The story of David McLay Kidd
In the summer of 1994, 26-year-old Scotsman David McLay Kidd first visited a stretch of gorse-strewn coastline north of Bandon, the future location for a golf course that would become legendary. With little experience and a lot of audacity, Kidd envisioned a traditional links-style course that gave prime seashore real estate to the golf holes. Two years later, he relocated to neighboring Coos Bay to design and build what is now one of the world’s most famous and beloved golf courses.
Bandon Dunes Golf Resort opened in 1999 with much fanfare. Golf Magazine described it as “probably the finest land made available for a golf course in America [outside of Pebble Beach],” and it made the number three spot on the magazine’s top 100 public courses list. Since its inception, the Bandon Dunes course has spawned three more world-class golf courses at the resort: Pacific Dunes, Bandon Trails and Old Macdonald.
Each year, more than 120,000 rounds are played at the resort by tens of thousands of golfers from around the world. With its popularity and growth, Bandon Dunes has created hundreds of jobs for the local economy and it was the primary driver behind the opening of a new terminal at the Southwest Oregon Regional Airport in North Bend. “I could never have comprehended this would become the phenomenon it is,” Kidd says.
You might say golfing is in Kidd’s blood. As a child he would listen to his father, Jimmy — a greenskeeper at iconic Scottish courses such as St. Andrews and Turnberry — wax poetic about course maintenance with like-minded golfers into wee hours of the morning. That early education influences Kidd’s design decisions today.
After the success of Bandon, Kidd launched DMK Golf Design and dedicated himself to building best-in-class golf courses around the world, including The Castle Course at St. Andrews, TPC San Francisco Bay, Fancourt in South Africa and Huntsman Springs in Idaho. In 2006, he relocated his business and home to Bend to build Tetherow golf club. Situated at the foot of Mt. Bachelor, Tetherow is longer, narrower and considered much more difficult than Bandon Dunes. In 2008, Golf Magazine again lauded Kidd’s vision by naming it “Best New Course of the Year.”
Today, Kidd’s reputation puts him among golf course architecture’s elite, and he is busier than ever building courses in Asia, Africa and Europe. Though his commute is now global, his return home to Bend to his young daughter and his father (who’s now part of the design team) remains Kidd’s favorite part of any trip. “It’s just 17 hours, door-to-door, from here to Edinburgh, but Bend is home. We have a wonderful lifestyle here,” he says.
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