For five days last week, some of the best amateur golfers in the country showed off their skills during the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort.
When the final putt was made, on the 17th green at the Old Macdonald course, the pair of Scott Harvey and Todd Mitchell were the winners of the fifth edition of the United States Golf Association tournament. But a repetitive theme throughout the event was how much the golfers enjoyed their time at the resort and in the community, as well as the hospitality and the caliber of the golf courses — the tournament also used the Pacific Dunes course during qualifying.
Mitchell and Harvey, both 40 when the week started (Harvey turned 41 the day after the event ended), beat East Carolina University teammates Logan Shuping and Blake Taylor in the championship match for their fifth win in three days.
Shuping and Taylor, won won three straight matches with birdies on the 18th hole (it’s not uncommon in the match play format for battles to end earlier) said their desire to stay at the resort longer helped drive them to the tight victories.
“We weren’t ready to go home,” Shuping said after one of the victories.
They were excited when they qualified because they knew they were going to get to come across the country to the renowned resort they had heard so much about. And their expectations were more than met.
“This place is amazing,” Taylor said. “Everybody talked it up so much. You could have talked it up even more.”
Their only regret? Because they kept winning they didn’t get to play the resort’s other two courses, Bandon Dunes and Bandon Trails. Resort owner Mike Keiser gave that opportunity to all the golfers who were eliminated earlier.
Mitchell and Harvey raved about the people at the resort and the people in Bandon, where they stayed.
Some golfers brought their families, who took time to experience the recreational and tourist options the town has to offer.
Texas friends Derek Abel and Christopher Wheeler, one of three sets of teammates to share medalist honors, stayed at a house near the beach and treated the week as a guys’ vacation.
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“Every day we can be here longer, it’s good for the golf and good for the team, too,” Abel said, adding of the beach, “We don’t have that in Dallas.”
Neither had been to the resort before last week.
“It’s so awesome,” Wheeler said.
New Jersey friends Troy Vannucci and Vince Kwon, who also were co-medalists and advanced all the way to the semifinals, more than once described being at Bandon Dunes as “being trapped in golf paradise.”
The other team that lost in the semifinals, Taylor Wood and Andrew Medley, also walked away impressed.
“It’s my first time here,” Medley said. “It’s just a phenomenal piece of property.”
Harvey and Mitchell, the tournament champions, have been in the event all five years and have played nearly 60 USGA events between them, so they’ve had a chance to see many of the top golf destinations in the country. They said Bandon Dunes is special, because of the golf courses and the people.
“We’ve been a lot of places,” Harvey said. “We didn’t run into a single person (this week) that wasn’t the nicest person.
“When you go somewhere and you’re having a blast and you feel welcome, it’s hard not to play good.”
The Four-Ball Championship was the resort’s sixth USGA event. Next August, Bandon Dunes will host its biggest event to date, at least in terms of stature, when the U.S. Amateur comes to town.