BANDON -- Festive music marked the opening of the newest addition to Bandon Dunes Golf Resort on Tuesday as the Langlois Fiddlers played outside the clubhouse at the Pacific Dunes course while the first guests enjoyed the Punchbowl, the resort's new putting course.
In the future, the late-afternoon sounds will come in the form of hoots and hollers as groups of golfers make their way around the 3-acre putting facility.
The Punchbowl isn't your average putting green. With a combination of dramatic slopes and subtle contours, it is more like a playground to entertain and challenge even the best golfers who visit the resort.
"It's fabulous," said Christopher Smith, a golf pro at Pumpkin Ridge near Portland, who was in town for the festivities. "It's got a little Augusta National. Sometimes you are going 90 degrees from where you want to end up.
"What a great concept."
Bandon Dunes owner Mike Keiser got the idea to build the Punchbowl from the general manager at Pinehurst, another resort, which has its own putting course. Pinehurst's Thistle Dhu was, in turn, designed after the Himalayas, the famed putting course at St. Andrews in Scotland.
Keiser commissioned Tom Doak and Jim Urbina, the architects for the resort's Pacific Dunes and Old Macdonald courses, to build the putting course. He praised their work Tuesday.
"If golf is supposed to be fun, this is fun," Keiser said. "It's also a challenge. It's very tough. You can humiliate yourself."
Keiser found that out first-hand. His first trip around the putting course Tuesday was in a best-ball match, teamed with KemperSports President Josh Lesnik against Bandon Dunes General Manager Hank Hickox and Director of Golf Jeff Simonds. The friendly match became more serious as Keiser and Lesnik tried to overcome a deficit.
The resort owner expects that concept to play out often in the future as golfers follow their regular rounds at the resort with casual putting contests at the Punchbowl.
"From what I observed, when you have seven or eight groups, there's a shout roughly every minute," he said.
Judging from the long line of golfers offering their congratulations to Keiser and Urbina on Tuesday, the Punchbowl will be a big hit.
"It's a lot of fun," said Mick "The Barber" Peters of Bandon. "There's so many shots you can try."
Peters was in the first group of regular guests to enjoy the Punchbowl during its grand opening, just like he was in the first group at the opening of Bandon Dunes and each additional course at the resort.
The Punchbowl lived up to Peters' expectations, built up over the past several months while he looked forward to opening day.
"I couldn't wait," he said. "I knew it was going to be special."
The Punchbowl was set up for 36 holes Tuesday. Depending on demand, it might regularly be set up with only 18 holes, and they will change constantly.
"It's limitless," said Urbina. "The routings are ever-changing."
The resort does not plan to charge golfers to play the Punchbowl. With its proximity to the Pacific Dunes clubhouse, it likely will get a lot of use before or after meals. Stands next to the starting points for each hole also are designed to hold beverages the golfers are enjoying during their rounds.
"I think it's a great social mechanism," Hickox said. "Guys do get tired after playing 36 holes, but they haven't got it out of their system."
Which is why the course likely will be the site of hotly contested matches among friends.
Keiser said the putting course is just as competitive as playing one of the full courses, but in a fraction of the time.
"It's basically golf on steroids," he said.