The very thought of a 13-hole golf course ought to spook already superstitious golfers, many of whom never change hats or gloves after a good round. Leave it to the iconoclasts at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in North Bend, Oregon to defy the voodoo numerology and open just such a course, their fifth. Bring a rabbit's foot just in case.
The par three layout, called Bandon Preserve, was originally slated for 12 holes, but that number changed when architect Bill Coore spotted yet another likely suspect lurking behind the fifth green. Coore and his design partner, Ben Crenshaw, teamed up to make it an even baker's dozen. The result is one of the best "executive courses" in memory.
If you don't have the time, money, or leg-power to negotiate a regular 18-hole loop at Bandon Resort (where no golf carts are allowed), the 1,468-yard Preserve is your ticket to paradise. For a hundred bucks (all proceeds go to a local ecological charity), you can sharpen your short game, make silly side bets galore, and still enjoy copious panoramic views of the Pacific.
But this is not your father's pitch-and-putt-pushover by any stretch. Though the holes only average around 113 yards, the green complexes are slopy and slidy enough to amp up the challenge factor. Lots of gnarly, native vegetation has been left in place and dime-sized bunkers surround the greens. Prepare to make a few bogeys unless you can pull off laser-like iron shots.
Also, don't forget about the demon winds that rage now and again off the ruggedly gorgeous Oregon coast. You may even find yourself using a utility club here and there: The 164-yard sixth hole plays a good 195 on a given, blustery day, but also offers one of the most compelling views of the enveloping seascape. Who needs to fly to Scotland when Bandon Dunes offers many of the same topographical and meteorological virtues? Plus, they have better burgers. [Green fees from $100 for golf-only guests, bandondunesgolf.com]