Bandon, Ore. – When the 312 players competing in the 2011 U.S. Amateur Public Links and U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championships arrive at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in late June, they will be treated to something few other people receive – full run of two courses at the world-class facility.
Bandon Dunes, home to four courses along Oregon’s sandy southern coastline, will devote its Bandon Trails and Old Macdonald layouts to the USGA’s two championships for public-course players. Mike Keiser, the owner and developer of Bandon Dunes, has long been a proponent of amateur golf and the USGA.
“To take this on, closing the course in high season, is a huge commitment on Mike Keiser’s part, and we’re extremely grateful,” said Christie Austin, chairman of the Amateur Public Links Championship Committee and member of the USGA Executive Committee at a media day held at the venue on April 12.
This will be the third and fourth USGA events to be held at the resort since 2006. Pacific Dunes hosted the 2006 Curtis Cup Match, while Bandon Dunes had the 2007 U.S. Mid-Amateur, with Bandon Trails used as the second stroke-play qualifying course. With Old Macdonald, the newest of the four layouts (opened in 2010), all four courses will have had at least one USGA championship.
“In terms of the disparity between Bandon Trails and Old Macdonald, the folks that qualify for match play, and then ultimately the champions, truly are going to be the best amateur public links players in the world and some of the best amateurs in the world,” said Bill McCarthy, the director of the APL.
Old Macdonald, which will host the final three match-play rounds of both championships, was named after Charles Blair Macdonald, often considered the father of American golf course architecture and the inaugural U.S. Amateur champion in 1895. The course was designed by Jim Urbina and Tom Doak, the latter of which did Pacific Dunes. Macdonald’s design aesthetics served as the architects’ inspiration for Old Macdonald.
“When we came to the site that Mike [Keiser] offered and we created Old Macdonald, it was in keeping with what Macdonald thought were the important aspects of golf as it was brought from the foundation of where golf started – St. Andrews,” said Urbina, who attended media day.
Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw designed Bandon Trails, which opened in 2005. Capturing the essence of links golf, Bandon Trails offers players a variety of scenic vistas with a firm-and-fast element often found on links-style courses.
“We have tried to tread softly on this spectacular landscape, laying out a golf course that required little alteration to the site while providing golf as diverse as the land itself,” said Coore in the course’s official yardage guide.
Beyond the history of the game that is embraced by the golf-course architecture, USGA history also will be made at the resort as 2011 marks the first time the championships that they will be conducted simultaneously at the same site, a feat that is certainly no small task and speaks to Keiser’s dedication to amateur golf.
The USGA did hold simultaneous national championships for both junior events in 1978, 2000 and 2009 at Wilmington (Del.) Country Club, Pumpkin Ridge north of Portland, Ore., and Trump National Bedminster in New Jersey, respectively.
“Mr. Keiser has long believed that our relationship with the USGA and amateur events is a very real part of what we do here,” said Hank Hickox, the general manager of Bandon Dunes and a vice president with KemperSports. “The very public nature of Bandon Dunes has a great synergy with the USGA and has been a part of our conscience and our culture.
“This is the biggest thing to happen to us perhaps ever. We do so appreciate being selected.”
McCarthy shares Hickox’s sentiment. “We feel it is a wonderful partnership, [Bandon Dunes] having hosted a few championships in the past, and the effort that we’re putting for this year, on behalf of the resort, is just phenomenal.”
However, conducting a national championship – let alone two – requires more than just personal dedication. Bandon Dunes’ remote location quickly put the strong partnership to the test. With 312 players, plus USGA staff and volunteers, player families and members of the media descending on the small coastal town, the planning had to start early. Lodging and transportation were key factors that needed to be addressed early.
“The real challenge here has been the operational and logistical hurdles to overcome,” said McCarthy. “But the instant we started these conversations about potentially having both championships here, there was never any hesitation, knowing the relationships we’ve already developed.”
Defending WAPL champion Emily Tubert has entered the championship, but reigning APL champion Lion Kim has announced his intentions to turn professional upon his college graduation and will not travel to Oregon to defend his title.
Christina Lance is the coordinator of championship communications at the USGA. Email questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.