NLU Podcast, Episode 369: Jim Urbina


Beater Right Club today? Yes. That's Better than. Most About. It is better than most. Than Most Latest German welcome back to another episode of the. PODCAST DJ. Paschi here filling in for our newly married host Sally. Who I believe was last spotted on instagram mowing his lawn for the first time just all kinds of life changes going on for Sally this week congratulations to him. He'll be back soon in the meantime, we have a very timely podcast today with Jim or Beena. Jim has been in the Gulf design business for a long long time and the reason I'm calling this a timely podcast is that not only was he the CO designer of Old Macdonald would you saw in episode four of the season of tour sauce? He was also instrumental in building Pacific dunes with Tom Doak and also built the punch bowl the putting course at bandon dunes that we all know and love, and all these are things you can see in this season of tourists presented by our good friends at precision pro range finders I gotta. Tell you guys up at Pinehurst this week caddying for our young hitter learn Coggan in the symmetric tour event. I did not realize maybe you guys didn't realize this range finders totally allowed. During competition on the symmetric tour as of this year, that was a great surprise to me and ignites anxiety release to me as I was freaking out for the last week trying to make sure I would be able to get the right numbers. I'm pretty helplessly reliant on my range finder at this point but all of my fears were put to bed when she told me that on the as on our way to the first teeth basically on on Tuesday morning. So I. Will tell you that my precision pro and x nine range finder is now officially competition tested. We used it all day today all day yesterday and I guess, Say I think it was working lauren had one of only six rounds under par today in brutal conditions. Conditions were tough out at Pinehurst number nine, the C. Suite, the strap boys, and even the narc they was coming the NARC in in these ad reads, you can call me Dj you can come in the narc either. One is fine. We all trust precision program to help us pick the right club and swing with confidence and right now, our listeners can get twenty dollars off the best selling next nine slope range finder by going to precision pro golf dot com and using coupon code. No. Laying up at checkout that twenty dollars off our favorite range finder the annex nine slope swing with confidence. Hit More Greens with precision pro golf now onto my conversation with Jim Urbina gym where I wanted to start. I saw somewhere I think it was Colorado Avid Golfer something like that called you a thirty year overnight sensation. First of all is that is that a fair characterization and second of all what does that mean? You know it's funny talk about the Avid Golfer magazine article a good friend of mine. Who I've grown to admire Tom Farrell the writer said. Jim You've been everywhere and nobody knows where you've been. And I kind of laughed and chuckled at that. So maybe thirty year sensation. Is. Aptly coined but. It's true. I've been a lot of places and when I tell P people, I've worked Pasta Tempo the Mid Ocean Club the valid club San Francisco Golf Club you never you would never know that I was there. So that's kind of a good thing I. Don't put my stamp on it. And places like Paxton's old Mac. The PUNCHBOWL. They were all great projects to be a part of, but again, hardly anybody knows that I was there. Yeah. So what's that? What's that like for you? What's that? What's that been like kind of a little bit behind the scenes I guess there was a lot of famous behind the scenes guys. If you don't mind I'll mention a few. If it wasn't for Robert. Hunter. A lot of people don't know this if it wasn't for Robert Hunter. Alister Mackenzie wouldn't be so famous in California. And if it wasn't for Seth Rainer Charles, Blair Macdonald would've never got off his creation. To Nausea Golf links of America so I don't mind and I cherish that. Behind the scenes addition to the project but Without. Sets Rainer. Without Robert Hunter without a lot of the guys who. were out there shaping when I did work. For Pete, dye shaping the golf course Pete would be the first year. That I need shapers I need guys to help me build these things. It's easy to lay down on paper, but somebody's gotTa Build. So I love it. I don't mind it I. Cherish. Well. So it's funny. I know we had bobby weed on the podcast a couple of weeks ago and he was talking. With Chris are host about. This massive tree of architects that Kinda stems stems back to to Pete Die I know you Have Your own branch on that tree. And I'm curious first of all, what was your path to to getting there to actually like hooking up with with Pete and starting to work with him and then second? What was that like? What was your experience with him like? Well, it's funny. I always joke with people that I was accidental participant. and. What I mean by that is I never intended to be a golf course builder, a golf course designer. Pete Dye never said that we were golf course architects. There's no such thing. You don't go to school to college to be a golf course architect you go to school to be a landscape architect a land planner. P.. Dye was an insurance salesman a very good player in his own right but an insurance salesman so we are all builders and so. I never intended to be in the business, but a lot of people don't know this I used to fight forest fires in the summertime in college what to earn money, and I was getting ready to go take a job with the Lolo national forest to be in their hotshot crew can possibly be smoke jumper but my soon to be wife father-in-law set. That's not a very good job. You ought to go get a job on a golf course so I apply I applied just to make him happy. I. Applied at a golf course in Colorado. which would be known as two. Plum Creek and the architect of record was die. I applied unfortunately or fortunately however you look at it. They hired me the next day and so I started as a ditched bigger a stick picker, a rock raker, and then I got to be a shaper and then as as a lot of people know now today the rest is history. What was your experience with golf before had? Did you play the game or were you just fighting forest fires? No just fought forest fires and I trained I trained. To be a teacher, I say high school drafting teacher. So I understood how to draw plans and I understood how to read topography maps show that little announced to me. That was really a foundation for when I got into the golf business I understand how to look at golf courses, how to look at maths and at three dimensional form. So little did I know possibly I was training for my future. Career. But at that time in one, thousand, nine, hundred, eighty, two, when I applied to be in the construction part of the Gulf. ATISSI Plum Creek. I was hired again as I said to be working in the ditches and to learn how to be a shaper running a bulldozer never played golf and. To Peach Credit Pete never wanted to learn how to play golf because he said, it would taint my view on how to look and build and design the golf course isn't that interesting that is and I'm I'm curious what that meant I wanNA mention I was on the high school drafting team. So I feel like I've been training for this I've been training for this interview to pretend like I know what you're talking about throughout this whole thing. Birds of a feather, you'll be the next famous golf course architect takes time he pays just takes thirty thirty years. Yeah. Talk to me and thirty. We'll be dialed. So what do you think he meant by that I? Mean what was the? I don't want you to taint your taint, your IRA or anything. What does that imply there's biases would you say with architecture? What did he think? He met there absolutely, there's bias in an architecture because if you. As some people have said Jack, Nicklaus played a high fade and so some of his designs were in favor of that High Fade Pete wanted to be the editor Pete wanted to beat the designer but he appreciated my ability to run a bulldozer into shape his style of design, and then he would edit it. But he felt and I believe this to be true today that if I was a very good Golfer I possibly would never think about what a high handicapper player would play the how he played a golf course or I would only think about straight shots, high draws and what the best players in how they plant. So Pizza, let me be the editor. Let me be the designer you build them for me and and don't let that game that you play possibly taint your creativity. So at that point in your in your career I mean, did you have a philosophy on on? What made a good a good Gulf oil, and then now flashing forward obviously, you've you've done as much research on on architects on strategy on all these different things restoring these golf courses you've worked on. So I'm curious if that's how that strategy changed over the years. Well I never had a plan. I never had a concept. I never had a strategy was waiting to be taught. I was waiting to be mentored and Pete Dye and his son Perry die mentored me. They taught me what they wanted. They sent me to golf courses around the country to emulate some of their designs. I. Remember Pete Dye sent me on the plane to palm springs to look Redan hold that he was building while we were doing it at Arizona State University he said, Jim. Get on the plane. I. Want you to go look at this whole idea in palm springs or go get on the plane and go to Pinehurst number two, and as you as you we speak today. Pete die told me to go to Pinehurst number two. I have a lot to learn or he would tell me to go to old marsh and Florida and see how they did the drainage. So it was pete who set me on the plane she's gotTa Remember I was twenty, two, twenty, three years old getting on a plane go into these golf courses. I didn't get to play 'em just walked around took pitchers and then I come back and built it I mean that's a pretty cool job for any year old. It's a pretty cool job for anybody I agree and little did I know that I was beginning my education in golf course design and construction being an open book wanting to learn. Do. You know that he set me the family sent me to to Scotland to learn how the game was formed because I asked a simple question what is links golf being? Right they put me on a plane team eighty six I went to press Wick Scotland and I learned about what links golf is. Who Does that today who? Today that sounds like a high times of the of the golf course design business back then it was. And Again Pete and his son Perry they would send me everywhere. I went to the national golf links of America back in nineteen I believe eighty-six while still working for the die family I was so enamored with the look when I saw it in the book, this is this is how naive I was I was looking at a book A. Golf Architecture Book and I saw a picture of the national golf links. Of America. The seventeenth hole and I said to somebody I can't remember who was standing by me. I said look at this golf course just looks like what we're doing for Pete. And little. Did I know that Pete was emulating the National Golf links? Of America? That's how naive I was what do you remember about? You know all those trips around? Do you have a couple of specific holes that you saw that were real ha moments or kind of you know light switch moments for you for sure I remember going to California. Mr Diet sent me to believe it or not go see Carmel Valley ranch it was a golf course he did for landmark land in in Monterey Peninsula set me there And I thought well, wait a minute. There's some really cool golf courses. Right next door maybe I should go look to and so I went to see Pebble beach on my own I went to see Cyprus point on my own and I thought wow, these golf courses are so beautiful there so different. And yet I was. Building Golf. Courses for Pete and his son Perry and I'm thinking why didn't they send me the Cypress point or pebble beach so I was starting to gain an appreciation for why golf courses were different. Go to Carmel, Valley would go to Pebble Beach and Cyprus point to steady golf course architecture. He would send me to Pinehurst number two, but I'd go see all the other Donald Ross courses and all of the good golf courses in Pinehurst I went to the National Golfing of America but I went to Shinnecock and maidstone and I started to tour all those golf courses and I'm thinking why I'm getting this chance to learn about all this architecture and then he sends me to Scotland and it all starts to make sense to me all starts to make sense how the game was formed where its roots started and I was hooked I started reading. And I thought I, get it. Now I get it. The dies set me to work the game began and little. Did I know that that would pay high diffidence years to come when my kaiser hired us and I helped build Pacific Dunes on the coast of we're going to crescendo with with all the band and stuff I. Promise. We're GONNA we're, GONNA, get there for with plenty of that but I hate to ask a question that I'm afraid to hear the answer to but you weren't playing any golf during this stretch. You're you're just tooling around no, I started a plague. Okay. Okay. Good. That would have been tough to hear otherwise out you're gonNA. You're gonNA laugh this again, how naive I was they sent me to Scotland and I didn't have a golf bag. So I went down to the local I lived in southern. California. At the time I went to have you ever heard of vans. The grocery store th th there was A. Golf shop in southern California Okay and so I went and bought a big golf bag like on the tour. This bag was like about it was the size of Rodney Dangerfield. Golf bag in caddyshack and I bought some cheap clubs and I loaded up and I went to Scotland and when the caddy saw my bag, we were just like I'm not gonNA carry. It look extremely American with. Streaming. American, again remember I was so nice. And I was starting to learn how to play the game and I didn't realize it was just a simple as carrying a Shag bag with five clubs in it but back, then I was going to go play golf. So I figured I had the by this big golf bag I still have the photo you'll laugh if I ever showed it to you. How would you describe. Pete Diet like in the field I mean, what was it like? I know the everybody of talks about. The whole thing is built on flexibility and he can't be too rigid with plans and all that stuff I? mean. How much of that was was kind of him editing in the field and how much of that was was you and you guys kind of having freedom to do what you're I saw while it's interesting when I first started shaping. Plum Creek. I just did what they told me to do shape a flat TV spot, build a bunker created green site and I remember shaping on the sixteenth hole at. Plum Creek in Castle Rock Colorado I started to shape the green and pete kind of drug is float around in the dirt and he said, you know just put it right here. Jimmy just put it right here. So I started shaping it. And he watched me shape. He stood right bear by the Greenie watch shape it and he said Stop Stop. Stop. Stopping I got off the dozer. I said what's wrong he said, let me show you how to do that and he jumps on the tractor. He kinda puts the box played down on this tractor and starts to drag out the shape that he wanted. He said this is what I want. If you could do this. This is what I want. So that was my learning curve that was my my inspiration that you didn't look at a set of plans. You just built it in the dirt, and then if you didn't like it, you change that again and so years later at Arizona State University I'll never forget this. We got out and we were getting ready to go walk around the golf course an engineer got out a set of plans for behind the truck and he started a roll out with Pete died there a couple of the shapers and I was the design associated at that time I didn't shape Arizona on State University I was the onsite design associate. The engineer rolls out this plans and Pete Dye said. son, we won't be needing those today and so. That was that reinforcement that we're going to go what we're going to follow the routing and we're gonNA followed the stakes but we're going to build this in the field and I remember getting to the sixteen th hole and Pete would drop down to his knees in the dirt and he would shape disturbed land form and he would look at me and He'd say Jimmy I want you to just take this green and and just think of somebody Neilan and dirt. Okay. He's shaping this green and the dirt and he's taken the flow and the surface and he he digs a little hole with his hand and creates a bunker and he shakes Durkan mold set and he looks at me and says you get. Jammed the again it and I said Yeah I. got it. So do you see what I'm learning and how? To build these golf courses, you build them in the dirt, you take the plans and you said a routing, but then it's time to build them in the dirt and that's was my foundation for how I even golf do golf courses today. Hey, everybody TC here to tell you about wine access on the one talk about it because this is something that's near and dear to my heart, we have trouble getting good wind down here in Jacksonville does not a whole lot of importers and distributors in this area I've been going. Nuts on what access the last two or three weeks here they set up one access dot com slash flu to give users fifteen percent off there for three purchases which that's come in quite handy they really just make it so that finding great wine isn't a matter of access or finding the right purveyor they will bring it all you. They've got some they've got a master smalley on staff they've got a master of wine They've got all sorts of expertise in this area, all sorts of Santa, Rita Hills. A war sitting in my cart right now, we've got a lot of northern Rhone stuff We've got a whole big refuge wine club meets every every week and really as far as wine goes may have some questions about buying it online and getting it shipped but they've got zip by ZIP temperature controlled shipping and satisfaction guarantee. So they will credit for any bottle that fails to impress. They've also got a new podcast, the one access podcast actually launched just a few days ago. Go check that out wherever you get your podcasts and check out one access dot com slash no you they've got A. Wine Club as well and Yeah. Some of the best prices out there and probably the best selection I've seen online. Now let's get back to the POD. So I know I'm skipping ahead a little bit, but you obviously worked with Tom Doak for I think seventeen eighteen years something like that, and and one of the the projects that just kinda springs to mind as you're talking about some of this stuff is is Sabanovic and trying to collaborate there with, with Jack, Nicholas and kind of a pretty famous famous collaboration there curious how a system like that works when you basically have to architects two teams. All of those those kinds of factors and you're trying to figure out how to be flexible that the right way to say, well, you have to be flexible. There was actually three architects. A lot of people don't know that there were three architects. It's the Bonk there was Mr Jack Nicklaus Tom, and Michael Past Gucci the owner so. When Jack and Tom Needed a tiebreaker Michael Pass coochie filled in. So the older always has a hand in the look and the style of the architecture because he spent some money, he's acquired the land he has some ideas. So we as builders we as designers listened to the owner, but it was really three people involved at subotic but yes, the architect of record was Tom Dokan and on Jack Nicklaus and I was assigned to. Blend that together and create a features as the onsite design associate. Shoulder shapers, what we were GonNa do float the Greens out a work with the Superintendent Gary Boddington took to manage all of that and create what you see today. Sabana Golf Club have you ever played it? I have it. Now I'll tell you that it is a thought process of to designers and an owner that you know the green. Somewhat say some pretty difficult. It's a true test of golf as as good players would say it hosted US women's open and it was it was a test for them. Michael wanted to golf course that that people would enjoy. But yet still be tested and Mr Nicholas and Tom a provided that and I was a fortunate very fortunate a participant in that and little did I know that someday? Twenty five years later I believe working with the iconic Jack Nicklaus, who would have thought a guy who never played golf who didn't understand the game would be working whether the one of the iconic wall time. How how did you notice his style different than? Mr Die or kind of what your own style, who at that time well, Jack had his his holes that he wanted to build a design and he had. Good success at some of his best golf. Courses Muirfield. In Ohio and some of his great golf courses in Arizona and Florida. So he knew what his style that he wanted and what Tom and I brought was the naturalism, the routing Thomas produced. So there was a bland of of good architecture in the routing. Good style of shaping and the bunkers Greens than the presentation and the strategy. Nicholas brought with his with his game and I'll never forget one day. We were a jack and I had a lot of fun lot lot of fun on that project and I remember one day we were talking about adjusting the bunker and I was standing in the bunker was on seven toll at subotic and I was saying well. You know if you stand right here, you could. You could get the all hate it out sideways and Jack said to me says, what hit it out sideways got to be able to hit it to the green and I said, well, you don't always have to the greedy and he said a good player would want to be able to do that. So you can see the difference between my again, my my. Thought process in shaping the Gulf oil and the process of a tour player eighteen time major champion saying I gotTa Get out of this bunker. If I get it and I gotta get to the Green, you can see the difference in the style of architecture. Yeah. You guys may have been coming at it from slightly different perspectives but in the end Michael Pass Gucci got the golf course that he wanted a very beautiful setting i. hope you get to play it someday and Jack. Got What he wanted a Renaissance Golf Tom got what he wanted and me at the participant got to enjoy all of it. Well I definitely want to get into some more. It's more stuff with you and Tom and and some band stuff before I. Do I know you worked on? A lot of Japanese golf courses as well. It was at late eighties early nineties timeframe is that right? That was actually that's how I evolved from the shaper, the shaper of the family to work on plans for Asian Golf courses on the agent REMM with Pete Son Perry I. Moved into the office and I started doing grading plans and trading drainage plans and Agrees detail plans and so I- volved in the starting to do that. But I only actually was involved with one in the field and that was not so country club I'll never forget it and that was that was my my foray into Japanese golf I'm telling you what that was an eye opener for me. I learned a lot and I can tell you that the Japanese at that time in the late eighties were fanatics about golf course, architecture, golf course design, and I built I shaped built an island green, zone country one of the best I was ever a part of Yeah I'm dying I'm dying to Japan ended it just every aspect of golf Japan fascinates me, and so when I saw that read that you'd worked on. So many of those. Kinda sent my mind into a bit of a craze. But yeah, what was the? What were the the big? Sticking points of design over there what we're kind of the obsessions or what were the what was the difference between what you're doing here and what was really being asked for over there well, I, can tell you that my evolution in golf course design and construction has come three hundred sixty degrees. Remember I started with Pete died the. Plum Creek a championship golf course, and then they sent me to Scotland to study links golf, and then I started to work for Renaissance Golf for with renaissance golf for seventeen years. But all through that process never did I think I. was going to be building a golf course to Japan. The Japanese loved water features. That was one of the most important things to them. The beauty of the golf course the garden concept I was involved with the golf course that had a twenty five foot waterfall. Dot I am not kidding you. The water. Think with me. Now think with me you're not gonNA believe this Suzanne. So Country Club had water that cascaded off the clubhouse. Into a pool on the eighteenth green surrounding two hundred seventy degrees of the green. Pool cascaded down into a waterfall almost twenty feet into the fairway below and. That stream then emptied into the big pond that had the island green. Tell me. They didn't love water feature. I was surprised Mr Kaiser didn't ask you to run that back at McDonald's. Well you know a lot of people give me a hard time about fountains and waterfalls. That's not my specialty. Got Burned out while I was in Japan. or changing gears a little bit I mean how did? How. Did you connect with Tom Doak for the first time and kind of how did that relationship start? I, I met Tom at. Plum, Creek, he just come from long cove. Golf Club. In. In South Carolina and he had come to the a Plum Creek. We were almost done with construction, but he was on the construction crews he was he was in charge of helping pick sticks and rake and I met him. I thought he was kind of an odd kind of guy. because. A friend of mine in the construction business, the project manager at the. Greek. We knew that Tom was a lover of baseball statistics. So Steve was his name bought a book on a statistical points of baseball and we used to quiz Tom all the time all day long about certain baseball things. We'd hide the book behind our back. We'd read something and then cuisine like we really knew and cared and. You know he'd come up with the answers and Steven I would just slap each other and thank God. This guy knows everything about baseball. So that was our running joke between us. So that's where I first met Tom He went on to go do other work on his own. He got his own his first client at high point and traverse city Michigan. And I continue to work with the dies, but you know after eight or nine years I just I just was ready for something different and. I kid people and I kid this with all due respect I remember being able to move a million cubic yards at my sleep almost 'cause that's kind of what Pete did and I was just time for a change and I call Tom up and I said Hey I'm ready to do something different and he knew that I had been traveling and seeing golf courses like the national golf links of America and he knew I'd been to Pinehurst and he knew I'd been to Cyprus point. So he knew that I was you know. A bit of an auditor that that I didn't play golf but I seem some of the best golf courses in the United States and had been to Saint Andrews. So he wanted talk to me. So we met and I said, you know I'm ready to do something different. So I signed on with Renaissance Golf design a lot of people don't know this it was Tom Doak Gill hands and myself for a small point in time we. All we all work together and I was in charge of Charlotte Golf links a golf course in Charlotte North Carolina while Tom and Gil were working at stonewall and so tom would come down and check on me. You know about every I dunno SGT eight weeks six to eight weeks. So I really built the golf course on my own. Well, Gayle and Tom were up at at stonewall and then Gill came down for the last couple. Of visits and help me with. The construction of the seventeenth and Eighteenth at Charlotte Golf links. So that's how I began. My career was Renaissance Golf Design at Charlotte Golf links, and then I went on to go on and build. And work with Tom on many projects. Some of my most beloved. Golf Course in Arizona called Apache struggled I wish it was still open today it was such a beautiful desert setting and maybe someday they'll bring it back. Well. I. Feel. Like you know obviously people listening to this podcast not calms name they know his golf courses, they know his work, but you know somebody who who has known him. So so closely for so long and worked with them. So closely for so long I don't WanNa save what is what is he best at but what what impresses you most about him as far as his his skillset goes or his his talent level goes you know it's funny. A couple of people have asked me that. And what I learned most about Tom Doak designed golf course constructed golf courses that seventy five percent of the battle is the land. It's not about the Greens although they're important and it's not about the bunkers although they're important the routing is very important but just think about this if you have this land that has just off the charts topography beauty. Character sand. Those were all the ingredients for some of the best golf courses I had seen and so it made sense that as in Tom's liking if you got the land to start with. Pacific Dunes on the coast of Oregon that you had already solved seventy five percent of the battle. So that's what I learned most about Tom and that's today what I still do when I'm looking at a design on my own, find the best piece of land work with the people that know that land's important and you're seventy five percent of the way their. Well. One thing I gotta ask I know. We had my kaiser on our first band in episode and he was kind of giving some of the back story about about the the project getting started and any add a line in there. You know I would have loved to have hired. Tom But he was terrible Tom at the time and I'm curious. If you could shed some light on maybe what that means. No light. No shedding. The next question. Yeah. No I assume that that it had to be. had to be a bit of him just being steadfast in his in his design is that is that fair a fair characterization? You know all designers whether it be McDonald seib, McDonald, Alister Mackenzie Perry, Maxwell Summer, my favorites Donald Ross. You have to have passion. And you have to have a willingness to know and to do the right thing and. You know as well as I do if somebody was to give you this unbelievable piece of land and then ask you to put in fountains and waterfalls you would have to speak your piece, right? Right absolutely and so honesty sometimes isn't the best policy but what I learned from Pete Dye is that just be honest do the best you can and everything will work out and I think that Tom was honest. That he when he saw good piece of property, if you thought that adding a pond or a fountain or waterfall was that idea he was going to tell you something different and that's no different than allers mackenzie no different than a w his tasks different than McDonald to conviction to do the right thing that conviction to stick what you have in your mind is the right. Puzzle. Solving the puzzle on this piece of land, and so you have to have conviction and you have to stand by that. How how did you guys Complement Each Other? I, mean, what was kind of his strengths? What were your strengths? I'm curious how that relationship was. We were total opposite. That's how we compliment. On US I'm being honest with you. We were total opposite. and. So when he was thinking about this idea for the green or This. Idea for the bunker? I was thinking of something different remember my background. I didn't go to Cornell. To train in landscape architecture where Mr Jones went. I. Went to the School of dirt and Construction Pete Dye and so we were opposite and I believe. I believe deep down in my heart because we were so opposite of each other. That the products that we produced. Were the benefit of us both thinking in different ways and different things and in different possibilities for for a different outcome. But blending that altogether to get the right green site to get the right Fairway Contour to get the right bunker strategy always thinking different, not saying an agreeing with them but being polar opposite. That was the best compliment we could give each other. Well, obviously you're you're heavily. Involved with Pacific dudes, which will be the episode that's airing this coming Tuesday that were running but I I'm curious kind of that project I came up when even even before that I mean when you the first time you heard about Bandon Dunes, I mean what? What was that story like? Well, the first time that Tom said, meet me because I lived in Denver I live in Denver Colorado. Tom Lived in traverse city, he wanted me to move to traverse city. And being an office and I said, well, you know it doesn't make sense for me to do that since we're going to always be on site anyway how I live in Denver and I'll just meet you wherever we need to meet and so he agreed to that and I remember him give me a call and said. Meet me in Bandon. We're going to go walk the CY for What's going to be the second golf course at Banna Dunes resort. and. So I remember landing in Eugene Oregon. Have you flown into Eugene I have. So. Just think of me. A neophyte still landing in Eugene. Oregon and there's a camera crew there's up four or five piece camera crew that's on the plane with me and they're landing in an Eugene and they're getting these big. SUV's and they're headed to North Bend, Coups Bay, and they're asking for directions and I'm thinking what's this camera doing here? I'm going down that way too little. Did I. Know they recovering a ship had gone aground? Your do you ever remember that store? No. Yeah. There was a big freighter container ship that had broke loose and grounded itself on the beach in northbound who's Bay and I was on the plane with the big camera crew. There was coming to cover the breaking story and I'm thinking what's this place must be fame. The clock. I'm going to be following this camera crew down there but little did I know I was still going to go twenty minutes south to a town called Bandon. I remember driving into the town abandoned looking for the property and they said Oh you gotta go north and I was just so confused and and trying to find the property took me all day to find it by the time I got to the property it was the end of the day but that's when I met Tom and Mr Kaiser and the next day was was a total opener the day we walk the property. Oh tell me about it what what was what you ever? I remember thinking how beautiful this place was I remember that we were asked to play bandon dunes. They had doing some preview rounds and I remember playing Bandon. Dunes. It was me Mr Kaiser. Tom I think Josh Lesnik. was there a shoe was was I didn't caddy for us. He had arranged to get some counties and I remember raining and I remember walking around the golf course abandoned dunes thinking while this is this is the first. Go around from Mr Kaiser we're GonNa get to do the second piece of second golf course whereas our land at because we I didn't get a chance to see the land. But when we got to the sixth and seventh hole I remember being pointed looking to the north saying that's our land up there and I'm thinking. Wow. We are so fricken lucky. I couldn't believe what my eyes had gazed upon. It reminded me of those golf course landforms of Scotland and Ireland that I toward twenty years ago. So I could hardly wait till we to to make the first walk around with Mr. Kaiser. Tom And I remember US walking and walking and walking and looking and thinking and working on route eighteen and trying to come up with ideas so that we would go back to the hotel at Bandon. There was no lodge at the time we stayed in the hotel band overlooking the minute cafe. Have you ever ate at the Minute Cafe I have? So that's a great place, right. So absolutely, we would go down to the minute of a have breakfast, and then we drive back to Bandon and for three or four days straight we walked and walked and looked always trying to find how this routing was gonna come about and I thought Tomasz I just kept saying to myself over and over I can't believe I'm on the coast of Oregon I can't believe we're going to get a chance to build this golf course I can't wait to get started. Can we start? Tomorrow. So when you're when you're going second, that's been the joke that I think Tom and and David Katie said bunches you know what would you do differently and and David keeps saying well, I would have gone second kind of implying that that there's there's quite a bit of advantage to going second. I'm curious if that's how you guys felt and and be Kinda, what what was that advantage? What did you guys? What did you guys see as things that you could improve upon? Well, I'm not so sure that was improving. On. But I believe that it was doing something different. And the recollection of golf holes that were inspirational to me where Prestwick and Saint Andrews and Royal Troon and Western gaels those were the holes that were inspirational to me and when I looked at Bandon Dunes, I thought while we gotta do something different than that and Tom was on board with that. He already knew that we were going to do something different. So when David says, you get to go second you gotta remember and you have to give David Kid credit he had to. Show Mr Kaiser. What links golf was about although my kaiser had played links golf. My David Kid was able to bring that style of architecture not having the clubhouse on the coast having the golf course route out to the ocean and back and we. A were now. In charge of doing something different and I'll never forget one of the shapers that worked for us as a gentleman by the name of Tony Russell. And he has done shaping for Bill Cour. He has done shaping for he has done shape and for David Kid he's done shape and for a lot of people and I remember walking him up on. The land, which is now the ninth hole at Pacific Dunes and I remember telling him see that of course down there Tony we're GONNA do nothing like it and he started laughing because he thought wait a minute that golf course a highly ranked golf course and I said, well, it's highly ranked but we can't be like that. We have to be something different and our land is different. So we have to come up with some different style of design of bunkering of Greens and our locations are going to be different. So I knew. Tom Knew that we were going to do something completely different but we also had to respect at that time bandon dunes what's highly ranked and highly highly off, and we were just going to try to do the best. We could to match David Kids work at Bandon. So for those who've been there are those who haven't I mean how how you? Specifically explain you know how the styles are different. Sense well, I always explained people to Pacific Dunes. Greens are on the ground. There within inches of where they were in the routing if that makes sense. Yeah. So. When you go to the seventh hole at Pacific Dunes those bounds in front and those blowouts on the left side I have a photo that I. I know what that looked like before we got started and it's not much different than what it is today other than a little bit of shaping of the Green Site. When you go to the Sixteenth Green Pacific Dunes that bunker in the back. Actually called Josh's pit behind the green doubt. was there that green surface was within inches of what you saw? The ninth green lower green that's within inches of what was already there. So we were building a golf course and taking the landforms that were there within inches and just massaging them to get ready for a putting green and I thought wow, we're we're we're we're taking these beautiful green sites sixteen lower nine. Eleven eleven was was what a beautiful setting I could go on and on. You could understand my passion for the Beauty Pacific. Dunes it was on the ground those bunkers were there. It was just clearing the land and installing irrigation and sowing the seed so that when you walked and played the golf course, it looked like we didn't do a thing. Then how how did the process of old Mac start them well, little. Did I know when we were working at Pacific Dunes I always looked landover they're thinking that's going to be a golf course someday I wonder who's going to do that Ten years later, Mike Kaiser caused us back because he enjoyed I believe he enjoyed working with the so much. I certainly did with Mike. He had this idea to build the Lido. So the leader was McDonald and Sept Raynor's second-best off course some people would say compared to the national, but Mike always wanted to do the Lido but we couldn't fit the actual lay of the land golf course on the land he had given us so. The idea was brought about that we would build golf holes with the inspiration of McDonald and rainer the template holes, and so we simply took the golf course topography that Mike gave us. And we instituted the for a template holes short. Eden, the Beer Ritz and Dan and any McDonald at Rainer. Golf. Course you always had to have those four one shot holes. So my understood that we were GONNA do. Alito style golf course not exactly but at. Lido style golf course using the templates that make McDonald and Rayner were famous for and so that's how the routing came about and with the help of my Kaiser. He is such a perfect person to work for. He never tells you. He never says you've gotta do this and gotTa do that he listens to you. We walk around he makes suggestions. It was such an honor to work for them at Pacific Dunes and it was such an honor to work at old Mac creating his idea of what McDonald and Rainer would have done with that piece of ground I. Think. that. We did our best effort and some of the best holes, the Alps, the channel whole, the punch bowl, the double plateau with the principal's nose I thought we did a pretty good job not exactly like McDonald's reiter dead but used that inspiration to create old MacDonald, and as you know, those Greens are some of the bringing screens you'll ever played still not as big as Saint Andrews but pretty doggone big. Feel, like there's a lot of creativity working with template holes defeat. There's restraint working temp with the template holes. How how how did you find that to be good question that's a great question and the reason that's a tough question to answer is because. You know that. The Redan Based on the sixteen tall at Baruch. You know that it has to play from right to left. It's a fortress and you know the short has to play one thirty, five to one, forty five, and it should have a thumbprint in it and you know that the Eden should have the strath bunker and the estuary. So. Those are some of the foundations for the template holes but taking those template holes and applying. No different than when Macdonald Ranger did at jail at fishers island at Camargo at shore acres at Chicago golf applying those template holster, the land given to you. That is the artistry that we and I got to enjoy doing. Now somebody would say, well, the road hole, you know how many times are you GonNa do that? Well, we did the road hole with inspiration from McDonald and Rainer and the seventeenth of Saint Andrews but we put our twist on it. We put our twist on the short I remember walking my Kaiser up to that green for the. First. Time number five old Mac we had walked to hogs back and we got to number five. It was Mike Kaiser, myself, and Ken. Nice he is the superintendent grow in for Pacific Dunes and old back and he is now director of grounds and director of all the Golf Courses Nair. Ken Nice was the reason Pacific dern terms out. So good can nice and his crew is the reason old Mac turned out so good it's the Agra nomex and it's the superintendent step toward their heart and soul into the into the astronomic of the golf course architecture. So. Ken and I were walking down with Mr Kaiser and we got to the fifth hole short and I had to fly. A flag with paint flags you gotta remember it was all sand after Tony. Also an Iot shaped it and I had a green flagged out and my walked up to Canada is Kanye's says Jim how big is that green? And I said, don't know Mike I I don't know and so I was trying to. I was trying to. Forgive. He asked that question because I was going to be concerned so we walked a little bit. We walked up on it and he said Jim how big is that green? I said, you know I don't know Mike and by then I figured out he wanted to know how big it was and so can I pay off and it was like I said I said it's it's around seventeen thousand square feet. And Mike in his typical Mr Kaiser way just kinda looked and some. Sixteen Thousand Square feet. Seventeen thousand square feet. So we walked around and I said Mike, it fits the scale. And the ocean is in the background and nothing compete compete with the Pacific Ocean. So I thought the scale looked right he said he accepted the fact that it you know it was going to work. I showed them all the waste potter rounded I made sure that there was a bump to hold his pen and there was a bump to feed the ball and it didn't have the. thumbprint like all the other shorts had but it had three distinct pinning locations and that's what McDonald's Rainer always tried to do and all their shorts. But we put our twist on it seventeen sixteen, seventeen, thousand square feet a lot of fun to play I could I could put on that green all day long. So after we had had discussed how the putting surface was going to work. Again. It wasn't copying template holes. Exactly. It was using inspiration. So we went to the sixth Hole Long We created the hell bunker and Mike wanted to play around it. So we gave you ninety feet of fairway to play around the hell bunker and I got a little creative on the green. By Kaiser's was suggested to create the ocean whole at at all Mac seven and so it was a combination of inspirations of the template holes and I believe that we delivered in the same way that McDonald and Rainer would have done for anyone of their clients in one thousand, nine, hundred, ten, nine, thousand, twenty error. I can tell you that that green at five is big it doesn't make it any easier to make too though that's for sure I don't know who shaped it, but it's hard to put. Tony Russell. Russell an I shape. I love that Green. It's so cool. I love it I float all the Greens out. On all of the golf courses I was involved with except for a number to the. Brian Slavic a very talented shaper floated that one out. So obviously you've got, you've got the templates in the back of the mind. Probably you know at all times even well, well, before old Mac I'm curious. Does it feel ever? Do, you ever feel hesitant to go to them or or does it. Is it always kind of Nice trip your sleep I'm thinking about seventeen at Pacific Dunes, for instance does that make sense to dino right when you see it like this Redan or is it is it something you're trying to work in? How does that work? I gotTa tell you a story a lot of people don't know this. So we got to the Seventeenth Hole Pacific Dunes, and that wasn't the original way. The whole was gonNA play. Sixteen seventeen eighteen don't think about how that plays now sixteen seventeen and eighteen we're going to be different in the routing, but it turns out that the sixteenth hole that you played today was was a can't miss hole. So we climbed up the hill and we and we played down to the Northeast The short one, one shot hold the seventeenth. and Tom I played with that we played with and we played with that and neither of US ever said to each other. The dreaded our word. And I said to him, I'll never forget standing there I said, you're gonNA build the are here. Aren't you? and. He's and he Nansen me and he wouldn't answer me and we played around with it and played around with it and it just kept devolving KEP evolving and We were done one at the end of the day we were walking down eighteen and I said, you couldn't help yourself. You add to do it. You did it didn't you built the are I refuse to say it, but it was the Redan. And so that was our little moment in time a Pacific Dunes Mike Mike Kaiser came back walked to whole. Really liked it. Tom was happy the way it turned out but. But. There's always one of those whole sitting in every routing. There's always one of those templates that could be used because you're used to them. You Love Them. You've seen them you understand where they came from the road hole at Saint Andrews High Conic. Cloth. Hall the Redan North Barrett by Connick Golf Hall. So they're always in the back of your mind to they need to be an every new golf course at never knew routing. If you ask David Kid, he says come on Jamf you've. got. To. Build your own designs. You can't use those templates all the time and you're right. You don't use those templates all the time but seventeen Pacific dunes it just kept devolving into the our whole and eventually lean it ended up being but it's a Great Hall I. Love To Play It. It's perfect for the wind direction that it's that plays into in the summer and even in the winter, it's a Great Hall I love it. So what it's the Redan I'll finally say it. Well I don't want to assume here but I mean obviously since. Since old MAC, and since Pacific Dunes, you've you've done a ton of restoration work renovation work and and a lot of stuff that really has to do with a lot of these template holes and a lot of this kind of golden age architecture. I gotTA assume old MAC was a massive help help in that process right? Well. I always my favorite golf because golf courses, the national golf links of America. It has been since one, thousand, nine, hundred, six when I first went to see it while we're dies and so I fell in love with it and I thought to myself what if I could build this Sunday who would have thought twenty years later, I would be doing that. So never say never, but I can tell you that I have some new designs with Mr Kaiser. I. Have a new design layout with Michael Kaiser and I think about those holes I think about the Punchbowl I, think about the Alps when laying out these golf courses but are they going to look like the punch bowl at old Mac or the national or Camargo or or Fishers Island? No they're not. But they were the foundation for many links, golf holes in Scotland and Ireland because the Greens were in these natural punchbowl settings. So you have to think about them when you're laying out in new designs and so I'll never forget them they always draw inspiration but to say that I would do one I don't think so but you never know. So. To you said the word, punchbowl a couple of times which reminded me of another contribution of yours at Bandon dunes of course, the putting course, the punch bowl, what was what was that like to build and and I was it just kind of Cathartic to actually be able to go nuts and build six percent slopes and all these things you could never do real golf course or what did that feel like? That's funny. I remember getting a call from my kaiser any says. I'd like to putting course a big putting course and I said Mike you mean, the one ladies putting courses Saint Andrews and he says, yes and I had been to, saint? Andrews and I had puttered on it. So I knew exactly what he was to do. So I sent my four locations at the Bandon dunes resort. That could be possible locations for putting course not punchbowl at the time but putting course much like the one at the ladies. potty courses. Saint. Andrew. Jr. So what are the sites was behind band trails? Another site was that open grass area By the first old MAC. I found another site. Out By the practice ground and then the last I drew up or labeled in a map was the one at Pacific Dunes. A lot of people don't know this, but we were originally going to build a one-shot hole in that location Pacific dunes where you were tee it up by the clubhouse in you just hit a shot down by. By agreeing that we built but we never did that we were always talking about doing that. But when might decided on the location for the Punch Bowl? I started to clear the land and started to come up with landforms and how I was GonNA shape but and the first iteration that I did Mike said. You think what you putted on the day you were there was crazy. You should have seen the I. I I was like going nuts I would start with the bull dozer and then I got on an excavator and started shaping with an excavator and I would go in a counter clockwise rotation. And then when I was done I we I would go back in the clockworks rotation but the same escalator creating all these leader features. I never thought about how it would route and and play I was just creating features and then I, walked Mike Josh Nick. And Some are the Kemper people around and showed them how you put an Arrow down and you would do like the latest putting course you point the Arrow in the direction, and then you could put the whole wherever you wanted to put it, and I actually had to eighteen hole routings laid out but they decided to go one eighteen hole rowdy that you could play in different directions. The first set of radiation we all walked around it and and Mike gasify could. Change just a little bit and change that a little bit. So I did all of that. It took me off Geez three or four or five days to float it all out with help from from Marcus. who was the Superintendent Old Mac? Now he helped me floated out we've built it what the What the maintenance crew from. Pacific. Dunes and we did it all in about a month. A lot of fun to play a lot of fun to build. I didn't have no plans just built. It had my do a little bit of added work and we shaped it and and and it opened up and and it's perfect for what it's purposes for social fun interaction parts that you would never think about putts that you would you're going to discover. It's the perfect compliment Mr Kaiser always thinking and what a fun place to hang out I remember the first time united spoke you asked me if I had had been to the punch bowl and I said I've even been there sober a couple of times. It is such a cool spot. It's the kind of place that makes you feel like A. Eighth Grade, kid to just hang out and run around with your buddies all day. It's just it's awesome. Well, I told Mike One time that I think I should go build one of these in every city across the United States. What better way to teach and tell people about golf courses by just handing them putter and a ball I could find out who I would talk to a New York I'd love to do a punchbowl putting course in central park. What if they? What if they had little boots they handed out. A powder and a ball and families could go putt like at Saint Andrews I. Wish I could talk to somebody on the board of a Central Arch and said, let me build a punchbowl putting course in central park and you'll see the social aspects of people having fun with family and friends hundred percent. That's that's an awesome idea. I know we've kept you for a while here. The only other thing I wanted to I, want to ask you about a lot more stuff, but I'll limited to one more thing and that's Your restoration of positive bow which. Turned out. So freaking cool I. Mean we're there a couple years ago that place is just other-worldly I'm curious how that how that starts I. Think this is probably a bigger question, but I mean, when when you go to to one of these clubs and and you've been a lot of the historical ones, I know Yemen's Hall of Alley Club San Francisco Golf Club a lot of those that's gotta be a it's gotta be quite a process to to start. Figuring out exactly. You know we wanna do something Jim you know what should we do and so I guess I'll limited to positive EMPA-. What was that process like with them? Well, you know Allison. Mackenzie died and lived in died on the sixth hole at parts of temple his house was there and so. The mandate from the committee, the mandate from the general manager the mandate from the membership was that this golf course although hit head gone through. Modernisation it had gone through iterations. From other Gulf architects it was time to recapture the essence of what Marion Holland's said two hours Mackenzie and Robert Hunter build me the Pasta Temple, Golf Club, and so when the when the committee, the membership the General Manager Scott. Hoyt. Who is now they're just managed the superintendent when they said we are going to restore this. To the best of your ability gem, help us restore this to what Allison Mackenzie had. I took aerial photographs I took ground photos I worked with Bob The historian for twenty years, a Labor of love to recapture what Allison Mackenzie and Robert Hunter had done and with Marion Holland's as the lead developer. Bringing out the best of what Mackenzie dead at Pasta Chapo restoring a labor of love with the help of superintendents, general managers, archives aerials the goal and nothing will be ever done to the temple that has. Hot of character of what our Mr Key? Alliston. Mackenzie would have done and did what would you for someone who's never been there what what makes that place specialty you? Well. First of all, it's the land form and the can't of the lance alarm towards the ocean. Second of all. It's the the Ba- ranker's or the ravines that are located and intermixed about the golf course. It's the walk it's the elevation changes. It's the the. The bunkering the the style of green it's all of those things in a beautiful setting. Looking out towards the Pacific Ocean, it's one of the great routings and golf in in a land plan development that land plan was done by. The. Olmsted brothers who who laid out central park is a matter of fact. So Mackenzie working with the old stepbrothers working but Robert Hunter working with the Vision Burien Holland's creating golf course. That's easy to walk entertaining using the natural features of the Barankyevish, the landforms, the hillocks, the the the the the valleys, and creating a golf course that could be enjoyed by all. It's it's something that you have to experience. It's something you have to see to know that Mackenzie would walk out of his house and hit balls on the sixth hole and called his home. That's a special place. Open to the public everybody should see it. Well I I will get you out of here on this one I know we're obviously rolling out a ton of banning videos. We had old MAC last week we had Pacific Dunes this week. So since you're in a unique position to to answer this question, give me your your favorite thing about old Mac your favorite thing about Pacific Dunes. I'll tell you my favorite story about Pacific Dunes and there's many there's many. But I'll never forget they had preview play. On the first twelve holes, Pacific Dunes, and I was coming in on the evening walking from number thirteen green i. had walked down thirteen green down. Three fairway and I had come up on top of the three t box and Dal into the second green at Pacific Dunes and I into a couple, a forum that was plane. And they said, where are you? Where are you coming from? Are you playing I said? No, I'm coming from the other part of the golf course that will be open next year. And this lady looked at me and she says, you know. I have enjoyed my walk here on this golf course I don't even play golf and it's one of the most beautiful walks I've ever had. And I just stopped and I was stunned that somebody that doesn't play golf. But enjoys the beauty of outdoors described. Pacific dunes like a park that she could stroll through every day. But if she had only known what we had done to create Pacific Dunes, it was the highest compliment. I could ever have and I thought to myself the beauty as Mackenzie said, the walk, the specialness somebody who observed it from a non golfing I. It was the highest compliment I could ever have. That seems like a good place to to cap it Jim. I sincerely appreciate the time and and appreciate your work. It's been. It's been awesome getting to know the band golf courses a little bit more and and that's in in huge part. Thanks to your help so. Appreciate it. We gotta do this again sometime I love it. You can tell my passion for what I do. Working with Mr Kaiser working on the coast of Oregon, call me back anytime. Righty, we'll take care. Thanks again. Thank you. Beat Club today. I mean, that's BETTER THAN MOST! About. Is. Better than. Most.

Coming up next