The Sheep Ranch - Bandon Dunes' Fifth Course will be Bunkerless!

"So, for now, there are no official numbers to the holes. But there’s a good chance they decide on one set order before opening day, which will be in the summer of 2020. What will never be on the Sheep Ranch are bunkers. NO BUNKERS.
“Ben and I talked about it a long time ago,” says Coore. “Robert Hunter, in his book called The Links, back in the 1920s, said there would one day be a site with such interesting undulations, sand bunkers wouldn’t be necessary.”

The catalyst for the concept was Coore, who had walked the terrain on several bad weather days. The sand in the few bunkers that were out there had all blown away. The old abandoned bunkers only piqued his interest.

“I said, ‘seed them,’” says Coore. “With some wispy fescue. They’ll enhance the visual presentation, keep balls from going off cliffs and it helps any maintenance issues.”

So, coming soon to Bandon Dunes, a Sheep Ranch redux, with an actual routing, reimagined greens, cliff-side cape holes that run north and south of Five-Mile Point, which is where you’ll play to a double green. There will be tees that go one way, and that same tee might go the other way. But in no way will you ever be playing from a sand bunker."


This interests me a lot. I always thought that some low budget muni’s would benefit by grassing in a lot of their existing bunkers to save on maintainance.

1 Like

Also just to present a better experience. Rather than annoying players by being in a dirt bunker, no one’s really going to complain about being in a grass bunker.

And if that means you can put some resources into having fewer but better bunkers on the course, then go for that.

If it wasn’t already obvious that I need to make it to Bandon…



One of the local muni’s near me here in Maryland is getting completely redone and rumors have it that it will be bunkerless. Very intriguing and definitely keeps maintenance costs down.

1 Like

I’m playing a heathland course tomorrow with no bunkers. It looks tough, scoring wise I’d rather have an open parkland with bunkers.

“Piltdown’s 18-hole course has no bunkers, but its narrow fairways, small greens and abundant heather, gorse and gullies provide a tempting challenge for the bold, strategic player.”

I just got chills. I assume this track would also be completely without cart paths??

Yes. No carts at Bandon Dunes courses. Walking only.


like x1000

Nice idea,

I think a lot of places have too many bunkers when grass bunkers or little mounds would be effective hazards.

I also think a lot of courses would benefit (if redoing bunkers) from having deeper and smaller bunkers. Tough penalties and sand won’t blow out as easily. Also where you have 2 or 3 bunkers up the side of a green - the narrow areas in between become easily worn, smaller bunkers means more grass for people to walk on.

I personally love the idea of a bunkerless course, but I equally love this quote from Tom Doak on the Golf Club Atlas message board about this topic:,38977.25.html

Edit: This was not about The Sheep Ranch, specifically. It was a post in 2009 about bunkerless courses in general.

1 Like

Couldn’t agree more!

The one hole that caught me off-guard playing the Old Course was the 4th. One small mound, even mown at fairway-height, completely changed the way to approach the front hole location that day.

Being stuck on one side of a fairway-height mound with the pin directly on the other side is an underrated challenge, yet it’s one that any skill level might be able to pull off, where as a 25 handicap would have almost no shot from a short-sided bunker.

One last thing, my dad and I had the opportunity to rent out the old Sheep Ranch acouple years back with another group. The natural contours are incredible. I agree with Mr. Coore, if there is one place that a bunkerless course could be pulled off, it’s this site. Though, just because there are no bunkers, doesn’t mean there isn’t a ton of trouble! The ocean is still going to be in play for 8 of the greens!

1 Like

Really wish I could have played the actual sheep ranch when I was up there. It’s a huge bummer they are making it an offical course.


The only bunker less course I’ve ever played is Falls Village in Durham NC. Of course it is supposed to have bunkers, but they are just packed dirt :joy:

This sounds awesome.


Anyone see this tweet??

HOLY S#%¥ that complex looks incredible!!! The scale, the movement, the lack of collars/edges, the run up to the cliffs, it’s DOUBLE. Wow!


I’ll be surprised if this course doesn’t crack the world top 5 in the rankings based upon what’s being said about it and who’s saying it.

1 Like

I imagine the word “mostly” in that quote was ensure that he had some wriggle room when it came to Royal Ashdown Forest GC.

1 Like

The Shapers" article in Golfer’s Journal #9 had a brief bit with one of the guys working there and he was described as a “prodigy” in the shaping world, so that should really temper expectations

Looks awesome. I cannot wait to play it