Bruno's Blog

Images from the 101st PGA Championship at Bethpage Black PDF Print E-mail


By Jason Bruno

You saw it all unfold in Farmingdale, N.Y, another dominant showing by

Brooks Koepka at a golf course that shared top billing - Bethpage Black is

popular not only because of its classic Tillinghast design attributes, but

also for its place in American golf society (set within the massive 90 hole

municipal complex at New York's Bethpage State Park). These images

(and descriptions) from the 101st PGA Championship are just that, a

reflection of the week at "The People's Country Club".









Bethpage Clubhouse and welcome sign.









The iconic Bethpage logo is everywhere around the grounds, where five

championship golf courses (Red, Yellow, Blue, Green and Black) sit shoulder

to shoulder in central Long Island.









The other courses at Bethpage were idle (with various holes being

re-purposed) during the championship. Red Course 1st tee shown.











Kevin Na and Tiger getting in some practice on the greens early in the week.










Rory discusses his preparation for competing on the Black course.










Open Champion Francesco Molinari discussed his day on the course.










Defending Champion Brooks Koepka tells the media he's ready.










Home base for the week.









Tribute to longtime journalist Dan Jenkins.






Among the really interesting pieces in the tribute to Dan Jenkins was

this Funeral announcement for his long time friend Ben Hogan.








The fans in N.Y get an early glimpse of the Masters Champion Tiger

Woods going through his paces on the putting green.








Tommy Fleetwood unleashes a drive on the par 5 13th during

Wednesday's practice round.








The starters booth at the Black Course.








This famous sign that overlooks the 1st tee says it all.









The exam awaits . . .






Severe back to front is how many Tillinghast greens were designed,

the green at the 1st is no different.









The right to left par 4 - 2nd hole. Even during last week's PGA Championship

there were moments when I felt like I was just playing another round on the

Black. After the 1st hole you walk through a tunnel that brings you across

the street). Just a few friendly volunteers were in place as I strolled with

trusty Nikon in hand inside the ropes (at major championships, credentialed

media are only allowed within an arms length of the designated rope line. I

may have extended that space a wee bit a few times to get a better vantage








The approach to the 2nd plays uphill, leaving a bit of uncertainty until

you reach the rise to see where your ball came to rest.









The perspective from the right greenside bunker on the 2nd.











The view from the tee on the par 3 - 3rd.










This image shows how the green surface on the par 3 third tilts away from

the player, often repelling shots off the back.









The par 5 fourth gets our vote as one of the most aesthetically dramatic

parkland holes in America - and one of Tilly's finest designs.








Ditto our previous comments regarding the design virtues on the 4th -

here on the sweeping reverse "S" par 4 - 5th.








The green complex at the short downhill par 4 6th is a classic.









A rare reverse view of the 6th hole that I snagged on my way to the next

tee early Wednesday morning. It was an afterthought at the time, but may

be my favorite image from the week.









From the 7th tee looking back at the sixth.









Normally a challenging par 5 for amateurs who play here, the 7th

played as a brutally tough par 4 for the best in the world.









A contender for my personal favorite views was this one from the fairway bunker

on the 7th.









7th green.









The par 3 - 8th











The only water on the Black Course is here at the 8th, this steep

embankment funnels everything directly into the hazard.









The Black isn't known for its greens, but there are a few really exceptional

green complexes and the 8th is one of them.








9th tee view.










This fairway bunker guards the corner of the dogleg right.










The approach at the 9th.










The 10th plays to a slightly elevated green.










Massive fairway bunkers lined with tall fescue dominate the landscape on the

Black, impressive as a visual, but tough to avoid, like this body of sand on the

par 4 - 11th.









The 12th tee for amateurs, big hitters can carry the cross bunker.

Otherwise stay right. There were still a few spots on the course where

at a quick glance it was tough to tell a major championship was going on.

This was one of those.








If you end up here on the 12th, you bailed out too far right off the tee.









The scoring zone on the 600+ yard par 5 13th.










The shortest hole on the black - 161 yard 14th.









One of the toughest holes in Championship golf is the 487 yard par 4 -15th.










Greenside at 15. Notice the front tier that isn't a false front, but it does

drop-off significantly.










16 tee.









Looking back towards tee.









Rickie Fowler and his group on the 16th during a practice round.










Another magnificent sandscape at Bethpage Black. This one at the

16th might be our favorite.









Looking across the massive green at the 211 yard par 3 17th.









PGA Championship corporate tents line the green.










Close up of the hole location during Wednesday's practice round.









18th tee










Greenside at the last.









In his pre-tournament press conference, Brooks Koepka let the world

know he would be there on Sunday when it mattered. And there he was,

going wire to wire and back to back champion of the PGA Championship.






Finally, if taking on the Black Course is on your bucket list, this overnight

parking lot is your golden ticket. Simply arrive sometime the day before,

park in the lot and be prepared to spend the night. Follow the instructions

here on the sign, (out of state residents can play the Black for $130 weekdays

and $150 weekends) - oh, and be prepared for the fight of your life.


Tee times at Bethpage State Park:

























A Day with Links Friends at Winter Park 9 PDF Print E-mail



By Jason Bruno


On Tuesday Jan.22nd we fulfilled our media Demo Day obligations at

Orange County National and proceeded to make the trek east across

Orlando to the quaint urban setting that is Winter Park, Florida. Matt

Ginella sent over an invite just days before, so Master Club Builder

Dirck Storm and I ramped up our enthusiasm on day 3 of our PGA Show

week that began on the Dye Course at PGA Village just two days earlier.

Returning to "WP9" for me personally was long overdue (we experienced

the Riley Johns/Keith Rhebb creation for the first time two years ago shortly

after the redesign by the boys from Integrative Golf Design was completed).






Tardy as usual, we pulled into the packed parking lot just as groups were

walking out to their assigned hole locations for the 3pm shotgun start of

alternate shot team play. The event, a gathering of golf industry folks put

together by Akbar Chisti of Seamus Golf (and Ginella) included colleagues

and friends from virtually everywhere. Linksoul's John Ashworth (who is the

force behind Goat Hill Park in Southern California) was on hand providing

some outstanding swag along with Seamus.


Upon checking in, we were assigned to hole 9 where nearly every hole had

an A & B group based on field size. With two groups of 8 player teams each

(we had 6), it made for quite the scene. Our group consisted of four lads from

Ireland, Stormy and yours truly. The elder of the group was Liam Murphy

from County Louth, John Lawler from The Island Golf Club in Dublin, Jeff Fallon

from Royal Dublin, and Mark Byrne from Carr Golf. Paul Schmidt also of Carr,

was the lone Central Florida local taking the stroll sans his sticks, but offered

up some witty commentary and provided proper on course local knowledge. It

was a chamber of commerce 65 degree late afternoon playing the fast n firm

contours of Johns and Rhebb. After Stormy and I collaborated on a birdie on

our first hole (the short par 4 ninth), we had earned instant turf cred from the

boys of the Emerald Isle. At the turn we caught up with host Matt Ginella and

Golfer/Musician Jay Horowitz, a fellow "Apple" native who I learned had won

the NYC Am years ago on a course that my Dad and I went toboggan sledding

on (the 10th at La Tourette GC) 46 years ago. It's a small world for sure . . .





A great idea, this imprint sign in the sand "Thanks for Raking" sends a subtle

message to be considerate to your fellow golfers. A team up & down for birdie

was the result here on the par 5 fourth.






Dirck Storm, John Lawson, Mark Byrne, JB, Liam Murphy and Jeff Fallon





Our golf performance as a team was mediocre, but the camaraderie was off

the charts. The score was far less important than it usually seems to be and

it felt right. There were some brilliant shots like Jeff's carved low cut around

a large stand of trees on the par 5 third. It was a classic links strike, low punch

with just the right amount of fade spin that trundled up onto the green perfectly,

even he knew it was special. We finished in the gloaming and enjoyed the

casual fare and music by Jay Horowitz with the nearly 100 links friends on hand.

It was great to see Katie Ginella and little Bandon out there, and catch up with

many I hadn't seen in awhile like Brad Klein and Mike Bailey. There are many

invites during PGA Show week, choosing which ones to attend can be tough, but

this gathering will be an annual staple - a must attend.






We said thank you to the hosts and farewell to the gents from Ireland,

promising to make the journey across the pond to visit them on their home

turf. Before we headed out, I looked over at my partner in crime, Stormy

had this big smile on his face, he had soaked in the vibe. It was PURE fun,

like being a kid with your buddies all over again, and what's better than that?





If you're in Central Florida, Matt Ginella often hosts a Friday 3pm Skins Game.



To check out the 9 holes of splendor that is Winter Park 9:















Jupiter Hills Club Set to Host USGA Four-Ball Championship PDF Print E-mail



By Jason Bruno

Tequesta, Florida - On Monday, the United States Golf Association hosted

the media at the site of the 2018 U.S Amateur Four-Ball Championship -

Jupiter Hills Club. The two man team competition takes place May 19th-

23rd on George Fazio's Hills Course and Tom Fazio's Village Course, Jupiter

Hills is practically unknown to the golfing public when compared to the three

preceding host venues (Olympic, Winged Foot and Pinehurst) that have all

hosted multiple U.S Opens over the last century.





In the late 60's, Jupiter Hills was founded and created by George Fazio

along with William Clay Ford, Bob Hope and William Elliott. The Hills Course

opened in 1970 (renovated by Tom Fazio in 2006), Tom Fazio's Village layout

opened for play in 1982 (Fazio completed a renovation in 1999). In 1987,

Billy Mayfair captured the U.S Amateur at Jupiter Hills.







On Feb.11th, 2013 the creation of U.S Amateur Four-Ball and the U.S

Women's Four-Ball was announced, thus eliminating the U.S Amateur

Public Links Championship and Women's Am Pub-Links in favor of a new

team format competition. In doing so, the dream of many public golfers

of winning that national championship and playing in the Masters had

gone away. I've stated on the record that I'd much preferred they left

the Amateur Public links events as they were (and found another way to

add this team event), but by bringing this team format to many of the

best venues in the country, the USGA has done a nice job of getting the

new event off to a roaring start. In fact, the USGA accepted 2.234

entries into the inaugural U.S Am Four-Ball championship in 2015. Not

bad for a start-up (2,279 entries this year).






Jupiter Hills signature hole, the par 3 ninth




The Hills Course will play 3,641 yards front/3,612 yards back = 7,253

(par 70), while the Village (which will serve as a stroke-play co-host for

the first two rounds) will play 3,264 yards front/3,364 yards back =

6,630 yards (par 70). The Hills routing normally plays 6,998 yards from

the tips, but an additional 255 yards will be available to the competition

staff to make a few holes even more stout than usual (the ninth pictured

above has a range 108 yards (red tees) to 192 yards (gold tees), but

a secluded tee on the north east side of the property creates a 211 yard

"white knuckler" that will likely turn up the tension in any match. Although

it's team competition and players will have a partner to lean on, the Hills

course will challenge all comers with a brawny 76.6 rating/150 slope for

the Championship.






It had been 12 long years since our last visit to Jupiter Hills, and if anything

was clear after a glorious day on the Hills course (with club President Jeff

Harris, SFPGA Professional Geoff Lofstead and longtime veteran golf scribe

Jeff Babineau), it was the worthiness of George Fazio's grand design that

sits along the same dunes/sand ridge that Donald Ross' famed Seminole

Golf Club shares just a few miles south in Juno Beach.





The view of the driving range and practice green from the clubhouse terrace.

The Par 5-first hole is on the right.





The view of 491 yard first, converted into a par 4 for the championship

(it plays as a 515 yard par 5 for the members  - white tees)



The Four-Ball field of 128 teams (256 players) will play one round of stroke

play on May 19th & May 20th, the low 32 teams will advance to match play.

Five rounds of match play will determine a champion on Wed. May 23rd.

Admission is free to the public and tickets are not required. The USGA and

the Jupiter Hills Club encourage fans to attend.


Future Four-Ball sites include: 2019 Bandon Dunes, 2020 Philadelphia Cricket

Club, and Chambers Bay in 2021.


For more info on the U.S Amateur Four-Ball Championship:















The Grand Opening Experience of Streamsong Black PDF Print E-mail


By Jason Bruno

The magnificent par 3 - fifth hole at Streamsong Black




It was a gorgeous sunny Monday afternoon at Streamsong Resort

for the Grand Opening of their latest (sure to be Top 100) layout - Gil

Hanse's Black Course. September 25th, 2017 was a day that many in

the golf design, resort and media industry had circled on their calendars.

It's always an honor to get the invite to events such as this and when

Streamsong and Kemper Sports team up to host an celebration of this

magnitude, you know it'll be a day to remember.



In the coming days we'll give a detailed hole by hole description of

Hanse's new creation in it's entirety, but in this post it's all about

giving you the experience of being on hand for the Grand Opening.



This was the official itinerary for the day. I was fortunate to be in group

1b with Streamsong Director of Golf Scott Wilson, Golfweek's resident

course architecture expert Bradley Klein and PGA Magazine's Ryan

Adams. Group 1a was Course Designer Gil Hanse, Mosaic CFO and

Streamsong visionary Rich Mack, Kemper Sports President Josh Lesnik,

and Golf Channel's Matt Ginella.








For me personally, it was 8 months of anticipation since I bumped into

Mosaic's Vice President of Land Development and Management - Tom

Sunnarborg at January's PGA Show in Orlando. When we discussed the

opening of Streamsong Black back then, Tom just flashed that big smile

of his and said, "The grand opening will be in late September, and You

won't be disappointed". Five and a half years ago it was Sunnarborg

that gave me a site tour of the Red & Blue courses during the grow in

period, so he was pretty confident that I'd appreciate what Gil Hanse

& Jim Wagner had created with the resort's third course. The resort

can now stake claim to being the only destination on earth with Doak,

Coore/Crenshaw, and Gil Hanse designs in one location.









Gil Hanse spoke genuinely about how this project meant so much to him

and his design partner Jim Wagner. He described the joy of getting the

opportunity to work with an untouched parcel of land of the scale and sand

component that's an architects dream. Hanse became emotional as he

expressed how appreciative he was to Rich Mack and Mosaic (the parent

company of Streamsong) for including Jim's name on the clubhouse plaque

(pictured above).

He went on to thank everyone involved with the project and gave special

thanks to Streamsong Director of Agronomy Rusty Mercer and his staff.

Gotta love when the guys who do much of the heavy lifting day to day

get a round of applause.







Tom Sunnarborg, Gil Hanse and Rich Mack at the Grand Opening ceremony.








Rich Mack, Mosaic's visionary behind what we now know as Streamsong Resort,

and Black Course designer Gil Hanse cut the ribbon at the Grand Opening











The new clubhouse and Bone Valley Tavern restaurant at Streamsong Black

is your first impression driving up to the entry of the resort's latest attraction.

Award winning architect Alberto Alfonso, who created the unique design for

Streamsong's original resort lodge and clubhouse, crafted another gem just

a mile down the road from the mothership. Sleek, elegant and simple in both

it's style and function, the clubhouse at the Black is unlike any I've seen at a

golf facility. As you play the course, it's streamlined and low profile look so

brilliant on the horizon. Afterwards enjoy watching the sunset or gazing at

the stars with a drink beside the fire pit.







The par 4 second hole.



As group of nearly 100 or so golf media and other dignitaries within the

industry, we teed of at 1:30 pm after a warm welcome of food, drinks

and the opening ceremony. As I stated earlier, being in group 1(b) was a

fortunate draw that also may have allowed me to have the best caddie in

the house - Brian Wilson. B.W was spot on with reads and club selections

all round long, but more importantly was pleasant and invested in my

experience. We had absolute chamber of commerce conditions for an

event in central Florida in late September - mid 80's and sunny with a

enough of a breeze to make the walk enjoyable and club selection a bit

of a challenge at times.


Is there anything better than walking a brand new (sure to be top 100)

golf course with really great people and having your sticks looped by an

upbeat and skilled caddie? The course was everything Hanse said it was,

big, bold and fun (I'll get into more specifics and details in the upcoming

course review). The group did all they could to help me triumph in my

beverage wager with Matt Ginella who said "Game On" walking off the

eleventh tee at +1 when he heard I was even par. But nobody could keep

me from faltering coming in, including three putts at the 13th and 17th.

Then after the best knock of the day on the 530 yard finale, all we had left

was 208 (and the only thought was about trying to make 3 and getting back

to level par) but the 4 iron approach got a little too much of the big ball before

the dimpled one, and plunged into the ravine that fronts the most dramatic

finisher at the resort. The only double of the day was the result. As I caught

up with Matty G in the Bone Valley Tavern afterwards, he confessed that he

also misplayed the 18th and finished at the same score (+4) for the round. A

rematch will have to be in order for sure (perhaps a home and home with

Winter Park 9/ Palm Beach Par3) . . .





Some images from the new Black Course:


Greenside at the sixth









Fairway view on the Thirteenth









Short par 3 fifteenth









Just outside the clubhouse is Gil Hanse's "Gauntlet" putting course.








Ryan Adams (from PGA Magazine) and I came right off the 18th green

after our round and took on "The Gauntlet". This is an ideal spot like the

"Punchbowl" at Bandon Dunes for drinks and casual competition before

or after dinner with friends.






Some of the really cool grand opening keepsakes from the day.






As far as new course openings go, this

was about as grand an event as you

could imagine. Head Golf Professional

Scott Wilson was the perfect host, as

were all of the fine folks at Streamsong

and Kemper Sports.


As far as the Black Course is concerned,

if you like hitting lots of fairways and

enjoy having a variety of different types

of approach shots into large greens, then

the Black will thrill you. The challenge

really begins once you reach the greens

on Gil's big and bold new design. These

are truly some of the most fascinating

putting surfaces you'll ever encounter -

an instant must play. It checked all the

boxes of fun and challenging golf for me.


Oh and wait until you see the uber

Punchbowl ninth green! It's Raynor on

steroids . . .


There's no doubt in my mind that the

Black is destined to be an instant Top

100 ranked course.


I loved this gun metal gray Streamsong

logo (pictured right) that's affixed to the

clubhouse wall that faces The Gauntlet

putting course. They didn't miss a detail





As we enjoyed the delicious gourmet tavern selections after the round in the

clubhouse at Bone Valley, Scott Wilson probably could sense that I was a tad

disappointed to finish with that train wreck at the last, but being the class act

he is, reminded me that we would've had a hell of a best ball score.


After thank-yous and goodbyes were said, I headed for the valet station just

as the sun was vanishing on the horizon. As I looked back at everyone inside

the clubhouse having a great time celebrating this fabulous new place, I thought

about the tens of thousands that will do the same in years and decades to come.

I couldn't help but think about Rich Mack's vision to turn this old phosphate mining

property in the middle of nowhere into the destination it has become today.

Just remarkable.


With a long winding road ahead, there was nothing left but to hit the road, and

channel an American music icon that we had just lost . . .


I rolled on as the sky drew dark

I put the pedal down to make some time

There's something good waitin' down this road

I'm pickin' up whatever's mine

Yeah, runnin down a dream . . .

R.I.P Tom Petty




For more information on Streamsong Black:
















A Mammoth Stroll with David McLay-Kidd PDF Print E-mail


By Jason Bruno



Since you're here, we can safely assume that you have an appreciation for

golf course design. If you're not aware of the name David McLay-Kidd, then

you have a lot to catch up on, Google him and his course designs. Next, go

book a round on one of his courses. Bandon Dunes, Gamble Sands, or Sand

Valley's Mammoth Dunes, just get it done - you can thank me later.





The son of Scottish golf course superintendent Jimmy Kidd, David grew up on

some of the finest terra firma that the British Isles have to offer. Now 50, David

McLay-Kidd has become one of the absolute masters of golf course architecture.

His impressive resume of course designs includes the course that may have had

the biggest impact on American golfers in our lifetime - the original course at

Bandon Dunes. Kidd's catalog of notable designs is vast and includes such names

as Tetherow in Oregon, Queenwood in west London and most recently Gamble

Sands that overlooks the Columbia River along the high desert of north central







Click the link to read our feature on Gamble Sands from our visit in '15.









14th on DMK's Tetherow course in Bend, Oregon




We caught up with DMK during our visit to the Badger state earlier this summer

and then for a follow up (via phone) just a few days ago (Aug.18th) as he was

driving back towards Wisconsin after a day spent at Chicago Golf Club with Mike

Keiser, Tom Shapland and Brad Kinsey (President of Chicago Golf Club).

During our visit to Sand Valley, six holes on Kidd's new Mammoth Dunes course

were open for preview play (just this past week it was announced that 9 holes

were now open) and Kidd took the role as tour guide and caddie as we discussed

his work on what is the second course at Sand Valley, and a bit about many

subjects including Bandon, what he learned from Tom Watson and an epiphany

that has changed everything for DMK design . . .



LinksNation: Before we really dig into Sand Valley, and since this is our

first meeting in person, I'd be remiss if we didn't discuss the phenomenon

of Bandon and the inspiration it has been to so many, including myself. On

behalf of linksters and course design enthusiasts everywhere - Thank You,

most notably for the 16th hole, which is a magnificent design in the ideal

setting, truly a spiritual experience. So a big tip of the hat for what you were

able to do there.




Bandon Dunes 16th - (The link to one of our many Bandon features below)





McLay-Kidd: It's cool looking back at it 20 years later, I'm 50 this year.

Mike hired me when I was 26, the course opened when I was 30.



LN: How did that come about?



DMK: He (Mike Keiser) wanted to build a British links course. So after lots

of chatting with lots of American designers he went out and sought a British

designer. He wanted someone that was unaffected by the Americanism of golf,

he wanted someone who was so steeped in the tradition of the game that they

really didn't have any other knowledge other than that. When Mike looked at

my pedigree, I really didn't have one. My pedigree was only playing golf in the




LN: Did he know your Dad (Jimmy Kidd) ?



DMK: Yeah he did, he and my Dad are the same age (within two days of each

other). It handily influenced him, my Dad is a superintendent. My Dad and Mike

would speak plainly and between the two of them Mike saw me as the younger

more bullish version of my father. Somewhere in there he saw potential that

nobody else including I could have seen. And so he hired me and I did what I

only knew. I didn't know anything else, I didn't know how to create Tom Fazio

bunkers, I didn't know how to put Pete Dye artifices in. All I knew was I spent

my whole life playing these old courses in the British isles and so I did what I

knew. When everybody in the U.S Ooo-ed and Ahh-ed about Bandon, to me it

was like every other course I had played like Machrihanish, Carnoustie or bits

of North Berwick or Gullane or any course I played as a kid. Why so much

hoopla? If you took Bandon Dunes and parked it on the west coast of Ireland it

would be another great course on the west coast of Ireland. It wouldn't be the

only one. On the west coast of the United States, it was the only one. Nothing

else like it, and still nothing even close . . .



LN: Poa has krept into the greens at Bandon now, with an exception of Old

Mac. Is that just the way it's going to be, and what are the green surfaces

here - Bent?


DMK: It's the way it's gonna be, that climate is so temperate, so damp,

there's no way of avoiding it. It's about a 10 year window, they were all

mint fescue at one point.


We had long conversations about the greens here (at Sand Valley), I certainly

debated it with Mike, I'm not sure that Mike ever really debated it himself. He

just said early on that it was going to bent grass.





Linksters enjoy the setting and the food at Sand Valley's Mammoth Terrace





LN: Tell me about this particular parcel of the property that you've created

Mammoth Dunes on. You're right up front here at the clubhouse as opposed

to Coore Crenshaw's layout that is a bit more remote here at the resort, how

did that come to be?



DMK: When I did the original master plan for this (Mammoth Dunes), I

wanted this spot, as a golf aficianado yourself, I would suggest - and these

are my words alone - that Tom Doak and Coore Crenshaw probably want that

remoteness, as where I gravitated towards the mothership. I wanted to get

to open the doors to all the visitors the way that I did at Bandon. I wanted

to do the same thing for Mike (Keiser) here.










LN: We are standing here on the first tee at Mammoth Dunes, where did the

name come from?


DMK: It was just announced about a month ago (May), it came from Mike.

Certainly the scale of what we're building and the size of the dunes - that

dune on your right is 80 feet tall. So the title Mammoth Dunes came from

the scale of the sand dunes. (He points over to another massve dune in the

distance that is so big that the large piece of land moving equipment looks

like a matchbox car on a mountain side).



LN: What I see out there, was this all existing here before?



DMK: This golf course we moved almost nothing. That abyss through the

middle here, we took that down a few feet and used the material to build

the clubhouse pad, that's the only dirt on the whole golf course that we

moved. Every other piece that you're gonna see on these six holes hasn't

been moved other then being pushed with a dozier a few yards here and

there, but nothing moved.


From this point on it's no longer a typical Q & A, it's David and I walking his

six hole preview of Mammoth Dunes. He is describing his thoughts during the

design process and how he thinks they should best be played . . .






The first at Sand Valley's Mammoth Dunes






DMK: Ok, here we are on the first tee. I love to be contrarian. So for every

golfer that stares down the first hole of a golf course, they always want to hit

it down the middle right? Well the one place I don't want you to hit it here is

down the middle, pick a side I don't care which one, but pick a side. As long as

you don't hit it down the middle you're good here. It might be the only opening

hole in golf where down the middle is the bad place to go. (I of course picked

the right side, and pulled it slightly onto the left part of the fairway, and in

typical Kidd fashion he says - that'll work, don't even explain it)


Earlier today we were back there (he points in the distance) working on the

fairway on fourteen, and on the other side of that is the tenth green. About 200

yards on the other side is what were working on right now. I'm trying to build a

hole that I've never tried to build before - It's a dogleg left, but on a straight line

it's a 280 yard par 4, so if you saw that on a scorecard you would assume that

it's driveable right? I'm going to set it up so it's pretty much impossible to drive




LN: You said 16 at Bandon was never designed to be driveable, and yet I've

attempted to drive it everytime I've played it.



DMK: It never was, the green is totally not set up for that shot.



LN: Very True, but the solution to that is to hit it just left of the green pin

high and pitch or chip it on - unless the pin is tucked over that perfectly

placed pot bunker you put there. . .


So when is the target date for the grand opening here on Mammoth Dunes?



DMK: Probably July 1 as a formal opening, with preview play starting in mid-

May but with restricted numbers. Even now I think they're only going to allow

50 people a day out here.



LN: How long have these six holes been finished?



DMK: These were all done last year, they were grassed in last September.

This first hole is 375 yards, if you would have gone the other route and

stayed high you would actually have got a little run on the ball and you'd

have a completely open view of the green. You have 153 into the wind, will

play like 165 yards.



LN: I want to talk a bit about your work on Gamble Sands, I was there the

summer of '15 drove up there the day after working on Josh Lewis' agronomy

staff at Chambers Bay. It played really firm and fast, and my impression was

that it's the most playable course I've ever experienced, and what I mean by

that is - absolutely any type of player from tour pro to a 30 handicapper can

come go out there and play it and have a great time.




Mammoth 5th & 6th holes





DMK: The take away for me is, Casey (Kidd's design partner at DMK Design)

and I built that in 2012 and we had been experimenting with design ideas for

a few years before that and Gamble was sort of the latest iteration of those

design ideas. Mike Keiser went there and loved it so much that he immediately

hired us to this.


Mike asked me to speak to one of his groups at Bandon, and I said I'll happily

come speak to your group, but only if you play Gamble Sands. So he played it

with Mike Davis (from the USGA) and Tim Boyle (owner of Columbia Sportswear).

He called as soon as he came off 18, and told me, "I'd put Gamble Sands in the

World Top 50".



LN: I thought the same thing, it was most fun golf course that I ever played.

(I then two putted for par at the first on Mammoth Dunes)


DMK: The second here is 395 yards. If you can carry the bunker or keep it

right of it, that's ideal. Keep it to the right here. (After another pulled tee shot)

Ok, you're down the left again, that's gonna make it interesting.

I think the premise of golf course architecture is fundamentally wrong. The

teachings of the great architects from 100 years ago were wrong then and

they're wrong today.


LN: You're gonna have to give me an example.


DMK: If a shot is not executed, (it has always been thought that) if the ask

of the golf course architect is not met, that shot should be punished. I think

that is a fundamental fallacy, here's why - the shot in and of itself is the

punishment. Most often if I think up a defense against your best attack, any-

thing less than your best attack is punishment in itself. Let's take your tee

shot here, you're now out of position, will you enjoy this hole more or less

if I give you an opportunity for redemption or if I put you in jail?


LN: Certainly more if you give me a chance, of course. No doubt about that.


DMK: But, that opportunity for redemption requires an even better shot than

if you had executed well the first time. On this hole you're now coming into a

shallow green with a front pin downwind, so for you to get this close for a

birdie putt would require one of the best shots of the day. When you stood on

the tee and pulled it left, you had a feeling of dred, like I pulled it into this waste

bunker and I'm not going to enjoy this hole now. You come up and over the hill

and see that you're not in the waste bunker, you're staring right at the flag.

You'll be looking at your 3 buddies thinking "my money is not in their pocket

yet". 122 yards left, aim half a stick right of that pin (I hit gap wedge just below

the flag about 15 feet away). Let's walk over here to the right and let me show

you where you would've been had you bloody well done what you were told.

(laughter ensues).


LN: I agree, that tee shot was total rubbish.



DMK: If you had hit a good shot over here I'm gonna give you some run out

and a better position to the green.



LN: As we walk towards the green, I pick up where we left off: So you finish

Gamble Sands back in 2012/2013, did you immediately know that you hit a

home run when you finished?



DMK: Casey and I were down in Nicaragua back in 2010, and we built a

course called Guacalito De La Isla, and everyone that came and played

that - love it. We had this whole epiphany about golf course design.

Instead of just pissing people off, what happens if we just try and help

them and get them to enjoy the game more. So we did a bunch of

stuff down there and it worked great, so we went to Gamble and then

to London and were doing the same stuff. So did we know? We thought

so, but didn't know for sure until people played it.


*(Questions from our Aug.18th follow up have an asterik)


*LN: So, You have nine holes Open now on (Mammoth Dunes) ?



DMK: Nine holes are open and holes six, seven, eight, nine, ten and fourteen

are all grassed, so there's only another three holes left and they'll actually

grass one of those tomorrow morning, so we're really close. By the end of the

month we should have the whole golf course grassed, then we have another

six weeks or so of final adjustments of little tweaks and nips and tucks and then

we'll batter down for winter and we hope this winter is kind. Next Spring we'll

add a few more holes to the preview round and the formal opening will likely

be July 1 of next year.



*LN: So, eleven, twelve and thirteen are the last three (holes) that you're

working on?



DMK: Yep, that's it. A short par 5, a medium length par 4 and a par 3. The

par 3 thirteenth might be the most visually stunning of all of the holes out

there. Which I know you know is hard to believe, but I really think it might




*LN: More than sixteen?



DMK: More than sixteen. I think that believe it or not I don't think that

sixteen wouldn't even make the top 2 of the par 3's. I think eight and

thirteen out do it considerably.


*LN: When we walked the course, you spoke about designing a short par 4 that

would be "un-drivable", is that the tenth, and were you able to create what you

set out to design there?



DMK: Yes. It's about 300 yards from the tips, it's a hard dog-leg left. It may be

possible to drive it, but there are some big trees and the green is not designed

to accept a drive - just too much risk. It's really a lay up, but you have to decide

what to lay up with, are you going to lay up with a 7 iron and hit your approach

with a 9 iron, or are you going to hit 3 wood and have a half wedge? The green is

the only one on the golf course with a serious false front, so there's a little bit of

a knee knocker wedge onto the green.



*LN: That leads me to our discussion about your time collaborating with Tom

Watson at Beaverbrook Golf Club (outside of London), and what you learned

about course management and how to apply it to your design work. I found it

fascinating, please explain . . .



DMK: It was all about his course management, he explained it in terms of threat

and opportunity. He would counter the threat versus the opportunity, if the threat

was even marginally high, he would almost always discount the opportunity. So for

a golf course designer, we often design holes where there is risk and reward but

we don't view it in the eyes of someone like Tom Watson. The risk might be where

maybe he's going to make double bogey and the minute he sees that risk he just

won't take it, he just sees it as too big a risk - and that was the lesson I learned.

The threat versus opportunity, the threat has to be relatively low. It just can't be

double bogey, because he just won't go for it. The threat has to be a stroke at the

very most, he's not going to take on a bunker that costs him an entire stroke with

no chance for reprieve. I realized that I had to be measured about how much threat

I put out there versus the opportunity, and that's what Gamble Sands does. There

is lots and lots of opportunity and the threats are relatively low. The punishment

will match the crime, if you don't pull it off I'm going to give you a slightly more

difficult lie or a little less view of the pin, or a little bit harder angle but I'm not

going to put you in a 8 ft deep bunker, knee high grass or make you hunt for the

ball. I'm gonna give you a play, you're never out of it - there's always a chance

for redemption.


*LN: Did Tom disclose where his course management philosophy came from, was

it something that he learned through trials and tribulations along the way?


DMK: I can't speak for Tom, but the way that I heard it over the 5 years that

I spent working with Tom on Beaverbrook - I asked him many times about his

career and the path that he took - and he's probably the most accomplished links

player in modern times, even surpassing Nicklaus as far as performance on British

Isles links courses. It seems to me that what I heard was that early on when

he started playing these links courses and he was very aggressive - they kicked

his ass. He had to learn to be patient and to hit away from the pin sometimes

because the threat out weighed the opportunity. He learned that with the threat

level reduced he could then maximize the opportunity and those were the kinds

of conversations that we would have. I would draw out of it the simplistic view of

how he views his course management.


*LN: Going back to the un-driveable tenth on Mammoth, were you influenced

doing that design to see if you could employ some of Tom's course management

into that hole. Perhaps to require players to chose the prudent play?


DMK: Time will have to tell, but I did do everything in my power to try and

persuade you to not pull driver there. The threat is very high. My hope is that

even the most emboldened of players will see that the threat level is very high

and they need to consider their options. For the golfers that go there that don't

have course management in their quiver, hopefully they look at it and know I

can't hit driver even though it's within my yardage - ok, I'll hit 3 wood. The level

of threat with a 3 wood is still pretty high, well maybe I'll hit rescue, and even

that requires hitting into a very narrow target. Maybe through course design I

can lead their thinking into - Well it's only 275 yards from my tee, I can easily just hit 6

iron/9 iron, and I'd be in the same spot with no risk. Why not do that.


So maybe I can manipulate the golfing masses to consider their options a little

more than just grabbing driver on every par 4 or par 5. If you're going at that

hole (the tenth) with a driver, it's one of the few holes on the course where you

can lose a ball.



DMK: So why are the great masters not necessarily the best teachers of golf

course architecture today? My business thinks that they all are the best teachers.

They look at Seth Raynor and say if I could build golf courses as he did almost

100 years ago I would be an out of the ballpark success and I'm not sure that

would be true. I think a lot of those greens and holes would be so difficult for the

average player that the participation rates would fall even faster than they have in

last decade. They're just too hard. Golf courses of the past like Oakmont and Pine

Valley have led to the creation of courses like Erin Hlls and Whistling Straits, are

those really the best golf courses for modern times. How many people play those

and get their ass kicked and decide they don't want to go back? It's an interesting

debate all in itself.


And yet hundreds of thousands of people have gone to Bandon Dunes, maybe

millions at this point - because the courses are great for players like you and I,

but they're also great for the average guy because they won't lose golf balls and

they'll have a chance for recovery and redemption. The average player sees

Bandon and all they see is acres and acres of grass and it's appealing to them.

They can spray it all over the place and make bogey or double bogey, but all

with the same golf ball and they like that.

LN: Mike (Keiser), he's been out here periodically right?



DMK: Yeah, he loves it. He'll be here this weekend. It's been great, I never

pushed Mike to hire me again after Bandon, I went off and did my own thing.

I kind of waited on him and waited on the right timing and I knew once I

finished Gamble the time was right to go back to Mike and say hey come

have a look at this. I talk a lot about the influence of developers and real

estate and the Tiger effect that led me and many golf course designers

down a path away from fun and playability. Golf became frustrating and

somewhat humiliating to the average player.



LN: That's great perspective. What are your thoughts on the "Augusta effect"

and how it has influenced so many golf clubs and American golfers that think

that's what their club should aspire to be? Most American golfers don't realize

that what Augusta National has created isn't realistic in terms of their unlimited

resources and its pristine presentation. It may be the best tournament in the

world, but it's also been created and maintained by resources of the wealthiest

people on earth.



DMK: My thoughts going all the way back to Bandon, was that even though

my design philosophy started one way and changed to something else and

then back to what I started with, my philosophies in terms of naturalism and

minimalism will never change. I've always been trying to build courses that

took inspiration from the landscape around them. I think that over the last

generation golfers have become so sophisticated - especially in the U.S that

perfection has been so easily achieved by the people in Agronomy, where

perfect surfaces are taken as the norm. That anything less than perfection

is seen as failure, and so there is a certain yearning by the American golfer

to embrace imperfection and take nature and love it for it's imperfections.

So something like Bandon Dunes when it happened was pushing an open

door. People's consciousness was there, they were starting to think about

electric cars and recycling - and they went to Bandon Dunes and said "Wow,

this is nature, This is raw nature! And that has inspired a generation for golf

courses like Streamsong, Sand Valley and even to some extent something

like Whistling Straits that is fake, but there is something to be said for doing

fake really well.



DMK: (shifting back into caddie/player mode)

Ok, par 5 15th - 495 yards. You're downwind today so the speed slot is on

the high right side of that bunker. If you can stay left of that tall tree in the

distance and I'm gonna give you 50 extra yards.



LN: So you get to a hole or a spot on the property like this, how many trees

were in the path of this particular tract of land here?



DMK: See the Oak trees on the right, they hug the high ridges and because

these ridges were steep, the paper company that owned this land before

didn't tear those out and plant red pines (the Norwegian pulp trees) - but

everything else they did. Mike Keiser's mandate to everyone in this project

especially his own sons was: This is a golf project and a restoration project,

they're simpatico.

I'm not going to give one more than the other. When I came out here, Mike

made it abundantly clear to Casey and I on threat of getting fired. If it is

native like these Oak Savanna you're not chopping it down, you will respect it.

We took out everything that was the red pines and he embraced us doing so.

Once we took out these rows of pines we had giant oaks from here all the way

up to the oaks on the ridge. Once we had the space it was just Oh baby, what

can we dream up! Zero dirt is moved on any of these holes, it's just basic

shaping. The fun thing for us was dreaming up strategies.



LN: You must have just been gushing when you first saw this place?



DMK: Yeah, I thought for awhile I was going to get to do the first course, but

one of the things that I've always said about Bandon (when people ask what

would you do different) is I've always said I would have gone second. So

Mike gave me my wish here.



LN: Why second?



DMK: There are massive advantages to going second, it's not even fair.

Whoever goes second, unless they're stupid - before you've even started

you're as good as the guy who went first.



LN: Please elaborate.



DMK: By the time that I got here they had a whole wealth of knowledge

about how they did it. I can go around and ask Bill (Coore) how to do this

and that, how did that work? Which parts didn't work? All the staff that built

it went from that course to this course.


LN: I hear they may possibly be interested in doing up to four or five courses

here, is that true?



DMK: Oh yeah. He owns 9000 acres here, measure that in square miles. He

bought two then he bought another seven (it measures out at just over 14

square miles).



LN: That sounds Mosaic like and the size of their property size at Streamsong,

do you think they're done with three after Gil's (Black) course? Any interest in

doing one there? It's my opinion that it would be a great spot for you . . .



DMK: They're not done over there either, but we'll see what Rich Mack says

after he sees this, and as my granny used to say, "What's for you, won't go

by you".



LN: Love that, may have to steal that.


(After a really good tee shot, I miss hit a few shots including the blind approach

and the putt for par on the 15th. Halfway through the preview holes I was +1,

but more importantly this was the moment when we walked up to the 16th tee

and I simply said Wow!)



This photo I captured of the 16th illustrates the dramatic setting, so I

opted for black and white. The green lies behind the giant dune you see

on the right. (I included the resort's color version at the beginning of this

Q & A feature).



LN: So was that dune on the right already existing?



DMK: Yes, originally I had the green on top of it, We started clearing on

one of the first visits and I said to Mike, I just don't like that location, I want

to put it there (on the backside). He says, On the backside of the hill? I say,

Mike, I can build a way better hole on the backside of that hill. He says, I

don't think you can. He really really did not want me to build it this way, but

eventually he relinquished and we built it.


LN: What was your thought there, too exposed to wind ?


DMK: It was just too obvious, like a kiddies coloring book. I hate golf courses

that are like that. I want to have to figure it out, I want there to be a a riddle,

a conundrum - something interesting . . . You have 145 yds to the pin.







photo courtesy of Casey Krahenbuhl

Tom Watson with David & his wife Tara who plays golf on the Symetra Tour







17th on Mammoth Dunes





(After a solid up and down on the 427 yard seventeenth, it was off to the

final hole) - A 511 yard par 5 that plays uphill on the approach to a super

wide putting surface that is probably close 50 yards across, but isn't very




DMK: Great tee shot, only 215 yards of carry left and the pin is 235. Aim at

the right half of the white marquis (temporary tent), this is a big chance for

me to recoup my reputation as a caddie.


LN: (Thwack) Not sure if that's gonna make it over, went for the cut - didn't

pull it off.


DMK: You're good, just a chip and putt left.



LN: (we walk up to my ball that has finished up about 20 yards left of the

green) That's gonna be an interesting shot.


DMK: That's actually a great spot, I'm hoping that the turf firms up so that

your ball would have rolled out a bit more.


(He points over to the left) That's actually the 17th on the short course over



LN: Oh right, that's probably why Bill (Coore) was here last week. (When I

think of Bill Coore and short courses my mind always drifts to Bandon

Preserve). Any thoughts about whether Mike Keiser is done at Bandon or is

that other coastal property out there still in play?


DMK: I've heard rumbling that it's still in play, and perhaps Gil (Hanse) gets

that one, but Mike has a lot of irons in the fire and he's 72 now.


(Back to the golf - we're pin high, but facing about a 40 yard shot with 25

yards being fairway cut and Kidd decides it's a good time for a shortgame

challenge.) Good chance for your Texas wedge here. What are you thinking

of using 5 iron, 7 iron?

LN: Probably my gap wedge.



DMK: I'm gonna go 7 iron. This is my version of a Texas wedge. Of course

in Scotland we don't call it that. (the shot actually played firm and true, as

both David's 7 iron bump and run and my wedge both rolled out well beyond

the hole. After I two putted for par finishing the 6 hole loop at +1)



LN: I saw a video recently of you and the crew rolling a basketball along the

ridges and contours to get a true sense of what a golf ball will do on turf once

grown in. What a brilliant idea, have you always used that?


DMK: Not always, maybe the last three (courses). You can't trust your eye,

but you only use a basketball on sand.



*LN: Last one for you, you're almost done with the golf course, and I wanted

to get your overall thoughts and emotions on your work on Mammoth Dunes

and the nearly finished product. Where are you at right now with all of that?


DMK: I'm fortunate enough to have a number of courses that sit in various

rankings in the U.S and the world, and I think that Mammoth Dunes is the best

golf course I've ever done in my career. I haven't been happier with a project

than I am with this. I think it's every bit as much fun as Gamble Sands, it has

all of the playability of Bandon Dunes and it has a maturity that has taken me

30 years to develop. I knew when to press on the gas and I knew when to be

somewhat restrained.


*LN: (ok, so I lied - one more) You're 50 now, as am I, do you find that what

you lose in youth, you seem to gain in knowledge and perspective?


DMK: Well, when I was in my 20's I thought I was really really confident. I

was very, very confident. You look back at it and you say to yourself, that

cocky little shit didn't have much to be confident about. Why was he so

confident. Then at 50 you say, ok now I can be quietly confident because

I've made so many mistakes that hopefully I learned from, that now I actually

have something to be confident about. When you're in your 20's the confidence

is all bravado, with little knowledge or experience behind it.



LN: David, Thank You for doing this, appreciate you spending the time to show

me around, this place is really going to be something special.



DMK: It was my pleasure, how much fun is this - showing off your baby. It

was 2013 when I was first here and now it's 2017, so four years I've been

coming to this site. I will be here quite a bit through mid-September, then

from there on out it will be sporadic.


See you for the opening in July.


LN: Absolutely, I sure hope so. "If it's for me, it won't go by me."





For more info on David McLay-Kidd:


Sand Valley:















« StartPrev12345678910NextEnd »

Page 1 of 12