Given his history of hiring young, untested course architects, Mike Keiser's choice of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw to design a third 18 at Bandon Dunes was something of a shock. Bringing in well-established designers made sense, though, considering the less appealing site of the new course, which is scheduled to open in 2005.
Like Bandon and Pacific Dunes, Dune Valley, as the new course has been provisionally named, begins on sand dunes not far from the coastline. Dune Valley, however, turns inland at the 3rd hole and passes through a pine forest at the 7th. The 5th, 6th and 17th holes are situated in a sparsely vegetated meadow, but the rest of the course—except for the 18th hole, which returns to the dunes—winds again through the trees.
Such a landscape makes Dune Valley a marked departure from its linksland cousins, raising the possibility that golfers will shun the woodlands course in favor of the more exotic Bandon and Pacific Dunes. "The downside is that everyone will compare this course to the other courses, which are amazingly scenic and exceptionally well-designed," says Coore. "To build something that people will actually want to come up here and play is a real challenge. The huge risk, both for us and for Mike, is that when we've finished, we'll have built a course that no one cares about."
Don't bet against Coore and Crenshaw, but keep in mind something Coore said in the book Golfers. He was discussing Sand Hills, the masterpiece he and Crenshaw constructed in Mullen, Neb., in the mid-'90s. On a site so unquestionably perfect, Coore said, "If you don't do something extraordinary, you have failed." The same holds true for Dune Valley, though for different reasons.