Pacific Dunes is an 18-hole championship golf course and residential golf estate in Port Stephens, New South Wales.
For well over a century, golf has taken people to some of the prettiest remote spots on earth. Such romantic locales put everyone in a great frame of mind and can even blind the golfer as to the actual design merits of the course. Indeed, most ocean side designssadly do not live up to their potential. Take the east coast of Australia, just south of Sydney. The Coast, St. Michaels and New South Wales GC are contiguous and enjoy approximately the same glorious cliff top setting above the Pacific Ocean. However, the quality of the three courses could not be more apart, ranging from the rudimentary design of The Coast to the all-world New South Wales GC, which has been favorably comparedto Cypress Point.
The difference between the three courses is the hand of man, and New South Wales owes much of its greatness to Dr. MacKenzie and Eric Apperly, who may be the two finest designers that Australia has ever seen. Mike Keiser understands that a great location is paramount to building a great course. Though he livesnear Chicago, he scoured the United States to find such a place and in 1993, the area near Bandon, Oregon was brought to his attention. Not long thereafter, he purchased 2,000 acres and hired David Kidd from Scotland to build him a links course replete with pot bunkers acrossthis new foundwindswept terrain.
With six greens located along the stunning cliff line, Bandon Dunes was an immediate success. Spurred on, Keiser was ready to build a second course. For this project, he selected Tom Doak as his architect. Having spent time together in the United Kingdom, Keiser andDoak shared many thoughts on why such courses as Royal Portrush and Royal County Down were so great. Simply put, the hand of man -and lack there of – isoften times the determining factor. For instance, as magical a place as Portrush is, Colt’s handiwork is what transforms it into a world beater.