Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Ron Whitten, Bandon Dunes and Don Mahaffey

Don Mahaffey (pictured above) and I have worked on a several projects and proposals since we created Wolf Point Club together. We have had a lot of chances to compare notes and discuss our ideas about golf and business. While our abilities are very different, our approaches are quite similar. 

Recently Ron Whitten wrote a blog post about Bandon Dunes with references to the Steve Job's biography. Don and Ron had somewhat different takes. Here is Don's: 

Jobs would have loved the idea of Bandon Dunes. My take is Jobs felt creating something beautiful at the intersection of creativity and technology was the key to good products. He did not focus just on one part of that, beauty was key, but the products had to be highly functional as well. Functionality was very important, but it had to be beautiful as well. After all that, it had to be simple. “Simple is the new sophistication” was his saying and he believed very much that it took great design to marry simplicity, beauty, and functionality together into something successful. Bandon Dunes has the Jobs’ pillars of success in spades. 

Bandon was created during an ugly period of excess in golf development. $10+ Million dollar courses with extravagant eye candy and multi-million dollar maintenance requirements was the norm to create a remarkable project. Keiser went against the grain and created something completely different. Jobs would have loved that. Jobs is quoted often in the bio as saying something along the lines of “the consumer doesn’t know what he wants until I give it to him” He didn’t believe in market studies or focus groups. He felt if he designed and built products that were simple, functional, and beautiful, then Apple would be successful. 

I have to believe Keiser felt similarly about his development of Bandon Dunes. For sure industry “experts” would have told him to build something more mainstream closer to population centers. But it seems Keiser felt if he built something great (simple, beautiful, functional) on a special piece of land, it might work.
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