How a Golf Trip to Bandon Created Lifelong Memories
By Kent Paisley
I rode shotgun home alongside my older brother, Blake, down the shining Oregon coastline as the sun started setting after a six-round, five-day Bandon Dunes golf trip. The radio faded into the background as my mind drifted towards one of the most famous quotes from The Office’s finale.
“I wish,” Andy Bernard reflected as his colleagues danced behind him, “there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.”
Fortunately, we knew we were in the good old days as soon as the trip began. Being able to travel together and play a game, even as adults, is one of the best gifts golf can offer.
We grew up in a competitive, sports-oriented household. My earliest childhood memories include us catching tennis ball pop-ups thrown by our Dad, seeing who could catch the most. So it's not a surprise that the two of us went on to play sports throughout college. Blake ended up a baseball pitcher, myself a golfer.
That competitive nature continued as we grew older. Unfortunately for Blake, the arena stayed in my domain, as it's far easier for three people to play golf than find 18 people for pick up baseball.
While I usually won, one summer in particular, Blake shared it was his goal to beat me once. It didn't take long to accomplish, as he got me the first round we played.
Golf remained a piece of our connective tissue as we entered adulthood. Our Dad taught us the game, hoping that we'd always enjoy a day at the course with him even as his kids might move away and get older. We've proven his hopes true, as the three of us have played consistently as the years march onward. Blake even had me caddie for him in his first tournament.
Given our golf family DNA, it made sense for Blake and I's first trip to be to Bandon Dunes, a golfer's Disney World.
It's certainly a unique sport that we can craft a whole trip around. The handicap system provides an opportunity that no other can claim, along with its ease of opportunity to play. We played in a group of eight, with the best player posting even par or better twice while two others carded in the triple digits a few times.
Incorporating everyone's index, the group held a four-on-four team matchup. On the line? Engraved bag tags as winners of the 2022 Bandon Dunes Trip. They’re no green jackets, but our Paisley competitive juices developed throughout our lives kicked into gear.
Blake hit the shot of the trip in our opening round at Bandon Trails, parking his second on the uphill par-5 16th to effectively clinch our first point.
Considering how competitive we are, I initially expected our golf exploits to be our strongest memories. Yet those faded into the background compared to everything else we had surrounding how well (or not so well) we played.
Bandon treated us to its full beauty over four rounds. One 18, the Oregon coast threw all the wind it could at us. In turn, we received two days of sheer sunshine-kissed serenity. For a few holes on the fourth, the low-lying fog covered the course, giving 20 yards of visibility and an unanswerable chorus of "Is my ball ok?" after each shot. The answer only came after unassuredly walking up to find it. Then we did it all over again.
The group got together after each round to reminisce about the day's best moments. We never found ourselves in a hurry to walk off the property, soaking in a trip we'd looked forward to for months. We'd eat, play card and dice games, then head to our bedrooms to rest for another day. One night, we got some unexpected guests thrown into the routine.
Blake added his motivational evening speeches once we retreated to our rooms. As if donning a baseball manager cap, the elder sibling broke down how we'd beat the next duo, inviting adrenaline to sleep with us shortly before going to bed. The words may be partially responsible for us going 3-0-0 in our team matches over the week.
There's no other vacation we could've taken that'd have allowed his inner Paisley competitor to emerge in such a way: I'll always laugh at the passion invoked in a duel over bag tags.
The brotherly golf magic sadly lost its luster on the final day. But my favorite on-course moment happened toward the end of the trip during our last round.
Venturing up the picturesque par-4 13th at Pacific Dunes, our groupmate took a photo of us from behind. We're in lockstep staring directly into the prevailing winds and trying to piece together how we can end our trip with a win. It's where our relationship's growth has brought us to now as we go ahead in our lives—working together as equals on a team, taking life’s challenges on side by side. Our chances to spend this much time together may not come about as often, but we’re always there for each other.
I knew then we were right in the heart of the good old days we'll look back on. I hope you can find the same magic on a trip of your own.