Category Archives: Commentary

Book Review: “Dream Golf: The Making of Bandon Dunes”

FIVE STARS. The only thing that would make it better would be pictures! And there are plenty of those online.

I recently finished, Dream Golf: The Making of Bandon Dunes, and it has awoken in me an interest in golf architecture. The book is authored by Stephen Goodwin, and is an excellent account of Mike Keiser’s growing passion and development fundamentals and the architectural details of bringing links courses to the west coast of the United States. I could hardly put it down, and was further intrigued by the extended details about the construction of Pacific Dunes and Old Macdonald, both designed by Tom Doak, whose design firm, Renaissance Golf Design, is located in Traverse City, MI. And little did I know that my favorite course growing up, High Pointe Golf Club in Acme, MI was his first design. If only it were still open, I would love to go back and explore its many still-familiar features. And I learned of “The Dunes Club,” Keiser’s first course, located in New Buffalo, MI (!) . . . a nod to Pine Valley and one of, or the, top nine-hole club in the country. (Who knew?!)

Upon finishing the book, I went to the public library and checked out two golf architecture books to flip through, initially, with hopes of reading more in depth soon. I’ve even scouted farmland nearby, dreaming of digging a nine-hole links course with little more than the spade in my garage and good intentions. Alas, I may need to make my millions before I venture down that road. But at least Dream Golf has brought a new part of the game to life for me.

I’ve since learned that there are the following courses at Bandon Dunes, all of which comprise “a golf trip that must occur”:

– Bandon Dunes – D. Kidd
– Pacific Dunes – T. Doak
– Bandon Trials – B. Crenshaw & B. Coore
– Old Macdonald – T. Doak & J. Urbina
– The Preserve – B. Crenshaw & B. Coore
– The Punch Bowl – T. Doak & J. Urbina
– Shorty’s – D. Kidd

Following are some of my favorite excerpts from the book.

“As a golf course developer, he was starting out pretty much from scratch. He had never invested in any kind of golf deal, and he wasn’t even a member of a golf club. But golf was in his blood, and when he said no to the investment bankers dangling their schemes in front of him, he knew in a general way what direction he wanted to take. He was headed toward that shining, elusive realm known as the kingdom of golf.”

“But the best architects still believed that good land—undulating land, not steep but with pronounced topographical features, and with porous soils, not a heavy clay—was a sine qua non for a good golf course.”

“To learn golf architecture one must know golf itself, its companionships, its joys, its sorrows, its battles—one must play golf and love it.”

“He wrote thoughtfully and persuasively about the principles of design, declaring that golf holes were either heroic, strategic, or penal in nature, and that a good architect mixed these three types of holes according to his site, blending them into one harmonious composition.”

“Mike was in heaven. He loved the simplicity and grandeur of the golf courses and the complete lack of pretension in all the other arrangements. The clubhouses were modest, the food was plain, the hotels were drafty, the weather was the usual Irish mix of rain and mist with occasional peeks of sunshine, but the golf was splendid.”

” “The Almighty intended this place for gawf,” Old Tom declared when he first laid eyes on the dunes of Machrihanish.”

” “It seemed that this land had been lying here for years waiting for someone to lay a golf course upon it,” Bobby Jones wrote after his first sight of the valley that now forms the amphitheater at Augusta National.”

“A great golf course is “nature perfected.” It is neither wholly natural nor can it be wholly unnatural or manufactured.”

“A walk in the vast and barren sand hills of Nebraska is not nearly as compelling as a round of golf at Sand Hills Golf Club.” (A course I had the privilege of playing in the fall of 2014.)

“For Mike, the lesson was crystal clear: If you wanted to create something exceptional, something extraordinary, you had to be fearless. You had to be prepared to follow your dream.”

“Though educated as a lawyer—he was assistant district attorney and later assistant city attorney in charge of prosecution in his hometown of Topeka, Kansas—his lifelong passion had always been golf course design, and, after becoming a contributing editor on architecture for Golf Digest in 1985, he had become one of the most influential critics in American golf.”

“Though he didn’t say so in the letter, David imagined the clubhouse and village as having an effect similar to the one that towns in Scotland had. In towns like Machrihanish or North Berwick or Carnoustie or St. Andrews, the golf course starts at the town’s doorstep, so to speak, pushes off into the wilds of nature, and then, at the round’s end, returns to civilization.”

“He relied heavily on his land-use attorney, Al Johnson, whom he’d selected partly for his unflappable calm. (“Al wore sweaters like Mr. Rogers. He was the ultimate down-home lawyer, which was exactly what I wanted.” (Note that I like this quote because I’m a lawyer and my last name is Rogers.)

“In Anatomy, Tom’s chapter on “The Green Complex” carries as its epigraph a quote from C. B. Macdonald: “Putting greens are to golf courses what faces are to portraits.””

“Throughout the round, he made sure that I noticed the weave and roll of the greens, and the variations in the Chicago Golf Club version of the Macdonald/Raynor iconic holes—the Punchbowl, the Cape, the Biarritz, the Double Plateau, the Redan, the Eden, the Road.”

More Quotes That I Like

“The best way to predict your future is to create it.” ~ A. Lincoln

“I want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees.” ~ Pablo Neruda

“Marriage is not a noun; it’s a verb. It isn’t something you get. It’s something you do. It’s the way you love your partner every day.” ~ Barbara de Angelis

“Time is our most precious commodity.” (Economic good, something useful or valued.)

“Productivity is a means to an end; not an end unto itself.”

“It’s not productivity. It’s not innovation. It’s identity. If you’ve lived a life where holidays are a nuisance, where you’ve missed your favorite uncle’s funeral and your children’s childhoods, in a culture that conflates manly heroism with long hours, it’s going to take more than a few regressions to convince you it wasn’t really necessary, after all, for your work to devour you.”

“I’m a huge proponent of not subscribing to other people’s definition of “having it all.” Having it all doesn’t necessarily mean being a law firm partner and having kids. Decide what it means for you, and then strive to achieve that.”

“The idea is to make the largest dent in the universe that you can and have fun while doing it.”

“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”
― Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

“It was the first kiss for both of us. We never really talked about it afterward, but I think about the events of that day again and again, and somehow I know that Winnie does too. Whenever some blowhard starts talking about the anonymity of the suburbs, or the mindlessness of the TV generation. Because we know that inside each one of those identical boxes, with its Dodge parked out front, and its white bread on the table, and its TV set glowing blue in the falling dusk, there were people with stories. There were families bound together in the pain and the struggle of love. There were moments that made us cry with laughter. And there were moments, like that one, of sorrow and wonder.” ~ Narrator, end of first episode of The Wonder Years

“Man surprised me most about humanity. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money.
Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.” ~ Dalai Lama

Scarlet Maples

“Already, by the first of September, I had seen two or three small maples turned scarlet across the pond, beneath where the white stems of three aspens diverged, at the point of a promontory, next the water. Ah, many a tale their color told! And gradually from week to week the character of each tree came out, and it admired itself reflected in the smooth mirror of the lake. Each morning the manager of this gallery substituted some new picture, distinguished by more brilliant or harmonious coloring, for the old upon the walls.”

~ Walden, by Throeau

Flashback

While talking on my cell phone to Lindsey and putting one-handed with my Scotty Cameron Santa Fe putter, I had a brief flashback to talking to my parents via cell phone while putting one-handed with the same putter on the U of M putting green in the fall of 2004.

Hey, Let’s All Sing Along!

How exciting it must be to be a band and hear your fans sing along or cause them to dance. Whether it’s just one, a small crowd in a bar, or a mass in a packed stadium, to know that one or many have been touched by your music has to be an amazing feeling. Case in point:

and

and

To Invent Your Own Life’s Meaning

Bill Watterson, the author of the comic, Calvin and Hobbes, gave a commencement address at Kenyon College in 1990. It was recently highlighted by Zach Klein in comic form. Here is the same excerpt, as text:

Creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare achievement. In a culture that relentlessly promotes avarice and excess as the good life, a person happy doing his own work is usually considered an eccentric, if not a subversive. Ambition is only understood if it’s to rise to the top of some imaginary ladder of success. Someone who takes an undemanding job because it affords him the time to pursue other interests and activities is considered a flake. A person who abandons a career in order to stay home and raise children is considered not to be living up to his potential-as if a job title and salary are the sole measure of human worth.

You’ll be told in a hundred ways, some subtle and some not, to keep climbing, and never be satisfied with where you are, who you are, and what you’re doing. There are a million ways to sell yourself out, and I guarantee you’ll hear about them.

To invent your own life’s meaning is not easy, but it’s still allowed, and I think you’ll be happier for the trouble.

Traverse City Film Festival

Lindsey and I went to only two movies during the Traverse City Film Festival this year. The first was Bypass, which is a Spanish romantic comedy drama. In short, a young man becomes embroiled in a difficult emotional dilemma between his pregnant girlfriend and his childhood friend with a heart condition. He pretends to Love the friend as a means of comforting her in her last days. The problem arises when she miraculously recovers and he is forced to juggle the two women.

The second was Mistaken for Strangers, in which the younger brother of the National’s front man follows him on tour. It was a funny and touching story about two different artistic brothers getting to know each other later in life.

I’ve learned to very carefully select movies at film festivals. If you don’t, it can be quite disappointing. We did well this year, and I’m looking forward to next year.

Daily Routines of John Grisham and Ben Franklin

For a long time now, I have been interested in the daily routines of successful people. Here are two of my favories:

Author John Grisham’s routine, as reported in the San Francisco Chronicle, Feb. 5, 2008:

When he first started writing, Grisham says, he had “these little rituals that were silly and brutal but very important.”

“The alarm clock would go off at 5, and I’d jump in the shower. My office was 5 minutes away. And I had to be at my desk, at my office, with the first cup of coffee, a legal pad and write the first word at 5:30, five days a week.”

His goal: to write a page every day. Sometimes that would take 10 minutes, sometimes an hour; ofttimes he would write for two hours before he had to turn to his job as a lawyer, which he never especially enjoyed. In the Mississippi Legislature, there were “enormous amounts of wasted time” that would give him the opportunity to write.

“So I was very disciplined about it,” he says, then quickly concedes he doesn’t have such discipline now: “I don’t have to.”

Ben Franklin’s routine, source unknown:

Ben Franklin Daily Routine

Poking Fun at Alpha Parents

Here is an excerpt from an articled titled, “Why You’re Never Failing as a Mother,” from the website/blog Pregnant Chicken.

You are in the trenches when you have a baby. To the untrained eye it seems pretty straightforward and easy – you feed them, you bathe them, you pick them up when they cry – but it’s more than that. It’s perpetual motion with a generous layer of guilt and self-doubt spread on top, and that takes its toll.

Feeling like you also need to keep on top of scrapbooking, weight loss, up-cycled onesies, handprints, crock pot meals, car seat recalls, sleeping patterns, poo consistency, pro-biotic supplements, swimming lessons, electromagnetic fields in your home and television exposure, is like trying to knit on a rollercoaster – it’s [omitted swearword] hard.

We live in a time when we can [G]oogle everything, share ideas, and expose our children to amazing opportunities, but anyone that implies that they have it figured out is either drunk or lying (or both) so don’t be too hard on yourself.

Your job is to provide your child with food, shelter, encouragement and love, and that doesn’t have to be solely provided by you either – feel free to outsource because they didn’t just pull that “it takes a village” proverb out of the air.

In a similar tone, I’ll point you to a recent poem I read in the New Yorker magazine titled, “Goodnight Nanny-Cam,” which is parody of the book, Goodnight Moon.

Timeframes

From a speech titled, “10 Timeframes,” given by Paul Ford to MFA graduates. (LINK) This is an excerpt of the second of his ten timeframes

You know that decades are a recent invention? Decades are hardly a century old. Not the concept of having ten years of course, but the concept of the decade as a sort of major cultural unit, like when I say “the 90s” and you think of flannel shirts and grunge music and great R&B music, or when I say “the 80s” and you think of people with big hair using floppy disks. You need a lot of change for a decade to be a meaningful demarcation. Back in the 1600s they didn’t really talk about centuries as much either. It was all about the life of the king, the reign (of King James and so forth), or the era.

And then they invent clocks and clocks get cheaper and cheaper. Clocks are an amazing experience, right? Two hands, and a bell. This sense of relentless forward motion and they go in only one direction. Imagine doing user testing on clocks.

You say, “You’re a farmer—tell me about a normal day.”

And the farmer says, “Normally I wake up then depending on the month I might plant or reap the harvest.”

And you say, “How do you know what to plant?”

And the farmer says, “I’ve got this poem that we’ve been using for generations, so like, in June I mow my corn, in August I harvest my wheat with a sickle, stuff like that.”

And you’re trying to build understanding, you say, “That poem sounds really useful. But I’d like to talk about a new approach to time. What if I could divide every single day into 24 big parts called hours, and each of those into 60 little parts called minutes? So now instead of having just a whole day, you have 1,440 little pieces of time and you can arrange them and do whatever you want. What is your reaction to that?”

And I think the farmer would probably be polite but I’m guessing he’d be thinking, “Clock? That’s the single stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.”

Everything is an Adventure

Here begins my collection of parenting snippets from other people, sources, etc. I won’t call them tips or advice. That’s too constraining.

My dad used to say everything was an “adventure.” He’d be going to the grocery store, for example, and he’d ask us, “Want to go on an adventure?” We pile into the car, excited to try some cheese samples and listen to the radio while driving. That one word made everything feel thrilling.

From A CUP OF JO.

Closing Doors

“We think we understand the rules when we become adults but what we really experience is a narrowing of the imagination.” ~ David Lynch

I am not convinced that I will ever understand all of the rules by which I live. Although, it is important to remember that “understand” is not the same as “agree with” or “acknowledge.” Depending on the situation, not acknowledging the rules leads to imprisonment. Stabbing. Shooting. Driving drunk. While in many other endeavors, choosing not to acknowledge the rules is rewarded. Scientific discovery! New methods of communication! Less wrinkles! Longer drive!

Let’s look at the definitions of “imagination”:

  1. the act or power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses or never before wholly perceived in reality
  2. creative ability
  3. ability to confront and deal with a problem
  4. the thinking or active mind
  5. a creation of the mind; especially, an idealized or poetic creation
  6. fanciful or empty assumption

The tension in the quote results from two false assumptions made by adults:

  1. That they understand the rules; and
  2. That increased imagination is unnecessary to better understand those same rules which they falsely assume they understand.

It is a necessary chore of life to force myself to question nearly everything, which is another way of saying that I (and you!) should always live life the way I want to live it while acknowledging the rules that need to be acknowledged, deciding for myself which rules are are worth agreeing with and following based on the consequences of not following those rules and my personal beliefs, which rules deserve further study for me to better understand them, and, in turn, lead a fuller and more purposeful life. And while slogging through the life’s muddy pool of rules, I must always actively remember to use my imagination to imagine the possibilities that fall outside life’s staid prescriptions.

The Daily: Right of the Dot

Today, I learned that the lords of the internet will be approving for sale new top-level domain names. For example, the following are common top-level domain names currently permitted: .com, .net, .org, .biz. Many of us are accustomed to the dot-com boom (and bust) and the colloquialized terms and references relating thereto.

What the introduction of new top-level domains means is that there will likely be many more different website addresses, some that will be specific to a business or type of business. Instead of visiting “Disney.com,” you may visit “Magic.Disney.” Dot-Disney displaces the dot-com. Or instead of going to “Macys.com” to shop online, you might type in “Macys.shop”.

Apparently it costs a lot to gain control of the content to the right of the dot. At least for the most obvious terms. Entire businesses have been built around and for acquiring the management rights thereto. I think we’ll pass on that for now. Instead, I’ll just brainstorm about what names would be right-domains for us: .law, .golf, .love, .yogi, .mich, .goblue, .yoga.

What would you grab if you could get a right-of-the-dot domain?

The Daily: Weekend 2

Another week of firsts in home ownership for us. This week we got the water softener up and running, which was as easy as adding salt to the bin. Now, in addition to shuffling 50-pound bags of sand and salt around the long driveway, I get to lug 40-pound bags of high-quality 98.5 percent pure salt cubes through the living-room to the basement. Fortunately, I’ll only have to do this every one-and-a-half years.

I finished John Grisham’s, The Litigators last night and found it to be better than his recent books. It was entertaining from start to end, as it depicts the evolution of its protagonist attorney David Zinc from “big law” grunt to small firm hero. Unlike some of Grisham’s early books, like the The Firm, there is less emphasis on physical chase and more legal and/or courtroom drama. I recommend the book.

More from the Grisham front, the TV show The Firm premiers tonight (Sunday) at 9PM on NBC. We’ll see if it’s a worthwhile watch.

It looks like a beautiful and sunny Sunday, which means I should run to work before I start chasing the dog and setting up the fire pit. Have a great week and you’ll hear from us soon enough!