Over the past 20 years, Bandon Dunes has gone from a glint in the eye of greeting card tycoon-turned-golf resort developer Mike Keiser to the consensus pick for best overall golf resort in the United States.
With four "big" courses - Bandon Dunes, Pacific Dunes, Bandon Trails and Old Macdonald - the 13-hole, par-3 Preserve and the Punchbowl putting course, Bandon is paradise for the golfer who loves golf in its original setting: on rumpled, firm turf hard by the sea.
And if you can believe it, Bandon is about to get even better.
That's because Phil Friedmann, Keiser's friend and longtime business partner, is helping bring Bandon Dunes fifth (and reportedly final) "big" course into being: the Sheep Ranch, on property Friedmann and Keiser jointly own north of the resort.
You've probably heard of the Sheep Ranch. For most of its life, it was a 13-green, choose-your-own-adventure golf experience open to a couple groups - at most - per day. Golfers would play golf here like basketball players play H-O-R-S-E, by picking a green in the distance, playing to it, then doing it again, zigzagging across the 150-acre property and creating their own course.
But the Sheep Ranch, Friedmann and Keiser decided, is just too special not to make available to more people. Enter Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, who will redesign it into a more formal - though still plenty rugged - golf course for all to enjoy.
Matt Ginella sat down with Friedmann to go over his background and the future of golf at Bandon Dunes in Episode 11 of the Golf Advisor Podcast.
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Some topics from the conversation:
- Friedmann details the evolution of his friendship with Mike Keiser, which would bloom into a decades-long business partnership
- How Friedmann came to acquire the Sheep Ranch property (and its surprising previous use)
- Friedmann's thoughts on Bill Coore, who, along with design partner Ben Crenshaw, is molding Sheep Ranch into a rustic links
- A couple unusual traits that should make Sheep Ranch a uniquely memorable golf expereince
- Why, in Friedmann's view, the new Sheep Ranch could come to be viewed as Bandon's best golf course
- When golfers can expect Sheep Ranch to reopen for play