Dream Golf-The Making of Bandon Dunes

Dream Golf is required reading if you are going to play this new west coast mecca of American golf.  Stephen Goodwin writes a detailed account of the conception, planning, construction, and operation of Mike Keiser idyllic contribution to the inventory of American golf destinations.  Goodwin’s access to Keiser, David Kidd, Tom Doak, Bill Coore, Ben Crenshaw and so many other protaganists who were instrumental in this exercise make this an informative read.

To dream of bringing true links golf to America was an audacious ambition on it’s own.  But Keiser, a wealthy entrepreneur from his success building Recycled Paper Greetings, took this a whole step further.  He saw himself as the George Crump of our time-the man who in 1913 conceived and funded the building of the most famous golf course in America Pine Valley on obscure sandy scrub hills outside of Camden, New Jersey.

To this end Keiser not only conceived of the idea he went through the painstaking process of becoming an expert in links golf by assiduously playing all the greatest links venues in the world and tirelessly networked with architects and experts on the subject.  Using his own money and connections he searched for just the right raw venue that could be a home to his dream until he landed on this remote site in southern Oregon.

The book documents Keiser’s immersion in the process and his entrepreneurial risk taking it took to bring it to fruition.  He landed the best young architects of our time before they were famous and full of themselves.  As a result he pushed them on to create something very unique-real links golf courses on American soil.

David Kidd-a young Scotsman-did the first course Bandon Dunes in the late 1990s.  Tom Doak, one of the truly knowledgeable people when it comes to traditional links course design, did Pacific Dunes next in 2001.  Bandon Trails was the work in 2005 of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw who had to negotiate the blending of more rugged inland terrain with the desired seaside features.  Tom Doak came back in 2010 to create Old Macdonald a testimonial course to the pioneering influence of C.B. Macdonald considered by many to be the grandfather of American golf course architecture.

This book provides marvelous insight into the planning of golf courses and the special challenge of bringing authentic links design features to an American seaside venue.  The detail of conversations and the evolved thinking that brought these courses-all of which are in the top 100 in America by the magazine rating listings-to reality makes this a rich and engaging read.

The bonus is that for each course the author played a round with the designer and Goodwin gives a hole-by-hole account of the experience.  This is like getting a course guide written by the architect as a primer before playing the course.  Very cool indeed.

I highly recommend this read whether you are going to Bandon Dunes or not.  If you are going to Bandon it will provide unique insight to the facility and the guys who created and still run the place.  If not you will just become much more knowledgeable about the Herculean effort it takes to create a storied venue.

Dream Golf

Stephen Goodwin (2010)

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