Decades ago, another guy fell in love with the game of golf.

That wouldn’t have made for much of a story, except this wasn’t just any guy. Mike Keiser had achieved great success in business and had the resources to pursue his passion. He traveled to the birthplace of the game to absorb the traditions and heritage of the last 500 years of golf and to play in the elements where the game was invented. He was so inspired that he decided to build a golf course on Lake Michigan, a nine-hole course that would eventually become the highest-ranked in the U.S.

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Over the years, he played many of the world’s best courses, most of which were private clubs, and became committed to the principle that every golfer should have the opportunity to play great courses. It was then that he decided to build his own vision of what golf should be.

He discovered the ideal property in the sand dunes near Bandon, Oregon, and then made three important decisions. First, he hired friend and confidant Howard McKee to develop a land plan and work with City and County officials to move the vision forward. Second, he retained KemperSports to manage the construction phase and to assume the overall management of the project when completed. Third, he hired an untested young Scotsman, David McLay Kidd, the son of the legendary head agronomist at Gleneagles in Scotland, to design the first course. David spent 18 hours a day studying the land in order to fulfill Mike’s vision of a true links experience. Bandon Dunes opened in 1999 to unprecedented reviews and remains one of the finest links courses in the nation.

Mike wasn't finished ...

The first course alone put Bandon Dunes on the map of favorite American golf destinations, but Mike wasn’t finished. He retained the services of Tom Doak, noted minimalist golf course architect and one of the world’s foremost authorities on links golf, to work the dunes just north of Bandon Dunes to create Pacific Dunes. Opened in 2001, the course has consistently ranked among the very best courses in the U.S.

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Howard McKee

Most visitors to Bandon Dunes make their way to McKee’s Pub at some point during their stay. Many will think that it honors a magical watering hole somewhere in Scotland or Ireland – and therefore is a fitting tribute to the birthplace of the game. But it is actually named for the man who pioneered much of what is seen at the resort today.

Howard McKee was Mike Keiser’s partner and one of his most trusted advisors on the development, design, and vision for Bandon Dunes. Howard earned three degrees at Columbia University in New York City and became one of the finest land use and urban design experts of our age. He passed away on December 8, 2007, after a long battle with cancer.

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A thinker and a visionary

During his illustrious career, Howard helped create Oregon's land use laws and led teams that designed innumerable projects around the globe - each challenging conventional thinking to preserve the human spirit in urban design. Howard maintained a home on the Oregon Coast and spent much of his time at Bandon Dunes. Over the past two decades, he located the pristine stretch of sand dunes on which Bandon Dunes was developed and then led the team that secured permits to move forward. He helped design every structure on the property and clarified how all the pieces fit together. His was a vision of golf and infrastructure honoring the environment in which it is created, of a pure challenge in the spirit of the game, all uncluttered by manmade amenities.

Howard was a thinker and a visionary. Some had the opportunity to work directly with him and continue to be amazed at how affable - and at the same time uncompromising - he could be on the vision. Some know him only through the golf experience that he leaves behind for all of us to enjoy. We ask you to join us in loving memory and respect of Howard McKee and his indispensable contribution to the Bandon Dunes Golf Resort you know today. Maybe with a toast to him the next time you're in McKee's Pub. Or perhaps more fittingly, a slight nod as you finish the 18th hole the next time you play.

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His vision is not yet complete

Mike then turned to renowned architects Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw to design the third course, Bandon Trails. Opened in 2005, the course offers a journey through the same kind of land where the game of golf was born. Starting on massive sand dunes, working through open meadows to an upland coastal forest, then finishing again in the dunes, the course was the perfect complement to Bandon and Pacific Dunes.

The fourth course opened in June 2010, and it came from special inspiration.

Of all the incredible tracks around the world Mike has had the opportunity to play, his favorite remains National Golf Links on Long Island. Designed by Charles Blair Macdonald, the course opened in 1911 and ushered in the Golden Age of Golf Architecture in the U.S. One question burned inside Mike Keiser: What would his favorite golf course architect have done with the pristine land at Bandon Dunes? Mike asked Tom Doak and Jim Urbina to return, this time to work the sand north of Pacific Dunes and design a course in the tradition of C.B. Macdonald’s masterpiece at National Golf Links.

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“A unique experience in every way”

is a perfect description for the resort’s fifth course, Bandon Preserve. Opened in 2012 and designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, the masterful routing of this 13-hole par 3 course is matched with ocean views on nearly every hole delivering a level of enjoyment you may never find elsewhere. All net proceeds from the green fees go directly to the Bandon Dunes Charitable Foundation supporting conservation, community, and economy on the Southern Oregon Coast.

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The sixth course, Sheep Ranch,

was also designed by the world-class design team of Coore & Crenshaw who worked tirelessly to bring the Par-71, 6,785-yard 18-hole layout to life in June of 2020. Co-founded by Phil Friedmann and Mike Keiser, the Sheep Ranch was for many years a mysterious golf landscape just north of Bandon Dunes Golf Resort. Located on Five Mile Point, and originally designed by Tom Doak in 2001 while he worked on Pacific Dunes, the property was renovated for full public use in conjunction with the adjacent Bandon Dunes property. With one mile of ocean frontage, nine green sites right along the edge of the continent, and stunning Pacific Ocean views on every hole, the Sheep Ranch continues the legacy of “Golf As It Was Meant to Be” on the Pacific Coast.

If you've made it this far keep going! Check out our Best of Bandon page for some of the latest videos, written stories, podcasts, and more about the resort.