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MAY 2021 ON THE ROAD AGAIN PART 2 • California Coast
MIDWEST MARVELS Top tracks all over the Heartland
MAGNIFICENT MAUI Kaanapali always delivers
CELEBRITY Q & A Meet David McLay Kidd
MARVELOUS MAGNOLIA STATE
Dancing Rabbit GC in Philadelphia, Miss. in full bloom
ENTER TO WIN
A DREAM MICHIGAN GOLF VACATION, Titleist Golf Equipment, Leupold Rangefinder & MORE! SEE PAGE 51
BUY 2021’s HOT PRODUCTS! SEE PAGE 34
With award-winning dining experiences, a booming craft beer scene and exceptional year-round golf on courses along the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, plus Jerry Pate’s Kiva Dunes and Arnold Palmer’s Craft Farms in Gulf Shores, from the mountains to the coast, you can take it all in.
Kiva Dunes Golf & Beach Resort, Gulf Shores
• Kirk Tourtillotte’s vision for 2021
• Tony Dear tips his hat to Japan
• Travel There & Back
• Meet David McLay Kidd
SOUTH • Mississippi’s Dancing Rabbit • Alabama’s RTJ Golf Trail
• Maui’s Kaanapali awaits
GEAR & PRIZES
AUSTAD’S GOLF HOT PRODUCTS Huge sales on the best of 2021
ENTER TO WIN
PRIZES AND SWAG • Dream Michigan Golf Vacation • Titleist Golf Equipment • Leupold Rangefinders
• Part 2 of West Coast links journey
• Bandon Dunes Course 101
• USGA in Omaha • Missouri’s Osage National • Oklahoma’s Shangri-la • Firekeeper GC in Kansas
• Indiana’s Pete Dye Golf Trail • Kentucky State Parks Golf Courses
ON THE COVER Dancing Rabbit Golf Course in Philadelphia, Miss. is 7,000 yards of pines, hardwoods, flora and deemed the Augusta you can play. See cover story inside.
ON THIS PAGE The beauty and splendor of Wine Valley Golf Club in Walla Walla, Wash.
• Gaylord gateway TVC Airport • Minnesota State of Golf
D ES T I N AT I O N GO LFER 3
VOLUME 13 • ISSUE 2 • 2021
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Golf is booming — Spring is here
ADVERTISING & MARKETING STAFF GOLF MA R K ETI NG MAN AG ER Simon Dubiel FOR ADVERTISING & ACCOUNTING INQUIRIES CONTACT Kirk Tourtillotte • (206) 930-2400 email@example.com COPYRIGHT 2021 Destination Golfer. PUBLISHED IN THE USA. All rights reserved. Articles, photos, advertising and /or graphics may not be reprinted without the written permission of the publisher. Advertising and editorial contained herein does not constitute endorsement of Destination Golfer or Varsity Communications, Inc. Publisher reserves the right to edit letters, photos and copy submitted and publish only excerpts. The publisher has made every effort to ensure the accuracy of all material contained in this issue. However, as unpredictable changes and errors do occur, the publisher can assume no liability for errors, omissions or changes. All photos are courtesy of the course or individual unless otherwise noted.
PROUD CHARTER MEMBER
4 D ESTI N ATI ON G OL FE R
BY KIRK TOURTILLOTTE PUBLISHER
olf is booming. Through the pandemic golf has seen a resurgence and growth that has turned our sport around. Rounds played, new participation, media coverage and retail sales are through the roof. Now it’s time for golf travel to catch up. How long has it been since you have gone on a road trip or jumped on a plane to a bucket list golf destination? Now that vaccinations are readily available to adults everywhere, I expect golf travel to catch up to the rest of the sport’s burgeoning world. And why shouldn’t it? We’ve all experienced staying at home, playing our favorite local courses. Now it’s time to get out on the road and play. So, where are you headed and where is your heart leading you? My wife and I wintered in Palm Springs for the first time and loved it. I got out and played 14 rounds of golf in February and March when normally in the same time period it is once or twice
in the Pacific Northwest. I’m looking forward to a road trip to eastern Washington in May and a trip to Bandon Dunes in late June with some good friends. I’m considering a trip to Montana in September and possibly Hawaii in October if I can help it. This edition of Destination Golfer is primed to get your juices revved up for your next adventure on the links. Whether it is Hawaii, the Pete Dye Trail in Indiana, Lake of the Ozarks, west coast links golf, Mississippi or the Robert Trent Jones Trail in Alabama, we have coverage on great golf trips you can make in 2021 or beyond. This issue, like our March edition, is hyperlinked and all set for you to be one click away from delving deeper and booking travel, setting tee times and buying products. Let this magazine be your own personal caddy. So stay safe, have fun and enjoy golf no matter where you play!
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Matsuyama’s Masters win was widely celebrated in Japan, a country deeply in love with golf BY TONY DEAR
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Hideki Matsuyama’s historic win is one for the ages for Japan and Augusta National
in America. Aoki, Maruyama, Tommy Nakajima, Jumbo Ozaki, Massy Kuramoto, Toshimitsu Izawa, Hideto Tanihara, and Shingo Katayama have all had top-10 finishes in the majors. Some readers might be familiar with Jumbo Ozaki’s brothers Jet and Joe (not their real names) and Ryo Ishikawa, the Bashful Prince, who have also graced the world stage. Back in the day when I covered the Open Championship for a British magazine, at least a quarter of the huge number of reporters and photographers in the vast press tent (forerunner to today’s media center) were Japanese. None of their countrymen was ever a betting favorite or expected to win… contend even. But the western press corps felt it a little strange Japanese publications should send quite so many people to Britain if they didn’t genuinely believe one of their players could claim the Claret Jug. In the 21st century, though, the Japanese have watched as Canada, Sweden, Italy, Fiji, and South Korea all recorded their first major wins before them. One suspects it has been a terribly frustrating ride at times. Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga was understandably excited after Hideki’s resolute performance. “It was really wonderful,” he said. “It moved our hearts and gave us courage.” The natural reaction is to assume this is going to spark a golf boom in Japan. “It’s possible, but I doubt it,” says Michael Wolf, a PGA Tour player manager and devoted golf traveler who visited Japan in 2015 and 2019. “It has loved golf for a long time. There is something like 2,500 driving ranges each with two or three tiers, and they’re usually full. You see kids on trains with their clubs. Japan has
already had a golf boom — two, really, in the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘80s. But land suitable for new courses is so scarce, and the country is aging fast. There probably aren’t enough teens and people in their 20s and early 30s to trigger anything truly significant.” But how does all this affect you? Is Japan ever going to be a must-visit golf destination? Is it now? The short answer, of course, is no. It’s expensive to get there for starters and, as Wolf says, everything once you’re there, is likewise pretty costly. “Plus the golf probably isn’t worth the effort and expense,” he adds. “Yes, the top courses are really special but they’re very private. There are hundreds of cool little pitch-and-putts in city parks around the country, but you’re not going to go to Japan to play a pitch-and-putt. And, to be honest, the public courses in between aren’t great.” Wolf doesn’t make it sound terribly attractive, but says the fact he’s been twice probably indicates he’s found much to like. “Oh, there are loads of things to love about Japan,” he says. “If you can get on Hirono, Naruo, Yokohama, Kawana, Ono, or Tokyo you’re in for a treat. And there’s a delivery service called Kuroneko (or ‘Black Cat’) that absolutely 100 percent ensures your clubs appear at your next destination ahead of your teetime. So you never have to worry about your gear. The people are wonderful, the trains are amazing, and the food is good.” I’ve been fortunate to play golf in some pretty distant places, but have never been to Japan. I’m determined to go one day and see the great courses for myself. I’d also like to get a taste of just how wild about the game Japan really is. I like being around golf-crazy people. Hopefully I can get there before Matsuyama wins his second major.
Photo courtesy of Srixon
t’s the day after Hideki Matsuyama became the first Japanese golfer to win the Masters and the first Japanese male to win a major (Hisako Higuchi won the 1977 LPGA Championship, and Hinako Shibuno the 2019 Women’s British Open). On the one hand, it feels very odd because we’ve never seen a Japanese golfer rise to such heights in the men’s game. On the other though, it seems perfectly natural that a nation with so great a passion for the game should produce a major champion. It’s just baffling that it took so long. Most readers will be well aware that golf is hugely popular in Japan and has been for decades. About 1.4 trillion Yen (approximately $13 billion) is spent on club memberships, green fees, equipment, apparel, golf travel, etc. every year, making it the second biggest golf market in the world after the U.S. The game was first played in Kobe at the turn of the last century and, in 1930-31, English course architect Charles Alison, a partner of both Alister Mackenzie and H.S. Colt, designed a dozen highly acclaimed courses during a three-month visit (a handful of them, most notably Hirono and the Fuji Course at Kawana, are still ranked among the world’s best.) Five years later, Japanese golfers first played in the Masters — 85 years before Matsuyama’s victory — when Toichiro Toda finished tied for 29th and Seiha Chin was tied for 20th. Despite golf enduring a downturn since its peak in the 1980s when initiation fees at private golf clubs typically cost several million dollars and the number of courses rose well above 2,000, there are still over eight million people that play the game. Japanese professionals are afforded god-like status, and the country has produced a number of genuinely world-class golfers. Torakichi Nakamura and Koichi Ono beat Jimmy Demaret and Sam Snead by nine shots to win the 1957 Canada Cup (later the World Cup of Golf) at Kasumigaseki Golf Club, venue for this summer’s Olympic Games golf competition. In addition to Matsuyama who now owns six PGA Tour titles, Isao Aoki, Shigeki Maruyama, Ryuji Imada, and Sotashi Kodaira have all won
Looking for the perfect golf getaway? Mississippi has your hole-in-one. Year-round golﬁng weather. Traditional course layouts and signature celebrity golf designs. Authentic cuisine served with genuine hospitality. Gaming and sportsbook opportunities galore. World-class resorts and spas. Unrivaled beach and delta sunsets. And a musical heritage we love to share in concert venues and juke joints. That’s what Mississippi offers visitors 365 days a year. Start planning your getaway today at visitmississippi.org.
The beautiful layout of Dancing Rabbit GC in Philadelphia, Miss.
Dancing Rabbit GC is a perfect example of the Magnolia Golf Trail’s unique beauty
here are you when just to the west is Louisville, to the north is Lexington, to the south is Decatur and due east is Philadelphia? You are, naturally, in the middle of Mississippi and, not so long ago, the middle of nowhere. But today you can tee it up right there at what many regard as the best golf destination in the state — Dancing Rabbit Golf Club, situated in a rural area on the once-impoverished Choctaw Nation reservation, but transformed in recent years by the successful development of the Choctaw Nation’s casino hotels — the Silver Star and Golden Moon, which draw thousands annually from all over the country, especially the Southeast, for gaming and golf. There are two elite 18-hole courses at Dancing Rabbit — The Azaleas and The Oaks, which serve as nationally acclaimed amenities of the hotels. “These are the flagship courses in the state,” says Mark Powell who oversees the 750acre property that runs through primitive pines and hardwoods and traverses dozens of small lakes and native streams. Little more than 25 years ago, this remote area was far removed from a tourist/golf haven. Poverty, unemployment and despair gripped the tribe until Phillip Martin, elected the tribal chief in 1979, and brought changes for his people. Chief Martin lured various manufacturers to the area along with the casinos and subsequent supportive facilities, part of what is now the Pearl River Resort. More than 7,000 people found employment and wages soared beyond $200 million annually. 8 D ESTI N ATI ON G OL FE R
BY BOB SHERWIN
“When the casinos were built, there were literally lines to play a machine, lines to get into the building,” says Powell. “But the Chief had the foresight to realize the area still needed an identity to attract more people. He wanted to build a great golf course and wanted the best designer in the country to build it.” Tom Fazio, architect of more than 200 courses, many among the most decorated in the land, and Jerry Pate, a native son of the South and the 1975 U.S. Open champion, were hired for the job. The Azaleas course was completed in July 1997 and the Oaks in June 1999. Like the casinos, the courses enjoyed immediate success and drew praise from golf periodicals, proclaiming them the best in the state and among the 100 best public courses in the country. “Tom Fazio created 36 beautiful golf holes, but the two courses could not be more different,” says Powell. “The Azaleas has been compared to Augusta (National). It’s not Augusta but it has a feel of it with the hills, the natural creeks, and flowers. The Oaks is more open with rock formations, rock walls, and water hazards. And you have a downhill shot for virtually the entire course.” Perhaps the most intriguing hole on Azaleas is the closer, a 500-yard par-4. You need a solid tee shot up a hill to have a chance at the green in two. Then you hit a downhill approach to a narrow green opening, with a pond right front, bunkers left and a green hill around it. “The 18th green is 50 steps deep,” says Powell. “We change the hole position every day, so it might be a 7-iron to the front one day and a fairway-metal to the back the next.”
No. 13, a 206-yard par-3, is perhaps the Azaleas’s most scenic hole. A long, straight shot is required as you shoot through a narrow gap in the trees toward a green guarded by a left-side creek that turns across the front. There are also two bunkers right willing to accept any shot with the slightest wrinkle. The most talked about hole on the property, though, might be Oaks No. 12. The No. 1 handicap hole is a 444-yard, par-4 with a slight dogleg left off the tee then a slight dogleg right approach to a green protected by three large bunkers on the right and a formidable slope. The two casinos have more than 1,000 combined rooms, but the best place to stay is one of the eight suites above the clubhouse. “A lot of people say it’s one of the best stays in golf,” says Powell. “In the morning you just walk down the stairs to the pro shop.” Dancing Rabbit has a ‘golf marketing partnership’ with various Mississippi courses but is not officially part of the State’s acclaimed Magnolia Golf Trail. There is one other Tom Fazio-designed course in the state — Fallen Oak in DeSoto National Forest, near Saucier. Not surprisingly, it features ribbons of green cutting through tall forests with dramatic elevation changes. There are five par-5s, including the 600-yard 15th hole, and the course is an amenity of the Beau Rivage Resort in Biloxi. Fallen Oak is about a three-hour drive from Dancing Rabbit to complete a mini-Fazio Trail. It’s a route that takes you past Buzzards Roost, Buckatunna and Whynot, through the wistful nowhere of southern Mississippi.
The RTJ Golf Trail’s tide of stay and play offerings keeps rolling
Lakewood Club • Point Clear, Ala.
BY TONY DEAR
hip Purser has been at the Robert Trent Jones Trail’s Ross Bridge Golf Course, in the Birmingham, Ala. suburb of Hoover, since day one…actually four months before day one as the Director of Golf obviously needed to prepare for opening day. After 16 years at this 2005 addition to the Trail, designed by Jones’s longtime associate Roger Rulewich (Jones had passed in 2000), no one knows more about the place than Purser who enjoys nothing better than talking about it. That’s not true. He’d much rather be playing the course than talking about it. Ross Bridge, a former venue of the Champions Tour’s Regions Charity Classic (2006-09), is one of the longest courses in the world, stretching to 8,191 yards from the back tees. But not only is it very long, it’s also very beautiful. “There’s a great view from so many holes,” says Purser. “But I especially enjoy the closing two. The 17th is really something – a long par-4 with water down the right side. The view of the two waterfalls, the 9th green, and the hotel in the background is just amazing. Same at the 18th – another tough par-4.” Purser say guests mention these two holes in particular when talking about the course, but that’s not all. “Visitors are just in awe of the scale of it,” he says. “It’s laid out over something like 300 acres so there’s plenty of separation. People say they just feel like they are out on their own, enjoying their game.” Everyone that chooses the right set of tees (there are five options) will likely enjoy their game at Ross Bridge, the only one of the Trail’s 11 sites that has just the one course. The other ten facilities boast another 450 holes between them, made up of full 18s, short 18s, regulation nines, and short nines. Though it doesn’t sound much fun, perhaps my favorite regulation nine on the Trail is the Backbreaker at Silver Lakes, 75 miles northeast of Birmingham. The course lost an estimated 50,000 trees during a violent tornado in 2011 but, after what must have been a backbreaking clear-up effort, the course came back with an altogether different look. It’s hardly a barren links-style course nowadays, but the Backbreaker is open in places it wasn’t before, and is an awesome mix of tree-lined and exposed holes with incredibly firm and fast greens. Director of Golf Jason Callan nominates the 9th as his favourite hole. “It’s a beautiful, downhill par-5 with Lee’s Lake on the left and the Appalachian foothills as a backdrop,” he says. “It’s certainly reachable in two, but there’s a lot of water out there so be careful.” The nine-hole Short Course at Silver Lakes is one of the Trail’s most memorable and you really shouldn’t miss it. You really shouldn’t miss anything on the Trail to be honest, but if you’re flying in and out of Atlanta or Birmingham it would behoove you to add the magnificent Grand National and/or Oxmoor Valley to your itinerary. There are two regulation 18s at Grand National and a fantastic short 18.
Scott Gomberg says a lot of people’s most memorable hole is the 15th on the former Barbasol Championship host Lake Course, a 230-yard par-3 that does a clockwise half-turn around 600-acre Sougahtatchee Lake. “It can play as little as 100 yards though,” says the Director of Golf. “There’s a tee for everyone.” Eric Pigman, Head Professional at Oxmoor Valley, just a three-minute drive from Ross Bridge, has a harder time picking out one hole from the two regulation 18s and short 18 on offer, but plumps for the par-5 3rd on the Ridge, a real rollercoaster of a course with much elevation change and which must have been one of the harder courses to construct at any of the eight original sites that opened in 1992. Pigman’s choice of the 3rd hole features a wide but fairly shallow green wedged between a shale rock backboard and a rocky rise fronting the putting surface. It’s a cool way to end an incredible hole. Along with all the great-value golf, there are eight fabulous upscale hotel/ resorts dotted along the trail, making it easy to put package tours together. Just visit rtjgolf.com to build your own package or choose one of the special package offers available throughout the year. Submit your contact information and one of the Trail’s reservations team members will get back to you to make all the arrangements. What could be simpler? Definitely not Ross Bridge from the tips. With good reason, the RTJ Trail gets the lion’s share of golf media attention in Alabama. But you’re mistaken if you think it’s the only public golf worth visiting in the Yellowhammer State. On the coastline, 35 miles west of Pensacola, Fla. is the resort city of Gulf Shores, Alabama’s southernmost settlement whose sugar-white beaches, subtropical climate (annual temperatures range from about 60 to 90 degrees), and exceptional fishing/seafood make it a popular year-round destination but especially in the spring and fall. Add golf to beach-time and fishing for an outstanding trip. Coastalalabamagolf.com lists nine courses in the area, a few pearls among them. Jerry Pate’s Kiva Dunes often ranks as the state’s most popular publicaccess course. A little low-country marshland combines with lush wetlands and even some genuine links for an incredible experience that 99% of golfpass.com users recommend. Another favorite is 54-year-old Gulf Shores Golf Club originally designed by Earl Stone — something of a design legend in the Deep South. GSGC was actually the first course in town and was later (2005/6) renovated by Jay and Carter Morrish who added 300 yards, bringing the course’s total to over 6,800. Other standouts include Arnold Palmer’s 36 holes at Craft Farms, Bruce Devlin/Robert Van Hagge’s GlenLakes, and three more Earl Stone beauties — Peninsula Golf and Racquet Club, Rock Creek and Timbercreek. Gulf Shores has promoted itself as a couples destination in recent years, recommending some amazing condo apartment units, such as the ultra-modern and luxurious Turquoise Place, as being ideally configured for couples’ requirements. But there’s plenty of options for families, buddy groups, singles…anyone looking to discover a destination they may not be familiar with now but one to which they’ll surely want to return. Visit coastalalabamagolf. com to build a stay-and-play package you’ll long remember. D ES T I N AT I O N GO LFER 9
Magnificent Maui The sun sets on the Pacific and Kaanapail's rolling tropical layout.
Kaanapali is just the ticket for sun, sand and island golf as it’s meant to be
lthough the former kingdom, then republic, of Hawaii ceded itself to the U.S. in 1898, it wasn’t until 1959 that it became the nation’s 50th state. Before joining the union, the divinely positioned collection of Pacific islands — the northernmost island group in Polynesia, attracted roughly 10,000 visitors a year. By 1967, however, thanks to huge improvements in air travel and movies like ‘Blue Hawaii’ in which Elvis Presley ably demonstrated the delights of the Aloha State, that figure had risen to well over a million. Visitors came for the incredible weather — search the internet for ‘Maui climate’, glance at the temperatures and you’ll discover the mercury rarely dips below 78 degrees or rises above 86 — unfamiliar scenery, Polynesian culture, surfing and, in increasing numbers, golf. Before statehood, the archipelago had boasted a number of military nine-holers and a couple of rudimentary 18-hole courses. But that began to change in 1960 when Robert Trent Jones arrived to build a championship-caliber course at the $40 million Kaanapali Beach resort development on the northwest coast of Maui. Hired by retail and sugar giants American Factors and the Pioneer Mill Company which were developing 800 acres on a 2.5 mile stretch of beach, Jones was the most sought-after designer in the business and built what he described as a ‘big course’ that extended to a formidable 7,215 yards. Jones felt it was a course from which ‘only true champions will emerge’ — a theory that would be put to the test in 1964 when the Canada Cup was staged on his design. The forerunner to the World Cup of Golf, the Canada Cup saw two-man teams from 20 nations play four rounds of stroke play in which every player’s medal score counted.
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BY TONY DEAR Representing the home team was Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer (actually, the American side wasn’t the only ‘home’ team that week as Hawaii was invited to field a team of its own) — a pretty strong pairing that not surprisingly ran away with the title shooting a team score of 554 — 22 under par. The two best players in the world (and they finished first and second in the individual competition, too) recording the equivalent of 11-under each was a fair representation of the course’s demands — scoreable but far from easy. It’s fair to say Jones’s prediction that only true champions would emerge was fairly accurate. In 1976, a second layout was added on the east side of the Honoapi’ilani Highway that begins in Kahului and doesn’t quite make a full circle of the West Maui Mountains. The Jack Snyder-designed/ Robin Nelson renovated (2005) Kaanapali Kai Course is shorter and certainly less demanding than its bigger, older brother, but it’s equally as popular sharing the burden, pre-Covid, of a combined 90,000 rounds a year — a barely conceivable number given Maui’s population (just over 165,000), and the fact the mainland is over 2,000 miles away. Melissa Dupuis, a Kaanapali regular and the Hawaii Operations Manager for Indigo Partners, which manages the courses, names the 474-yard par-4 5th hole as her favorite on Jones’s original course, now called Royal Kaanapali (the town of Lahaina was capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii between 1820 and 1845). “It’s a dog-leg left,” says Dupuis, “with nature’s largest bunker (the beach) hugging the right side of the green, making it a beautiful, but very tricky, approach shot. Some players lay up and then hope to bump-and-run the ball close, while stronger players might take on
the carry over the left fairway bunker and leave a much shorter approach.” Either way, Dupuis continues, golfers will be able to see the gorgeous, white, sandy beach and the famous Black Rock when they arrive at the green. Formed by an ancient lava flow that divides the beach at Kaanapali into two, Black Rock, or Pu’u Keka’a, is a popular cliff-diving spot where Hawaii’s last chief, King Kahekili, often jumped into the ocean earning the respect of his people. “This hole is understandably ranked the number one handicap hole,” says Dupuis. “Despite its difficulty though, the views can overcome a bogey any day.” On the Kai Course, which hosted the Golf Channel’s ladies only ‘Big Break Kaanapali’ in 2008. Dupuis likes the uphill, par-4 7th that stretches to 395 yards and crosses a ravine with the tee shot. “When players reach the bunker-protected green, they are treated to a panoramic view of the Pacific and neighboring islands,” she says. “During winter months, they may even see whales breaching in the distance.” The TifEagle Bermuda greens invariably run fast and true at Kaanapali which hosts one of college golf’s most anticipated tournaments each year. The Royal Course first hosted the Ka’anapali Classic Collegiate Invitational in 2014 since when a number of future PGA Tour players: Collin Morikawa, Aaron Wise, Sam Burns and Doc Redman have appeared. This year’s event takes place Nov. 4-7, by which time travel to Hawaii will be more or less back to normal. If island time is beckoning you, visit kaanapaligolfcourses.com to research, read and set your Maui experience in motion.
Just like one of my favorite writers Jack Kerouac, we’re
RAGAIN oaD ON THE
LAST ISSUE — I started my wanderlust on the coastline of Washington and Oregon where I began my 12-course true links journey. Starting at Chambers Bay, then on to Gearhart Golf Links and laying over in Bandon Dunes to tackle Sheep Ranch. If you missed it you can read Heart and Soul part one here to see how the first half of the trip went.
College friends Rick Walsh (left) and Dick Stephens reunite on Pebble Beach's famed 7th hole with Monterey Bay in the background.
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HERE’S PART TWO — and it starts on the California border as I hug Highway 101 and CA-1 for 700 miles all along Pacific and finally wind up on the hallowed ground of Pebble Beach. Here you’ll see my stops in remote Sonoma County, San Francisco Bay and then Carmel. We here at Destination Golfer hope you enjoy this as much as I did — it was a top-down thrill I’m happy to share. Cheers.
The Sea Ranch Golf Links Sea Ranch, Calif. • LEG 8 • MILE 788
BY DICK STEPHENS
hen doing my cup-of-coffee research for this trip, I was shocked to discover that there was a West Coast links course I had never heard of. No, more than shocked — I was disappointed. I’ve done golf business in California for 20 years. How could I be so ignorant? I started to feel better, though, after discovering that my friends and fellow golfers were all scratching their head on this one, too. I finally connected with the course to hear more about the place and I learned why Peper had put it on his list. Now, it was on mine. In a time when golf was still flying on the backs of Jack, Arnie, Trevino and a young upstart Tom Watson, Sea Ranch Golf Links was crafted in pieces, and came to be like an expensive piece of jewelry that was bought on layaway and not to be fully sparkling until it was the right place and time. It’s designed by one of my favorite
modern-day golf course visionaries, Robert Muir Graves. This guy is a rock star to me, and was to golf in the west what Donald Ross was to golf in the east. Graves has such a cool list of public and private courses to his credit: Overlake Country Club, Avalon, Furry Creek, Widgi Creek, Port Ludlow, Canterwood, Saticoy, Illahe Hills and countless more in California, Washington and Oregon. Sea Ranch Golf Links opened in 1974 with its first nine holes and quickly made lots of “what’s hot” lists. In 1995, this gem of the seaside links was finally completed at 6,649 yards and a par of 72. The course’s blend of links land, rough Scottish features and heathland acreage made it special — the only course between the Oregon border and the Bay Area. It was to become a must-play and must-stop spot. From Bandon Dunes, the directions were simple — turn south on 101, merge on to
CA-1, drive 392 miles and take a right into the parking lot. That meant the next day was all about the drive. OMG! This was a drive I wish I could have shot in 70 mm IMAX. It’s breathtaking, and felt more like flying or hang-gliding than driving. The water was with me the whole time, and the drive through Redwoods National Forest during the pandemic meant that I might have seen five cars the entire day. It was just me, myself and I. And, I loved every minute of it. There’s no cell phone reception in there. It’s trees that scrape the sky and a silence and stillness that is like a mossy, clean stagnation. It’s inspiring. The trunks of the redwoods in the center of the park were wider than the full length of my car. I imagined what George Lucas thought when he decided to make this the setting for Endor, and gave birth to a new world run not by park rangers, but Ewoks.
The dimness and stillness makes 1 p.m. in the redwoods feel like 6 p.m. in the rest of the world. I never wanted to leave. But, Sea Ranch harkened. I had been pre-warned by the course that I would playing in less-than-ideal conditions. A water reclamation issue affecting the course and surrounding community meant that fairways were a bit baked and dried out. The greens were outstanding, but the tee boxes and rest of the layout looked like the end of the fortnight at Wimbledon. I also sensed that the pandemic was not as fruitful to this amazing layout, which relies on more than just local traffic to survive. I know, though, that it would be a perfect place for a fall round of golf, with cooler temps and more rainfall. Make note that, while a true links course, Sea Ranch Links does not actually run along
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the beach — rather, it straddles the links land, the 101 and the rolling mountain foothills. Graves had to channel a little Lewis and Clark to blaze this trail. It shows what an architect can do when his mind is set on a masterpiece. I’d recommend a cart, but walking is not impossible. The par-5 13th and par-5 14th — yes, back-to-back par-5s — are a cool piece of this puzzle. This course is worth the trip, and the staff and locals that frequent this place are not patrons but sustaining members of a society of golfers. The rolling terrain, deer, coastal trees, ponds — it looks and reads like a Steinbeck novel. I loved it. It’s humble pie to play and take part in, like being dipped in magic waters. Add this to your list and feel what hard work it truly is to keep a place like this alive.
“... it looks and reads like a Steinbeck novel. I loved it. It’s humble pie to play and take part in, like being dipped in magic waters.”
Half Moon Bay Ocean Course Half Moon Bay, Calif. • LEG 9 • MILE 931
The Pacific crashing against the coast at Half Moon Bay Old Course.
he Sea Ranch Golf Links is on the Sonoma County coast, slightly north of Santa Rosa and the pin-drop wine town of Healdsburg. On a map, it’s less than 60 miles to Healdsburg and over 100 world-famous wineries, like La Crema and Arista. It looks like no biggie to traverse the 60 miles back along CA-1 through the Russian River Valley to get back to the 101. But, let me tell ya, it’s the longest, most rigorous, winding stretch of road I’ve ever driven. If I had to guess, I made no fewer than 100 hairpin turns on this drive. I literally wore out the strut bushings on my little car on this leg of the trip, chalking them up to war wounds. CA-1 at times has no shoulder, and if I went over the guardrail, I’d crash into the Pacific. But, it’s a drive on which you will pull off at every vista to take pics. The Russian River Valley is like no spot in Oregon or Washington, melding the coast, farms, mountains and land that time forgot into a unique and unforgettable puzzle. Once you make it back to 101, it’s a lovely, hilly drive into Marin County, across the Golden Gate Bridge and into one of the world’s greatest cities. It’s kinda cool to me that the San Francisco Bay Area has one of the true links courses and Los Angeles doesn’t. No disrespect to my friends in Hollywood and O.C., but it’s a cool fact. As you head down the peninsula and make it to San Mateo, you will cut across CA-92 and wind your way down to Half Moon Bay.
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The sprawling links of the Ocean Course with The Ritz-Carlton looming in the distance.
Of all the places I stopped and stayed, Half Moon Bay is the most romantic. The Ocean Course and its partner, the Old Course, sit adjacent to the gorgeous Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay Resort. There are a few similarities between them, as Arthur Hills was a part of both designs, but the Ocean Course is the only one that makes this prestigious list of links courses. Not to impugn the Old Course, but its layout and style — other than a jawdropping final two holes along the cliffs — is parkland in scope. The land that Hills shaped into the Ocean Course had to pass the test of a picky Silicon Valley golfing crowd and an international audience that stays and plays at Ritz properties around the globe. He gently flowed in a tight, true Scottish layout where you can see the Pacific on every single hole — which is not easy to do. This course is a photographer’s dreamscape. I played it on a day where a marine layer of fog and sea smoke made it feel very much as if I was playing in the County of Fife in Scotland. What a layout!
The par 4s are tight and a bit unforgiving, while the prevailing winds that wash over the peninsula take away even a big bomber’s crack at reaching most par-5 greens in two. I’m going on out on a limb to say, though, that holes 17 and 18 are as linksy and cool and rugged and tough and coastal and windy and amazing as any on this trip. They are stunners. The par-3 17th is daunting, like a longer version of Pebble’s famous No. 7. The hotel sits high above the 18th green and, from this distance, looks like a medieval fortress. As you stare down the difficulty of keeping your 180-yard shot at 17 from flopping into the drink, you are already thinking about how tricky that tee shot on 18 looks from here. I loved that the wind whooshed for me that day, so that I could blister a 25-degree hybrid high and let the wind knock the ball down, like a field goal net behind the uprights. The uphill, slight dogleg, par-5 18th is a masterpiece in every sense. Birdie is super. Par is better than good. And, with any number of Ritz guests watching the players finish the
final hole from their patios or sipping a drink, you will have a mini gallery cheering you on. The Ocean Course is a beautiful day on a links park and THE perfect tune-up for the three courses ahead of me at Pebble Beach. It’s pretty cool to pull into Carmel-By-theSea and tell the locals, “Yeah, I played Half Moon Bay on the way down.” Even cooler when you add that you’ve also played Sea Ranch Golf Links, Bandon Dunes, Gearhart and Chambers Bay. And, that you still have three more courses to go.
“I loved that the wind whooshed for me that day, so that I could blister a 25-degree hybrid high and let the wind knock the ball down, like a field goal net behind the uprights.”
Half Moon Bay
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Pebble Beach Golf Links Pebble Beach, Calif. • LEG 10, 11, 12 • 1,027 MILES
ebble Beach is a golf course. Pebble Beach is a collection of five courses. Pebble Beach is decadence. Pebble Beach is a major. Pebble Beach is a city. Pebble Beach is a national treasure. Pebble Beach, for me, is everything I’ve ever wanted from a 40-year walk with this sport. Now, I don’t have to ever say again, “Nope, I haven’t played that one.” When you are cruising along the 101 and San Jose and the Silicon Valley are fading in the rearview mirror, it’s super-cool to see a highway sign that says, “PEBBLE BEACH NEXT EXIT.” Turning down the famed 17 Mile Drive, meanwhile, is like making it to
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the Wailing Wall or Vatican City. There are three roads that are THE only real stretches of asphalt with any historical significance in golf. Old Station Road, from which St. Andrews’ famed “Road Hole” takes its name. Magnolia Lane, leading to to the front door of the Augusta National clubhouse. And, finally, Pebble Beach’s 17 Mile Drive, which weaves together Poppy Hills, The Links at Spanish Bay, Spyglass Hill, the new Short Course (formerly the Peter Hay Golf Course) designed by Tiger Woods, and, of course, Pebble Beach Golf Links. It took me two trips to cross this one off the bucket list and fully place all my pins on
the rocky links shoreline of Pebble Beach. Last year, I flew down the coast to play Spanish Bay and Spyglass Hill with my good friend and golfing buddy, Jon Thunselle. He’s one of the coolest cats I know: in the dictionary, the word “chill” has a photo of a penguin and Jon next to it. He and I watched our sons and daughters grow up together, so we have a deep root that’s anchored in our hometown of Snohomish. I’ve played golf with Jon back home and in Las Vegas, so we know each other’s games and there’s not ONE ounce of competitiveness between he and I. There’s no one I’d rather pair up with to play challenging courses for the first time.
Dick and Rick on the practice tee.
“We knew that we stood on holy land, and what lay ahead of us was perfection. To walk in the footsteps of giants that had played there since 1919 was more than either of us could grapple with in the moments before we teed off.” We couldn’t play Pebble on my first trip, because they were hosting the 100th U.S. Open just six days later. We walked it instead, slowing down to replay, recount and even recreate certain shots, like two teens on a driveway basketball court. We stood where Watson stood when he chipped in on 17, and walked every inch of the 18th hole — with the grandstands up, rough in its full form and everything. For this trip, my very good college friend, Kappa Sigma brother and former college tennis teammate (my Baker University tennis career lasted exactly a year) Rick Walsh bravely and safely did a turn-and-burn flight into Northern California to join me from Kansas City. This time, I would not leave Pebble Beach without playing it. Rick had never been to Pebble Beach, and his enthusiasm and way with words had me smiling and cracking up the whole time — taking the edge off of the nervousness. When we arrived at the course, our hearts were pounding out of our chests. We knew that we stood on holy land, and what lay ahead of us was perfection. To walk in the footsteps of giants that had played there since 1919 was more than either of us could grapple with in the moments before we teed off. It was right about then that Rick disappeared. No, seriously. We were just about to head to the tee, and he was gone. This stressed me out — not because I thought he’d bail, but because I didn’t want to miss our call to the tee. I went to my bag and pulled out a hybrid, looking around for Rick. Suddenly, there he was — with a double vodka soda and lime in each hand. I would never slug a drink like that before playing the course of my dreams, but before we teed off, we both saw half the cocktail vanish into our bloodstream. It was like knocking back 10 milligrams of Valium; I needed it, as the six I posted on the par-4 first hole was fair assessment of my nerves at the time. For Rick, the Absolut was absolutely what he needed to chill as he parred the first and carded a freak-show 37 on the outward nine. Frankly, it was magic to see him play like that and it made my day that he rose to the occasion. In 1928, our Gearhart friend, H. Chandler Egan, updated the course design that was originally penned by Jack Neville and Douglas Grant. Alistair Mackenzie and Robert Hunter (1927) also worked on the course, while Jack Nicklaus put his touch on the short, par-3 fifth hole in 1998.
Rick’s 106-yard tee shot on 7.
The plaque of Tom Watson’s chip in on 17 and my ball.
The vista and view of the 6th hole.
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LINKS TO THE LINKS Chambers Bay • chambersbaygolf.com Gearhart Golf Links • gearhartgolflinks.com Bandon Dunes • bandondunesgolf.com The Sea Ranch Golf Links • searanchgolf.com Half Moon Bay • halfmoonbaygolf.com Pebble Beach Golf Links •pebblebeach.com/golf The Links At Spanish Bay pebblebeach.com/golf/the-links-at-spanish-bay Spyglass Hill Golf Club pebblebeach.com/golf/spyglass-hill-golf-course Cypress Inn • cypress-inn.com
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The finery is there, since the land you are taking divots out of may very well be the richest soil on Earth. For me, the experience made my two-dimensional image of the course — what I’d memorized through TV, books and magazines since I was a teen — four-dimensional. Why four, and not three? Because it’s not just the physical dimensions of the course that are tangible; you can feel the century of history all around you at every turn. The course is a PERFECT eclectic artistic assembly of many odd turns, humps and bumps. Most all of the greens are really small; in some cases, postage stamps. Each time I plucked my ball from the hole, I found myself bummed out that I had one fewer hole left to play. Hole one is cool, but nothing amazing. It’s a stairwell to a deck to overlook the Pacific. No. 2, however, is the welcomewagon par-5, and tight. There’s this long sand creek barranca that kills your second shot, while huge trees that don’t show up on TV are like arena football goal posts you have to split with your third. It’s awesome — not “rad” awesome — but literal, jaw-dropping awesome. Holes 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9, meanwhile, are it. They are why I came. These are the holes you dream about. I felt the wind and water at Bandon and Chambers, and it’s incredible. But, this is LINKS GOLF. This is the Pacific crashing against the rocks and your hair being blown sideways. You start heading up in elevation. You can see the insane mountain plateau of No. 6 off in the distance, inching closer and closer with every shot. Hit it too far right on any of these holes and you are in the sea. Hit it left and you’re in the fine, white sands. Hit it over the green and you’re dead. These are holes where you just try to advance the ball. Jack’s par-3 fifth — utter masterpiece. The 509-yard, par-5 sixth is sheer bliss. It looks impossible that you can even get your ball up there in three. The gorge that juts into the fairway off the tee and the steepness that follows as you hope to get your second over a blind uphill shot, is YOU trusting YOU — not your caddy, or your stroke-saver book. Standing atop the sixth fairway and looking down at Stillwater Cove on your right and Carmel Bay on your left is the best vista in golf. What follows? For many, the greatest par-3, or perhaps the greatest hole, in golf. Next to the 18th at St. Andrews, I know of no other link that is more iconic than the 106-yard, par-3 seventh. It’s certainly the most photographed, and the social media posts of this hole are a daily following for fans across the globe. If I could only play one hole again and again, this is it. The wind is real. And, the elevated tee box makes you feel like you can pitch underhanded and hit the middle of the green. Six
“The course is a PERFECT eclectic artistic assembly of many odd turns, humps and bumps.”
on the Road Again bunkers guard the dartboard green orbitally. Heck, a sandy par here is almost cooler than birdie — almost. I admittedly put a three on the scorecard, and felt like I hit the California lottery. The rest of the round was gravy. Holes nine through 16 bring you up into the hills to see some of the most beautiful homes anywhere in the world. The 572-yard 14th is considered one of the toughest par-5s on the PGA TOUR, a three-shotter even for most of them. The greens on each hole have subtleties that even a single-digit handicapper can’t see at first. And, for me, the back nine greens are a lesson in reading truths. My caddie said to focus on the blades of grass closest to the hole — if you can figure out which way they lay, then work your way back to the ball, you can start to consider a real read. Speed and break are in a different realm here. And, considering that this is one
of the most heavily trampled collection of putting surfaces in the world, it’s a credit to the artistry of superintendent Chris Dalhamer that they look and play this good. When you get to 17, I hope the wind is howling. This is the famous hole where Jack’s 1-iron fired the shot heard ‘round the world at the 1972 U.S. Open, and where Watson chipped in from the fringe in 1982. A plaque is firmly planted where his Ram wedge popped the ball up just so. At 177 yards, the wind makes or breaks you here. I lipped a par putt, and all I could think about was old Tom. The home hole 18th is a poem. It’s the end of a long journey, and playing it gave me a new respect. I’ve always dreamed of cutting the dogleg over Stillwater Cove, and what it would feel like to hit a ball out of the seawall sand trap that runs 153 yards to the green’s edge. But, of all the things about the hole,
what truly struck me was the size of the tree right in front of the green. It’s THE real obstacle of the hole. Television and photos don’t do it justice. When I first saw it, I thought, Dude, pare that thing back! It blocks almost 60 percent of the green. But, earning the right to hit a shot OVER the tree and onto the green is poetic justice. Rick was on in three and staring down a 20-foot putt for bird. I hit my tee shot into the cove — sigh. But, I was hitting four over the tree to go up and down for a save. It came down and, just as quickly, bounced straight back up into the air, like it had struck a sprinkler head — in the middle of the green. Patrons on the patio overlooking the green gasped — what the hell happened? My ball had landed straight on top of Rick’s, plugged his, and caromed all the way to the back of the green. He carded a 5 and I carded a 6, but it made the final hole something to talk about.
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The Links at Spanish Bay Pebble Beach, Calif. • LEG 11
“Bump and run is the name of the game.”
he Links at Spanish Bay is the perfect place to saddle up or come down after the round at Pebble Beach. The Lodge at Spanish Bay is all-world in every sense, and when you walk onto the grounds, you know you’re in links heaven and living fine. Although you are still on the resort property, it feels different than the Pebble Beach hub, though it’s not a drop-off by any stretch. The Lodge, shops, cuisine, bar and the famous bagpiper that helps the sun set there each night gives Spanish Bay is own chops. If you cut the course out of the rock as it sits and placed it on the shore of Lake Michigan or the Gulf of Mexico or the mid-south Atlantic, it would be the coolest course in that state. Before playing it, I read different reviews that varied from “mind-blowing” to “overpriced.” Honestly, both times I’ve played it I was pinching myself. I mean, when you play golf along the ocean and 17 Mile Drive, what’s not to love? I love RTJ Jr.
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courses — perhaps since he’s been a friend to this magazine over the years — and you can really feel his stylings here. But, you also feel Sandy Tatum’s and Tom Watson’s, too, as the greens at Spanish Bay are nothing like you would see at Pebble. They are big and more resort-like. But, not easy. In fact, I thought they were faster. The three designers have their fingerprints on this place like the three tenors. It’s 6,800 yards, and the wind makes it play like 7,500. Hole No. 1 is a sweet launch pad, with the links land rolling you all the way down from the lodge to the water. Spanish Bay is rugged and when your ball flies errant, you could be stuck in gorse or thorny beach bushes, or just plain lost in an impossible array of foliage. Where Pebble Beach is about long rough and links, Spanish Bay is about the beach life. The 459-yard, par-4 fifth is one of the hardest on the peninsula. In fact, with the wind in
your face, all the par 4s here are very challenging, requiring you to keep your second shot under the wind just to get up and down. Rick and I both treated par like a birdie that day we played it. The wind picks up more as the day draws on — you just have to embrace it and not get pissed. It’s part of links golf. Bump-and-run is the name of the game. Never in my life have I seen so many deer up close and personal as I did at Spanish Bay. It’s clear they didn’t get the memo about social distancing. In fact, I nearly hit one with my cart, it was so close. It’s like a sanctuary there. Both times I played, I used a golf cart and finished in less than four hours, which is perfect if you want to play 36. And, that’s exactly what we had in mind, with a quick stop to let the valets scrape out the grooves before heading off to Spyglass Hill. By the way, the staff there is amazing, and remembered my name nearly four hours after we checked in. I was impressed.
Stay At The Cypress Inn
hen you’re in Carmel, you feel cosmo, hip, cool and relevant — the vibe is a Berkeley-meets-Aspen kind of thing. It’s such a lovely place to hang and get off the course for a few hours or even a few days. Rick and I stayed at the Cypress Inn, which is a legendary hotel, restaurant and bar that everyone there knows about. It’s been open since 1929 and is a registered historical landmark. Doris Day is the one who really put it on the map, as she owned the Inn and called it home for over 20 years. Some of the world’s elite entertainers and who’s who have been guests there. The Spanish architecture, appointments, furnishings and art deco are all authentic. The relaxed decadence has Doris Day’s fingerprints all over it and there’s endless memorabilia at every turn. The staff treats you like you were checking into a coastal Euro villa somewhere and the outdoor courtyard of Terry’s Lounge has an ever-changing seasonal menu. The fresh seafood, steaks, chops and local greens are something James Beard would give his personal thumbs-up. There’s so many cool hidden pockets to chill out in and the mixology is world-class. We went for broke and enjoyed a tower suite room. To open up the bay windows in the morning and hear the sounds of Carmel-by-the-Sea’s streets waking up and the Pacific’s breakers in the distance shook the slight Scotchon-the-rocks fog right out of my head. Reservations were a breeze; the hotel has other properties in the area, too. Of course, the Inn at Spanish Bay and the Lodge at Pebble Beach would be life-long memories for sure, and you can’t ever go wrong by staying on-property, but it’s nice to meander and see what the coastal towns can offer, too.
Spyglass Hill Golf Club Pebble Beach, Calif. • LEG 12
“The whole first hour at Spy is breathtaking and links, links, links.”
t’s been my experience since playing “Spy” for the first time last year, and kibitzing with other linksters that have made that loop, that you are magically cooler as a result of it. And, I love being in that kind of company. Spanish Bay is new by Pebble Beach standards, as it hit the scene in 1987. When you play Spyglass, you are embarking on a historical journey, an amateur jewel and a PGA TOUR favorite. Many people outside of Northern California aren’t aware that the oldest course at Pebble Beach, though, is actually Del Monte Golf Club, named for the Del Monte Forest in which the resort is nestled. Del Monte is a heathland/parkland masterpiece and has been in continual operation since 1897; Del Monte and Gearhart slug it out for which was really the oldest course west of the Mississippi. It was Del Monte that first brought public golfers to the peninsula, and it was Pebble Beach that sent shockwaves around the globe to make people pay attention. But, it was Spyglass Hill that gave Pebble Beach a 1-2-3 punch for years, long before Spanish Bay hit the scene. Spyglass has been tagged by Sports Illustrated
as Pine Valley-by-the-Sea meets Augusta National. Frankly, that’s a great analogy. Having hosted two U.S. Amateurs, and been a PGA TOUR stalwart as a co-host to the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, it’s among the world’s best. At just under 7,000 yards, this par 72 brings you to your knees with a barrage of uphill, 400-yard par 4s that play more like par 5s. For a part of your trip on Spy, it seems like you never stop playing uphill. Holes seven through 18 are a coastal forest journey like you would find at neighboring Poppy Hills, Bandon Trails or many Robert Trent Jones, Sr., tracks in Alabama. But, there’s a reason Spyglass is in this story, as its true links shine and bristle with the Pacific gales on holes one through six. Frankly, when you’re on the front nine, you can’t fathom that you will play the rest of the day in the forest; when you play the back, it’s hard to believe that you started on the beach. The whole course is themed after the novelist Robert Louis Stevenson, who wrote Treasure Island and spent a portion of his life there on the peninsula. The first hole — called, appropriately, Treasure Island — is, for me, the greatest opening hole I’ve ever played.
Adjacent to the modest clubhouse, the first tee sits high atop the sweeping, boomerangshaped, dogleg-left par 5, which is 595 yards long. It bends so swiftly that you can’t even tell from the tee that the green floats on the coast. When you bomb your drive to the corner, and see what lies ahead, you just know that you are in Nirvana. The whole first hour at Spy is breathtaking and links, links, links. I am gonna go out on a limb here and say that with some moderate wind, Spyglass Hill would be one of the top-three hardest golf courses I have ever played, the other two being Carnoustie and Pacific Dunes. It’s just amazing. A nice bonus of visiting Spy? Seeing and meeting club professional Jin Park, who grew up in Snohomish and went to Snohomish High. In fact, I see Jin’s father up at Snohomish Valley Golf Center quite often. If you’re planning a buddies trip, corporate retreat or you are a PGA professional looking to take advantage of the Club Pro Program, please contact my good friend Levi Breck, national sales manager for Pebble Beach. He will make all your dreams come true. He can be reached at BreckL@PebbleBeach.com or 831-622-8733. He’s the best in the business.
y 2,000-mile wanderlust trip was more than a getaway: it was a life-saver. I used the time to not just golf, but enjoy valued time with my son, Fletcher, and my friend Rick. I also saw good friends and made new ones along the way. It was reflective and soul-searching. The Bay Area is
bliss to me. I thought a lot about what had happened to America, to our soul and what the pandemic scars felt like and looked like. But, I saw the best in people. I saw that folks cared and wanted to be respectful of distance, yet still make a connection. Sometimes, even
when you’re wearing a mask, you can look into someone’s eyes and see joy or sadness or disdain or fear — and they can see it in you, too. For a little while, I just wanted to be. And, this journey helped heal and fuel a soul that is ready for what’s next.
Paradis along the
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is all golf all the time and never stops astounding
BY TONY DEAR
he Old Course Hotel in St. Andrews, Scotland, looks out over the most famous hole in the game, but doesn’t own it. A charitable organization called the St. Andrews Links Trust does, as well as the town’s six other public courses. The Pinehurst
Resort in North Carolina offers its guests nine terrific courses including Donald Ross’s mag-
nificent No. 2, but there are carts and browse the resort’s web site and you’ll see it offers lawn sports and carriage rides, too. The Lodge at Pebble Beach is a wonderfully refined place to rest your head for the night and the adjoining golf course is one of the world’s most spectacular, but the spa is huge and offers things like medifusion and body wraps. What’s more, the golf and everything else here is very, very expensive.
All the above, and others like them — the American Club in Kohler, Wis., The Broadmoor
in Colorado Springs, Sea Island in Georgia, the Four Seasons on the Hawaiian island of Lanai, etc. — are beyond special. A trip to any of them is an exciting prospect.
But if you can survive without the silk peels, croquet, juice bars and, in the case of St. An-
drews, a potentially long wait for tee-times and some dubious weather, and you are really only interested in playing top-100 golf all day long then wolfing down a hearty meal and savoring a nightcap in the famous Bunker Bar before repairing to your lodgings for the night and then executing the exact same plan the following day, then there really is only one place for you.
Bandon Dunes Golf Resort opened in the late 1990s after developer Michael Keiser, a man
devoted to natural golf played over and around coastal dunes, found 1,200 sand and gorse-covered acres on the Oregon coast and took a chance hiring a young, unknown Scotsman to build him an unconventional course in a faraway location. It was a ludicrous experiment, frankly, and Keiser’s friends and advisors understandably laughed at him.
But the course that unknown Scotsman, David McLay Kidd, built was so good it recorded
double the number of rounds management had budgeted for, and more or less swept the yearend awards. It put an obscure part of the country on the map, and turned Keiser from a curious eccentric into a genius visionary with an asset that would soon start adding considerably to Sheep Ranch
the fortune he had already made as the co-founder of a successful greeting card company. D ES T I N AT I O N GO LFER 29
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merica had long been familiar with the term ‘links-style’ under whose banner virtually every course with few trees and a few bumps was grouped, but Kidd’s eponymous Bandon Dunes was the real deal. The turf was short and tight, the wind a serious factor in club/ shot-selection, and there were a handful of exceptional coast-hugging holes. Above all, it required imagination. Hitting good shots wasn’t enough. You had to think good shots too. Keiser always said one golf course is a curiosity but two is a destination. So, in 2001, after purchasing an important parcel of land just to the north of his first course, Keiser hired rising star Tom Doak to build a second. Doak and his Renaissance Golf team created an extraordinary follow-up that outdid even the first course in most rankings. Doak discovered or created as many good-to-great holes at Pacific Dunes as any golf course could realistically hope for, and it firmly established Bandon Dunes as one of the country’s finest golf resorts. He now had his destination, but Keiser was far from done. He’d wanted to hire Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw since seeing the remarkable Sand Hills Golf Club they had designed in Nebraska and which had opened in 1995. He got his chance in 2003 when he signed them up to route 18 holes through part-dunes but mostly-forest terrain in the southeast corner of the property. Coore and Crenshaw did a typically superb job, and though it didn’t sit beside the ocean, Bandon Trails quickly became many people’s favorite after opening in 2005. Keiser gave himself a well-earned rest now, but it wasn’t too long before he was at it again. He owned another magnificent stretch of dunes land to the north of Pacific Dunes and decided to honor one of his favorite course architects, C.B. Macdonald, in creating a course featuring many of his famed template holes and design characteristics. To build it, he called on Doak and his Renaissance associate Jim Urbina but also sought the expertise of architecture writer Bradley Klein and Macdonald biographer George Bahto.
Old Macdonald opened in 2010 and was quirky with a capital Q. Despite its peculiarities, however, the ground was just as firm and bouncy as elsewhere at the resort, the wind just as influential, and the holes every bit as much fun as the other courses. Visitors took a little longer to come to terms with its demands, perhaps, and it has never quite been cherished as much as its siblings, but Old Mac is still a great course that deservedly ranks inside the country’s top 20 public courses. The exquisite Bandon Preserve, made up of 13 par 3s, was added in 2012 and a 100,000 square foot putting green modeled on the Himalayas Putting Course at St. Andrews, and called the Punchbowl, opened in 2014. The most recent expansion to the incredible complement of golf courses at Bandon Dunes opened last year when the Sheep Ranch, once a collection of 13 isolated greens and a lot of open space north of Whiskey Run but molded into 18 coherent holes by Coore and Crenshaw, opened to the sort of fanfare typically associated with anything new at Bandon Dunes. Everything else at Bandon Dunes is first-rate too. The food, whether it be served up in the Gallery, Tufted Puffin, Pacific Grill, Trail’s End, the Sheep Ranch clubhouse or, my favorite, McK-
ee’s Pub, named for Keiser’s late friend Howard McKee whose legal expertise ensured Bandon Dunes overcame every environmental and political dispute it faced during its formative years, is just what the hungry golfer needs. As for the accommodations, golf travel expert Darin Bunch, who has visited the resort a dozen times at least, says there really is something for everyone. “You have the Lodge, the Inn and higher-end options like the four-bedroom Grove Cottages,” he says. “Or you could go for the full buddy-trip treatment in the Golf Suite above the Tufted Puffin. And there are others choices that may be more suited to your budget and companions – Chrome Lake units and lofts or the Lily Pond rooms. Some are fancier than others, but they’re all comfortable, well-furnished, and designed with golfers in mind.” Bandon Dunes was designed with golfers in mind and it's a policy that has worked beautifully for 22 years and counting. Keiser’s cockamamie notion of bringing proper links golf to the Oregon coast once seemed a little fanciful. But it’s hard now to imagine a world without Bandon Dunes. Their website bandondunesgolf.com is one of the finest destination resort portals in the industry. You can plan, shop and book a trip that will be a lasting memory indeed.
D ES T I N AT I O N GO LFER 31
Omaha CC is a perfect USGA field of dreams to watch the legends play
U.S. Senior Open Championship this July is history in the making
estination golf is not just about playing — it can be just as much about the experience of watching heroes of past and present make us remember why we love the game. The U.S. Senior Open Championship this summer in Nebraska is a jewel of an opportunity to watch and walk in you own field of dreams. Omaha Country Club was announced as the host site for the 41st U.S. Senior Open Championship in the summer of 2017. The 2021 U.S. Senior Open, to be contested July 5-11, will be the second Senior Open and second USGA championship held at the club. At Omaha Country Club in 2013, the region and community enthusiastically supported the U.S. Senior Open and fans attended in great numbers to watch an international field compete for the Francis D. Ouimet Memorial Trophy that is awarded to the champion. Kenny Perry won the 2013 championship by carding a 7-under-par 63 over the final 18 holes, one stroke off the record. Perry’s 72-hole score of 13-under 267, which matched Hale Irwin for the lowest score in U.S. Senior Open history, was five strokes ahead of runner-up Fred Funk (272). Corey Pavin and Rocco Mediate tied for third at 7-under 273. When this year’s championship was announced nearly four years ago Patrick Duffy, co-chairman, said, “The entire community embraced the championship in 2013 and is excited to have the USGA return to Nebraska for this global event. This weeklong championship, featuring the world’s best senior players, will again provide significant
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economic impact to the local community.” Omaha Country Club will join six other clubs that have hosted the U.S. Senior Open twice, including Oakland Hills Country Club, in Bloomfield Township, Mich., Scioto Country Club, in Columbus, Ohio, and Inverness Club, in Toledo, Ohio. Omaha C.C. was designed in 1925 on 190 acres of farmland and forested countryside. Perry Maxwell, a founding member of the American Society of Golf Course Architects, was commissioned to redesign the course in 1951. Keith Foster directed major renovations and enhancements to the course in 2005. With Kenny Perry’s victory in 2013, he became the third player to win the U.S. Senior Open and Senior Players Championship in the same year, joining Gary Player (1987) and Orville Moody (1989). The champion’s 127 total over the final two rounds shattered the U.S. Senior Open record by three strokes and his 10-stroke comeback over the final 36 holes is the greatest in championship history. Perry started the day two strokes behind 54hole leader Michael Allen, who shot a 2-over 72 to finish fifth at 274. Perry raced by the field with a 5-under 30 on the outward nine, including a string of five birdies in six holes. This will be the fourth USGA championship held in Nebraska and the seventh in the Central Plains. In 1941, Marvin (Bud) Ward defeated Pat Abbott, 4 and 3, to win the U.S. Amateur Championship at the Field Club of Omaha. In 1996 at Firethorn Golf Club in Lincoln, Kelli Kuehne won her second consecutive U.S. Women’s Amateur
title with a 2-and-1 decision over Marisa Baena. Omaha Country Club has hosted the Nebraska State Amateur on 16 occasions, most recently in 2016. Johnny Goodman, an Omaha native and the last amateur to win the U.S. Open, in 1933, won the second of his three consecutive Nebraska State Amateurs at the club in 1930. He also claimed the 1937 U.S. Amateur and was a member of three USA Walker Cup Teams. The U.S. Senior Open was first played in 1980. The championship for golfers age 50 and older is open to any professional and any amateur with a Handicap Index not exceeding 3.4. Seven players have won both the U.S. Open and the U.S. Senior Open during a career. The list includes Billy Casper, Hale Irwin, Orville Moody, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Lee Trevino. The field will be comprised of 156 of the world’s best professional and amateur senior golfers, including those who are fully exempt from qualifying and those who will attempt to qualify at 34 sites across the United States between May 17 and June 14. Happy Hollow Club, located 10 miles south of Omaha Country Club, is one of those sites and will host a qualifier on June 7. Players who are eligible to compete in the 41st U.S. Senior Open include Ernie Els, Jim Furyk, Fred Couples, Bernhard Langer, Tom Lehman, Vijay Singh, Retief Goosen and Steve Stricker. NBC Universal will provide live television coverage of all four rounds of the championship. Learn more, plan and look at ticket packages for this and other USGA championships at USGA.org.
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An Ozark legend
Osage National Golf Resort
Classic Palmer — Osage National glimmers brightly as a Lake of the Ozarks Golf Trail jewel
here are 13 courses on Lake of the Ozarks Golf Trail, any one of them able to provide the visitor with an enjoyable day’s golf. Only one, though, could be described as ‘The Must Play Course at the Lake’. Osage National, developed by the 100-yearold, Kansas City-based Clarkson Construction Company and located just off of Highway 54 four miles east of the City of Lake Ozark, Mo., offers guests 27 holes, the first 18 of which were designed by Arnold Palmer and opened in 1992. Six years later, a third nine was added by local enthusiasts and the three nines each given a name. Palmer’s original 18 split into the ‘Mountain’ and ‘River’ Courses, while the new holes were christened the ‘Links’. The Mountain and River nines offer two very distinct challenges — one moving through higher, forested ground, the other skirting the Osage River with a number of sizeable water hazards and huge bunkers. This is essential Palmer — beautiful golf that can be plenty tough if you’re looking for birdies but a very pleasurable walk (or ride) if bogey golf is what you typically shoot for. It’s easy to tell from his 300 or so designs that Palmer just wanted golfers to enjoy themselves whether they strove to match par or were out for the exercise. Osage National fits the description well. Harrison Minchew, a native of Augusta Ga., who worked for Palmer for 25 years, made a significant contribution to the design of Osage Na-
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tional and remembers the site well even though nearly 30 years have passed since he last saw it. “It was a great site, full of interest with some lovely vistas,” he says. “The front nine holes covered a tremendous acreage and were really spaced out nicely to accommodate the housing portion of the development though there really wasn’t that much off-course construction. So it still felt like a core course.” The back nine, Minchew adds, was laid out on the flood plain close to the river. “It was completely different,” he says. “Much flatter, so we had to get creative in adding features and interest to the holes. The soils were terrific because of the river deposits which obviously helped us build a great course.” Shortly after opening, Osage National hosted the Michelob Skins Challenge in which Palmer took on Payne Stewart, Tom Watson and Lee Trevino. Though obviously more familiar with the demands of the layout than the others, the 62-yearold Palmer could do little to stop a rampant Stewart who shot a nine-under 63, a course record that still stands. “Wow” says Minchew who faintly remembers who played that day, but not what each player shot. “Osage was playable certainly but no pushover. Nine-under round there was pretty good. Mr. Stewart sure was a fine player.” Two years after hosting four of the world’s greatest ever golfers, Osage National co-hosted the PGA Club Professional Championship with
the Oaks at Margaritaville, Sammy Rachels winning in a playoff. The nines are all about as popular as each other says the course’s General Manager Ryan Manselle who has been at Osage for 23 years. ‘We record roughly 32,000 rounds a year which are spread out pretty evenly,” he adds, noting that his favorite holes are the 5th on the River Course, and 8th on the Mountain. “River’s 5th hole is a great par-5 that runs along the banks of the Osage River and really typifies the course and the valley,” he says. “The 8th on the Mountain, meanwhile, provides the amazing view with a dramatic elevation drop.” Minchew agrees. “Yep, they were two of my favorites too,” he says. “The 8th on the Mountain — the 8th as we built it — is a great hole. The view from the tee was probably the best on the whole course and the second shot with the pond on the right is pretty exciting. And the River par-5 is just a beautiful hole along the river.” The greens at Osage National are bentgrass, the fairways zoysia, and the rough fescue — all kept in tip-top shape by Superintendent Jeff Sommerer. The course is managed by Kansas Citybased company GreatLIFE which operates an innovative franchise model across fitness centers and golf courses and which aims to make golf a family-friendly activity by focusing on healthy lifestyles, amenities, and low-priced memberships. Member or not, though, you’re going to love Osage National.
Where one great course leads to another
With breathtaking views... all the golf you can dream of on 13 beautiful and challenging courses... and comfortable and convenient accommodations set against the background of our shimmering Lake and rolling Ozark hills... Don’t you think it’s time YOU hit The Trail? Come PLAY and STAY with us. Book your Golf Trail Getaway today. Visit GolfAtTheLake.org.
Shangri-La Golf Club • Legends No. 9
Shangri-La’s history is rooted and future is bright on Oklahoma's Monkey Island
or all those folks who play golf in Oklahoma, there’s a high probability that just about everyone is familiar with the 18th hole at Shangri-La Golf Club on Monkey Island in the state’s northeast corner. It’s unique — a double-green finish. Indeed, your choice of two greens. It’s a final-hole tactical conundrum, forcing you to choose between an overwater approach (second or third shot) to the shorter right-side island green or venture on to the other green, 70 yards further and bordered by a right-side waterfall hazard. All for one, not the other. But it is also legendary, primarily because it has been graced by Oklahoma’s greatest sports figure — New York Yankee Mickey Mantle, who once had an albatross on this par-5, 580-yard imaginative beauty. “Mickey was born 40 miles south of here (in Spavinaw) and grew up 30 miles north in Commerce,” says Mike Williams, Shangri-La’s Director of Communications and able historian. “He said this was his home course. He had his charity event here.” It also was the last course, the last hole, Mantle ever played, in July 1995. He died a month later, on Aug. 13, and his charity event honored him one more time that September, as Stan Musial stepped in as host for his famous teammates, Whitey Ford, Moose Skowron and Yogi Berra. “Most golf courses have that one special hole,” Williams adds. “The ‘Mickey Mantle Hole’ is our most famous, but there are eight or nine holes here that get a lot of talk and a lot of cursing. That was the deal from the beginning. They wanted to make every hole memorable.” To get to the beginning, we need to go back some 80 years to 1941 when a dam was constructed that transformed the unworkable rocky terrain into a six-mile-long lake. The high point in the area, Monkey Island (actually, a peninsula with no monkeys), was suddenly surrounded by the man-made Grand Lake ‘O the Cherokees, and is now a flourish-
40 D ESTI N ATI ON G OL FE R
BY BOB SHERWIN ing recreational area with thousands of waterfront homes and more than 6,000 docks. The Shangri-La Resort was built in 1964 and drew tourists and conventioneers from all around the nation. An 18-hole golf course, Old Blue, was added in the ‘70s but by the late ‘80s the resort had fallen on hard times. It wasn’t until 2010 that Shangri-La got a second life when Tulsa businessman Eddy Gibbs purchased the property and pumped in $60 million to rebuild it. Gibbs added another nine-hole course, giving Shangri-La has three nines — The Champions, opened in 2011, The Heritage and The Legends, a conglomeration of Old Blue. The most popular 18-hole circuit is Heritage front nine and Legends back. That means ‘The Mick’ closes out most rounds. That, in turn, places more value on the Legends’ 17th hole. The local rule is that the golfer who wins the 17th has the honor to decide which of the two 18-hole greens to play. “Our members and regulars play the back green quite a bit,” says Williams. “Most first-timers challenge the island green, and are usually sorry.” Each nine offers slightly different experiences. The relatively new Champions has more water hazards but is shorter. Williams says women like Champions because they can score better “if they’re not distracted by all the spectators. There’s a lot more houses on the course so there’s always a gallery.” Champions’s 412-yard eighth hole, played into a prevailing wind, is the most dramatic, or for many, traumatic. For their second shot (or third), golfers negotiate two parallel water hazards that pinch the fairway down to a meager 15 yards. It’s so narrow that the club discourages even driving a golf cart between them. There’s no effective bail out area. Depending on the length of your drive, you either need to stripe your second shot over the water or lay up. Your lay-up shot will then be around 125 yards for an up-and-down, up a hill to a long, narrow, two-tier green that slopes back to front. “There’s also a large bunker left of the green,”
says Williams. “So, if you’re not in the water, you may be on the beach.” The Heritage course is distinctive for its green complexes. That is most apparent on the par-4, 388-yard 2nd whose green was patterned on the 130-year-old Biarritz style. The original Biarritz green is thought to have been created at the 3rd hole — called ‘The Chasm’ — on the William Dunn-designed Biarritz Le Phare Golf Club in France in the late 1880s. Biarritz greens are long and large and feature a deep swale bisecting the putting surface. Heritage’s Biarritz hole is the shortest par-4 on the course but has the longest green at 180 feet — with a middle swale that divides the green into three distinct sections. The middle section, or the gully as they call it here, is four feet below the back and front sections. “The miserable place to be is the front part of the green when the pin is at the back,” says Williams. “You have to go downhill first then up. Too much speed or not enough? If your putt falls back into the gully, you could roll off the green.” Williams believes that Heritage’s par-5, 601yard ninth hole — the longest on the course — is its signature. It’s all downhill though effectively shortening the distance for the always-challenging second shot. After hitting your drive on the dogleg left hole, you’ll see a creek running across the fairway and a large water hazard left. Once (if) you clear the water, you’ll then have 100 yards to the green over three massive bunkers. “The second shot is scary with a creek, a pond and bunkers,” says Williams, adding that the smartest thing might be to lay up well to the right to set up a wedge to the two-tier green. Those same kind of risk/reward decisions are necessary when golfers close out their rounds on Legend’s back nine, finishing at ‘The Mick’ — hallowed ground for so many in this region who idolized him. Visit the dynamic multimedia website shangrilaok.com for complete information and to plan your excursion here.
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The Sunflower State's shining star Brauer and Begay III crafted a legacy course that keeps topping the charts on the Kansas prairie with Firekeeper
t’s readily apparent how proud the Native Americans are of the Firekeeper Golf Course on the Prairie Band of Potawatomi Nation Reservation in the northeast corner of Kansas. When it opened in 2011, it was ranked the ninth best new course in America and was initially designated and remains the No. 1 course to play in the state. As an amenity to the Prairie Band Casino and Resort, it has attracted thousands of visitors over the past decade and created hundreds of jobs. It enhanced the area’s value and lifted the tribe both in means and in spirit. Yet what gives these proud people the most satisfaction is that it’s the first golf course on Native American land designed by a full-blooded Native American. Notah Begay III, who grew up in Albuquerque, N.M. and is part of the Navajo, San Felipe and Isleta people, co-designed Firekeeper alongside veteran architect Jeff Brauer. A former PGA Tour player now TV golf commentator, Begay started his own golf course development company, NB3 Consulting, in 2002. The company has developed courses in Arizona, California, New Mexico, North Carolina and New York, but Firekeeper was the first. “When he came to us, he proposed the least amount of soil moving,’’ says Randy Towner, Firekeeper’s general manager/head professional. “We liked his layout, as it did not disrupt the land much, which was important to us.” The course is located about four miles southwest of Mayetta, Kan., headquarters of the tribe’s vast reservation, 15 miles north of Topeka and about 60 miles west of Kansas City. “We wanted to build a championship golf course but resorty enough that
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BY BOB SHERWIN
the 95-to-100-shooter could enjoy it,” says Towner. Begay was the natural fit. A four-time PGA Tour winner and member of Stanford’s 1994 NCAA championship team that included Tiger Woods, he had an innate affinity for golf course design. His company’s stated mission is to work with tribal communities to build courses and sports facilities to aid economic development. “The first seven holes are out on the prairie,” says Towner. “It looks a lot like a Scottish course. Then you transition to the valley holes, eight, nine and 10. Then you go through the woodland holes which have views that are typical of Kansas.” There also was an effort to enable golfers to maintain solitude on the course, keeping your round peaceful. Once you tee off away from the clubhouse, you won’t find another structure until you return to it. “It goes out into the prairie and there’s nothing out there but golf holes,” says Towner. “It can play from 4,500 yards all the way up to 7,500 so accommodates all skill levels.” There are five sets of tees on each hole, the shortest being ‘Deer’, followed by ‘Bear’, ‘Buffalo’ and ‘Eagle’. The fifth set, the far back tees, are a tribute to the course’s designer and called ‘Notah’. There are some memorable features in the opening holes. The 1st and 6th share a huge green, the par-4, 480-yard 2nd is a scenic challenge with five bunkers — including one in the middle of the fairway — that can efficiently gather in your drive. But the one to avoid is ‘the coffin’ on your approach shot — a long, deep trap directly in front of the green. Be prepared to unburden yourself when you reach No. 4 — a par-5 of 640-yards from the
Notah tee. Trouble arrives on your second shot although, at this length, it could be your third, as two long, narrow bunkers protect the green at the front. The approach offers golfers a choice — go left of the bunkers toward the upper level which gives you a clearer line to the flag but runs the risk of falling into some thick native grasses that can hide your ball, or stay safe and aim for the lower level to the right. You’ll have a bigger target, but will now face a tough pitch over the front bunkers. In the ‘valley’ portion of the course, the par-4, 440-yard 9th might look vaguely familiar. Imagine the famous 18th hole at Augusta National. Your tee shot comes out of a narrow chute with two bunkers left and unruly rough to be avoided on the right. Then it’s uphill. usually into the wind, to an elevated green guarded by bunkers left and right. Firekeeper’s closing hole, a par-4 of 455 yards with a severe dogleg to the right, gives you another dilemma. Those confident enough to hit a risk/reward shot can cut across the dogleg, over a foreboding waste area, leaving a shot wedge to the green. The safer path is around the waste area but leaves a much longer approach. The natural amphitheater surrounding the 18th green is ideal for spectators. Indeed, the course has held various events, including a stop on the women’s Symetra Tour. “And a (PGA) seniors tournament would be right up our alley,” says Towner. Begay turns 50 in September, 2022. How cool would it be if a Champions Tour event could be staged on the course he designed? To book tee times or hotel reservations visit prairieband.com.
#1 Course in Kansas you can play! Whether it be a single outing or a large golf group, enjoy one of our STAY & PLAY packages. Sculpted in harmony with nature and featuring stunning course conditions, it is easy to see why the nationally recognized 18-hole Awardwinning Firekeeper Golf Course has surprised even the most experienced players. To book your STAY & PLAY and Tee Times Package, call Chele Kuhn at 785-966-7742.
FirekeeperGolf.com • 12524 150th Road • Mayetta, KS 785-966-2100 • North of Topeka, Kansas off Highway 75 PrairieBand.com
Pete Dye Golf Trail’s Indy pit stops will amaze Brickyard Crossing • Indianapolis, Ind.
Maple Creek Country Club • Indianapolis, Ind.
The Fort • Indianapolis, Ind.
The Fort, Brickyard Crossing and Maple Creek feature speed, rolling landscapes and Army history
or many years, golfers have been coming to The Hoosier State to enjoy the scenic views and challenging courses designed by master architect, Indiana’s own Pete Dye. Along with his wife Alice, Dye created a golf course design legacy that is world-renowned and put Indiana on the global golfing map — highlighted by a collection of seven Dye designs known as the Pete Dye Golf Trail. Offering a variety of inviting layouts and challenges, the Trail is truly for golfers of all skill levels — each featuring Dye’s signature design style and ingenuity.
The Dye’s maiden voyage — Maple Creek Country Club The Dyes designed their very first 18-hole course in 1961 when they unveiled Maple Creek Country Club — located near downtown Indianapolis. They incorporated the mature trees and long grasses native to Indiana with narrow fairways and a copious amount of bunkers into this historic design to create a natural oasis in an urban setting. Maple Creek’s clubhouse features an expansive museum of Dye memorabilia that boasts the only complete logoed golf ball collection of every Pete Dye-designed course.
Start your engines — Brickyard Crossing Perhaps the most unusual Pete Dye course is woven into one of the sporting world’s largest and ‘fastest’ venues at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. With Brickyard Crossing, Dye designed four holes inside the iconic IMS back straightaway where drivers top 230 miles per hour at the Indy 500 each May. The remaining 14 holes are located behind the racetrack’s backstretch. At the time Dye was redesigning the course, the old concrete racetrack walls were being pulled down and replaced. Dye salvaged the walls and used them around the holes and creek as an homage to the incredible legacy there. Visitors can even see the names of drivers along the walls melding golf and the racing heroes that wrote history there. The pilgrimage to Brickyard Crossing is well worth it for any sports aficionado.
History at every turn — The Fort Just outside of Indianapolis is The Fort Golf Resort. The course is situated on the grounds of the former U.S. Army post, Fort Benjamin Harrison. The neighboring Fort Harrison State Park offers a serene backdrop for the greens with views of the now landmark Army installation. The Fort accentuates the unusually hilly Indianapolis terrain located there, which lends to the flowing design. For those that play The Fort, this rolling parkland layout gives golfers a welcome sense of peace and tranquility. Four more unique courses in Indiana round out Indiana’s Pete Dye Golf Trail. If you complete all of them, you can receive a free Pete Dye Golf Trail pin flag — and bragging rights for life. The legacy of Pete Dye welcomes you to Indiana’s premier golf experience. Visit PeteDyeGolfTrail.com to plan your trip and book tee times.
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Dye's Indiana Magnum Opus
French Lick Pete Dye • French Lick, Ind.
French Lick is ‘iconic’ says the great Scot, Monty
BY BOB SHERWIN
hen the Pete Dye Course at French Lick is described as ‘futuristic,’ that doesn’t mean it features hologram hazards, polygon greens or avatar caddies. It means, rather, that it is built for whatever challenges or trends the next generation of golfers may present. With everimproving equipment and emphasis on more muscle and enhanced swing speed, the current mania is distance-obsessed golfers pushing many of the nation’s once-illustrious layouts into obsolescence. Legendary course architect Pete Dye was ahead of the game when he accepted the challenge of designing the French Lick course in southern Indiana. When it opened in 2009 — immediately taking its place among America’s top 100 courses — he created built-in defenses to prevent any unforeseen subjugation. Dye, the Hall of Fame designer who built more than 250 courses worldwide before he died a year ago in January at the age of 94, put a premium on length (8,100 yards) but, more importantly, on precision. He designed narrow fairway landing areas — some as tight as 25 yards; small greens — some just 5,000 square feet; and plenty of hazards, deep rough, steep drop-offs, and ample waste areas. Swing away, at your possible peril. “We’d like to see (distance maven) Bryson DeChambeau play here,’’ says Dave Harner, Director of Golf Operations at the French Lick Resort. “Mr. Dye wanted to build a futuristic course, and placed a premium on shot-making. Accuracy off the tee is important. It’s a unique course.” What makes it unique is the location — situated on a high plateau, one of the highest points in Indiana. It plays as high as 950 feet above sea level. The elevation allowed Dye to branch away from his usu-
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al design. Virtually all the trees down to the 700-foot level were removed. Narrow ribbons of green were laid out adjacent to steep drop-offs, some as deep at 100 feet. Dye, and wife Alice — an able course designer herself, installed features consistent with his other courses, such as a large variety of bunker types — mini, long, shallow and deep, double doglegs, and visional uncertainty as golfers ponder their approach shots. What’s missing, however, is perhaps what Dye is most famous for — railroad ties. Dye’s most famous hole is surely the ‘island green’ 17th at TPC Sawgrass. That course has an abundance of railroad ties and wood planks in both the water and bunkers. Dye recognized that French Lick has its own characteristics, however, and adapted his design to the terrain. With 40-mile views and mist drifting over the ridges, “every day you have a different view,’’ Harner says. “It sometimes looks like the ocean out there.’’ The course is the jewel in Indiana’s Pete Dye Trail, which includes Ackerman-Allen, Brickyard Crossing, The Kampen Course, Maple Creek Golf and Country Club, The Fort Golf Resort and Tippecanoe Country Club. Many of the game’s finest players have discovered the course, now ranked 38th among resort courses in the country. It hosted the 2015 Senior PGA Championship, won by Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie who called French Lick one of America’s ‘iconic courses’ adding that golfers all over the world will want to play it. Indeed, many have placed the course on their bucket list. “Golfers going from Pine Valley to Whistling Straits are landing their private jets here as well,” says Harner. That makes this place truly a bucket list destination.
PETE DYE GOLF TRAIL petedyegolftrail.com
The Pete Dye Course at French Lick French Lick, Ind. • (888) 936-9360 Five sets of tees to 8,104 yards frenchlick.com
Ackerman-Allen Course West Lafayette, Ind. • (765) 494-3139 Five sets of tees to 7,500 yards purduegolf.com/ackerman-allen-course-tour
Brickyard Crossing Indianapolis, Ind. • (317) 241-2500 Five sets of tees to 7,180 yards brickyardcrossing.com
The Kampen Course West Lafayette, Ind. • (765) 494-3139 Five sets of tees to 7,465 yards purduegolf.com/kampen-course
Maple Creek Golf and Country Club Indianapolis, Ind. • (317) 894-3343 Four sets of tees to 6,633 yards maplecreekgc.com
The Fort Golf Resort Indianapolis, Ind. • (317) 543-9597 Five sets of tees to 7,145 yards thefortgolfcourse.com
Tippecanoe Country Club Monticello, Ind. • (574) 583-9977 Four sets of tees to 6,800 yards tippecanoecc.com
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WEST John James Audubon Kentucky Dam Village • Lake Barkley Mineral Mound • Pennyrile Forest
CENTRAL Barren River Lake • Dale Hollow Lake Lincoln Homestead My Old Kentucky Home
EAST General Burnside Island • Grayson Lake Pine Mountain • Yatesville Lake
Signature experience awaits in the Bluegrass State at Yatesville
t’s the sort of review that would make any architect smile. In 2006, three years after the Arthur Hills-designed course had opened, ‘Gregorie’ wrote on TripAdvisor.com that Eagle Ridge Golf Course at Yatesville Lake State Park had “14 or 15 signature holes”. That wasn’t all he (or she?) said though. Actually, Gregorie could barely contain himself, writing over 750 words in which he gushed about the course being in his top three in the country, that it might be the best value in America, and that the views, especially on the front nine, were “just untouchable.” “Words like that are obviously very heartening,” says Steve Forrest, Hills’s associate who played a big role in incorporating the site’s amazing topography into the final design. “I only came across it recently. It was probably the most satisfying review I’ve ever read.” Part of a remarkable network of public courses located within Kentucky’s celebrated state parks, Eagle Ridge is located the far east of the Bluegrass State, about five miles west of the small town of Louisa. It cuts through some deep forest while negotiating significant elevation changes — none greater than at the extraordinary short par 4 13th. With a pulse-quickening 200 foot drop from the tee, the 315-yard hole feels almost as deep as it is long. Combining the ridge at the 13th with the course’s other sizeable features presented Hills and Forrest with a number of tough questions. “It was a very complex problem,” Forrest remembers. “The State was building its really excellent golf trail and using a number of different designers. They gave us the toughest site, saying we could handle it the best. I didn’t know if I should
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take that as a compliment or be upset because of the scale of the task they’d given us.” The site, Forrest adds, wasn’t ‘hilly’ it was ‘mountainous’. “But, fortunately, there was just enough length of ridgeline to string out 18 holes.” You probably need to be there or at least see the topographical map to fully understand what Forrest is saying but, really, only architects with incredible vision, skill, experience and audacity could have made any sort of course at all at Yatesville, much less one as good as this. It’s likely, in fact, some designers would have taken a pass saying the terrain was just too severe in places. Hills, though, saw it as an opportunity for some exciting golf. “It doesn’t get much more dramatic than this,” he said in his 2004 book ‘The Works of Art’. “People will be taking about the tee shot at 13 over and over again. Dramatic is the key word here.” He then paused, before adding ”…and playable”. Golfers know how important a word that is. It’s all very well having spectacular, thrilling ground and stunning vistas at every turn, but if the course throws up a non-stop series of extravagant, exaggerated shots it soon turns goofy. Hills and Forrest certainly took advantage of the extreme land but skillfully managed to keep it in check. Make no bones though, Eagle Ridge is a thrill ride. Forrest was justly proud of the team’s efforts. “We were absolutely delighted with the end result,” he says. “First, that we found a golf course in the wilderness, and second that Golf Digest rated it third best affordable new course in the country.” Beginning her 12th season as head professional at the course is Missy Kennedy who has also been Yatesville’s park manager for the last six years.
Kennedy describes Eagle Ridge as a ‘very cool layout’ and adds that, besides the 13th, the hole that gets the most attention is the 582-yard 4th which features three strips of fairway — the third about 60 feet below the level of the second — a creek crossing the fairway then meandering off to the right of the green, a steep bank bordering the last 100 yards to the left, and an area of exposed rock just short of the green (Forrest says he and Hills were going to locate the green where the rock was positioned but decided to keep it and elevate the putting surface.) Any course that boasts holes like the 4th and 13th is worthy of attention, but perhaps even more astonishing than any of its holes is how few rounds Eagle Ridge records every year. Put a course like this within 50, even 100, miles of a good-sized city and the tee sheet would be full from dawn till dusk every day. The nearest significant population, however, is 145 miles away in Lexington. Louisville is another 80 miles further west. It explains why Eagle Ridge records just 7,000 rounds a year. “We are in a very small town in the most eastern part of Kentucky,” says Kennedy. “The most we have done in my 11 years here is close to 8,000, but on average we get 7,000-7,500. Most of our play comes from destination golfers.” Well, this is Destination Golfer magazine. So what are you waiting for? Clearly, Eagle Ridge at Yatesville State Park in Kentucky is a destination you need to visit. Yatesville is one of just 13 fantastic venues (and 16 courses) on the Kentucky State Parks Golf Trail. Visit the web site to find golf information, package deals, discounts and offers, and to book tee times — parks.ky.gov/golf.
Traverse City’s TVC Airport is gateway to Gaylord Golf Mecca
BY BOB SHERWIN
his is the time of year when many golfers from Denver, Dallas, Phoenix, Minneapolis and all points along the East Coast book summer flights to Traverse City, Mich., 250 miles north of Detroit and so far up the state it might seem like South Canada. It’s a long way to go for dedicated divot diggers, but the area, known as the Gaylord Golf Mecca, has grown substantially over the past several years into a summer delight for the far-flung golfing pilgrims. “Summer golf is better in Northern Michigan than anywhere else in the country,” says Paul Beachnau, executive director of the Gaylord Area Convention and Tourism Bureau. “It really is an amazing golf destination.” It’s a destination, it seems, where your journey begins. The receiving point for all those travelers — and just about the only way to get there — is the Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City, just off the shores of Grand Traverse Bay, Lake Michigan. More than 300 flights come through peak summer, churning a constant rush of golf bags, fishing rods, kayaks, backpacks and hiking gear through baggage claim. The midsize airport, the fourth busiest in the state, is used to this April-through-October influx.
The promotional folks have been at it for more than 30 years, and it has paid off. Airlines have introduced direct flights from most major cities. Larger metropolitan airports should be so fortunate. “It’s a sweet airport,’’ says Beachnau. “The terminal is beautiful. It has a Northern Michigan feel to it. It’s easy to get in and get out.’’ The acclaimed Treetops Golf Club, a fivecourse, 81-hole golfing paradise located in Gaylord, 60 miles east of Traverse City, is what draws many of the golfers. Three of the country’s finest golf architects, Robert Trent Jones Jr. (Masterpiece course), Tom Fazio (Premier) and Rick Smith (Signature, Tradition and Threetops), designed the resort’s courses. Threetops is a scenic sensation, a short course that has been touted as North America’s No. 1 par3. Beginning in 1999 and running for eight seasons, it hosted the annual ESPN Par-3 Shootout that featured many of the game’s greatest players: Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Raymond Floyd, Fred Couples and Phil Mickelson among them. Trevino, who had a hole-in-one in 2001, winning a $1 million prize, plans to return July 29 to celebrate the 20-year anniversary of his ace. It was this high-profile golfing destination that
gave birth to the Gaylord Golf Mecca, in partnership with the Cherry Capital Airport. The Mecca has expanded to include nine more resorts, featuring 17 additional courses designed by other noted architects including Wilfred Reid, Rees Jones and Gary Koch. Beyond the elite golf venues, there are a slew of selling points, especially for golf zealots from the southern states. They can trade 100-plus degree heat for blue-sky 75-degree days. They can get away from the desert and windy plains and get lost in the tall forests. And they can discover green fees that are substantially less than what they pay back home. “You are also within an hour of Lake Michigan,” says Beachnau, “an hour from Lake Huron, and Mackinac Island is less than an hour away. And there are five blue-ribbon trout streams within a short drive. It’s been a vacation destination for many years.” They’ve just attracted many more folks walking through their airport with loud pants and oversized shoulder bags. Visit the airport website tvcairport.com and check the best route to Gaylord Golf Mecca. And book your summer or fall golf experience to Northern Michigan today at gaylordgolfmecca.com.
Amateur Players Tour has 300 events across U.S.
hree years ago, Matt Minder had a vision for the future but never thought it would materialize so fast, and with such magnitude. “It definitely turned into something pretty crazy,” he says of the nationwide Amateur Players Tour. “From one chapter in St. Louis to where we are today.” Where they are today is 35 North American chapters, involving approximately 2,500 amateur golfers competing in more than 300 events, many played on some of the nation’s elite courses. Matt and his father Steve ran amateur events in the St. Louis area before scaling up to a national profile.
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They partnered with Jeff Barrett of Nashville and created a vision for the Tour of ‘by the players, for the players.’ They set up an ambitious schedule of tournaments around the nation (and Canada), and stage events at places like TPC San Antonio, where the Valero Texas Open is played, The Greenbrier, Cog Hill, French Lick, Hilton Head, Gainey Ranch, Troon North and Bethpage. The event that competitors look forward to as much as any on the Tour’s vast schedule is the National Major at Whistling Straits, in Kohler, Wis. “They’ll walk the same course and hit from the same spots as our (American) guys at the Ryder
Cup seven weeks later,” says Minder. About 75 to 80 percent of the participants, competing in six handicap categories, are content to tee it up in local and regional weekend events, but there’s a sizable number who want to test their mettle on a national level. Those players eventually compete for national titles at illustrious Pinehurst (N.C.) Resort on Oct. 25-27. This is essentially the Tour’s first full season, managing rapid growth despite COVID restrictions. Plans for 2022, Minder adds, “are significantly better.” Go to amateurplayerstour.com and join the action.
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The North Star State has 10,000 lakes
Perfect summer weather with links and lakes aplenty
I The Wilderness at Fortune Bay • Tower, Minn.
Golf in Minnesota – A Great Story Home of 2016 & 2028 Ryder Cup
Minnesota has long been a favorite golf destination for great golf quality, variety and value. Plan your trip, bring your clubs and play where the world’s best players convene!
www.ExploreMinnesotaGolf.com 54 D ESTI N ATI ON G OL FE R
YOUR “BUCKET LIST” OF GOLF IN the HEARTLAND
t’s easy to imagine a beautiful golf course in Minnesota. The North Star State, otherwise known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes, of course (there are actually over 11,800 lakes over 10 acres), posesses more than 17 million acres of deciduous and coniferous forest as well as over two million acres of protected prairieland. You could fit a lot of great golf into that. Were it not for a couple of Jeff Brauerdesigned gems — the Quarry Course at Giants Ridge and the Wilderness at Fortune Bay — and one of Arnold Palmer’s best ever designs at Deacon’s Lodge, the municipally-owned Chaska Town Course might top the list of the state’s best public layouts. Opened in 1997 and designed by prolific architect Arthur Hills along with his associate Steve Forrest, the course co-hosted the 2006 U.S. Amateur Championship with Hazeltine GC and is set to do so again in 2024. Hills once said of Chaska that it was “as good a course as we can build”. Forrest, meanwhile, says the site was ideal for golf featuring rolling topography and a number of nice water and wetland features. “We didn’t need to move much earth,” he adds, “just what was needed to create tee decks, fairway features, and green complexes. We weren’t contacted prior to the ’06 U.S. Amateur because no changes were necessary. It’s a fair test for the best amateurs in the world and an enjoyable game for casual golfers.” Head Golf Professional John Kellin says the course is very popular and typically records 31,000 rounds a year, though that number rose to nearly 39,000 last year when existing golfers had more free time to play and non-golfers discovered the joy of the game. With Providence Bentgrass greens and Penneagle Bentgrass fairways, the playing surfaces are usually immaculate. To use Arthur Hills’s vernacular, Chaska might be as good a course as you can play for $55, but it’s just one of Minnesota’s many golfing treasures. For more information on what Minnesota has to offer, visit exploreminnesota.com.
The Digital Golf Pass A must-have membership for the everyday golfer
igital Golf Pass takes course discounts to a new level with deals that save you money on every round. Avid golfers will save thousands using this tool, which is a must-have for players that have tee times filling their personal calendar. Even casual looperswill save hundreds playing weekdays and weekends with free and deeply discounted green fees using the pass. Digital Golf Pass rates are guaranteed and at-the-ready where and when you want them at courses throughout your region. No need to scramble and find elusive on-line deals. Digital Golf Pass is already stocked with thousands of deals via your mobile device when you check in at the golf shop. Or print a voucher at home if you prefer. Visit digitalgolfpass.com for complete information.
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Travel There and Back can set up a golf dream trip to the tropics, the British Isles or anywhere in the world within your budget.
Travel There and Back brings expertise and passion to golfers consumed by wanderlust
or the past six years, Michelle Wicks Cypher and her husband Michael have been turning imagination into memories at their Monroe, Wash.-based agency Travel There and Back. Folks have come to them – mostly pre-COVID-19 — with thoughts, plans and bucket-list dreams involving faraway places and restorative adventures, which the Cyphers have then shaped into trips their clients will never forget. “That’s the goal,” says Michelle. “It doesn’t matter what kind of trip it is. For the next 20 years they’ll be talking about that trip, that moment, or that memory.’’ We may not realize it, but most of us have a fanciful bucket-list of places we want to explore at some point in our lives, experiences we’d like to share, and rituals, customs and cultures we’d like to better understand. The Cyphers have built their business around that motivation, tapping into different bucket-list trends or, more accurately perhaps, a ‘cup’ list as they are providing a growing number of travel opportunities for golfers who want to play the world’s great golf courses. The golf travel part of the business was motivated by the couple’s personal experiences. Michael loves to play when traveling, so they have put an emphasis on setting up tee-times at the places they visit. Primarily by word of mouth, friends and regular customers borrowed that idea thus incorporating golf into a growing number of travel plans. Then it evolved on a more personal level. Michael’s father spent nearly a decade as his
BY BOB SHERWIN wife’s caregiver. When she passed away, Michael and his brother celebrated their parents’ many years together by taking Dad to Pebble Beach. They realized many other people make similarly sentimental trips. Golf trips are primarily made up of male, buddy foursomes seeking to walk the same fairways as golfing legends. They can stand on an ancient tee and imagine what it was like to play 250 or even 500 years earlier with gutta-percha balls and hickory-shafted clubs. Of course, when golfers talk nostalgically about golf history, the discussion invariably gets round to the Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland where, in 1764 after centuries of play, the links was shortened from 22 holes to 18. The Old Course is the ultimate destination, where everyone wants to play. So the Cyphers developed working relationships with two Scottish golf travel companies that can get their clients on the 1st tee in front of the famous Royal and Ancient clubhouse. Other classic Scottish links can be booked too. Michelle says the couple’s success is the result of a “combination of our experience and connections with experts in the areas we travel to.” Scottish courses are the most requested, but Ireland, where golf has been played since the mid-18th Century, is also becoming popular. So too are courses in Continental Europe, Canada, and Mexico. Michelle also likes to involve a cultural submersion in the trips she creates, giving her clients options tailored to the area. She would, for ex-
ample, offer a post-golf tour of a whisky distillery in Edinburgh, Perth or the Highlands, or a beertasting session in Dublin or Killarney. “I believe when you travel internationally, it’s important to sample the local food and drink,” she says. Wine-drinkers aren’t forgotten. The Cyphers plan domestic golf-based wine trips to eastern Washington wine country, Yakima and the TriCities, the Pinot Noir region of Oregon’s Willamette Valley or the Sonoma/Napa wine region of northern California. “It’s the perfect way to combine our clients’ favorite things,” says Michelle. “There are great courses in those areas. It allows for a perfect pairing for mixed groups. There’s interest in golf and interest in other things.’’ Though Travel There and Back is not a golf travel agency, with only 25-30 percent of its business golf-related, the demand for golf trips is definitely on the rise as the world emerges from COVID-19. Golf has been a rare success story during the pandemic as golfers found they could socially distance easily in an outdoor setting. It’s low-impact exercise too, and it’s not necessary to spend much time indoors. “We’re anticipating getting really busy,’’ says Michelle. “There’s a lot of pent-up demand. It’s starting already. I need to find out where in the world golf is open and where people can play.” Their memories await. For information go to travelthereandback.com to learn more or book an appointment to set your dreams into motion. D ES T I N AT I O N GO LFER 57
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60 D ESTI N ATI ON G OL FE R
Native Scotsman, now a U.S. citizen,
David McLay Kidd
brings global perspective and talent to his course architecture leaving a wake of golfing wonders here and abroad
avid Mclay Kidd is one of the world’s foremost golf course architects, but he has never let success change him. A native Scotsman who now lives in our part of the world, he is still the same loud, gregarious, opinionated (his words) guy he always was. He was good enough to share some of those opinions with us in this exclusive Q & A with editor Tony Dear.
When did you first come to the USA? I came to the Golf Industry Show in Orlando in 1990. I was working for Howard Swan, a British architect. I was only a year out of college so didn’t really know anyone, but basically had an ‘in’ with anyone in the golf business because of my father (Jimmy Kidd was the longtime greenskeeper/course manager at Gleneagles in Scotland, one of the most famous hotel and golf resorts in the world and home to three courses one of which, the Jack Nicklaus-designed Centenary Course, hosted the 2014 Ryder Cup). He spent a lot of time over here and was in regular contact with the GCSAA, the PGA Tour etc., and knew everyone. So he was my secret weapon if you like. It’s a story many readers will be familiar with, but remind us how the Bandon Dunes (Ore.) job happened. How did you feel about it? Did you think you were ready for it and capable of building a great course? I was working for Gleaneagles. The idea was to develop Gleaneagles-type resorts around the world and I was the in-house course architect/project manager. My first job was actually in Nepal — that’s a long, crazy story involving the Royal family and civil war but I basically finished the design and got out. I never saw it completed (I played it about 15 years ago and can confirm it is really good). Mike Keiser wanted to build authentic links golf so he decided he wanted a Scottish architect. I was really the only one. It was really in the capacity of Gleneagles Developments that Mike found me, but he was really looking for my dad whom he was aware of. They became firm friends. When we started I was 26. At that age you think you can do anything. You can conquer the world. That first week we were there in July 1994 we figured out we were part of a whole parade of people that Mike might have chosen. As it came
of thing he wanted. Pure golf. In the end, I think he picked me because he knew my dad wouldn’t let me fail and because he felt that an American architect might not have seen the vision through entirely and that at some point they would have fallen back to something they were more familiar with — something more manicured and tidy.
David McLay Kidd's catalog of courses is an all-star lineup of links around the world.
time for us to leave, I thought there was no chance we’d get the job so I felt comfortable just coming right out and telling him what I thought. I gave him a list of the things he could do wrong — clubhouse on the clifftop, bent greens, carts, flowering cherry trees, all that. I said if he wanted it to be authentic, people would walk (in the crappy weather if need be), there be few flat lies, the bunkers would be rugged pot bunkers — real hazards, and it should be fescue. He looked at me very quizzically and the Kemper people (management company Keiser had hired) literally laughed at me. They thought I was suggesting an unworkable course in an unworkable place — a double whammy! Mike was very curious about Sand Hills — Bill Coore’s and Ben Crenshaw’s new course in Nebraska which was very natural, a bit wild, and walking-only. He kept referring to that, Royal County Down in (Northern) Ireland, and Royal Dornoch in Scotland. The dunes were much softer than on those courses, but that was the sort
What did you learn about American golf during your time at Bandon? And what did you learn about the world and yourself? It’s evolving, but back then American golf had a pretty strict set of expectations. It still does to a degree but not as much. Courses had to look a certain way, specifically like Augusta National. If they didn’t they were automatically inferior. I had guys who knew their golf and would have been considered discerning, sophisticated golfers ask me why the conditions in Britain were so bad. They didn’t realize those conditions were like that on purpose. They weren’t bad, of course, they were just largely what Mother Nature gave you. The greenkeepers were no less able. They just had a different set of demands and a different philosophy with regard inputs and chemicals and all that. And I’d heard golf in America was played mostly through the air and discovered that was certainly true. In the UK, you think more about what the ball will do on the ground than what it’ll do in the air. I learned a lot about how the world works, but the first thing was that a Scotsman and a guy from Oregon might speak the same language, but culturally they are very, very different. I would insult someone I liked to the very core of their being to show how much I cared about them. That’s fine in Britain but it didn’t go down very well here sometimes. And I learned that if I was willing to attempt something, there might be some hiccups along the way, but I’d usually find a way to do it. D ES T I N AT I O N GO LFER 61
body suggested I take a trip out to the desert. I said ‘what desert? There’s no desert in Oregon.’ But they assured me there was. Even though I’d been to Sunriver, I really didn’t remember much so was a bit skeptical. But I took the five-hour drive over the mountains, and remember the weather changing dramatically as I made it over the top. It was like driving into Narnia. I had tried living in Bandon for a couple of years, but it was tough. It wasn’t great for travel and, though a storm is great if you’re visiting and want the authentic British links experience, it’s not great if you live there. In 2006, I was hired to design Tetherow. I used that as an excuse to relocate to Bend and I’ve been here ever since.
Were you immediately in demand after Bandon Dunes, or did it take another couple of smaller jobs before developers had 100 percent confidence in their decision to hire you? Somewhere in between. I think Golfweek had put Bandon Dunes in its top ten before it even opened, and Golf Digest was calling me the next superstar. So it was a pretty big deal, but after it had opened I think I waited nine months before I got another job. Queenwood, near London, Powerscourt in Ireland, and Nanea in Hawaii all happened about the same time.
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When did you move to Bend and why? I had actually been to Sunriver in 1991. Gleneagles was looking to create something in the area and I met with the development team out there and stayed in a house on the Crosswater Club course. But I was only there a short time. Three or four years later, we were building Bandon and getting soaked to the skin every day when some-
There’s a great story behind every project you’ve done, but what are the three most memorable besides Bandon Dunes? Bandon Dunes was certainly memorable and I’ll be forever grateful to Mike for giving me the opportunity. But it wasn’t an ideal scenario at times. I was very much the new kid. Hell, I wasn’t even that. I had no track record at all, and was getting pushback from Mike’s retail golfer friends, colleagues, and advisors all the time. Gamble Sands was entirely different. I won the trust of the Gebbers Family entirely, almost to the point of feeling burdened by it. They put so much trust in me before I felt like I’d done enough to deserve it, and obviously didn’t want to let them down. I had my absolute A+ team working on it, and during the project I really felt re-energized with my love for golf course architecture. I wanted to push back at what had happened at Machrihanish Dunes, Tetherow, and the Castle Course. I think they’re great courses but, first and foremost, I wanted to build a course that was playable for the average golfer. I cast off all the expectations from the media, raters, and what golfers here expect golf to look like and went with what my gut told me to be right. It felt like the Traveling Wilburys. I had a team of people that were very good at what they do, but I got to be the leader of the band and create the parameters we worked around. Another would be Nanea. I was in Scotland at the time I got the call and was in Hawaii 24 hours later. I’d never been to Hawaii, had never seen lava, and had not the slightest clue who Chuck Schwab or George Roberts were. It was another crazy, very unlikely set of circumstances like Bandon. I basically spent three days at the Four Seasons telling them I was in no way qualified for what they wanted me to do, but I think my telling them that made them all the more determined to hire me. My third would be the Castle Course. That’s a helluva story — Home of Golf, municipal course, university town, the politics, all the cloak and dagger stuff that went on in the town, the Links Trust, the R & A, and within my own industry (Tom Doak rated it a ‘0’ in his Confidential Guide).
It’s so cool that a kid from Renfrewshire in Scotland has worked for some very prominent people. How did it all happen, and what’s it like working for Mike Keiser, Charles Schwab, Jon Huntsman Sr (Huntsman Springs now Tributary in Idaho), Dietrich Mateschitz (co-founder of Red Bull for whom Kidd built a course on the Pacific island of Laucala), Carlos Pellas (Nicaraguan billionaire businessman who hired Kidd to design Guacalito de la Isla), Cass Gebbers (Washington State orchardier and rancher who developed Gamble Sands)...? Gleneagles was a place where the very wealthy would visit. And they all knew my dad — Jackie Stewart, Sean Connery, Princess Anne. Jack Nicklaus phoned our house and asked to speak with my dad a couple of times. I’m not saying I, or my dad was one of them, of course, but I felt comfortable around these people from a young age. You soon realize they’re just people, like you and me. Do you have any particular favorites among the owners you’ve worked for? They’re all great and I really don’t have a bad thing to say about any of them…well, maybe a couple. But Chuck Schwab is an absolute gem of a man. He’s a multi-billionaire obviously but genuinely cares about people and takes the time to find out about you. I remember sitting down and talking with him and him asking me about my family and how I became an architect and all that. And suddenly he asks what credit card I have and proceeds to tell me the benefits of changing to his card. That was odd. (Kidd then tells a story. I was in Hawaii and given the keys to his car. I was so naïve I thought it was his actual car, but of course it was for chefs, pilots and other staff members. I opened the glove box looking for some music and there was one CD. It was called ‘Buying a House with no Money Down”. I thought it was hilarious that Charles Schwab should have a CD about how to buy a house. It was years later that I realized it wasn’t his CD…or car.) He’d be my No. 1 but I haven’t worked for anyone I didn’t like. I could enjoy a cup of coffee and a bacon sandwich in the kitchen with any of them. They’re all good people, and I think there was a mutual respect. Tetherow
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Oh sure. You do something they don’t and are one of the best at it so that’s understandable. Well, I certainly hope so. It’s different when you’re working for existing clubs though (Kidd has done extensive work at Broken Top in Bend, Rolling Hills in Los Angeles, Rancho Santa Fe in San Diego, and has been renovating/redesigning Estrada at Snow Canyon in Utah in recent
months) because the committee or board of directors that hires you is often different to that in place when you complete the job. Besides the billionaires though, you’ve worked for municipal authorities, private clubs, semi-private clubs, and even the PGA Tour (TPC Stonebrae in California). How have you juggled all that? I really like the fact I’ve been able to build courses for a range of entities, but yes, it can get quite complicated at times. Essentially, though, you’re working for one person maybe two and regardless of who they are or what they represent they still want the best course you can design. The problem comes when the golf course isn’t the absolute number one priority. Yes, a developer may want the best course of which you’re capable but it may be with a view to selling homes or filling hotel rooms. Then our priorities probably don’t align and there may have to be some tricky compromises. You been in America for 20 years. Are you a citizen? And how often do you go back to Scotland? I am and feel very humbled and honored to travel with my blue passport. I still have my red one (burgundy actually), but don’t use it much and obviously haven’t been able to for a while now. Before Covid, I was going to Scotland once a year on average. I don’t go there that often because my immediate family has moved. I have some aunts, uncles and cousins there, but my parents are in Essex, England now. My best friend from school lives in Scotland still and I see him. I actually just spoke to him on the phone this morning from 21,000 feet. Ah yes, your plane. What is it, and how long have you been flying? What are the benefits? It’s a Cirrus SR22T. I’ve been piloting my own plane since 2012. My quality of life is so much better because I’m not a slave to the airlines. It allows me to spend so much more time at home with my family and on a work site. Flying commercial meant having a very strict schedule. I could spend three maybe four days on-site then leave. With my own plane, I can fly to the site whenever I like pretty much and spend a day or two. So I can tweak and edit and control the development of the course much more closely. And it has allowed me to continue working in the Covid era. I’ve only had my current plane for a year and haven’t taken it over the Rockies yet, but I flew my previous plane to the east coast several times. This week, I’ve flown over 3,000 miles going from Bend to St. George, Utah, down to San Diego, back to St. George, and finally back to Bend.
As far as I’m concerned there is definitely a genuine respect. When I first came to the US, I didn’t really see anything that resonated. They weren’t bad courses necessarily, but I didn’t find anything that really spoke to me. They seemed a little formulaic and contrived. But that group of architects you mentioned quickly emerged and what they were doing absolutely resonated with me. I could see influences from the old country and I thought what they were doing was really, really good. I’m thrilled to be considered a part of that group and definitely conscious of trying to one-up them, or build something just as good as what they’re doing, every chance I get.
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You mentioned the courses you took some stick for — Machrihanish Dunes, Tetherow and Castle Course. What was your motivation for making them so tough? How/when did your shift in philosophy happen? That was just what everyone was doing at the time. And it seemed all the great courses, or those ranked as the elite, were brutally hard. There was a definite theme in the media that golf was becoming too easy and would be overwhelmed by Tiger Woods and others. So terms like ‘Resistance to scoring’ became a thing. I remember going to Oakmont a few years ago and speaking with a lot of the members. Most of them said they all played at other clubs and would visit Oakmont a few times a year. It was an amazing experience to play such a great, historic course, but they wouldn’t want to do it often. I began to realize golfers that weren’t elite ball-strikers — the 99.9 percent of us — obviously didn’t enjoy playing really tough courses. You could still make the course challenging but not to the point where your shot had to hit a very specific spot, where the margin for error was tiny, like we see at Augusta National. That’s for the best players in the world who get badly punished for missing targets by a very small margin. There’s obviously a place for courses like Oakmont. It’s over 100 years old and still ranked in the top ten in the world. But I decided that’s not what I want my legacy to be. I get excited by the fact the Castle Course is the second most popular in St. Andrews and the feedback we get from Gamble Sands or Mammoth Dunes. You’re part of an elite group of architects that also includes Bill Coore, Ben Crenshaw, Tom Doak, and Gil Hanse. Give us a sense of the level of camaraderie/friendship/respect/competition there is between you.
How often do you get to play and what’s your handicap? What are some of your favorite courses to play in the Pacific Northwest that you didn’t design? I’m a highish single-figure golfer and will play anywhere. I’m not a course snob. I don’t play as much as I like, but who does? I went several months without picking a club up over the fall and winter then in March hosted two groups at Bandon in quick succession, playing every day for a week. But I won’t play now until the opening of Quicksands in May. I play a lot of golf at the Tom Weiskopf/Jay Morrish-designed Broken Top in Bend, but I think the best course in Central Oregon might be Crosswater. Bob Cupp and John Fought did an outstanding job there. I play all the Bandon courses as much as I can. And I like to play newly renovated courses to see what other architects are doing. They’re not in the Pacific Northwest, but I want to see what Kyle Phillips did at Hillcrest in Los Angeles, and what Weiskopf did at Torrey Pines North a few years ago. You can learn something every single time you visit a new course whether it be something you want to emulate or something to avoid. Tell us about Quicksands — why are we going to love it? I took what I thought was a novel view to the genre. The model in many cases seems to be taking regular-sized golf holes and shrinking them into miniature versions. There are many things you can do on a short course you absolutely could not do on a regular course, and I focused on them — a crater green, a boomerang, a corkscrew, a huge backboard, an 80-yard hole you could putt. What about the third course at Gamble Sands; what needs to happen before work starts? As you know, Gamble Sands is a tiny part of the Gebbers’s business. They are in no rush to get it done and a lot of other things need to happen to make the course workable. I routed it awhile ago, so it’s ready to be built, but for it to work there would need to be more rooms, more F & B outlets, more car park space, etc. All that doesn’t
just happen overnight. Without it all, you’ll just have the same number of unique visitors who are already there to play the Sands Course just playing an extra round. A lot of the old architects — Mackenzie, Braid, Fowler, etc. wrote down their guiding principles, their rules of design if you like. Have you ever done that? No, I have not. My concern is that it sparked a chain reaction that led to the conformity of golf design. When Mackenzie wrote his principals it caused a lot of wannabe designers to follow his process to the letter with little regard for the site. They saw them as the Ten Commandments written by God. There have since been plenty of good architects and developers who regarded them as guidelines, not strict rules, and done great work and I think the person who has done most to break that is Mike Keiser. How long has Nick Schaan been with you and what does he bring to the table? He’s been with me for 15 years and can do a mountain of things I can’t. He’s very detailedoriented. He filters my big ideas, identifying the stuff that will work and discarding the stuff that won’t. If I were a writer he’d be my editor but that is doing him a disservice. He’s so much more than that. He’s a very good writer himself. Favorite architect from the past? Have you modeled yourself on anyone in particular? Whose style would you say your work most resembles? My dad was obsessed with the Great Triumvirate, especially James Braid. He is an encyclopedia on Braid. Harry Colt too. I grew up searching for and playing their courses, so I’m sure some of their characteristics rubbed off on me. Your newest new-build project is Comporta Dunes in Portugal, but you actually designed it years ago. What’s the story there? There’s a very famous family in Portugal called Espirito Santo. It goes back hundreds of
years and has owned the biggest bank there for a long time. We were building the course for them, and it turned out the family’s patriarch Ricardo Espírito Santo Silva Salgado was embezzling billions of Euros. The course was a tiny part of the family’s extensive portfolio of businesses but construction just stopped. This was July 2014. We had begun grassing the front nine and were literally a couple of weeks from completing the job. I was also working on a course near London, called Beaverbrook, at the time and a house guest of the owner. One morning, he was reading the London Times, saw the story about Espirito Santo, and said “Isn’t that your client in Portugal?” I flew to Portugal the following day and demanded we get paid for the work we’d already done. The head of the family’s development unit told me it was just a small problem and everything would be okay. But I said if he hadn’t paid me by the end of the day, I’d be stopping work and telling all my construction guys to go home. Next day, they tried fobbing me off again, so I just left. A few years later, some Swiss money in the form of a very well-organized real estate development company bought it and work began again. My construction subcontractor Connor Walsh has been there for a few weeks rebuilding what was lost. I’m going over there next week (traveled their in April) to assess progress. If all goes according to plan, it should be ready for play sometime in the fall of 2022, and I have very high hopes for it. Thankfully, during the time it spent fallow, a lot of cool flora was re-established. It’s in a beautiful pine forest and some heather began growing, so it looks a bit like Sunningdale. You just became a father again. Your son has a Scottish father, an English mother, and lives in the U.S. How’s that going to work? I’ll be fine, but my wife might have a problem. She says that when Drake, our son, says “Hey Mommy, can I have some candy” (Kidd affects an American accent) it’ll put her teeth on edge. She’ll be the one to say “It’s mummy, sweets, and it’s not bay-zil but bah-zil”. I think she’s joking, but can’t be sure.
Kidd with author Tony Dear, NFL star Sidney Rice and golf journalist Anni Shelley at Seattle's Sand Point GC.
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it’s Make it a 2BAR Weekend! Memorial Day is just around the corner & we’ve got you covered with 2BAR cocktails all weekend long.
Morning Before you hit the green, start your morning off with a Bourbon Cold Brew Coffee! Hey, it’s got coffee in it… plus a little 2BAR Straight Bourbon, chocolate bitters, Kahlua, topped with whip cream, & garnished with a mint. Or, if you’re in a hurry, tumbler it, & serve it on rocks.
Bourbon Cold Brew Coffee 1 1/2 2BAR Bourbon 80 proof 1/2 oz Kahlua 2 dashes Chocolate Bitters 3 oz Cold Brew Coffee Shake with ice and strain into iced high ball glass, Top with whipped cream and mint sprig
Blood Orange Stone Sour
Afternoon or Brunch
1 1/2 oz 2BAR Amaretto Barrel Finished Bourbon 3/4 oz Blood Orange Juice 1/4 oz Lemon Juice 1 oz simple syrup Egg white Dry shake for 1 minute, then add ice and shake again Strain into a Coupe Glass and garnish with orange
Kick up the afternoon with a Blood Orange Stone Sour. 2BAR Amaretto Barrel Finished Bourbon, blood orange juice, lemon juice, simple syrup… this cocktail can be enjoyed at the clubhouse, on the deck, or at brunch.
Evening Cap off the night with a 2BAR New York Sour. Open a bottle of your favorite Red & grab some 2BAR Wine Barrel Finished Bourbon. Make a traditional NY Sour (bourbon, lemon juice, simple syrup) & serve it on the rocks. Float a little red on top. If you’re feeling fancy, garnish with orange & a cherry. All our bourbons can be purchased online at 2barspirits.com & shipped to your doorstep. We hope you give these cocktails at try & get creative this Memorial Day Weekend. Cheers & enjoy!
2BAR Spirits N W
2Bar New York Sour 2oz 2BAR Wine Barrel Finish Bourbon 1 oz Lemon Juice 1oz Simple Syrup Shake with ice and Strain over iced rock glass Top with 1oz Red Wine, Cab or Syrah
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