With Doak and his shaper, Jim Urbina, we play Pacific Dunes in a free form, hitting it and chasing it in a way that might have been more appropriate with a shepherd's crook. Doak is a single-digit player, but his approach is rough hewn—no head covers, no waggle and a healthy rip. Urbina is a former college noseguard from Alamosa, Colorado, but with a Dead Head, sixties mellowness. His huge cuts produce some awe-inspiring slices, and he smiles as his drives soar over vast parcels of his work. As we are walking down to the Redan green on the 220-yard seventeenth, he says, "I really think it's great you can do this with your dad. You're lucky."
Doak is interested in my father as representative of a type of player who will be coming to Pacific Dunes. He plays close attention to where the old man's drives carry, studying their brief flight so intently it becomes funny. Self-conscious at the scrutiny of his popgun efforts, my father pipes, "Don't worry, I'll be there when the putting starts." At the same time, Doak delights in his subject's knack for the bump-and-run and his expert use of Doak's carefully crafted contours. After one of my father's run-up seven-irons stops a couple of feet away, he looks at Doak's appreciative gaze and decides to reciprocate. "Your course," he starts portentously, "is really such a real . . . tremendous . . . treat!" Another long road to a little house. Naturally, Doak offers a sincere thank-you.
On the way back to Eugene, we take a more northern crossover at Florence along Highway 126, which gracefully traces the Siuslaw River. The mood is the same as when we ended our excursions in Scotland and Ireland—part reprise of sensations from the playing ground, part wistfulness. Finally the old man gathers his thoughts and issues his verdict: "That was a wonderful trip," he concludes. "Amazing."
This time I don't roll my eyes.
The Eugene Airport, served by most major airlines, is a two-and-a-half-hour drive up the coast from Bandon (130 miles). Or fly into Portland and take Horizon Airlines to North Bend, about twenty-five miles from Bandon.
Hitting the Links
Bandon Dunes Course
Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, 57744 Round Lake Drive, Bandon, Oregon 97411; 888-345-6008. Par/Yardage: 72/7,326. Green Fees: $50-$150. Architect: David McLay Kidd, 1999.
T&L GOLF Rating: *****
Pacific Dunes Course
same address and phone. Par/Yardage: 71/6,670. Green Fees: $50-$150. Architect: Tom Doak, 2001.
T&L GOLF Rating: *****