Old Macdonald documentary
offers insight into course design
look at the making
of Old Macdonald
weaves in footage
from several of the
in the British Isles
that inspired the
A week later Robin’s phone
rang at 7 a.m. Doak had conferred with Keiser and said he
could hang around an extra day
at Bandon if Robin was still
interested. By 9 a.m. Robin had
contacted longtime friend and
former Olympics segment
producer Michael Weiss, who got
a San Francisco-based crew on
the road that afternoon.
Robin got there the next
morning, beginning a nearly two-year journey that resulted in 105
hours of footage. Included were
trips across the globe to capture
some of the best holes in golf.
Standout scenes include Keiser
and his architects dissecting
landmarks such as the Road Hole
re-created at Bandon, along with a
look at North Berwick’s Redan that
ended up on the DVD’s robust extras package.
The stunning videography throughout disproves
the notion that the many dimensions of a course can’t
be captured by a camera lens, while the film’s crystal
clear audio and rustic patina give it a more refined
feel than so much of today’s reality-show dreck.
Meanwhile, Robin barely interfered with the design
process. “He probably cost us three or four hours
total in inefficiency, which is nothing,” Keiser says.
After a first cut of the film, Robin consulted
Oscar-winning documentarian Davis Guggenheim,
who suggested it was incomplete until the course’s
opening day was included. “The first version was
interesting to the cognoscenti,” Keiser says. “The
second is a much more finished, entertaining piece.”
Highlights include Doak discussing his routing
process and Urbina’s bittersweet sentiments
upon seeding the final green (and marking the
end of his two-decade career with Doak).
But it’s Robin’s restraint, coupled with the film’s
refined production values, that ultimately frames
golf architecture storytelling in ways no one from
C.B. Macdonald’s era could have imagined. N
Golf architecture’s rich literary and visual history has never translated to the filmmaking side of
storytelling. Until this year.
On the surface of its cleverly
packaged DVD, “A Journey To Golf’s
Past: Creating Old Macdonald”
appears to be the story of Bandon
Dunes’ fourth course, opened in
2010. Yet a closer inspection of the
documentary, which was shown at
two film festivals in 2011 before its
public DVD release this spring,
reveals a groundbreaking look at
the design and evolution of the
modern golf course.
“A Journey to Golf’s Past”
( bandondunesgolfshop.com, $10) is
the creation of Los Angeles-native
Michael Robin, executive producer
of “The Closer” and the new “Dallas,”
who also directed the pilots for each hit TV show.
The Emmy award winner self-financed and
directed this look at developer Mike Keiser’s
homage to C.B. Macdonald, where architects Tom
Doak and Jim Urbina dusted off Macdonald’s
favorite template holes and built Bandon versions
of gems such as the Redan and Road.
Robin, a golf architecture enthusiast who played
in college at Miami, first met Keiser at Doak’s 2004
Renaissance Cup and maintained regular contact
with both men. His initial request to film Old
Macdonald’s building was rejected in 2007 by Doak
out of concern that cameras and gear would
interfere with the development.
Two years later, Doak was stopping through
Los Angeles en route to finishing the final four
holes at Old Macdonald. Over coffee, Robin made
one last pitch. “I told him there was still an
opportunity to document this because who wouldn’t
want a video record of [Alister] Mackenzie or
[George] Crump building their masterpieces.