Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Opening Day at Old Macdonald

"I guess I took a lot of putts, but they didn't seem like putts.  They were more like approach shots." -- Overheard remark by a golfer who was describing his round at Old Macdonald

There's an established ritual for the opening of a new course at Bandon Dunes. 
All the golfers sign a log as they await their turn on the tee.  They're presented with a sleeve of balls with the Old Macdonald logo, and coin stamped with the date -- and a bas relief of Charles Blair Macdonald poised at the top of his backswing.
Then, when their time comes, each foursome moves to the tee where they are greeted by Mike Keiser.  But he's not the only one on the tee.  Co-designers Tom Doak and Jim Urbina were both there for a while (but Tom soon drifted off to watch how people played the course), along with other key people in the resort's short history -- Hank Hickox, the GM; Josh Lesnik, president of KemperSports; Shorty and Charlotte Dow, who were the unofficial hosts for the development before the first ground was broken.  Each group posed for a picture with Mike (taken by Wood Sabold) and a film crew was on hand, too.
The whole atmosphere was welcoming and personal -- even as it added to the first tee jitters.
In this post I'm not going to try to sum up the experience of Old Mac, but everyone in my group -- everyone I talked to -- marveled at the greens.  They are mind-boggling.  I've come from lunch with a group of well-travelled golfers who were trying, and failing, to come up with a course that has greens so big and so turbulent.  And I didn't talk to anyone who minded the size of the greens, or minded three-putting.  
In our group, the most memorable shots occurred around the green.  I'll mention only one, on the 8th hole, the Biarrritz green.  I was standing at the fron of the green when my partner, who'd come up short, played his ball out of the valley in front of the green.  It looked good from the moment it started rolling.  I watched it travel across a green that has to be at least 50 yards front to back.  As it made its way through various hollows and crevices, it disappeared from three times -- three times! -- like a train going through a tunnel.
That's what I call a triple peekaboo, and I'm not sure I've ever seen one before.
Check in later for more on Old Mac.

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