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

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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.