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Jack Nicklaus’ new American Dunes takes flight with plenty of sand, unapologetic patriotism


GRAND HAVEN, Mich. – American Dunes, the brainchild of U.S. Air Force Reserves Lieutenant Colonel Dan Rooney and the design product of Jack Nicklaus, formally took flight Sunday.

A fan of golf structure needs to be forgiven for imagining commonalities between the course itself and plenty of of the missions Rooney has undertaken in F-16 fighter planes.

Before a pilot takes off, the airplane first should slowly taxi throughout degree floor earlier than hitting the throttles and blasting skyward. Free to maneuver in new dimensions, the jet can twist and switch because the mission calls for, with velocity and calls for growing because the airplane climbs.

American Dunes has the same arc. After taxiing throughout the tarmac for the primary three holes via outlined corridors and previous houses alongside the perimeter of the property, the format climbs uphill to the par-3 fourth’s tee. From there, the whole lot adjustments. The course soars right into a newly revealed surroundings, a joyride of twists and turns via sandy dunes lately uncovered by Nicklaus’ design staff.

The par-3 fourth gap at American Dunes in Grand Haven, Michigan, is the place the wide-open nature of a lot of the format takes off. (Jason Lusk/Golfweek)

Previously house to the Grand Haven Golf Club, which Rooney’s household owned for greater than 20 years, a lot of the location has been cleared of greater than 2,000 timber to disclose the rises and falls of these pure dunes beforehand hidden within the woods.

Big skies and panoramas have changed slim taking part in corridors – as many as seven holes are in view without delay on the again 9 – with natural-looking sandscapes seemingly in all places. In reality, there’s plenty of width and playability off the tee for gamers who select the right tee bins – after many years of Grand Haven Golf Club being identified for all of the timber and calls for on accuracy they created, it is likely to be onerous for its former gamers to acknowledge this as the identical land.

“Other than sitting on the same site, it’s a complete reimagination,” stated Rooney, who three years in the past requested Nicklaus to become involved. “And it’s a next-level, amazing design and nothing like the bowling alley, target golf we used to play out here.”

An entrance wall shows a quote by Jack Nicklaus, who designed the new American Dunes in Grand Haven, Michigan. (Jason Lusk/Golfweek)

Rooney was talking on the conclusion of grand-opening festivities that included Nicklaus, Kid Rock, a squadron’s price of pilots previous and current, and a lineup of singers, tv personalities and extra. It was all to learn the Folds of Honor, a charitable group Rooney based in 2007 to learn the kids of killed and injured U.S. navy troopers. Folds of Honor has since awarded tutorial scholarships to greater than 29,000 kids.

Forget the timber, the renovation, the golf altogether for a minute, Rooney would inform you. The mission wasn’t merely to remake an outdated course. The objective was to boost funds for these children of fallen troopers, and in retaining with that, all earnings from American Dunes might be donated to Folds of Honor.

To attain the new clubhouse, gamers will stroll via a shrine of types, with the photographs and tales of troopers who died in service – their boot prints are etched into the pavement. There is an announcement by Nicklaus alongside the partitions of the entranceway, declaring, “I love the game of golf, but I love my country more,” in big letters. There is scripture quoted, retaining in line with Rooney’s religion. There are photos of fighter planes and folded American flags (therefore the identify of Folds of Honor), and of course a large American flag towering over and past the concrete partitions from alongside the ninth fairway. The walkway results in a golf store full of crimson, white and blue merchandise.

The walkway into the professional store shows the tales of fallen troopers above their boot prints embedded within the pavement at American Dunes in Grand Haven, Michigan. (Jason Lusk/Golfweek)

There are extra plaques devoted to fallen troopers on every tee field. There’s a white cross between Nos. 17 and 18 to additional commemorate such losses. The clubhouse restaurant is ready up as a fighter squadron bar. The total place, in some ways, has the vibe of a Fourth of July parade mixed with Memorial Day.

Simply put, it’s patriotism with the afterburners kicked on – simply the way in which Rooney likes it.

“I love flying fast for freedom, and obviously Folds of Honor is God’s calling for my life,” stated Rooney, who, apart from nonetheless flying fighters and elevating greater than 100 million {dollars} for charitable causes, can also be a PGA of America golf skilled. “And any significant thing in my life is connected to the game of golf. To be able to put those attributes all together, and to share that, well … This isn’t red or blue, it’s red, white and blue and a chance to celebrate the attributes that make this country special and that it was founded upon.”

A head cowl on the market within the professional store at American Dunes sticks to the patriotic theme of the new course in Grand Haven, Michigan. (Jason Lusk/Golfweek)

Rooney partnered with 4 different buyers to determine American Dunes LLC in renovating the format, and Nicklaus agreed to waive what Rooney stated was his typical $3-million design price. Still, giant donations have been wanted to make the renovation occur, and Rooney is a pure pitchman who was capable of garner help. He lately shied away from guessing precisely how a lot cash is likely to be generated by the course for donation to Folds of Honor within the kind of working earnings from the course, but when all goes to plan, it needs to be sufficient to learn 1000’s extra kids.

As of the grand opening, greater than 11,000 gamers had booked rounds in 2021 to play a new course none of them had seen. And whereas Rooney stated the main target needs to be on Folds of Honor and never essentially the format itself, these gamers are in for a deal with on a format that stretches to 7,213 yards off the longest tees.

Especially on the again 9, which was the entrance. Nicklaus stated Rooney advised flipping the nines to complete throughout the very best duneland on the property.

After No. 10 takes gamers away from the clubhouse and the close by big American Flag alongside the ninth fairway, the panorama stretches out on the downhill stroll alongside the eleventh fairway. From there, gamers can see components of Nos. 12, 13 and particularly 17 operating alongside, and far of the format opens much more from there. Gone are the timber, changed by lengthy views throughout a number of fairways and greens.

A cross sits between Nos. 17 and 18 at American Dunes in Grand Haven, Michigan. Players are urged to go away nickels within the grass on the cross, an extended custom of pilots on the gravesites of fallen troopers. (Jason Lusk/Golfweek)

“He told me it was going to be named American Dunes, and I got here (the first time) and it was totally tree-lined with huge trees,” Nicklaus stated. “I went, ‘Where are the dunes? Where are these things?’ And he said, ‘They’re underneath those trees. That means we had to take down some trees. … I’m usually a bit of a tree hugger, and I don’t like to take them down. But in this case, it was the appropriate thing to do.”

First to go have been the timber planted in rows over the many years since Grand Haven Golf Club opened within the 1965. Rooney, the son of the course’s homeowners, knew there was nice golf land beneath all that cowl.

“This was Dan’s vision, and I said, ‘If that’s where you would like to go, then it’s my job to help you create your vision.’ ” Nicklaus stated. “That’s what I do, and that’s what I enjoy doing.”

Nicklaus didn’t got down to construct a very demanding format – don’t confuse this course with some earlier Nicklaus programs constructed many years in the past to check PGA Tour gamers whereas vexing leisure gamers. There aren’t any extraordinarily tiered greens, no overly burdensome compelled carries throughout water. There are ponds, most on the entrance 9, however considerate amateurs can mess around as a substitute of essentially over them.

No. 16 incorporates a sandy cross bunker at American Dunes in Grand Haven, Michigan. (Jason Lusk/Golfweek)

That doesn’t imply American Dunes is a pushover. Located close to however not on the shores of Lake Michigan, the course can expertise substantial winds. The sixteenth, particularly, is an extended par 4 stretching 503 yards off the again tee, taking part in towards the lake and into the predominant breeze. A stretch of native sand juts throughout the golf green some 100 yards from the inexperienced. But not like water, gamers can play from such a waste space, so as a substitute of misplaced balls, it’s merely misplaced strokes for these both unlucky or careless sufficient to deposit a ball within the brown sand.

Along with the rolling elevation adjustments, the sandy expanses are the defining options of the again 9. The native sand is extraordinarily delicate, nearly powder-like, generally robust to flee and requiring ability and velocity to maintain the clubhead shifting. There is plenty of room most often to keep away from the sand if a participant thinks, however that doesn’t make a shot from the waste areas any simpler after a careless or poorly executed swing.

Besides the rolling duneland, sand – as seen right here on No. 10 – is the distinguished function of American Dunes in Grand Haven, Michigan. (Jason Lusk/Golfweek)

In all, the sandy waste areas and tumbling terrain create a uncooked, uncovered sensation – very completely different from many of the programs Nicklaus constructed with plentiful water and almost wall-to-wall grass many years in the past.

“I like to let things evolve,” Nicklaus stated. “… Sand is great to work with. If I could do every golf course, the rest of my golf courses, on sand, that would be my choice. …

“It’s all built on sand, so it’s going to drain fast. And we wanted to get a golf course that’s going to play fast (allowing the ball to roll), so even with some yardage it’s not going to play long. And hopefully, it’s fun.”

It all makes for a novel expertise for many who would possibly crave a mixture of unfettered patriotism and strong golf.

“One thing Mr. Nicklaus always said to me, I want to get you a golf course that’s as good as the cause,” Rooney stated. “I think we have that here.”

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Read extra: https://sports.yahoo.com/jack-nicklaus-american-dunes-takes-223544760.html?src=rss

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