Keiser Goes Against Grain To Develop Courses

By Associated PressJuly 2, 2005, 4:00 pm
BANDON, Ore. -- Mike Keiser stops to point out a giant dandelion growing in the path overlooking the classic seaside links golf course he carved out of the sand and gorse in this remote corner of the Oregon coast.
 
``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.
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Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish

By Associated PressJuly 23, 2018, 12:25 am

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A thunderstorm has suspended the fourth round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship until Monday morning.

Sunday's third stoppage of play at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came with the four leaders - Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt at 18 under par - and four other contenders waiting to begin the round.

The tournament will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Lightning caused one delay, and play was stopped earlier in the afternoon to clear water that accumulated on the course following a morning of steady and sometimes-heavy rain.

Inclement weather has plagued the tournament throughout the weekend. The second round was completed Saturday morning after being suspended by thunderstorms late Friday afternoon.

The resumption will mark the PGA Tour's second Monday finish this season. Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open in January after darkness delayed the sixth playoff hole, and he needed just 13 minutes to claim the victory.

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Watch: Spectator films as Woods' shot hits him

By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:07 am

It was a collision watched by millions of fans on television, and one that came at a pivotal juncture as Tiger Woods sought to win The Open. It also gave Colin Hauck the story of a lifetime.

Hauck was among dozens of fans situated along the left side of the 11th hole during the final round at Carnoustie as the pairing of Woods and Francesco Molinari hit their approach shots. After 10 holes of nearly flawless golf, Woods missed the fairway off the tee and then pulled his iron well left of the target.

The ball made square contact with Hauck, who hours later tweeted a video showing the entire sequence - even as he continued to record after Woods' shot sent him tumbling to the ground:

The bounce initially appeared fortuitous for Woods, as his ball bounded away from thicker rough and back toward the green. But an ambitious flop shot came up short, and he eventually made a double bogey to go from leading by a shot to trailing by one. He ultimately shot an even-par 71, tying for sixth two shots behind Molinari.

For his efforts as a human shield, Hauck received a signed glove and a handshake from Woods - not to mention a firsthand video account that will be sure to spark plenty of conversations in the coming years.

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Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter

By Will GrayJuly 22, 2018, 9:35 pm

After breaking through for his first career major, Francesco Molinari now has a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a 10-year exemption in Europe and has solidified his standing as one of the best players in the world.

But not too long ago, the 35-year-old Italian was apparently thinking about life after golf.

Shortly after Molinari rolled in a final birdie putt to close out a two-shot victory at The Open, fellow Tour player Wesley Bryan tweeted a picture of a note that he wrote after the two played together during the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in October. In it, Bryan shared Molinari's plans to retire as early as 2020 to hang out at cafes and "become a Twitter troll":

Molinari is active on the social media platform, with more than 5,600 tweets sent out to nearly 150,000 followers since joining in 2010. But after lifting the claret jug at Carnoustie, it appears one of the few downsides of Molinari's victory is that the golf world won't get to see the veteran turn into a caffeinated, well-read troll anytime soon.

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Molinari had previously avoided Carnoustie on purpose

By Rex HoggardJuly 22, 2018, 9:17 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Sometimes a course just fits a player’s eye. They can’t really describe why, but more often than not it leads to solid finishes.

Francesco Molinari’s relationship with Carnoustie isn’t like that.

The Italian played his first major at Carnoustie, widely considered the toughest of all The Open venues, in 2007, and his first impression hasn’t really changed.

“There was nothing comforting about it,” he said on Sunday following a final-round 69 that lifted him to a two-stroke victory.


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In fact, following that first exposure to the Angus coast brute, Molinari has tried to avoid Carnoustie, largely skipping the Dunhill Links Championship, one of the European Tour’s marquee events, throughout his career.

“To be completely honest, it's one of the reasons why I didn't play the Dunhill Links in the last few years, because I got beaten up around here a few times in the past,” he said. “I didn't particularly enjoy that feeling. It's a really tough course. You can try and play smart golf, but some shots, you just have to hit it straight. There's no way around it. You can't really hide.”

Molinari’s relative dislike for the layout makes his performance this week even more impressive considering he played his last 37 holes bogey-free.

“To play the weekend bogey-free, it's unthinkable, to be honest. So very proud of today,” he said.