The Nature of Bandon Dunes


From the moment Mike Keiser, founder and land steward of Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, first stepped on the property he was struck by the beauty of the Southern Oregon Coast. He and Howard McKee made it their mission to preserve the natural glory and ruggedness of the land, creating an undeniable connection between nature and those who have walked the resort’s grounds.

Over twenty years later, we continue to build on that same vision. The nature of Bandon shines in multiple environmental initiatives that often go unnoticed, meant to blend into the natural surrounds and resort experience as a whole. Various wildlife habitat programs, energy-focused building improvements, as well as responsible water usage measures that led to environmental certifications and awards, are outlined below. Each goal provides a new stepping stone in furthering our commitment toward protecting the environment. To learn more about the resort's latest goal to reduce plastic waste click here

Environment & Habitat

Audubon International Sanctuary Status
Five of the six courses at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort have achieved their designation as a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary through Audubon International. The Sheep Ranch has taken steps to achieve certification within 24-months of opening. As part of our certification, the Agronomy department has installed an estimated 65 bird boxes throughout the resort and cataloged over 120 confirmed bird species sightings.

Wildlife Habitat
The 2,525-acre resort has a minimal building footprint and an estimated 1,500 acres of unmanaged land. The vast majority of vegetation on the resort is native plant material growing in a natural state. A little-known fact is the resort has a conservation area called the H.L. McKee Preserve. The 250-acre conservation area has 13 different natural resource communities, one of which is Silvery Phacelia (Phacelia Argentea) designated as a threatened plant species by the State of Oregon and species of concern federally. 

Silvery Phacelia
Unless you're a botanist, Silvery Phacelia probably sounds more familiar from your time playing the Bandon Preserve, where it is celebrated as the course logo. Over the years, our team has fostered more Silvery Phacelia habitats and increased the plant number on property from 6,115 in 2014 to 32,570 in 2020. 

Bat Population
Bats play a very important role in controlling insect populations on the southern coast of Oregon. In order to help increase bat populations in our area, 10 bat houses have been installed throughout Bandon Dunes' property. 

Fertilizer Usage
Due to the low fertility requirements of our fescue turfgrass, we apply fertilizer on an as-needed basis.  The majority of our fertilizer applications are applied as a foliar and at very small rates using the spoon-feed approach.  In doing so we eliminate potential for run-off or leaching.  If needed, we use organic sources as part of our fertility program which is slow release by nature as well as mini-prilled ammoniacal fertilizers applied at low rates to reduce the potential for runoff and avoiding excessive growth.  

Energy Efficiency Initiatives

Reducing our Carbon Footprint
Through the efforts of our energy provider, Coos/Curry Electric Coop, the resort's energy supply is on average more than 85% renewable and 95.2% carbon-free.  The addition of solar panels across the property has gotten us even closer to being fully carbon neutral!   

Solar Panels
The resort has embarked on a program to continue adding solar panels to our energy grid. So far, there have been five arrays installed throughout the property composed of 188 panels. The amount of power produced through the solar arrays equates to an average of 9,525 kWh per month. The U.S. Energy Information Administration states that in 2019 the monthly electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was an average of 877 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per month. Thus the power produced from the solar arrays on property offsets over 10 residential utility consumers. 

LED Lighting
In addition to producing energy, we are also exploring other avenues to increase energy efficiency at the resort. The U.S. Department of Energy states that the “widespread use of LED lighting has the greatest potential impact on energy savings in the United States.” With this in mind, we have taken on the task of converting all lighting at the resort to energy-efficient LED lights. As of March 2021, approximately 50% of all lights on property have been replaced with LEDs. Our goal is to have a total conversion to LED lighting.

On-Demand Water Heaters
Another energy transition initiative currently in progress is converting from conventional storage water heaters to on-demand water heaters. On-demand water heaters only initiate when the faucet or shower is being utilized. The transition is estimated to decrease the percentage of fuel needed to run each unit by 30-40% and a 10-15% decrease in electrical usage. In addition to using less fuel and electricity to operate, on-demand water heaters have a 98% efficiency rate compared to the 60-70% efficiency rate of the traditional systems. Currently, all 16 Grove Cottages have transitioned from conventional water heaters to on-demand water heaters as well as all four Agronomy centers. The 26 Chrome Lake conventional units are next on the list! 

Electric Equipment Transition
Our Agronomy department is currently utilizing electric chainsaws, blowers, and string trimmers and is focused on transitioning from 2-stroke handheld powered equipment to electric battery-powered units as equipment wears out. The end goal is to replace all 2-stroke handheld power equipment with battery-powered units.  

Tubular Daylighting Devices
Tubular Daylighting Devices and skylights that promote the use of natural light have also been taken into consideration and installed at the resort. The Wild Rivers Center building and 68 restrooms across the property have devices to utilize the maximum amount of natural light to deter energy use. Our goal is to have these systems be standard in all future building projects. 

Water Quality & Usage

Water Use for Irrigation
As mentioned above, a large percentage of the resort landscape is native plant material that requires no additional irrigation beyond the South Coast's natural resources. The property is approximately 2,525 acres with only around 600 acres irrigated. With our love for fescue turfgrass on all of our courses, we benefit from a grass type that has a lower water requirement than other cool-season grass varieties. In addition, the irrigation decisions and schedules are determined by portable moisture readings and weather readings in conjunction with irrigation software to maximize efficiency. 

Water Recycling
Having our own wastewater recycling system allows the resort to process and treat its own wastewater which is utilized in our irrigation system. With an average of 40,000-50,000 gallons of water being recycled daily during our peak season, this helps to reduce the amount of well water used for irrigation.

Water Quality
The resort achieved our Groundwater Guardian Green Site designation for the first time in 2016. In the Green Site evaluation, the resort scored 94.9%, well above the minimum 70% grade required for the designation.

Water-less Urinals
Bandon Dunes is also currently implementing more waterless urinals. Urinal output is normally around 2.5 gallons per flush. So far eight waterless urinals have been installed at Bandon Dunes and have reduced the annual water use for the Resort by an estimated 128,000 gallons. The goal is to have these systems be standard in all future buildings. 

What else has been happening on the environmental front?

Bandon Preserve, our course with a mission, has a noteworthy background. When checking in for your Preserve round, you may have heard that the net proceeds from green fees go directly to Wild Rivers Coast Alliance. WRCA is the grant-making department of Bandon Dunes Golf Resort supporting community, conservation, and economy on the South Coast of Oregon. To learn more about everything the WRCA has been able to accomplish since its creation in 2012, check out their website here!  

Environmental Certifications & Awards

  • 2011-Present | Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program, Audubon International
  • 2012 | Green Star Award Winner, Golf Digest
  • 2015 | Michael Hindal Environmental Award, OGCSA 
  • 2016 | National Resort Winner, GCSAA Environmental Leaders in Golf
  • 2016 | Best Green Workplaces in Oregon, Oregon Business Magazine
  • 2016 | Groundwater Guardian Green Site, The Groundwater Foundation
  • 2016-Present | EPA WasterWise Partner, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • 2017 | Awarded Highest Green To A Tee Level IV Status, KemperSports

Stay tuned for more environmentally friendly initiatives in the coming months and years!

The Making of Cosmo the Tufted Puffin


If you've ever been to the town of Bandon you've probably seen the 'Sea Trash' sculptures from our friends, and WRCA grantee, Washed Ashore. We continue to be impressed by the great work they're doing to help clean up Bandon's beaches and educate the world on the dangers of marine debris.

In celebration of Earth Day, we are excited to share the story of their newest Tufted Puffin, Cosmo. So without further ado, enjoy the 'Making of Cosmo the Tufted Puffin' by Angela Haseltine Pozzi & Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea!

Every piece of plastic on Cosmo was found on the beaches near Bandon, Oregon. Nothing is ever colored. Stainless steel wire, screws, and frame make it long lasting.

Soon he will have a cement base which will imitate the shape of a large rock.

Details of the Wing Feathers show hangers, pipes, flip flops, handles, miscellaneous plastics, and more.

Cosmo’s life began at the beach. 

Buoys from Korean Aquaculture are gathered off the beach to create his feathers. Large black plastic garbage cans and buckets were used as base plastics. These were wired onto the steel frame and became the base for the volunteer-made panels. Tires are difficult to remove from beaches with high cliffs, and State Park partners often help out. These are a challenge to cut, but make excellent parts of wings.

A dedicated group of volunteers pick up debris weekly and drop it off to be made into art supplies for Washed Ashore. Washed Ashore also partners with Oregon Department of Parks And Recreation as well as SOLVE to do beach clean-ups. The outdoor bins start getting filled and debris is carefully washed.

Everything is sorted by color, size, and shape. Orange is pulled for Cosmo’s feet. Black and white flipflops are an important part of sculpting the head and feathers. Long and thin black plastic is pulled for the feathers. Pipes become an important supply for our volunteers to use as they string and stitch feather panels. The debris yard hosts a wide array of possibilities. A mysterious large orange plastic piece is cut for the base of the feet and part of the beak of the Puffin.

Our free community workshops created much of the work on Cosmo’s back and belly. “Trash-kabobs” are often made by young children who come with their families to our workshop. These were used on Cosmos fluffy belly.

While the volunteers worked on panels and kabobs, Angela worked on the head, neck, feet, and wings. The stainless steel frame of the head was first covered with base plastics then covered carefully with the correct colors for puffin’s markings. His tufts are made of cut rubber buoys. His top crown is made of sliced golf balls (help us protect ocean life by not hitting your golf balls into the ocean on our ocean holes). Angela added the finishing touches with individually chosen and cut feather plastics.

What's next?

Cosmo now awaits his heavy cement base and his new home at Coquille Point! Check it out next time you're in town and happy Earth Day!

UPDATE: Coquille Point Instillation 5/18/18

Explore the Hiking Trails at Bandon Dunes



We've updated our Hiking Trails! Bandon Dunes Golf Resort has more than six miles of hiking trails available for guests to explore. The trails interweave and connect the property in some unexpected and interesting ways. Here is a guide to help you discover and explore some hidden gems of the resort.

Download the Hiking Trail map (PDF)

Jamie McEwan Trail (Red) to Resort Overlook

From The Lodge, the first place someone interested in the trails should go is the Resort Overlook located on the Jamie McEwan Trail. At the green clock between The Lodge and the Bandon Golf Shop at the starter house, turn your back on the first tee at Bandon Dunes and look east. Walk past the shuttle and bag drop to the far side of the parking lot. There you will find a trailhead sign leading you to the path and climbing up the side of the dune. The path is quite steep and covered with wood chips.

After a gradual turn to the left, you’ll reach the top and a patio. From the patio, you have a crow's eye view of The Lodge, as well as the first, ninth, tenth, and eighteenth holes at Bandon Dunes. On a crisp day, you’ll have a clear view of the Pacific Ocean as well as part of the Preserve.

If you're feeling adventurous and would like to walk to Pacific Dunes, turn left from the Resort Overlook patio.



Resort Overlook to Pacific Dunes

Instead of returning down the hill to The Lodge, turn left after stepping off the Resort Overlook patio and walk along the top of the dunes to the north. An easy way to remember the compass points: if the ocean is on your left, you're going north. The path cuts through beach grass and gorse until it reaches the alternate tees for number two at Bandon Dunes. Don't worry if you feel like you are walking on the course. These tees are maintained, but rarely – if ever – used. As long as you follow the hiking trail signage you will be on the right path.

Follow the path around the tees keeping the gorse on your immediate right. If you see a group of golfers coming up to the first green, use proper golf etiquette and let them finish out before moving on. You're out of the way and it is very likely that you will not even be seen. Continue along the path keeping the gorse on your right. The path leads to the second green at Bandon Dunes and provides an unobstructed view of the entire hole.

From behind the second green, the path leads up the hill to the back tee for number three. One of highest points and one of the best views along the Jamie McEwan Trail is here behind the "tips." Follow the path down the northwest slope of the dune. The path lets out in the parking lot of Pacific Dunes golf course. The trail continues up the dune ridge to the right (north) across the parking lot.  


Pacific Dunes to Practice Center


At the east end of Pacific Dunes parking lot, at the base of the dune where the trail becomes asphalt, turn right and walk along the edge of the parking lot until you come to the main entrance road for Pacific Dunes. Across the street, you should see some concrete steps.

From the top of the steps follow the wood-chip path up the edge of the dune to the top of the ridge. There is a great view of the eighteenth green, the clubhouse and patio at Pacific Dunes and the Punchbowl. The trail gets a little wild at this point.

The trail winds around, up and down cutting through gorse along the ridge top as it leads north paralleling the eighteenth fairway of Pacific Dunes. At the north end, the trail runs off the dune ridge through soft sand. Deer often use this path and it is likely you will see them.

This section of the trail is seldom used, so it is also likely you will see evidence of the diverse wildlife that lives in and amongst the dune environments. Animals such as fox, raccoon, skunk, porcupine, beaver, ground squirrel, etc. leave footprints in the sand.

At the base of the dune is Madrone Lake. The trail leads around the southern edge of the lake. This is the northernmost reach of the trail system. From here all trails lead south.

Follow the path along the edge of the pond until you reach the main service road for the resort. Cross the road to a small parking lot. At the far end of the parking lot, there is a gravel path that leads up a gradual incline to the Practice Center building. The gravel path yields to paver bricks at this point.

The paver path leads you around to the North Tee Deck to a breezeway that connects to the bag drop and shuttle service. There are public restrooms and an enclosed observation/ sitting room, offering free coffee, tea, water, and is a good place to have a rest. This is also a good place to catch the shuttle back to The Lodge or any one of the other housing facilities at the resort.

At this point, if you don't want to take the shuttle back to your lodging and want to walk back to The Lodge, continue south along the paver path past the practice putting green called the "Big Putt" and the parking lot.  


Practice Center to Woodland Trail (Green) 

Leading away from the Practice Center the paver path returns to gravel past the first tee at Shorty's, the nine-hole, par three practice course. The path parallels the first and second holes at Shorty's. Turn left at the trail post and follow the gravel path until you come to another trail post, turn left on the Woodland Trail and follow the wood-chip path behind the second green. The path marks the southern border of the Practice Center and runs parallel to a gravel service road.

Where the trail crosses the service road, follow the hiking trail signs. This path travels under old Rhododendrons and is a gateway to the forest portion of the trail system. Follow the Woodland Trail to a low bridge for service vehicles. Cross the bridge, turn left and walk up the wooden steps. Continue up the path through the forest. A short distance up the trail, on the right is an observation platform with a wooden bench. This is a good place to sit and listen to bird song.

Again, this part of the trail is seldom used, and you might sit there all day and not see anyone else, aside from the odd service vehicle that might drive by a short distance away.

From the observation platform continue up the path to where the forest opens into a clearing. At this point, the path widens and flattens out. Down the path a bit, you will see a sign directing you to the Labyrinth. There you will find a smaller wood-chipped path leading off the main one to the Labyrinth.

The Labyrinth is intended for walking meditation. It is a replica of the Labyrinth on the floor of the Chartres Cathedral in France and a memorial to Howard McKee, one of the founders of Bandon Dunes and friend of Mike Keiser.  


Labyrinth to The Lodge blog_ldgfrmbrdg

From the Labyrinth continue down the Woodland Trail to a footbridge crossing Chrome Lake. Continue across the partial dam toward Chrome Lake lodging until you reach the base of the hill beneath the cottages themselves. Do not continue up the hill if you want to return to The Lodge. Instead, turn right at the large evergreen and follow the path under the branches to a short boardwalk. Chrome Lake will be on your right. Follow the wood-chip path until you reach an asphalt footpath. You should be able to see The Lodge.

Cross the resort road keeping Chrome Lake on your right. Look for the fish ladder to your left. The lake flows out into Cut Creek, so named for the sea-run Cutthroat Trout that occasionally find themselves in the creek. Cut Creek flows due west down a ravine separating The Preserve from Bandon Dunes until it flows out across the beach and into the Pacific Ocean.

Follow the asphalt path up a slight hill to a set of stairs leading up several flights to the upper part of the same path. Follow the path up the rest of the hill. Cross the parking lot to  The Lodge walkway under the eaves. Walk through the double doors and into the lobby giving a wink and a nod to the front desk clerks on your right. Cross the lobby into the bar, belly up and order a double. You deserve it.

That concludes the northern circuit of the trail system. The southern circuit is a little tougher and a little wilder, slightly longer and more remote, but the extra effort is worth it from a hiking perspective.    


The Lodge to Dune Trail (Orange)

From The Lodge follow the asphalt path down the hill away from the parking lot toward Cut Creek and Chrome Lake. At the base of the stairs, turn left as if returning to the Labyrinth. Keeping Chrome Lake on your left, cross the main resort road and take an immediate right. Walk a short distance to another crosswalk and cross the road. Stay on the asphalt path following it into the Grove Cottage circle.

Through the Grove at the southern end of the circle, there is a small, multi-car parking lot. There is a gap between two of the Grove Cottages; this is the start of the Dune Trail. Follow the wood chipped path between cottage number 709 on the left and cottage number 710 on the right. A little way up the trail there is an outflow for the pond on the left. Stay on the wood chip path keeping to the left until you come to a gravel maintenance road for Bandon Trails.

The maintenance road T’s to the left at this point, and the trail continues straight. Continue across the road keeping to the right of the maintenance road. As you travel up the path, you will see number six green for Bandon Trails on the right. The trail intersects the walking path between holes six and seven here. Continue up the wooded trail leading south along the ridge. This is more of a traditional hiking trail so be prepared for rougher conditions as you climb the trail.

The Dune Trail shares a summit of sorts with the fourteenth tee at Bandon Trails. Just behind the back tee, there is an overlook spot with a plaque dedicated to where Mike Keiser first stood and laid out his vision for what would later become Bandon Dunes.


From here the trail travels down the southern end of the ridge. It enters small groves of Manzanita, Rhododendron, Huckleberry and a myriad of other plant life. In the spring and fall, this portion of the trail is a good place to hunt mushrooms. Again, this trail sees minimal use and it is likely you will see wildlife.

The trail winds its way down to the base of the ridge. Near the base, there is a boardwalk, which traverses an intermittent wetland and marks the southernmost point of the Dune Trail. From here the trail flattens out and begins running back north, cutting a path through a clearing heavily covered in Salal and Sword Fern. Eventually, the trail leads back to the main entrance road.

At the main entrance road, cross and enter on the other side. This is the beginning of the sand dune section of the trail.  


Dune Trail (Orange) to Beach Trail (Yellow)


The Dune Trail enters a wooded glen just off the main entrance road. It winds its way a short distance until reaches a boardwalk, which crosses over a wetland at the base of the dunes. These dunes run the entire coastline from the mouth of the Coquille River in the south to Cape Arago in the north.

After the boardwalk, the trail climbs the east side of the dune. At the top, there is a bench similar to those on the Woodland Trail at the Labyrinth with a view looking north along the coast and the entire Bandon Dunes Golf Resort property. Follow the hiking trail posts through the dunes. The sand is quite soft and the walking can be quite strenuous. This sandy section is roughly three-quarters of a mile, but it might feel longer. Come prepared and bring water.

The Dune Trail meets the Beach Trail at a junction just below the first green at Bandon Trails. From here the trail leads back to The Lodge. 


Beach Trail (Yellow) to The Lodge

After reaching the Beach Trail from the Dune Trail, instead of following the sandy section down to the beach turn right and continue back up through a cut in the beach grass. There are a few small shore pines that mark and link where the two trails meet. Cross the Preserve service road and follow the hiking trail signs. From this point, the Beach Trail enters a basin at the base of a sandy ridge that leads up to the first green at Bandon Trails golf course.

In the basin, you may find Silvery Phacelia and wild strawberry growing along and in the trail. Watch your step. The Silvery Phacelia is endangered, and these dunes are one of only a handful of places in the world where the plant still grows wild.

After a couple of switchbacks, the trail crosses between the back of one green and the tips of the tees for hole two. Be aware of the golfers if you see them on the green. Chances are good you will see them before they see you. This section of the trail is crossed by maintenance roads and may get a little confusing. 

Once you cross between the first green and the second tee box, cross the short service road and enter the trail leading down through the beach grass. Look for the hiking trail posts. The trail follows through the beach grass here for only a short distance before entering another maintenance road. The maintenance road leads up and to the left. Stay on the road following it up a small hill to the next hiking trail post. The trail enters the beach grass again at this point and leads down between the 18th and first hole at Bandon Trails. From here there is a good view of the first tee box, the eighteenth green, and the clubhouse.

After heading down the slope of the dune, the trail once again crosses a service road. Cross and climb the short distance up to the next section through the beach grass. The trail from here leads right along the 18th fairway so be mindful of play. Lag behind if there is a group on the green.

There is one more maintenance road crossing before the trail leads back to the first tees at Bandon Trails. Turn right once you reach the first tee and follow the trail back to the clubhouse via the patio, or up the hill to the left where the shuttles are. Here, you can either get on a shuttle, or you can walk back to The Lodge.

Walking back to The Lodge is easy and even easier if you’re staying at The Inn. From the green clock near the bag drop, follow the paver path down the hill on the left side of the road and follow the Creekside Path (Blue) signs towards The Lodge. Turn left as if walking to the first tee at the Preserve. Continue past the starter house and down the hill toward The Inn. The pavers give way to a concrete sidewalk.

Follow the sidewalk past the front of The Inn until you find the asphalt path leading back down to the left toward Cut Creek. Just past the bridge, you will find a series of stairs. Follow the stairs up to the practice green at Bandon Dunes and around the golf course side of The Lodge.

Interview with Chris Smith, Speedgolf World-Record-Holder



(photo courtesy of Wood Sabold)

Ahead of the Speedgolf World Championship on October 26-27 at Bandon Dunes, caught up with Chris Smith, Portland, Ore., who not only is in the field, but holds the single-round Speedgolf world record of 109.06 (65 in 44:06 at the 2005 Chicago Speedgolf Classic).

Smith, 50, is a golf teaching professional. We asked him about his world-record round, training, how Speedgolf affects traditional golf, and more.

What makes up the ideal Speedgolf course?

A perfect Speedgolf course in terms of what would make it fast would be to have the greens very close to the next tee box, which is often the case at Old Mac. Flatter the better because that saves energy.

Do you lose many golf balls or have any particular strategy to avoid losing your ball?

I don’t hit it far enough to lose many golf balls in general in golf. If you don’t hit it long you better hit it straight! (laughs) I would fit into that category. I hit it long enough to play a Speedgolf course. And, I think most speed golfers figure out pretty quick they’re better off hitting it not quite as far, because running sideways, zig-zagging, looking for golf balls is not good, so I think a general strategy or philosophy for Speedgolf would be to try to hit it short and straight, all things considered.

How has holding the Speedgolf world record affected your professional career?

I don’t know if it’s changed me professionally. Professionally, primarily I coach, teach and then consult on the side with Nike Golf and some other entities. Keep in mind, I meet people everyday (laughs) who don’t even know what Speedgolf is, let alone that I’m the world-record-holder. It certainly hasn’t hurt me professionally and really what it’s allowed me to do is use a lot of what I’ve learned, playing Speedgolf at a high level, and translate that into my teaching and coaching. For example, playing less deliberately, less cautiously.

I do talks and presentations on how to optimize performance and I use my Speedgolf accomplishments as examples of how that kind of training and that kind of approach can help people in different realms, not necessarily Speedgolf, not necessarily golf, but in a lot of different things, so, yeah it’s certainly helped. I wrote a book in 2007, which was based on an article I did for Golf Digest in 2006. Christopher Smith’s book, “I’ve Got 99 Swing Thoughts But, Hit the Ball Ain’t One” and accompanying audiobook, “Better Golf: Whole Brain Learning” are available on his website:

Do you spend more time on the range or at the track?

Depends what’s broken. I actually just got back from a track workout. I have to be very careful what I do from a running standpoint now because I’ve got a few miles on my odometer. I have very little cartilage left in either of my hips, basically arthritic. So, I’m a big believer in whatever you’re trying to get better at, the best way to get better at “that”, is to do “that” so I take any opportunity I can get to actually play Speedgolf – which is the ultimate training because it combines the running with the golf. If that’s not available, then I will replicate in my run what would happen in a round of Speedgolf, so a lot of stopping and starting and when I practice on the range I will practice with a club and the shot that I would probably be hitting. All my training for the World Championship will be geared toward what I think specifically will happen those two days at Old Mac and at Bandon Dunes.

Do you actively monitor your heart rate as you play Speedgolf?

I don’t, but I probably should. (laughs) I know a lot of people do. You’re trying to go as hard as you can and then when you get to your next shot, not take too long to recover, and then, very critical, hit a good shot. It’s not just people sprinting, slapping shots around, because otherwise people would shoot 120, which really isn’t very interesting. The fitter you can get, the faster you can run and more importantly, the faster you recover when you get to your next shot, so you take less time to recover and still get in a good golf shot.

From tee to green, does how you play the hole evolve in your mind like it does for a regular round, just at a faster pace?

Well, you’re thinking about your next shot more than in traditional golf, because your next shot is literally only seconds away. Let’s say you’re playing the first hole at Old Mac (par-4, 304 yards). You hit your drive. You grab your bag and you’re running 200 to 300 yards toward your drive and you have to start to calculate feet and visualize about how far you’re going to hit your next shot depending on distance, pin placement, conditions, uphill/downhill.

The greatest thing about Speedgolf is, let me put it this way… All these supposedly fabulous laser GPS devises, uh, there’s one that we all have that works way better and way faster and it’s called your mind body system. It’s amazing what you can do with less than precise yardages, less than a full set of clubs just relying on your system.

In normal golf you hit a shot and it could be five to ten minutes before you hit your next shot and you have a laser or a GPS and it does all the work for you, and you’ve got all your clubs. Speedgolf is a phenomenal way to train for regular golf, because it’s the perfect example of making your training more difficult than the actual game.

Can you describe your World Record round?

2005 in Chicago. We had an event for several years at Jackson Park Golf Course, which is a public course that’s existed for quite some time. It actually had some USGA events back in the day. Very flat. Very short. I’d say close to 6,000 yards, no more. We’d always have fast times there, with some good scores.

I was in a particularly good frame of mind. Was I fit? Yeah. Did I hit some good shots? Yeah. I was very patient with myself. I was very tolerant of bad shots. It was a very enjoyable round. I think we all tend to beat ourselves up, especially if we’re good players and we need to have more empathy toward ourselves and I did that day.

It was a funny round. I made a lot of birdies and a lot of bogies. I tend to plod around making pars, a birdie here a bogey there. That day was good.

It’s a par 70 golf course. I shot 5-under-par in 44 minutes and six seconds. I had six clubs.

Actually, I have a couple pretty cool mental images. The last hole at Jackson Park is a short par-4. It’s less than 300 yards, I don’t know, it might be 275-280. You’ve got out-of-bounds to the right and trees down the left side. I hit my tee shot to one foot there. I almost made it. I tapped in for eagle, 65. It was a cool way to finish.

So, yeah, I can say I was in a state of mind that was very conducive to playing good golf: patient with myself, tolerant, empathetic. No expectations, you know, which is easy to say, but I just allowed things to happen. I made a double that day and I made some bogies. It was a good round. I’ve had a lot of good rounds like that, but not in competition. That happened to be one in a top position with scorekeepers and whatnot, so yeah, it was cool. I’m proud of it.

I think someday, someone’s going to take that down, but it’s going to have to be the right golf course. It’s not going to happen at Bandon Dunes, I don’t think. I think Bandon’s too hard. It’s too challenging, especially here for people who don’t know how to play links courses. Nonetheless, records are meant to be broken, so, someday soon.

Did you know at any time during the round that you were playing for a world record?

I was just playing one shot at a time and not looking ahead, not looking behind. Another great thing about Speedgolf is what every sport psychologist is always trying to help people with: Stay in the present. Well, when you are playing Speedgolf you are in the present, because if you hit a bad shot, rather than having time to think about it or worry about it, your next shot is literally seconds away, so you are in the present. Everyone from the Buddha to Dr. Bob Rotella is trying to get people to stay in the present and enjoy it.

That certainly helped, so, no. I wasn’t thinking about the score until the end. I knew I was playing pretty good. Every once in a while I’d look at my watch, just to see what kind of pace I’m going at, but there wasn’t a target up there.

Do you find yourself comparing rounds you play now to that one?

No, not really. Accepting change and accepting time, accepting aging… It’s something we all have to deal with. I look at Arnold Palmer playing golf now, in 2013. Does he compare that to how he played in the 60s? He can’t. He’s got to find different reasons to play, different reasons for enjoyment.

I don’t know if my golf game’s any better or worse than it was back then. I’m definitely slowing down. I think I can get fitter between injuries and illness, but it’s been a pretty tough year-and-a-half or so, but I also know my body is asking me to do different things.

It’s all a part of growing, evolving. I’m just going to do my best. As long as I have given my best, then that’s all I can ask. Things are constantly changing and I think we begin to suffer (laughs) when we fail to see the impermanence of everything. Easier said than done, but that’s the direction I’m trying to move in.

BONUS AUDIO: More Q&A with Chris Smith. Click play on our Soundcloud player below.

Why the Destination Matters



(article and photo by Nick Martin)

BANDON, Ore. – Do a Google search for “golf destinations” and this is one of the top results: Golf Digest’s Top 75 golf resorts in North America. Bandon Dunes Golf Resort is No. 1 on the list ahead of Pebble Beach. Unless you’re one of the 3,100 people who call Bandon, Ore. home, Bandon Dunes truly is a destination. And we think that’s a good thing. A destination is like a holiday or a birthday. It’s a celebration. A destination is something you wait for, save up for and look forward to. It’s a place away from the everyday, a break in the routine, an adventure that’s different and out of the ordinary. A destination is something way over there, out of sight, a place that exists for a time only in the imagination. The word “destination” alone evokes excitement because after all, if it’s a destination then it’s no doubt special. For a trip to any destination, arrangements are made, calendars cleared, house-sitters contacted, stories told to neighbors and excuses made to bosses. For golf destinations, specifically, clothes are dry-cleaned, new clubs tested and old ones washed in a bucket while sitting on the living room couch. Books may be read, websites consulted, movies watched and the idea of the destination grows. Reality sets in on the way the airport. There might be trepidation at the baggage check and worry about the gear. The lines and the people might stand in the way. The greater the destination, the more connections must be made. Every cab ride, every moment spent looking out the airplane window… it’s all time spent yearning for the destination. Suddenly, it’s happening. You’re not sure if you’re awake or still dreaming, but the destination is in sight, rising up slowly from the horizon like the sun at dawn. You’re here. You’ve made it. You’re standing on the first tee. You take a deep breath – a crisp, cleansing breath – and everything fades away. All the travel, all the planning, all the time spent waiting is over. This is your time. None of it matters, now. It’s just you and the game. You’ve arrived. Enjoy the walk.

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