David McLay Kidd: Keeper of Links Golf

by Jeff Skinner

When entrepreneur Mike Keiser was looking for a golf course architect to build his first course in the middle of “No Man’s Land” on the Oregon coast he interviewed dozens of candidates.  He picked a relatively unknown Scot working for a design firm in the United Kingdom and the legacy of David McLay Kidd was born.  Kidd wanted to do “a Scottish-style, walking-only, real estate-free, unpredictable course” and Keiser agreed.

Their result was Bandon Dunes and American golf course architecture hasn’t been the same since.  Bandon Dunes was an immediate success and the first in Keiser’s dream of a world class resort with the focus on golf and nothing else.  Links style championship courses in the middle of nowhere were a huge risk.  But the “if you build it, they will come” philosophy worked magnificently and there are now four top courses at Bandon Dunes Resort. It also propelled Kidd into the upper echelon of golf course architects.

Suddenly brown was the new green and walking only was cool and manicured courses with intrusive real estate developments were passé.  Kidd went from unknown designer to the top of everyone’s must have list.  He wanted to bring back the game to the original way it was played in Scotland.  “Golf is a Scottish sport until America stole it” he says.  He wants to “re-introduce America to what golf is from my homeland.”

Kidd is not only talented and driven, he’s funny as well.  He was awarded the ultimate prize for any course architect when he was chosen to design the seventh course at St. Andrews.  About once every hundred years they build a new course at St. Andrews so to say he was under a bit of pressure is an understatement.  But he pulled it off and the Castle Course opened to very positive reviews.

Kidd is certainly one of a kind and he’s on a mission.  A mission to build courses in the ancient manner of links golf and he’s having a ball doing it.


Check out the “On Course Cameras” at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort.


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