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The Links That Bind

Calum Paterson served a six-month internship at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, a place similar to his home course in Dornoch.

Bandon Dunes nurtures the game’s roots by drawing interns from Scotland

by Tom Cade, Editor 

Originally from Glasgow, Calum Paterson arrived in 2016 in Dornoch, a small royal burgh of less than 1,500 souls in the Highlands of Scotland, to attend the University of the Highlands & Islands (UHI), which has a campus branch just a block from the Royal Dornoch Golf Club.   

The branch offers a Golf Management program, a four-year curriculum that has the distinct advantage of being located a chip shot away from the No. 5-ranked golf course on planet Earth.   

In the summer of 2017, Paterson began working at Royal Dornoch, and continued to do so while taking classes in the university’s Golf Management program. He graduated in the spring of 2020, right when COVID hit and shut everything down.   

But golf in Scotland, as in most countries, continued on during the lockdown of the pandemic, although in Scotland the restrictions were severe, with locals for long stretches of time not being allowed to travel to neighboring towns to play golf; and, of course, golf tourists from out of the country coming to a standstill.   

After graduation, Paterson stayed on at the golf course, eventually working his way up to retail supervisor in the club’s golf shop.  

“But winters in Dornoch are quiet,” Paterson says. “And dark, with it being located so far north. I’d been there six seasons, and felt it was time to try something new.” 

So he had a conversation with Neil Hampton, Royal Dornoch’s longtime general manager. “I told him I wanted to go to the U.S.,” he said. Hampton told him he would see what he could do. 

And this is where Bandon Dunes comes into the picture. 

As it happened, during COVID, Hampton had started participating in regular conference calls that included golf resorts from around the world, and was started by Ted Stonehouse, the director of golf at Cabot Links in Nova Scotia. The purpose of the calls was for the resorts to share updates on the progress of bringing golf back safely during the pandemic.  

And although the calls started because of COVID, they continue them today to share best practices, staffing opportunities, hospitality issues and more.  

Also participating in the calls is Jeff Simonds, the assistant general manager and senior director of operations at Bandon Dunes.  

“During one of our regular conference calls, Neil mentioned he had a staff member who was interested in visiting the U.S. and learning more about the golf industry from the U.S. perspective,” Simonds recalls. “I later spoke with Calum via Zoom and felt he would be a great fit.” 

Mike Keiser named one of the roads that leads to the Bandon Dunes staff housing after one of his favorite courses.

After the completion of the 2022 U.S. Junior Amateur held at Bandon Dunes last summer, Simonds, who serves as the director of all USGA national championships held at the resort, went on a family vacation to Scotland in August, and Dornoch was on his itinerary.  

“I got to meet Calum in person while at Royal Dornoch,” Simonds says. “That was a lot of fun.”  

Simonds then told Paterson that if he knew anyone else who might want to come to Bandon with him, to let him know. Paterson did know of someone – a former classmate at UHI, Kieran McCormick, who had also worked at Royal Dornoch and who had studied golf instruction.  

Paterson and McCormick arrived at Bandon Dunes together in October 2022, with Paterson scheduled for a six-month tour at the resort and McCormick signing on for a full year. For Paterson, now 26, it was his first visit to the U.S. 

Paterson started at the resort as a golf intern in the Bandon Dunes golf shop. “It really was the best way to learn,” he says of his first couple months. “It’s the main shop at the resort, and it seems everyone has to pass through there at some point, so I got to meet a lot of the incredible people who work here, as well as all the guests. Everyone just seems so happy to be here.” 

He would eventually move over to the golf shop at the resort’s Pacific Dunes course. 

“The feel at the resort is very similar to Dornoch,” Paterson says. “A small town along the coast, similar weather patterns, and of course the links style of golf is the same. In fact, I’ve met a lot of Scottish people here.” 

Now that his six months at Bandon has been completed, Paterson has returned to Dornoch, where he’ll work as a caddie for the summer season.  

The reputation of Bandon Dunes owner Mike Keiser and his family and their development of links golf is well known throughout the golfing world. “This has enabled the resort to connect with students and golf professionals that are interested in seeing a U.S. resort model from the inside,” Simonds says.  

To date, Bandon Dunes has had seven people from the UK join their golf operations team, with the first coming over in 2016. “The UHI has a great Golf Management program and we’ve been fortunate to have a number of their students make the trip to the U.S. to join our team,” Simonds says.  

The connection deepens when talking about the links conditions, weather and climate of Bandon, and with it being a small community. The southern Oregon Coast is not much different than the towns throughout Scotland.  

“And the last connection is always one of my favorites,” Simonds says. “The street address of staff housing at the resort is on Royal Dornoch Road. The road was named by Mr. Keiser after one of his favorite golf courses.” 

Links golf. Wind and weather. Small coastal towns. A sense of community. A sense of a shared adventure.  

Good connections all.  


Tom Cadeis the editor of Pacific Northwest Golfer magazine, published by the Pacific Northwest Golf Association. From 2010-2015 he served as president of the Northwest Golf Media Association, and in 2016 received the NWGMA Distinguished Service Award.