Fri. May 24th, 2024

Bandon Dunes 25th anniversary: Instructor Grant Rogers shares secret to success on the links

By admin May8,2024

(Editor’s note: Bandon Dunes Golf Resort is celebrating its 25th anniversary and Golfweek Travel Editor Jason Lusk put together a comprehensive package on the occasion, complete with Q&As of pivotal people in and around the operation. To see the entire package of stories, click here.)

BANDON, Ore. – Grant Rogers not only can help your swing, he can help your thinking.

After more than two decades as an instructor at Bandon Dunes, he has helped thousands of players understand the demands – and the opportunities – of links golf. He’s also one of the best storytellers in golf. Just don’t bet against him on a par 3. 

Now the  director of instruction emeritus at the resort, he sat down down to discuss Bandon Dunes in the run-up to its 25th anniversary.

You’re able to help people understand links golf. What is that like, especially people who haven’t played links golf before?

Well, I think that’s part of the challenge of being here. A lot of people are interested in links golf when they get here, but they’re not really sure about how to play it. You know, we really specialize in helping them with links-specific golf shots and some bunker tips that are special, and then some putting ideas that help them.

Grant Rogers teaches a group how to best tackle Bandon Dunes Golf Resort. (Courtesy of Bandon Dunes Golf Resort)

What do you teach them? 

We teach them, for one thing, how to hit shots off of tight lies. There’s a lot of tight lies out there and the ball is never elevated by the grass, so it’s a different style of golf. We also teach them to try some shots that maybe they’ve never tried before, like hitting a putter from 50 yards away or something. To get it on the green in a good spot. And how to play in the wind. There’s just a lot of interaction, because a lot of people really want to play well when they’re here, but they’re not really sure how to do It.

Have you had the chance to play much golf with Mike Keiser? 

I’ve played some golf with Mike Keiser. I know he has a passion. One thing that when you play golf with Mike Keiser is, he’s really a fast player. I have this theory that he figures out all the golf shots he’s going to hit on the way over here from Chicago. 

There are some people like Mike Keiser who can actually think their way around the golf course, figure out all the club selections, and then when you play golf with them, those clubs just fly out of the bag. 

How important is it to be able to think your way around on a links course?

Well, I think at a certain point, if you want to play your best golf, you have to be strategic. And I think a lot of people just play offense, but a lot of times you have to play defense – you have to play both. You can’t just be an offensive player on these courses. They’re too complicated. 

What stands out to me is there are a lot of holes here that are not really super long, but they didn’t make them shorter to make them easier. They made them short and complicated. There are some that are really notorious here like the 14th on Trails or the 16th hole at Pacific Dunes, and those holes just clobber golfers all day long. They’re not hard, they’re not long, they’re just very strategic.

If there was one thing you could tell somebody to practice in advance of their trip of a lifetime here, what’s the one shot they could practice at home?

Well, I think the people that I’ve met here, in general they’re serious golfers. But I think they undervalue putting, you know. I think everybody could be a better putter. So I think they should practice their putting a little bit. It’s pretty simple to be a better golfer; all you have to do is be a better putter. But you have to put in the time. 

And in order to be a better putter, you have to putt from better places. So you should practice your chipping and pitching for sure, because sometimes people just think it’s their putter, and it really isn’t. 

Going back to when you first started out here, what were your thoughts in 2000?

The way I found out about Bandon Dunes is kind of interesting. I had a friend, Jim Langley (the longtime pro at Cypress Point in California). Well, he was one of my good friends, and he called me up one day, and he said, I hear they’re going to build one of the best golf courses in Oregon. … And he said, go see it because we’re really interested knowing what’s going on out there. And so anyway, I went to see Bandon Dunes. 

At that point they were taking people on tours just to kind of introduce them to Bandon Dunes, because they were still building it. And I took one look at the fifth hole (a par 4 atop a cliff), and I thought, this is really going to be good. 

And then when they opened the course, I started playing once a week. And then somebody, I guess, told the general manager that there’s some guy that was playing golf here once a week. One day he was waiting for me on 18, and he asked, are you the guy that plays once a week? And I said yeah. He said, are you really a golf pro? And I said, I really am a golf pro. So he said, well, if you want to play once a week, you have to work here. So I looked at this guy and I said, why don’t you give me a job offer? And then he had a job offer in his coat and he just handed it to me, and that’s how I got the job. 

There’s one part of your experience at Bandon that is unique: How many holes-in-one do you have out here?

I have 17 on the Preserve, and I have four more on the big courses, so I have 21. 

You must almost feel like they’re all going to go in now. 

Well, I’m not surprised when they do, I have to admit. I used to really react, you know, and now I might give it a glance or something, but I don’t really have any emotion. It’s really strange, kind of. It doesn’t surprise me when they go in.

How many have you made with the putter on 13? (Players can putt off the tee, down a walking path and onto the green on the steeply downhill No. 13 of Bandon Preserve.)

Five. I think I’ve made five.

We had a group of golf pros that came out for a clinic that we gave them. They came from four states in the Pacific Northwest, and anyway, my area was the 13th tee with a putter, and I was trying to show them how to make a long one. And they were kind of going, well, okay, let’s see you make one. Well, I made one and then my assistant made one, just showing them.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek


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