Fate of Bandon Muni may be decided this week; Cabot Cliffs update

By Matt GinellaMay 13, 2013, 6:09 pm

What’s the status of Bandon Muni?

“It’s no better than 50/50 that this will happen,” says Mike Keiser, owner of Bandon Dunes, the five-course resort on the Southwest Coast of Oregon.

Keiser’s admittedly frustrated. He has land, money, a vision for a lasting legacy that would continue to positively impact the locals and the local economy, and yet he’s having a hard time giving it away. He has been trying to negotiate a land swap with the Oregon State Parks Department for four years. He’s set to meet again on Wednesday, May 15, where he says he will make his final offer.

Bandon Muni

The proposed site of Bandon Muni, which would be home to a 27-hole course designed by Gil Hanse. 

Keiser covets a 250-acre gorse-chocked piece of coastal dunesland (pictured above) that’s 15 miles south of Bandon Dunes Resort. The No. 1 golf destination in the U.S., as voted by Golf Digest, consists of five courses and 85 holes. In exchange, and in his best estimation, Keiser is offering usable parkland worth four of his dollars for every one of theirs.

So what’s the problem?

“There’s a cultural divide,” says Keiser. “Not to cast aspersions, but they’re afraid.”

Keiser says state park departments aren’t in the business of trading land, especially rare coastal land, and he assumes they’re suspicious of his intentions. In a recent article in the Register-Guard, a local newspaper, writer Ron Bellamy told a story of environmental concerns, such as frogs, turtles and birds.

Keiser has always said Bandon Muni would be his philanthropic offering to a community that has afforded him the opportunity to build his dream of links golf in America. Bandon Muni would create another 80 jobs, and cater to Oregonians and locals with affordable green fees and an extensive junior caddie program.

“I see it as a $15-million gift to Coos and Curry County golfers and juniors who don’t even know they miss golf,” says Keiser.

If he can’t get the deal done on Wednesday, he says he’ll move on. “The resort will be just fine, thank you.”

If he can get the deal done, Gil Hanse, who’s building the Olympic Course in Rio, will be the architect. “If it doesn’t work, Gil will be just as disappointed,” says Keiser, who hasn’t spoken to Hanse in six months. “I’ve been laying low. There’s nothing new to report.”

Going back to 1999, with the modest opening of Bandon Dunes and a 50-room lodge, Keiser began the foundation of what has become a mecca for avid amateur golfers, with four of the top 25 public courses in the country. In doing so, he has created roughly 1,500 jobs and rescued the tenuous timber industry of Coos Bay. Not to mention the millions of dollars in donations for a local medical facility, schools, the environment and the 60-plus caddies who have gone on to earn Evans Scholarships, which consists of full college tuition to the University Oregon or Oregon State. 

“I wish I had better news to report,” says Keiser. “Previously, it seemed we were moving forward.” Admittedly, he could build Muni on the land he owns, and it could be “pretty good,” but if he could turn Hanse loose on a site like the one he wants, “it would be superlative.”

Keiser hasn’t become Keiser by building 'pretty good.'

Bandon's 'Punchbowl' seeded


Punchbowl at Bandon Dunes Resort

Keiser also told me they’ve started seeding 'Punchbowl,' the 150,000 square-foot putting course (pictured above), designed by Tom Doak and Jim Urbina. Keiser anticipates a soft opening in September and then, due to the newness of the turf, closing it again in October until the spring of 2014.

I asked Keiser if he was afraid something like the Punchbowl, which will most likely be free and a lot of fun for the competitive types with sore feet and tight hamstrings, would steal business from his other five courses on property. “I don’t fear it,” says Keiser. “If people are willing to get here, I believe the more things we can present, the better. And I mean it.”

To prove it, Keiser says he’s also considering a second par-3 course, which would be located in the dunes south of the second hole at Bandon Trails. There’s no name or specific timetable for this one, and he hasn’t decided on an architect yet, but don’t be surprised if it’s David McLay Kidd, who built the original 18 holes at Bandon Dunes.

Keiser hasn’t considered Kidd for another one of his courses until recently, after they bumped into each other twice in the past six months. Once at the grand opening of Streamsong Resort in Florida, where Keiser says Kidd admitted that in some of his recent designs, he built courses too difficult for what Keiser likes to refer to as “the retail golfer.”

More land purchased for Cabot Cliffs in Cape Breton

Cabot Cliffs

Keiser recently acquired this piece of land for the 16th hole at Cabot Cliffs. 

If Keiser is frustrated with the politics and progress of Bandon Muni, he is enjoying the opposite experience with his other budding golf destination in Nova Scotia. Cabot Links recently reopened for it’s first full year of operation, and clearing of trees continues on what will be Cabot Cliffs, built by Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw, the second course at the Canadian resort.

“It’s night and day,” says Keiser. “Nova Scotia has been wonderful to work with. I can’t believe how helpful the Canadian government has been.” He says they’ve offered interest-free loans, they’ve paid to relocate a popular bakery so it’s closer to the resort and are looking to develop a commuter airport to this remote spot in Cape Breton as close as five minutes away.

Keiser reports the recent acquisition of two pieces of land necessary to maximize the potential of Cabot Cliffs. Including one parcel of land that will be the 16th tee, which will be the launching pad to a mythical par 3, not unlike a flopped and shorter version of the 16th at Cypress Point.

More: Golf in Cape Breton at Cabot Links and Highlands Links

Another difference between Keiser’s two projects – Bandon Muni and all that is Cabot Links – is a man on the ground navigating the trenches of red tape. Ben Cowan-Dewar, Keiser’s partner at Cabot Links and Cabot Cliffs, is a Canadian who has tirelessly helped “sell” Keiser’s vision and his past successes. Prior to Cowan-Dewar, and before there was a Bandon Dunes, Keiser had Howard McKee, who died of cancer in 2007. McKee was Keiser’s man on the ground in Oregon. It was McKee who convinced Keiser that Bandon, the town, could become Bandon Dunes the destination. And it was McKee who helped sell that same vision to local politicians and reluctant environmentalists.

“In hindsight, if Howard was still here, he would’ve gotten approval for Bandon Muni by now,” says Keiser. “I haven’t sold it like I should have. I didn’t think I needed to.”

If you’ve ever been to Bandon Dunes, had a pint at McKee’s Pub, found the labyrinth tucked into the tilted trees on a cool summer evening, or played Bandon’s 16th hole as the orange sun was setting on your dreams of stopping time, McKee’s spirit lives on.

Chances are, he’ll be at Keiser’s side at the meeting on Wednesday.

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Schauffele just fine being the underdog

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 8:06 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.

Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.

Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”

Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.

“All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”

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Open odds: Spieth 7/1 to win; Tiger, Rory 14/1

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 7:54 pm

Only 18 holes remain in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, and the man tied atop the leaderboard is the same man who captured the claret jug last year at Royal Birkdale.

So it’s little surprise that Jordan Spieth is the odds-on favorite (7/4) to win his fourth major entering Sunday’s final round.

Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, both tied with Spieth at 9 under par, are next in line at 5/1 and 11/2 respectively. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, both four shots behind the leaders, are listed at 14/1.

Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at golfodds.com.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Jordan Spieth: 7/4

Xander Schauffele: 5/1

Kevin Kisner: 11/2

Tiger Woods: 14/1

Francesco Molinari: 14/1

Rory McIlroy: 14/1

Kevin Chappell: 20/1

Tommy Fleetwood: 20/1

Alex Noren: 25/1

Zach Johnson: 30/1

Justin Rose: 30/1

Matt Kuchar: 40/1

Webb Simpson: 50/1

Adam Scott: 80/1

Tony Finau: 80/1

Charley Hoffman: 100/1

Austin Cook: 100/1

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Spieth stands on brink of Open repeat

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 7:49 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jordan Spieth described Monday’s “ceremony” to return the claret jug to the keepers of the game’s oldest championship as anything but enjoyable.

For the last 12 months the silver chalice has been a ready reminder of what he was able to overcome and accomplish in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, a beacon of hope during a year that’s been infinitely forgettable.

By comparison, the relative pillow fight this week at Carnoustie has been a welcome distraction, a happy-go-lucky stroll through a wispy field. Unlike last year’s edition, when Spieth traveled from the depths of defeat to the heights of victory within a 30-minute window, the defending champion has made this Open seem stress-free, easy even, by comparison.

But then those who remain at Carnoustie know it’s little more than a temporary sleight of hand.

As carefree as things appeared on Saturday when 13 players, including Spieth, posted rounds of 67 or lower, as tame as Carnoustie, which stands alone as The Open’s undisputed bully, has been through 54 holes there was a foreboding tension among the rank and file as they readied for a final trip around Royal Brown & Bouncy.

“This kind of southeast or east/southeast wind we had is probably the easiest wind this golf course can have, but when it goes off the left side, which I think is forecasted, that's when you start getting more into the wind versus that kind of cross downwind,” said Spieth, who is tied for the lead with Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner at 9 under par after a 6-under 65. “It won't be the case tomorrow. It's going to be a meaty start, not to mention, obviously, the last few holes to finish.”

Carnoustie only gives so much and with winds predicted to gust to 25 mph there was a distinct feeling that playtime was over.

As melancholy as Spieth was about giving back the claret jug, and make no mistake, he wasn’t happy, not even his status among the leading contenders with a lap remaining was enough for him to ignore the sleeping giant.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

But then he’s come by his anxiousness honestly. Spieth has spent far too much time answering questions about an inexplicably balky putter the last few weeks and he hasn’t finished better than 21st since his “show” finish in April at the Masters.

After a refreshingly solid start to his week on Thursday imploded with a double bogey-bogey-par-bogey finish he appeared closer to an early ride home on Friday than he did another victory lap, but he slowly clawed his way back into the conversation as only he can with one clutch putt after the next.

“I'm playing golf for me now. I've kind of got a cleared mind. I've made a lot of progress over the year that's been kind of an off year, a building year,” said Spieth, who is bogey-free over his last 36 holes. “And I've got an opportunity to make it a very memorable one with a round, but it's not necessary for me to prove anything for any reason.”

But if an awakened Carnoustie has Spieth’s attention, the collection of would-be champions assembled around and behind him adds another layer of intrigue.

Kisner, Spieth’s housemate this week on Angus coast, has led or shared the lead after each round this week and hasn’t shown any signs of fading like he did at last year’s PGA Championship, when he started the final round with a one-stroke lead only to close with a 74 to tie for seventh place.

“I haven't played it in that much wind. So I think it's going to be a true test, and we'll get to see really who's hitting it the best and playing the best tomorrow,” said Kisner, who added a 68 to his total on Day 3.

There’s no shortage of potential party crashers, from Justin Rose at 4 under after a round-of-the-week 64 to 2015 champion Zach Johnson, who also made himself at home with Spieth and Kisner in the annual Open frat house and is at 5 under.

Rory McIlroy, who is four years removed from winning his last major championship, looked like a player poised to get off the Grand Slam schneid for much of the day, moving to 7 under with a birdie at the 15th hole, but he played the last three holes in 2 over par and is tied with Johnson at 5 under par. 

And then there’s Tiger Woods. For three magical hours the three-time Open champion played like he’d never drifted into the dark competitive hole that’s defined his last few years. Like he’d never been sidelined by an endless collection of injuries and eventually sought relief under the surgeon’s knife.

As quietly as Woods can do anything, he turned in 3 under par for the day and added two more birdies at Nos. 10 and 11. His birdie putt at the 14th hole lifted him temporarily into a share of the lead at 6 under par.

“We knew there were going to be 10, 12 guys with a chance to win on Sunday, and it's turning out to be that,” said Woods, who is four strokes off the lead. “I didn't want to be too far back if the guys got to 10 [under] today. Five [shots back] is certainly doable, and especially if we get the forecast tomorrow.”

Woods held his round of 66 together with a gritty par save at the 18th hole after hitting what he said was his only clunker of the day off the final tee.

Even that episode seemed like foreshadowing.

The 18th hole has rough, bunkers, out of bounds and a burn named Barry that weaves its way through the hole like a drunken soccer fan. It’s the Grand Slam of hazardous living and appears certain to play a leading role in Sunday’s outcome.

Perhaps none of the leading men will go full Jean Van de Velde, the star-crossed Frenchman who could still be standing in that burn if not for a rising tide back at the 1999 championship, but if the 499 yards of dusty turf is an uninvited guest, it’s a guest nonetheless.

It may not create the same joyless feelings that he had when he returned the claret jug, but given the hole’s history and Spieth’s penchant for late-inning histrionics (see Open Championship, 2017), the 18th hole is certain to produce more than a few uncomfortable moments.

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Wandering photographer costs McIlroy on 16

By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 7:44 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy bogeyed two of his last four holes Saturday to fall four shots off the lead at The Open.

One of those mistakes might not have entirely been his fault.

McIlroy missed a short putt on the par-3 16th after a photographer was “in a world all his own,” wandering around near the green, taking photos of the crowd and not paying attention to the action on the green.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“It’s fine,” McIlroy said after a third-round 70 put him at 5-under 208, four shots off the lead. “It’s one of those things that happens. There’s a lot of people out there, and it is what it is. It’s probably my fault, but I just didn’t regroup well after it happened.”

McIlroy also bogeyed the home hole, after driving into a fairway bunker, sending his second shot right of the green and failing to get up and down.

“I putted well,” he said. “I holed out when I needed to. I just need to make the birdies and try to limit the damage tomorrow.”