In short, he was hooked. The big downside was he now wanted to visit these places, which would be time consuming, expensive, and beyond reach since many courses were private. So it was a red-letter day when he read direct air service was now available from the Bay Area to Bandon Dunes. Previous travel required a long car ride from another airport in the state. He proposed going there for their annual golf trip, which met resistance given the higher financial and paid time-off cost with dubious returns. Even the younger brother, who had the most difficult trip from the East Coast, later admitted he was going just to humor the middle brother, and to pay him back for all his organizing efforts over the years. They would quickly become converts.
Flying in provided the first clues. From above, the landscape was incredibly wooded with a dune belt that ran for miles along the coast. Who knew there were dunes in Oregon, and that the wind could win a battle with the rain? Driving to and entering the resort gave additional good impressions of the remote and secluded setting coupled with a facility design that felt very at home with the surroundings. This was not a place trying to impress, but trying to stay out of the way.
The golf further fermented these favorable feelings into high praise and lasting memories. It was not false advertising the three courses there are unlike any others in the country. They are also quite different from each other, one being very Irish, the other Scottish, and the third like a Pinehurst with more elevation change or an Augusta in well-worn jeans. A whole world of golf into three adjacent courses. Vegas should be jealous. Fairways are wide and generous, every bunker is a work of art, there are dunes the size of office buildings, the routing is compelling and builds to several peak moments, ocean views abound, and the gorse is spectacular, though prickly, when in bright yellow bloom. With no homes and other golfers in sight, they felt wonderfully alone as they walked and carried their clubs for twelve miles a day, and then collapsed to wake up and do it again.
Still, the resort was not exactly in their backyard, and did not appeal to many since it was walking only, the lodging and food were simple and modest, and the weather and wind could be iffy. But for others, these conditions made going there a badge of honor, a statement about them and their game. The snowboarders of golf went to Bandon, not the skiers. Unexpectedly, this type of statement would end up appealing to the person every golfer wanted to impress – a member of the Cypress Point Club.
Unknown to them at the time, one of the Bandon golfers worked with a member of Cypress with the typical, incredible member resume: all-American college football player, Rhodes scholar, pro football star, long-time announcer and successful businessman. Monkeys are said to be only one percent genetically different than humans; this man seemed several monkeys apart from them. Certainly the three hundred or so Cypress members are the rarest of breeds – extremely small in number but never in danger of extinction, even though they do not ever expand their population.
Of course, this member was the Bandon golfer’s boss. When he learned of his employee’s trip, his Oxford-educated mind concluded this was his type of golfer. The Beaver Creek of golf clubs welcomed snowboarders? Perhaps as important, this member also felt such a trip indicated sufficient proficiency, so he asked if his underling would like to play Cypress one day. Learning of his boss’ membership and invitation in the same moment made it almost impossible for a nonchalant reply, which is the expected decorum of the seated gentry.
However, passing this initial test did not guarantee success, for his boss would likely forget the invitation, or ask so many others he would run out of guest playing privileges. So doubt and fear quickly dampened the group’s spirits when he shared the news, and they recalled many past experiences where dreams had been dashed by reality or bad luck. They feared they would feel like they do when hitting the flagstick – they would be more upset with the ball not going in instead of celebrating such a close shot.