Home, sweet home for the week. Chrome Lake cottages.
A chilly tee-off on Bandon Trails Monday morning for Butch Sheffield, Matt Crowther,
David-Dore-Smith and Matthew Tacilauskas. That was the last we saw of fog.
Dan Meersman says hey to Mia, Ken Nice's constant companion.
Bandon Trails clubhouse.
Shawn Potter (from trip sponsor Syngenta) with Mike Meersman
on Bandon Preserve par-3 course.
Matthew Tacilauskas, John Gall and David Dore-Smith
on the Bandon Dunes course, Wednesday.
Dan and Mike Meersman watch Shawn Potter putt out on Bandon Trails #18.
Mike and Shawn after the round.
Matt Crowther tees off on the Bandon Dunes course, Wednesday.
David Dore-Smith (Copperleaf Golf Club, Bonita Springs, FL) on the Bandon Dunes course.
Nice lie. Matthew Tacilauskas (Taz for short) on Bandon Dunes course.
The Bandon Dunes Agronomy staff joined us Tuesday afternoon for a round on the new 18-hole Punch Bowl putting course, which is adjacent to the Pacific Dunes clubhouse.
Jon Kiger marshals the masses.
Dan Meersman chats with Jeff Sutherland, Pacific Dunes superintendent,
while Dan's father Mike listens in.
Frank Tichenor with Ken Nice, Bandon Dunes Director of Agronomy.
A beautiful afternoon for putting competition.
Every amenity is provided.
A little ledge? No problem. Just go around it.
Dennis Hurley (Turf Drainage Co. of America) with David Dore-Smith, Copperleaf Golf Club.
The TurfNet group was hosted by the Bandon Dunes Agronomy staff at the main maintenance facility at 6:15 Monday morning, well before sunrise. Ken Nice, Director of Agronomy, spoke to the group about the various maintenance challenges at Bandon, the biggest one being... wind, and how it moves sand around the golf course.
The superintendents from the various Bandon courses were available for group and individual Q&A.
Breakfast was provided by trip sponsor Turf Drainage Company of America.
Ken Nice (middle) chatting with our group.
Ken Nice was very complementary of their Vredo seeder (photo below), which he said is great for little-to-no-disturbance overseeding of all turf surfaces.
While most of the TurfNet group is out playing Old Macdonald today, the two industrious TurfNet staffers are hard at work in the Pacific Dunes grille. Since this is one of the two or three times each year that Peter McCormick (l) and Jon Kiger get together face-to-face, it's time for strategizing.
That's a real Mac on the right and a fake one on the left (the computer, not the guy).
No, it wasn't our groups racing around the Old Macdonald course on Saturday and Bandon Dunes on Sunday. It was the 25 professional Speedgolfers competing in the 2013 Speedgolf World Championship.
It was insane. These guys pack up to six clubs in a feather-weight bag and then run from stroke to stroke. Most are golfers who also happen to be runners, but there were some marathoners who also took up the game to compete. There were two Olympic athletes in the field.
The winner, Rob Hogan of Ireland, scored a 77 in 39 minutes (for 18 holes) on Old Mac on Saturday and then shot a 79 on Bandon Dunes in 41 minutes on Sunday.
The scoring format of Speedgolf is total strokes, plus total minutes and seconds it takes the player to complete his or her round.
'While we're young', indeed.
The groups teeing off early Sunday afternoon got off to a wet start... but then the weather turned beautiful for late afternoon post-round beers.
Bill and Doug Middleton (Ocean Organics, trip sponsor), Mike Cook of Davey Tree (lunch sponsor),
and Scott Schukraft at the first tee on the Bandon Dunes course.
Superintendent of the Year Dan Meersman (l) and his dad Mike flank Dave McCormick, bro of the Maestro.
Our international contingent, Matthew Tacilauskas, David Dore-Smith and John Gall seek shelter prior
to their Sunday round on the Bandon Dunes course.
Dennis Hurley (Turf Drainage Company of America), Bill Anderson (Carmel Country Club), Mark Chant (Pinnacle Turf) and Butch Sheffield (North Ridge Country Club) prior to teeing off on Pacific Dunes Sunday afternoon.
Frank Tichenor and Matt Crowther start off their round at Pacific Dunes.
What it's all about: Comparing notes over post-round beers. David Dore-Smith and Dan Meersman
on a sunny late Sunday afternoon.
Syngenta hosted the group for our welcome dinner on Sunday night.
We secured two tee times early Sunday on Bandon Preserve, the 13-hole par-3 course that opened just prior to our visit last year. This gave a couple of groups a head start on their afternoon tee times on the Bandon Dunes course, while two other groups played Pacific Dunes on Sunday.
From Bandon Preserve:
Dan Meersman contemplates his next bunker shot while his father Mike chips up.
Mike Cook, Doug and Bill Middleton, John Gall and Scott Schukraft on the Preserve.
Bill Middleton rolls one close.
Course accessories, when there are some, are rustic.
Wildlife. That's a serious snail or slug or whatever it is.
As we've explained Bandon Dunes isn't exactly easy to get to. Most attendees flew to the North Bend/Coos Bay airport from San Francisco on Saturday.
Always trying to multi-task, I flew to San Francisco on Friday and filmed some TurfNetTV Tips and Tricks segments with 2010 TurfNet Superintendent of the Year Thomas Bastis, CGCS at the California Golf Club of San Francisco. Thomas demonstrated his drone-based camera (view from the drone shown below) for one of the segments.
Thomas Bastis and me with his drone at California Golf Club prior to my flight up to Bandon.
On Saturday, Dennis Hurley, Butch Sheffield, and Bill Anderson visited and played the Cal Club before flying up to North Bend/Coos Bay.
Thomas Bastis (l), with Bill Anderson, Butch Sheffield and Dennis Hurley, at Cal Club
Our two Aussies from Florida (Matthew Tacilauskas from Palm Beach Country Club - left in photo - and David Dore-Smith from Copperleaf Golf Club) scored tickets to the Oregon (#2) vs. UCLA (#12) game in Eugene on Saturday. They met up with TurfNet member Chris Gaughan from Eugene Country Club and Chris hosted them at his home since the hotels were full from the football game. The two arrived in plenty of time for their first round on Bandon Dunes.
Not so Mark Chant, who had a travel snag for the second consecutive year. The flight crew didn't show up on time for his flight from JFK to San Francisco so he missed the last flight to North Bend/Coos Bay. Frank Tichenor was happy to provide suggestions on how to spend his time Saturday night during his layover in San Francisco.
Mark flew up Sunday morning with Dennis Hurley, Bill Anderson and Butch Sheffield and all were able to get their first round (Pacific Dunes) in despite some fog-related circling around the North Bend/Coos Bay airport.
-- Jon Kiger
Those arriving on Saturday afternoon played the Sheep Ranch, a little-known and quirky "golf course" abutting the north edge of the Bandon Dunes property. "Golf course" is in quotes because it is not your typical course. No specified teeing grounds, no set routing, no sign, no clubhouse. No pars or scores. Access through the swinging gate is via prior arrangement with Greg, the superintendent/gatekeeper, on behalf of the private owner.
We had the place to ourselves, on a gorgeous late afternoon. Pure golf. Pure fun.
The property is mostly low-mowed fescue. Greens are watered with an old fire truck that hooks up to the "irrigation system" for a water source (note quotes again around irrigation system).
The maintenance facility is a lean-to with a triplex greensmower, a sprayer and topdresser. Two 55-gallon fuel tanks comprise the fueling station. A big-ass four-wheel drive Massey Ferguson tractor pulls an old set of Jake fairway gangs on the "fairways" (lots of quotation marks here).
Mike Meersman, father of TurfNet Superintendent of the Year Dan Meersman (in red hat),
putts out on hole #? of the Sheep Ranch. The Meersmans are guests of Syngenta.
Looking north over the gorse from the Sheep Ranch.
Too bad nobody is having any fun.
"Lightweight" fairway mowing? Nah.
Sheep Ranch water wagon.
Sheep Ranch maintenance facility. No joke.
Gotta love this photo taken by Matt Crowther, CGCS, of Doug Middleton (Ocean Organics)
silhouetted against the setting sun at the Sheep Ranch.
The sun was still low in the sky this morning as we crossed the lakeshore of Chicago on our way to O'Hare, the first leg of the seemingly interminable cross-country journey to Bandon Dunes. Yes, folks, you have to want to go there. It's a long way from anywhere. Everywhere.
The city of Chicago was just awakening, the amber glow of streetlamps yielding to the sunrise. Most of the near-endless Monopoly board of homes and businesses, schools and ballfields were in shadow, with the treetops bathed in first light. Ahead to the west, the checkerboard vista was interrupted in places by large swaths of trees. Some probably the Forest Preserve districts for which Chicagoland is known; others no doubt golf courses.
The first golf course we flew over was still deep in shadow, the tees, greens and bunkers barely discernible. I've flown over golf courses hundreds of times, but this one struck me... not for the detail, but for the enormity and stature of this greenspace relative to its urban surroundings.
Sometimes one has to step back (or, in this case, up) to see things from a different vantage point, to take in the whole rather than the detail.
It struck me how privileged one would be to walk this green oasis, to recreate on it, chasing a little white ball around, so near yet so far away from the urban hubbub around it. A privilege, not a right... regardless of the monies spent to belong to what I'm guessing is a high-end private club.
Maybe if more golfers considered the walk on their course a privilege they would relax a little more, be a little less demanding, a little more accepting of the vagaries of a natural playground... and a little less apt to run their golf course superintendent out on a rail when their perceived right to bitch and moan overwhelms their common sense.
That's one reason I love these trips to Ireland and Bandon Dunes. The golf courses are near-sacred, blemishes and all. Everyone realizes the privilege it is to be there, to walk them and enjoy them... without regard for the occasional quirk of nature that so often adds to the character of the experience.
Play on, fellas!
-- Peter McCormick