The Hole By Hole
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Dream Golf: The Making of Bandon Dunes
For the last 25 years or so, my office wall has featured a framed bit of calendar art that almost always makes new visitors smile when they see it--and then they ask me where I found it.
The cartoon shows a few furry creatures in an unusual setting, titled with a really awful but nonetheless appropriate punóGopher Baroque.
The print is by Sandra Boynton, the creator of hundreds of familiar greeting cards for the folks at Recycled Paper Greetings. I keep it hung on my wall because it never ceases to cheer me up. It also speaks to my preference for finding creative solutions for my clientsí problems, especially when the usual approaches donít seem feasible.
I thought of this bit of artwork when I learned through Stephen Goodwinís fine book that the creator of Bandon Dunes also has a strong connection to Sandra Boynton.
Mike Keiser happens to be one of the original creators of Recycled Paper Greetings, a hugely successful member of the greeting card industry, not least because of Boyntonís profitable collaboration with it. Keiser applied that same entrepreneurial spirit in his quest to express his own vision of what a golf course should present to its players. In addition, his attitude toward reaching his goals frequently called to mind the same sentiment Boynton described in that cartoon.
Stephen Goodwin, a writer and former NEA director, also dabbled a bit on a golf course project in Maryland. George Peper, former editor in chief at Golf Magazine, suggested Goodwin would be a good candidate to write a semi-official story of the already legendary golf resort on Oregonís southern coast.
Goodwin brought to the task his own keen interest in golf course design, which probably helped convince Keiser and his other interview subjects to open up with sometimes remarkably candid assessments of how Bandon Dunes, Pacific Dunes, and Bandon Trails were designed and built.
Keiser himself is in some ways a classic American entrepreneurial success story, but with a particular Boomer twist or two added. The astounding business achievements of RPG gave Keiser the opportunity to return to golf, an old passion. Goodwin shows how Keiser used several of the same techniques from his work experience to develop his first golf course along Lake Michigan. The lessons learned from that project were then successfully applied to his eventual acquisition of a large spread of promising acreage in Oregon.
I also enjoyed reading about golf course architects David Kidd, Tom Doak, and the team of Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore, whose handiwork at the Bandon layouts are so well-regarded. After describing the different approaches the designers used for their segments of the property, Goodwin also treats us to hole-by-hole descriptions, based on rounds with some of the responsible parties.
Even so, I especially appreciated the extended segment Goodwin devoted to the planning process required to obtain the necessary government permits before the first shovel could be turned. This is largely due to my regular line of professional work, advising a government agency on similar same land use issues.
Keiser hired Howard McKee for this critical part of the project. Years before, McKee helped draft Oregonís famous land-use law, which one could have justifiably predicted would have kept a normal golf course or two from ever being built along this Pacific shoreline.
It truly helped that Keiser never wanted to build what is now considered a typical golf resort.
This kind of behind-the-scenes preliminary work can make or break any proposed land use project. I think that fact is also unacknowledged by most golf course architecture fans, perhaps because they donít even realize its critical role for eventual success.
In this case, however, the planner and the developer essentially adopted the same attitude memorialized the Boynton pun that hangs on my office wall. It worked like a charm.
No one needs to have played these three courses to enjoy this book. I havenít played them myself, yet.
But now they are certainly on my list.
Review Date: July 1, 2006
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