Monday, April 30, 2012

The Week That Was, april 29, 2012

 united states The Unlikely Number One

Bandon Dunes is the top golf destination in the United States.

Its golf courses, according to a recent ranking, combine “beauty and challenge,” and playing any one of them “is sure to be a memorable experience for any golfer.”

I recently stumbled across the ranking online. What struck me is that it didn’t come from Golf Digest, Golfweek, Golf World, or any other publication where golf cognoscenti gather. Nor did it come from Travel & Leisure, Cond√© Nast Travel, National Geographic Traveler, or similar publications that ferret out undiscovered places where the smart money is vacationing.

Instead, the ranking came from a website called AccuWeather.com. It’s a website that tells you the weather. I have no idea why it decided to rank the top 10 U.S. golf destinations.

If you’re wondering, the website’s list of the top 10 U.S. golf destinations placed Pebble Beach as number two, then Pinehurst, Myrtle Beach, and “anywhere in Hawaii.” The second five: Williamsburg, Phoenix/Scottsdale, Las Vegas, San Antonio, and Ocean City, Maryland.

I cite AccuWeather.com’s list not to question its merits or to dispute the selections. I cite it because AccuWeather.com is in no way, shape, or form an insider’s guide to quality golf. My guess is that it is, in fact, as mainstream as online publications come.

And that can only mean one thing: After less than a decade of existence, Bandon Dunes has tapped deeply into the mass consciousness and, more important, the mass market. It’s no longer the secret preserve of the purists, classicists, and Golden Agers among us. A couple of years ago, a fellow who’d played Bandon earned instant cred. Today, he’s just another golfer with money.

The biggest development risk of Mike Keiser’s career has paid off in spades.

 And in Other News . . .

. . . uruguay Is Arnold Palmer’s design firm rewriting history? The company’s first course in Uruguay is under construction, with the initial nine holes (of a planned 18) anticipated to open in late 2012 or early 2013. The course will be part of a private resort community called Las Piedras -- the name translates as “the rocks” -- which is taking shape just outside Punta del Este, a popular vacation spot that’s been called “the St. Tropez of Uruguay” and “the Riviera of South America.” So who designed the course? A recent press release identifies Thad Layton as the course’s architect. But this news doesn’t jibe with previously published material from Palmer, not to mention an interview I conducted myself in 2010. The truth is, the course was designed by Eric Wiltse, who was let go from Palmer’s firm during a downsizing in 2011, just about the time that JHSF Participacoes SA broke ground on Las Piedras.

Some information in this post appeared in the November 2010 issue of the World Edition of the Golf Course Report.

. . . canada A partially finished golf course in suburban Calgary, largely abandoned since 2010, will be completed this summer and may open by the end of the current golf season. It’s Blue Devil Golf Club, and it was begun by J. R. Shaw, the retired chairman of a Calgary-based cable television company, Shaw Communications. Shaw managed to build 13 holes on the Gary Browning-designed course, which was supposed to be the centerpiece of a private club that never found members. Scott Atkinson, the course’s new owner, plans to finish the remaining holes and, eventually, give Blue Devil a proper clubhouse. And if western Canada’s golf business ever revives, Atkinson aims to build Serenity Golf Club, a 36-hole complex in suburban Calgary that will also be designed by Browning.

Some information in this post appeared in the January 2011 issue of the World Edition of the Golf Course Report.

. . . scotland When he isn’t huffing and puffing and threatening to blow Scotland’s renewable-energy strategies down, Donald Trump dreams of hosting a major tournament at his soon-to-open golf course in Aberdeenshire. Unfortunately, his relentless war of words with the Scottish government doesn’t appear to be winning him any friends at the Royal & Ancient, the gatekeeper of the Open Championship. When asked whether the Martin Hawtree-designed track at “the world’s greatest golf course” would be considered for the R&A’s top prize, the group’s CEO gave a decidedly non-committal reply. It is a spectacular golf course, Peter Dawson said in comments published by the Associated Press. As for an Open Championship being played there, we will have to wait and see. There is every indication the golf course is very strong, but let’s see how it matures. I would say it has a long way to go yet. Trump International Golf Links Scotland is scheduled to open in July. Weekend greens fee: $325.

. . . wild card click Why do the best things always disappear? I’ve been asking myself the same question a lot lately. Au revoir, Levon.