Friedmann, 58, also lives in Chicago. He has played golf seriously for only about 10 years and has become, in his words, "absolutely crazed by it." He, too, has become part of Chicagoland's private-club scene, belonging to Butler National and the Merit Club (site of the 2000 U.S. Women's Open). He candidly admits that Bally Bandon essentially has a one-man membership. "I know it sounds precious, but right now it's just for one person's play," Friedmann says. "It's wonderful to be able to go out and play, to sometimes bring friends and enjoy what I would say would be close to going back in time 150 years to a course in Scotland."
Friedmann declined to discuss the comments made by his workmen, but Keiser finds them credible. "I don't doubt that [Friedmann] has brought people out there and said, 'Would you consid er joining here?' " he says. Keiser also indicated that he and Friedmann have a fundamental difference of opinion about the future of Bally Bandon. "He says it should be a private course, because he likes that concept," says Keiser. "The concept I give him back is that the resort is all about public play and the idea of a private course clashes with that. That's where we have reached a stasis."
If Keiser seems in no hurry to resolve the issue, it is probably because he already has enough on his plate. He is preoccupied not only with the Coore-Crenshaw course but also with his first foreign venture, a Doak-designed course in Bridport, Tasmania, named Barnbougle Dunes that is to open in April. Keiser already has had discussions with Kyle Phillips and Mark Parsinen, designers of the highly regarded Kingsbarns Golf Links, near St. Andrews, about a fifth course to be built on land east of Pacific Dunes. There is also the matter of making a decision about on-course residences, which Keiser says will not be easy and has become a battle between his heart and his wallet. "Getting the permissions means that we can build them," he says. "It doesn't mean that we will build them."
That Bally Bandon is in "stasis" is both a curse and a blessing. Bandon Dunes's clientele won't be able to play Bally Bandon, but they won't have to envy (and curse) a private membership that can. Until Keiser presses the issue with his co-owner—"We'll make a decision about it one of these years," he says—the grass will continue to grow, and occasionally be mown. And every once in a while a lucky man will fly in from Chicago, walk out to Five Mile Point and enjoy the unspoiled view.