaces, like the 2nd hole below.
I did have a few fun shots, like the tee shot on the 4th hole, where the drop is so huge I carried my driver 355 yards. Then there’s a par-5 on the back which is drive-able because the drop is so severe. I’m not kidding.
I may post a full review in the winter, when it is ski season. Otherwise if you are considering golf in Utah, Canyons would be one of the last places I’d recommend, especially for their asking price of about $100/round.
Canyons Golf Course photo gallery