BANDON Dunes developer Mike Keiser has revealed Royal Dornoch was hugely influential in his decision to create an authentic links challenge on the coast of Oregon.
Canadian golf journalist Lorne Rubenstein – who was awarded Life Membership at the Highland club earlier this year – has been reviewing the successful US businessman’s new book for Scoregolf.com
Keiser, who entrusted Scots architect David McLay Kidd to deliver a classic links on the Pacific coastline against the advice of naysayers, has renewed a partnership with author Stephen Goodwin to pen “The Nature of the Game: Links Golf at Bandon Dunes and Far Beyond.”
Naturally, the award-winning Oregon course, which opened in 1999, features heavily, along with Tom Doak’s revered Pacific Dunes.
Keiser and Goodwin have also assessed other acclaimed projects, such as Nova Scotia’s Cabot Cape Breton with partner Ben Cowan-Dewar (Cabot Links, Cabot Cliffs) and Sand Valley in Wisconsin, that departed from the customary parkland model.
“The list of architects, shapers and other partners is impressive,” acknowledged Rubenstein.
“Keiser’s partnerships have brought stimulating links golf, and linkslike golf, to a game that had become saturated and stunted with one parkland course after another, one “test” of golf after another, what with their emphasis on length, water hazards (or “features” with their required forced carries), and the notion that to examine a player’s abilities, a course should be perilous; more penal than pleasing, that is, more suffering than strategy.”
“Keiser writes of the elements in links golf that spoke to him. He understood in his gut that any courses in which he would be involved should be on the seaside and sandy soil. If they were remote from popular centres — cue Bandon Dunes and Cabot Cape Breton, for example — that could even prove to be an asset.”
In the book, Keiser observes: “My favorite links courses, Ballybunion and Royal Dornoch, have glorious views of the sea, and the golf is infused with a sense of space and infinity.
“As for sandy soil, I liked how links turf felt underfoot, and I knew that the firm, fast playing conditions of the links could be reproduced somewhere in America.”
Rubenstein observes that Keiser’s philosophy is captured perfectly in the quote: “To move freely across a beautiful landscape, seeing the sparkle of sunshine on the sea, enjoying the company of family and friends with the breeze at our backs — golf makes us happy to be alive.”
Rubenstein notes that Keiser is an admirer of imaginative Canadian developer Ben Cowan-Dewar, who partnered the Cabot Cape Breton destination courses near the small Nova Scotian island town of Inverness.
Recently, Cowan-Dewar and architect Tom Doak’s vision was unveiled for a second course at Cabot Highlands’ Castle Stuart Links, near the original Inverness here in Scotland.