Aspire Magazine Issue 1 - Page 18

LESS IS MORE Renowned golf course designer and Scotsman David McLay Kidd is a minimalist at heart. BY SCOTT GUMMER < M AV E R I C K BY D E S I G N “THE WAY GOLF BEGAN” IS AN APT MOTTO FOR MACHRIHANISH DUNES GOLF CLUB, as it was not only the first 18-hole links course to be built on the west coast of Scotland in a century, but the course, opened in 2009, is a throwback to the minimalist way courses were first designed and built in the heartland of golf. The Machrihanish Dunes course designer is a Scotsman who made his name in America. David McLay Kidd is best known for designing the first course at Bandon Dunes (recently ranked No. 6 on Golfweek’s 2017 Best Resort Courses) on the Oregon coast, but he learned the trade from his father, Jimmy, the longtime estates and golf courses director at Scotland’s Gleneagles Resort. From 16 ISSUE ONE | ASPIRE the time David Kidd was a wee lad, his family vacationed on the Mull of Kintyre on the westernmost coast of the Scottish mainland. “I grew up going there on holiday; we had a caravan, like a mobile home, a couple hundred yards from the beach, and I remember playing Machrihanish Golf Club, designed by Old Tom Morris, with my dad and my grandfather,” says Kidd, now based in Bend, Or. “I grew up on golf courses, and I remember as a teenager looking at the dunes that went on for miles and thinking it was made for golf.” Following the opening of Bandon Dunes in 1999, Kidd longed to create a new course at Machrihanish. He met with the landowner, who secured a handshake agreement with an Australian businessman named Brian OPPOSITE: David McLay Kidd celebrates his Scottish heritage. LEFT: Kidd studies the landscape at Guacalito de la Isla GC in Nicaragua; BELOW: Minimalist design at Machrihanish, with six greens that hug the Atlantic Ocean. Keating. The two joined forces, with Kidd helming course design and construction and Keating handling financing and operations, including bringing in Southworth Development, which proved instrumental in fulfilling the vision. “I always saw the potential, and Southworth not only shared that vision but also had the wherewithal to make it a world-class golf experience,” Kidd says. In addition to the opening of Machrihanish Dunes Golf Club, Southworth invested significant time, effort, and money in The Ugadale Hotel & Cottages, The Old Clubhouse Pub & Restaurant, and The Royal Hotel, all of which has made for a golf destination that rivals the globe’s finest. Designing the course was easy given the setting: dramatic dunes with five tees 270-acre site, of which only seven acres were altered or cultivated in the creation of the course. Kidd made a convincing argument that a golf course would be the best use of the land: “Landscape is everything to a golf course because of the setting, so a golf course has an incentive to protect the landscape more so than someone using it for agriculture.” /////////////////////////////////////// / ////// /////////////////////////////////////// / ////// P U RV EYO RS O F PLAY drains well, grass grows well while weeds don’t, and designers can create subtleties in sand that they can’t in clay. “Children like to play in sand more than mud,” says Kidd. “We designers are just the same.” Two of Kidd’s most recent designs are marked by sand both in nature “LANDSCAPE IS EVERYTHING TO A GOLF COURSE BECAUSE OF THE SETTING, SO A GOLF COURSE HAS AN INCENTIVE TO PROTECT THE LANDSCAPE.” —DAVID MCLAY KIDD and six greens along the Atlantic Ocean. Yet building the course was difficult. The land is a Scottish Natural Heritage site and subject to the European Union’s most stringent environmental protection regulations. The only course ever to be built on a Site of Special Scientific Interest, Machrihanish is home to rare species of orchids, some of which don’t grow anywhere else in Europe. There are no chemicals, pesticides, heavy machinery, or extensive irrigation systems allowed on the The wild Atlantic coast has not changed in centuries, says Kidd, calling it “ruggedly gorgeous” and noting that a visit is “like stepping back in time.” The course design was the ultimate in minimalism. Bunkers are natural scrapes in the land. Fairways were simply mowed down. A few dozen Hebridean black sheep help maintain the rough. “Mostly we just shaped out spots for tees and greens,” says Kidd, who is never happier than when working in sand because it and in name: Gamble Sands in central Washington opened to wide acclaim, and Sand Valley in Wisconsin is shaping up to be like Pine Valley for the public golfer. “I want my courses to be a test for low handicappers but fun for the average golfer. I’ve come to realize that golf should be an achievable challenge—not an impossible one.” PLAY TEE TIME AT MACHRIHANISH DUNES, WHICH MEASURES 7,175 YARDS, FEATURES SIX GREENS AND FIVE TEES AT THE OCEAN’S EDGE. MACHRIHANISHDUNES.COM ASPIRE | ISSUE ONE 17