Ode to the Amateur Player In creating Bandon Dunes, owner Mike Keiser built a heaven for the rest of us by Ron Bellamy MIKE KEISER, THE FOUNDER AND OWNER of Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, has deep respect for the U.S. Amateur championship, which will be held at the resort next year. He considers it “another major.” He understands that the USGA traditionally awards the U.S. Amateur to sites that it considers worthy of hosting a U.S. Open – even though Keiser believes it would take a couple of decades, and significant changes in how such an event is viewed, before it would visit his courses overlooking the Pacific Ocean in southern Oregon. The 2020 U.S. Amateur will be the seventh USGA championship to be staged at Bandon Dunes; the sixth, the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball is being held this month, in May. Visionary that he is, you might think that Keiser saw this all coming when he was building Bandon Dunes, which opened 20 years ago this month. Except he says he didn’t. “That was a dream too far,” Keiser said. “I remember back in 1997, ‘98 ‘99, most people thought, and I would tend to agree, it was a total folly, where risk over reward was very out-weighing, much more risk than reward.” And so, Keiser said, “I honestly didn’t give too much thought to USGA championships.” However, he said, USGA official Mike Davis, who then was in charge of the U.S. Open and who would ultimately become executive director and then chief executive officer, encouraged him to keep USGA events on a back burner, at least. “Mike was very encouraging of that ambition when he visited during construction,” Keiser said. “I know in a couple of instances we added tees, therefore length, just in case. “But he was sort of with me; he loved that I was building a links course in America, he hoped for the best. But he along with me thought it was closer to foolhardy than visionary.” After the original Bandon Dunes course, designed by David McLay Kidd, was open for a month in the early summer of 1999, Keiser said, it became clear that his dream hadn’t been foolish, but phenomenal. “The first month we were open, it became obvious that we were going to do far more than 10,000 rounds a year,” he said. “People came from all over, and journalists and regular people raved. Initially we thought it might be just Oregonians who would come. But it was everybody, from all over the place. “After that first month, a lot of things became possible. The first thing was building Pacific Dunes right away. That was the decision – ‘We’ve got something, let’s build a second.’ And the second thing was that if people are coming to play, that may mean that the USGA would want to have a championship here, or two or three.” At the 2015 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball, held on the Pacific Dunes course at Bandon Dunes, Shawn Farmer-Sese (pictured) of Renton, Wash. partnered with Christina Proteau of Port Alberni, B.C. (Photo by TJC) The U.S. Amateur Four-Ball May 25-29, 2019 Bandon Dunes Golf Resort • Old Macdonald course • Pacific Dunes course Bandon, Oregon 866.256.6768 BandonDunesGolf.com To watch this national championship, admission is free and open to the public. MAY 2019 | PACIFIC NORTHWEST GOLFER 15