At GolfAdvisor, we've got a staff of experts willing to answer all your golf and travel questions. If one of us doesn't know the answer, someone else probably does.
A reader recently asked one of our staff writers, Jason Scott Deegan, this question on Twitter:
Since Jason hasn't been to Bandon yet, allow me to pinch-hit with an answer: I've been to both resorts twice and enjoyed every minute at each. Personally, I'd probably opt for Bandon because I'm a golf junkie who would try to play at least 36 holes a day, then soothe achy muscles with a few local IPAs, hit the pillow hard by 10 p.m. and do it all again at the crack of dawn. I'd probably compare Bandon closest to Kohler, Wis., though Kohler has a few more five-star bells and whistles.
But Bandon's not everyone's bag, thanks to spotty coastal weather, splotchy fescue greens, the walking-only policy, and a playing style that takes some getting used to (like, for example, 50-yard putts).
Here's my answer to you and anyone with a similar conundrum:
Go to Pinehurst because:
Pinehurst lays on the charm: The village is an historic, walkable collection of streets so charming it can't be replicated by any modern resort. Dining, pubs, memorabilia shops and the Tufts Archives, all tucked beneath shady pines give Pinehurst the secret sauce.
You want a little more than golf: Some people stay at Pinehurst who don't even golf, but rather enjoy other activities, the five-star spa, etc. It goes without saying that couples will feel more comfortable at Pinehurst, including fine dining at 1895 in The Holly Inn. That isn't to say buddies trips can't have a blast at Dugan's Pub or the Pinecrest Inn.
Pinehurst is more predictable: Coastal links golf and the elements and course conditions that come with it aren't everyone's bag. Sure, Pinehurst No. 2 has turned back the clock, but the rest of the courses are still lush, Bermuda grass, Sandhills-style golf with some of the best greenskeepers in the game.
Pinehurst also has golf carts (not so at Bandon without a medical exemption).
Pinehurst has a deeper roster for bucket-listers if you include off-property neighbors: Pinehurst No. 2, No. 4 and No. 8 are all exceptional (though I would rate the Pacific-Bandon-Trails triumvirate higher). The rest at the resort are good but not remarkable. To round out the trip with the best, you'll want to head to Mid Pines, Pine Needles and Tobacco Road. The Dormie Club in nearby West End is a Coore-Crenshaw design that's actually a little reminiscent of Bandon Trails.
Go to Bandon Dunes because:
It's 100 percent pure: Pinehurst may be one of the greatest golf resort and residential communities anywhere, but housing still has a pretty good presence around most of the courses. At Bandon, the only houses in view are the clubhouses. Also, being a Texas resident, enjoying no humidity and a nice ocean breeze on vacation is priceless.
It's the most visually spectacular collection of links courses on earth: A lot of links in Great Britain eventually run out of dunes and have a few mundane holes. Not so at Bandon Dunes and Pacific Dunes. The sheer awe factor in of these towering dunes and vantage point high above the Pacific Ocean is greater here than anywhere I've been abroad.
It's a buddies retreat: Everything Bandon's Mike Keiser has done with Bandon in regards to facilities and operations by Kemper Sports has been purpose built for buddies trips. The accommodations, discounted replay rates, the par-3 Preserve Course, the putting course, the colossal practice area, Bunker Bar, 24-hour shuttle, etc. It's the best "golf retreat" in the U.S. Just pack rain gear.