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The Ultimate Pairing: Bandon Dunes Golf & Pacific Northwest Wines

October 8, 2015
Premier Golf

(This review is by Bill Hogan, Premier Golf LLC)

On a recent Premier Golf trip to Bandon Dunes Resort in Oregon with a group of PGA Professionals, it occurred to me that the golf pros were using terms to describe the golf courses that many oenophiles might also use while enjoying and describing the fine wines.

Words like “inviting”, “bold”, “throwback” and “rustic” were tossed around during the après golf discussions to describe the great golf courses onsite at Bandon Dunes. My palette is pretty versatile, golf wise anyway, so with the assistance of some PGA Professionals, we set out to play each golf course and then pair the experience with guidance from Bandon Dunes sommelier Wendy Henderlong.

For years, the Pacific Northwest wine industry has been rapidly gaining worldwide prestige, because the area so visually stunning and the product coming out of Oregon and  Washington State is world class. Paralleling that prestige are the golf courses at Bandon Dunes Resort, which many consider the best golf resort in North America.

The newest golf course at Bandon Dunes Resort is Bandon Preserve, the 13-hole par three layout designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, which the PGA pros described as “fun”, “short”, “fresh”, “inviting” and “jovial”. Sommelier Henderlong never hesitated. She knew exactly what that golf course called for: The 2014 Waterbrook Rose Sangiovese Rose’ from Walla Walla, Washington ($34/bottle). Henderlong noted that Sangiovese is a red grape but with clear juice, leaving a Rose’ that is “nice and fresh, bright and a blast”. These words equally describe the 13 holes at Bandon Preserve.

The first course at the resort was Bandon Dunes GC designed by David McLay Kidd in 1999. It’s the original track at Bandon: “classic”, “tactful”, “rustic” and “velvety”. “Easy”, Henderlong said, “the 2011 Domaine Serene Eventstad Reserve Pinot Noir from The Willamette Valley”. At $145 per bottle, it’s not the most prestigious on the list but certainly an outstanding selection. This is an elegant wine with a “harmonious balance of structure” and a “clean, lingering finish”. David Kidd would be proud!

Probably the most underrated course at the resort is Bandon Trails GC. Underrated only because it’s not located along the sea, but, as most would admit, it’s probably the most beautiful course in the spectacular line-up. This Coore-Crenshaw masterpiece is “glorious”, “spiritual and silky”, just like the 2007 Corliss Cabernet Sauvignon from The Columbia Valley, Washington ($175/bottle). “Deep, explosive” and “wonderfully silky” is also the stunning panorama from the elevated tee boxes at Bandana Trails GC.

The adventurous will experience the Sheep Ranch “course” nearby, a plot of land overlooking the Pacific Ocean along the north headlands, with greens scattered about in no apparent fashion so golfers can basically plan their own routing as they go. Its “quirky”, “rough”, “versatile and creative”, much like the Columbia Valley Sleight of Hand Cellars “Illusionist” Cabernet Sauvignon ($99/bottle). Consider it different and imaginative, a play on the senses, and a real treat when you can try it!

Old Macdonald was designed by the innovative and highly respected team of Tom Doak and Jim Urbina and opened in 2010. A wonderful tribute to the creative genius of Charles Blair Macdonald, the course is “intimidating”, “large”, “unique”, “open and interesting”. PGA Pros also called it “cool”, “bold”, “fun and the most interesting”. Sommelier Henderlong likens it to the 2012 Dusted Valley Stained Tooth Syrah ($65/bottle) from the outstanding oasis of The Columbia Valley, which is “distinct and memorable”.

Just as Oregon is known for its world class Pinot Noirs from the Willamette Valley, Bandon Dunes Resort is probably best known for Pacific Dunes GC, the creme de la creme of seaside links in the westernUnited States. Ranked by Golf Magazine as the 21st best golf course in the world, Pacific Dunes,designed by Tom Doak in 2001, instantly earnedinternational prestige. Call it  “breathtaking”, “precise”,”mystic”, “world-class”, or whatever you like, because it definitely has earned all the accolades. A Bucket-List golf course, Pacific Dunes pairs extremely wellwith a Domaine Serene Monogram 2008 Pinot Noir($600/bottle) from the Willamette Valley. Simply put,if you are in the Pacific Northwest, it doesn’t get any better than this.

Part of the fun of visiting Bandon Dunes is exploring theexceptional wines of Oregon and Washington State withand experienced sommelier like Wendy Henderlong. Many of these wines, which you’ll probably never find in yourhometown, are just like the authentic links courses onsite: Unlike anywhere else in America.

Bill Hogan is International Director of Premier Golf and is a Golf Magazine Panelist to rank the World & USA Top 100 Golf Courses. He has played in 58 different countries since he began traveling the world in 1981.

(Authors note: Oenophile golfers can book packages to Bandon Dunes Resort by calling Premier Golf LLC at 888-439-1831 or by visiting Bandon Dunes)