And Now For Something Completely Different

By Larry Gilhuly, director, Northwest Region
July 7, 2011

There have been several articles written that discusses the importance of differentiating between regular golf course conditions and course conductions at national championships. However, the recently completed APL Championships at Bandon Dunes on the southern Oregon coast displayed some completely different sets of circumstances not usually seen at our other national championships. 

  1. All fescue, all the time.  Perhaps one of the most unique aspects of Bandon Dunes has been the near 100% use of fine-leaf fescues on all of the playing surfaces.  The greens for both championships were a combination of red and chewings fescue maintained at a .200” mowing height.  Any other grass maintained at this height would cause unacceptable green speeds. However, the green speeds for both courses ranged from 10’6” to11’3” (Old MacDonald and Bandon Trails) based on the difference in wind at the two sites.  Regardless, this mowing height range allowed minimal watering and hand watering due to the deep root systems in this dune sand site.


  1. Old MacDonald outside green perimeters.  While the playing of national championships on a fescue golf course is uncommon (only Chambers Bay with the 2010 U.S. Amateur has fulfilled this criterion), there is a different approach to putting green mowing practice at Old MacDonald.  Rather than doing a ‘clean-up’ pass on the green perimeters, the greens were simply mowed with no distinct edge.  This idea was prompted to minimize wear damage to the fescue on the green perimeters, but it led to the most unique aspect of these two championships.


  1. Old MacDonald and Bandon Trails green definition.  Since there was no identifiable perimeter at the greens at either of the two golf courses, the decision was made to use white paint and dot the edge every few feet.  When completed, every few days the players and rules officials could then make the proper ruling as to whether the player was on or off the putting surface.


  1. You take the pull carts where!  One of the weaknesses of fine-leaf fescue is its susceptibility to traffic wear.  To eliminate this problem on the areas around the greens, it has been a common practice for years to allow wide-tire pull carts to cross over the greens.  With sand as a base, deep roots, no trees and massive putting surfaces, this different approach has worked well. 


  1. Divot filling in the fairways.  A common practice at Bandon Dunes is the filling of divots.  However, the difference is how they do it.  Because they desire to avoid driving on the fairways (generally, power carts are not allowed at Bandon Dunes), wide-tire pull carts are required, and 5-gallon buckets are used to fill these blemishes.


  1. Everyone knows it’s windy!  Bandon Dunes is not unlike any links golf course when it comes to wind, but when it blows hard from the north, certain bunkers need to be worked on.  Three times during the practice rounds and in competition, a hard north wind (gusts to 25-30 MPH) moved so much sand in 3-4 bunkers that more than a foot of sand needed to be shoveled back over the base.  As noted in the photo, the base was not sand, which led to the next unique aspect of this championship.


  1. Stones are not always stones.  Although stones in bunkers is a problem on many golf courses, and is addressed in the Rules of Golf (Appendix 1, Part b, Item 5), the issue at Bandon Dunes was different.  The “stones” at both courses are comprised of the native soils found under the sand.  This soil (red shot) is highly compressed, but it can be broken by hand.  Since it looked like stones, the decision was made to classify this soil as such, with players allowed to remove them from the many bunkers on both courses.


Championship conditions should always be different from regular playing conditions.  At Bandon Dunes they truly were different!

Larry Gilhuly is the Northwest Director of the USGA Green Section.  For more of his completely different perspective he can be contacted at or call his office at 253 – 858 – 2266.   


Partner Links
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image

The USGA and Chevron have committed to using the game of golf to encourage students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines. This commitment has led to the creation of extensive golf-focused STEM teaching tools, and has resulted in charitable contributions to support golf-related programs through Eagles for Education™

At U.S. Open Championships the Chevron STEM ZONE™ is an interactive experience highlighting the science and math behind the game of golf through a variety of hands-on exhibits and experiments.

The partnership has also produced educational materials such as the Science of Golf video series and a nationally-distributed newspaper insert which are provided to teachers as tools to enhance existing curriculum in schools. These lessons teach the science behind the USGA’s equipment testing, handicapping, and agronomy efforts.

For more interactive experiences featuring golf-focused STEM lessons, visit the partnership homepage.

Chevron image

Rolex has been a longtime supporter of the USGA and salutes the sportsmanship and great traditions unique to the game. This support includes the Rules of Golf where Rolex has partnered with the USGA to ensure golfers understand and appreciate the game.

As the official timekeeper of the USGA and its championships, they also provide clocks throughout host sites for spectator convenience.

For more information on Rolex and their celebration of the game, visit the Rolex and Golf homepage.

Rolex image

IBM has partnered with the USGA to bring the same technology, expertise, and innovation it provides to businesses all over the world to the USGA and golf's national championship.

IBM provides the information technology to develop and host the U.S. Open’s official website,, as well as the mobile apps and scoring systems for the three U.S. Open championships. These real-time technology solutions provide an enhanced experience for fans following the championship onsite and online.

For more information on IBM and the technology that powers the U.S. Open and businesses worldwide, visit

AmEx image

Lexus is committed to partnering with the USGA to deliver a best-in-class experience for the world’s best golfers by providing a fleet of courtesy luxury vehicles for all USGA Championships.

At each U.S. Open, Women’s Open and Senior Open, Lexus provides spectators with access to unique experiences ranging from the opportunity to have a picture taken with both the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open trophies to autograph signings with legendary Lexus Golf Ambassadors in the Lexus Performance Drive Pavilion.

For more information on Lexus, visit

AmEx image
American Express

Together, American Express and the USGA have been providing world-class service to golf fans since 2006. By creating interactive U.S. Open experiences both onsite and online, American Express enhances the USGA’s effort to make the game more accessible and enjoyable for fans.

For more information on American Express visit

AmEx image