A promised land for golf geeks, Bandon Dunes is the country's most immersive resort. Here, four top-ranked courses unfold over roughly 3,300 acres of a lonely stretch of Oregon's southern coast. It's moody, daydream-worthy land, lichen green and tempered with grassy dunes and thick coastline shrubs. There's not much else to do here, but if it's golf you want, there's no better place to be.
Developer Mike Keiser founded the property in 1999 and is still expanding it: In 2012, he added the Preserve, a zippy par-3 course, and next month he opens the Punchbowl, a 3.5-acre putting course; a 27-hole course is also in the works.
The resort inspires such loyalty that regulars call themselves "Bandonistas," fiercely devoted both to the place and to what it represents, a kind of throwback golf that had been largely lost at public courses in the U.S. until Bandon came around. When Keiser announces a tournament, it's completely booked the same day. "I'd seen the tour buses rolling into Dornoch in Scotland," he says, "and it suggested that there might be golfers who would be drawn to a place like Bandon. But I had no idea how big this population was."
The four 18-hole tracks re-create the sort of links-style golf played for centuries overseas: wild and wind-battered, firm and fast, with arresting ocean views. The shorter Punchbowl and Preserve are best played at twilight, a club in one hand and a single malt in the other – the perfect venues for settling unresolved bets.
Stay here: Bandon's 186-room hotel is handsome but spare. You can soak in a hot tub, but don't go looking for a spa. In the evenings, hit the Highlands-style pub (think smoked pork chops and bacon hash), followed by the whiskey and cigar bar, where you can relive your afternoon heroics. From $190 per night; golf rounds start at $170.