Keiser Goes Against Grain To Develop Courses
``You can't go to a golf course and see a weed like this,'' Keiser said. ``It's part of the wildness here. It's part of the wildflower thing. They don't build them like that in the United States.''
Keiser has risked going against the grain and found success - first with a recycled paper greeting card company before the environment became a hot-button word, and now with a third world-class golf course in a state better known for rain than sunshine.
A monument to the ancient roots of golf as it was played in Scotland and Ireland, the Bandon Dunes Golf Resort has become a hot destination for golfers around the world and a bright spot in a local economy still trying to find its feet after the collapse of the fishing and timber industries.
Two courses - Bandon Dunes and Pacific Dunes - are on Golf Digest's top 100 in the country. A third, Bandon Trails, opened this month and is drawing rave reviews. They are all links courses, carved out of seaside sand in a tradition that grew out of knocking a little ball around the poor lands between the sea and farm fields with a stick.
``The best courses, with a few exceptions, are built on the ocean in sand,'' Keiser said. ``We believe, as links purists, that you can't beat wind for informing ripples, forms and shapes. It works because it is so natural and wild.''
And there are no fairway homes to spoil the view, even though ocean-view lots on the Oregon coast can go for $1 million. That would violate Keiser's unspoken compact with golf enthusiasts.
``As soon as we do, it changes the whole feel of the place,'' he said. ``It becomes more common. And because the avid golfers have come here, the unspoken compact I have is that as long as they are coming here, I won't change what they like about it.''
Keiser, 60, grew up spending every daylight summer hour caddying or playing golf at East Aurora Country Club outside Buffalo, N.Y.
Facing the draft after majoring in romance poetry at Amherst College, he joined the Navy and served stateside blowing up old bombs. Afterward, on the last night of a ski trip to Colorado, he dreamed of starting a business based on recycled paper. Keiser's wife wanted him to go to Harvard Business School, but his college roommate, Phil Friedmann, liked the idea.
In 1971, a year after the first Earth Day, they pooled $500 each and started Recycled Paper Greetings, Inc., in Chicago. Though Keiser's father saw no future in the venture, he guaranteed half the $15,000 first printing bill.
The company has grown to 850 employees with $100 million in sales that rank it a distant third behind Hallmark and American Greetings, said Keiser, who remains an owner and regularly shuttles between the company's headquarters in a former dairy building and Bandon Dunes.
Financial success allowed Keiser to indulge his passion for golf - he carries a 12 handicap - traveling the world, playing the top courses. He decided the best were the classic links courses of Scotland and Ireland, and the best way to enjoy them was to walk.
In 1986, he bought 60 acres along Lake Michigan near his summer home and, inspired by Pine Valley Golf Club in New Jersey, built a nine-hole links course. His first Oregon course, Bandon Dunes, opened in 1999.
Keiser acknowledges a few sleepless nights.
``What was the Oregon brand? Rain. You go to St. Louis and try to sell Bandon Dunes in March, they look at you and say, `Why do I want go there when I can go to Florida or Arizona?'' he said.
Keiser figured he could open the first course for $3 million, but architect Howard McKee persuaded him to spend about $15 million, including rooms and facilities. Thanks to his personal fortune, Keiser needed little outside financing.
``If you want to give something a try, you need your own money,'' Keiser said.
As it turned out, the rain was overrated, and no deterrent to a golf destination that was different.
Keiser would have been happy to draw 10,000 rounds of golf a year, but soon was getting 30,000. Last year, the two courses drew 70,000 rounds, said general manager Hank Hickox.
Bandon Dunes, with its spectacular ocean views, is ranked this year by Golf Digest as 28th best in America, sixth among public courses. Pacific Dunes, which followed in 2001, ranks 22nd, fourth among public courses. Bandon Trails, which opened this month and was designed in part by Ben Crenshaw, is widely expected to get a top ranking, too.
All this despite the fact that the fairways turn a little brown in the summer and able-bodied golfers have to walk, in the links tradition.
``Wild and natural. It is a good walk spoiled,'' Kaiser said. ``But it is a good walk, first and foremost.''
Dana Woudenberg and Jed Billings belong to several country clubs around Phoenix, but came to Bandon Dunes on a golf safari that began at Pebble Beach to see what all the buzz was about. They found Bandon hard to get to, but worth the trouble.
``It's nothing like back home, but that's why we're here,'' Woudenberg said. ``He took a huge risk to do it this way.''
``You know what impressed me?'' added Billings. ``You have to walk it. That's the way golf ought to be played.''
Bandon Dunes is not cheap - $175 a round in high season if you are staying at the resort, $225 if you are not. But it's open to the public, and about half the $425 to play Pebble Beach. A second round the same day is half price and a third free, with certain restrictions. Rates are lower in winter.
``They try to say this is for rich people,'' Keiser said. ``I found it a little off-putting and not in keeping with what golf is, where it starts, how it is played in Ireland. In Ireland it's like bowling. They leave the factory, and play golf 'til they've got to be home. This place attracts avid golfers, and avid golfers in general agree with me that it's a classless sport.''
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters
JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.
Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.
Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.
Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational
Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.
The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.
Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs
JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.
Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.
The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.
Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump
Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.
Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.
None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.
Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.
An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.
In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.
Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.
Playing with the pros
Tiger, DJ and Faxon
President at the Presidents Cup
Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham
Cart on the green
Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open
Trump golf properties
Reportedly fake TIME covers
Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story
Pros comment on the president