'Golf provides an outlet:' Bandon Dunes ramps up for U.S. Am, new course opening

No. 13 on Pacific Dunes
Pacific Dunes at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort

As golf emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, Golf News Hub is conducting interviews with various leaders about the state of the industry. This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

Don Crowe is the general manager at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Oregon, which is prepared to host its seventh USGA Championship this summer. Its newest course, the Sheep Ranch, opens on June 1.

How have you and your team dealt with the impacts of the coronavirus?

Crowe: The COVID-19 pandemic has tested all of us. It has forced us to rethink and restructure every element of the guest experience in a way that keeps people safe, but also upholds the traditions of Bandon Dunes Golf Resort – six links courses, routed through the rugged dunes of the Southern Oregon Coast, with delicious food, great accommodations and genuinely friendly people ready to make you feel at home.

How has Bandon Dunes adapted to the recent circumstances?

We are committed to doing everything in our power to reduce touch points, enhance our cleaning standards and frequency and create space and distance among staff, caddies and guests. New staff safety policies are now in place, which includes the use of masks and gloves for all employees. We’ve installed plexiglass barriers at all check-in locations and on shuttle buses.

What are your thoughts on how the pandemic has affected the golf industry?

The impact on the business of golf has been severe. But, there are a few bright spots. Golf is one of the few activities that can be played safely while adhering to social distancing mandates. For that reason, we are seeing avid players and new players flock to the game like never before. Additionally, it has placed an emphasis on walking, which is a key element to the experience of golf as it was meant to be at Bandon Dunes. Golf has provided an outlet for exercise and entertainment during this time.

What about the future of the golf industry in this “new normal?”

We hope that the demand for the game will continue to grow and bring greater attention to the benefits of golf and the experience that it provides for all who play.

What is your biggest takeaway from undergoing this ordeal?

We are incredibly proud of our resort team and thankful for their commitment to adjust our operations to protect the health and safety of our staff, our caddies and our guests.

Has the grand opening of the Sheep Ranch been impacted by the pandemic?

The grand opening of the Sheep Ranch will take place on June 1 as planned.

How has the resort adjusted to the current situation?

The guest experience is still very much the same -- we have outstanding golf courses, comfortable rooms and delicious food. The biggest adjustment is with our food and beverage operations. We have implemented a worry-free a la carte, take-out, and delivery dining service to make sure that meals are served with as few touch points as possible. We’ve limited the number of guests in our dining rooms and continue to reinforce social distancing protocols. Our staff members now greet guests with a warm "hello" and a covered smile rather than a handshake.

Bandon Dunes is set to host the 2020 U.S. Amateur in August. What are the current plans for that event?

We're very excited to see the best amateur golfers in the world compete for the Havemeyer trophy. We continue to collaborate with the USGA daily to develop a new operational plan for the championship that complies with all state and federal guidelines. We feel fortunate that the U.S. Amateur happens later in the summer. We look forward to hosting our seventh USGA Championship and showcasing the beauty of Bandon Dunes to those who tune in to watch it on TV.