Celebrating 25 Year’s of Bandon Resort

Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, Bandon Dunes Golf Resort has profoundly influenced golf and its development worldwide. Since its inaugural course opened in May 1999, numerous developers have endeavoured to replicate its success. Sandy locales, irrespective of their proximity to the ocean, have become sought-after destinations, prioritizing classic golf architecture over real estate ventures.

Keiser, the resort’s founder, has astounded many with his transition from greeting cards to golf. While Bandon Dunes wasn’t the first to emphasize location, architecture, or customer satisfaction, it set a new benchmark for 21st-century golf development. Unlike residential courses of past decades, Bandon Dunes focused solely on golf, distinguishing itself from other aspirational destinations.

Bandon Dunes’ intense focus on golf was distinctive. Unlike many upscale American golf resorts, which offer luxurious amenities to attract non-golfers, Bandon Dunes took a more minimalist approach. Its original guest accommodations were comfortable but modest, and the emphasis was on the golfing experience rather than lavish extras. Despite the challenges of reaching the resort, this singular dedication to golf captured the imagination of golfers worldwide.

The resort’s genesis was far from grandiose; it began as a simple proof of concept. Keiser, enamoured with true links golf in the British Isles, sought to demonstrate that classic golf architecture still held appeal for Americans. His vision was for rugged, bouncy courses by the ocean, in stark contrast to the softer, manicured courses often marketed as links golf in the U.S.

Before Bandon Dunes, Keiser’s experience as a golf developer was limited. His previous venture, The Dunes Club in Michigan, was successful but didn’t fully satisfy his ambitions. Keiser’s desire to build a public-access course on genuine linksland led him on a nationwide search before settling on Oregon’s windswept coast.

Upon discovering the ideal location near Bandon, Keiser saw potential in the weathered landscape covered in gorse. Despite its imperfections, the land was available and aligned with his vision. With determination, Keiser pursued his dream, uncertain of its success but willing to take the risk. For him, breaking even on the project would have been a victory, but Bandon Dunes exceeded all expectations.

Launching Bandon Dunes was a lengthy process. The inaugural course, crafted by the relatively unknown David McLay Kidd, debuted in May 1999, swiftly transitioning from a coastal curiosity to a must-play destination for serious golfers. Subsequently, Pacific Dunes, Bandon Trails, Old Macdonald, and the Sheep Ranch followed suit.

These five courses introduced many American golfers to a minimalist design philosophy. Departing from the heavy earthmoving trends prevalent from the 1960s to the early 2000s, the architects at Bandon Dunes sculpted their courses with a gentle touch, integrating captivating natural features instead of imposing artificial elements. The emphasis was on enjoyment rather than artificial challenge.

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