(article and photos by Nick Martin)
Shorty’s is a nine-hole par-three course at the Bandon Dunes Practice Center. It was designed by David McLay Kidd, the same Scottish architect who designed the Bandon Dunes course. The course was named after former caretaker of the property, Shorty Dow.
Situated just south of the one-acre practice putting green known as “Big Putt,” the first tee at Shorty’s sits up, looking south toward the first and second greens.
The course is free to guests, but there is an honor box just off the first tee that welcomes donations. All proceeds go toward two worthy causes: Bandon Dunes’ Junior Golf program and the Evans Scholarship program.
Shorty’s is open Thursday through Sunday. There is red or a green flag on the first tee, indicating whether or not the course is open. If the green flag is flying, the course is open for play. If the red flag is out, you can still play holes One, Two, and Nine and not interfere with golfers hitting on the South Range.
The course is intended for fun and practice so don’t hesitate playing more than one ball, or hitting different shots. For example: If Nos. 1, 2 and 9 are the only holes open, change up the routing a little. It’s perfectly acceptable to play from the first tee to the second green and so on. Use your imagination.
The way the routing was designed, as long as you’re not endangering anyone, you can play to different greens and invent your own tees. In other words, the routing on the card can be seen as more of a suggestion.
Here is a brief description of the routing as it is intended on the card:
No. 1, 86 yards – A chip to the green over a pot bunker that’s small and deep. The front of the green slopes down and away into a valley. Left of the green are two rangy bunkers and to the right the fescue is tall and thick.
No. 2, 113 yards – A slightly downhill shot into a large green guarded in front right by a deep kidney-shaped bunker and an ancient fir tree. There is also a bunker on the back right.
No. 3, 174 yards – A difficult shot over two bunkers to the short side of an unreceptive green. Hitting into this green is like trying to shake the left hand of someone standing with their right side to you as two chocolate labs wrestle with a tennis ball between you. There is also a bunker off the back left that you never see until you’re standing on the green.
No. 4, 130 yards – An uphill shot to a green protected on the left and the right by two wild, shaggy bunkers. There is a large madrone tree front-right that knocks down fly balls. The back of the green is partially surrounded by a small island thicket of vegetation and small evergreens.
Around this small island to the north you’ll find the fifth tee and the route turns left, heading back to the west. Nos. 5, 6 and 7 route back and forth consecutively.
No. 5, 141 yards – From the tee the approach into the green appears rather straightforward. There is a deep bunker front-left and a larger steep-faced bunker back-right. What makes this green unique is its proximity to the south tee deck at the Practice Center, which results in a relentless bombardment four days a week. Considering this aerial assault, the green remains in fairly good condition.
No. 6, 113 yards – The tee sits between the green at No. 5 and No. 7. A pair of pot bunkers guard the left side of the green. The back of the green is bowl-shaped and welcomes a long approach shot. Hit it too short and the ball will roll off the green into the vacuous middle ground, a kind of no-man’s-land between the greens.
No. 7, 111 yards – An elevated tee from the southern end of the backstop surrounding No. 6 green. No. 7 plays back to the west, one of the few times the routing turns right. Like most greens at Shorty’s, the approach is mounded so balls too long or too short will leave the green. The front-left of the green is guarded by a deep bunker. There is also a steep-faced bunker front-right.
No. 8, 91 yards – Don’t let the short yardage fool you; this tee is in the valley on the backside of the green at No. 7 and hits south. Next to No. 3, this hole is deceivingly difficult. The green is mounded on all sides. Hitting into this green is like roller-skating on a giant bowling ball. Front-left, there is another deep bunker and in line with that one, there is another one back left.
No. 9, 147 yards – Plays back to the north completing the circuit. The bowl-shaped green is hidden behind an ocean of uneven ground and an elephant-sized mound on the front-right. The green is almost completely surrounded on the right side by long rough. On the left, two rangy bunkers rest on the slope leading back up to No. 1 tee.