Golf Blog

A Bandon Dunes Wedding.

Over the last several years, golf has taken me to some pretty sweet ass places. From the cliffs of Old Head in Ireland to the crashing waves of Cypress Point in California, this golfer has gotten around. Even though I have been spoiled rotten with the destinations, it is the people that have been the magic ingredient. One of those people that brought the magic has been Kenzie O’Connell.

The first time that I meant Kenzie O Connell was at a Starbucks in the Calgary airport. She was ordering some sort of advanced triple macchiato with double iced espresso beans, with zero fat and zero calories. “Oh lord, here we go,” I remember muttering in my head. It’s a good thing that I didn’t say those words out loud as I would have been forced to eat them several days later. As it turns out, my new friend Kenzie O’Connell was the real deal.

My second favorite shot of Kenzie from our Canadian Rockies trip

My second favorite shot of Kenzie from our Canadian Rockies trip

My favorite shot of Kenzie from our Canadian Rockies trip.

My favorite shot of Kenzie from our Canadian Rockies trip.

Countless adventures and golf trips later, Kenzie was scheduled to arrive at the altar with the man of her dreams, Jimmy. I was selected as the photographer of choice and the destination of choice was Bandon Dunes. It was a real best in class type situation. If anything, the photographer was the weak link.

I warned Kenzie that this was my first official wedding shoot and that all of her wedding photos were going to turn out blurry and overexposed. She paid little attention to my pleas and paid me anyways. The pressure was on and I needed to deliver. Fortunately, I didn’t have to jump right into '“capturing the magic of love” right away, I had time to warm up with a practice round at Bandon Preserve. Nothing warms up a camera lens faster than Bandon Preserve.

Jimmy, the groom, hits one in tight on #6

Jimmy, the groom, hits one in tight on #6

#7 on Bandon Preserve with Bandon Dunes in the distance

#7 on Bandon Preserve with Bandon Dunes in the distance

Looking back on 17 at Bandon Dunes from #11 on Bandon Preserve

Looking back on 17 at Bandon Dunes from #11 on Bandon Preserve

When I first met Kenzie, she couldn’t high kick past her knee.

When I first met Kenzie, she couldn’t high kick past her knee.

Devastation over a short missed putt for birdie on #5.

Devastation over a short missed putt for birdie on #5.

The emotion of the missed putt strikes the faces of the wedding crew.

The emotion of the missed putt strikes the faces of the wedding crew.

There a few things as satisfying as the sun setting over Bandon Dunes.

There a few things as satisfying as the sun setting over Bandon Dunes.

With the warmup photo session and golf complete at Bandon Preserve, it was time for Jimmy and Kenzie’s big day. First up, I was tasked with photographing the ‘getting ready phase.’ This phase can last anywhere from 1 to 17 hours and involves a lot of high stakes hair fixing, makeup, and garment arranging. I just tried to get out of the way as the girls rushed to meet their deadline.

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Keeping with the golf theme Jimmy’s groomsmen and best man were outfitted in caddie attire.

Keeping with the golf theme Jimmy’s groomsmen and best man were outfitted in caddie attire.

With 4 wedding caddies and just 1 groom, Jimmy was fully prepared for success at the ceremony.

With 4 wedding caddies and just 1 groom, Jimmy was fully prepared for success at the ceremony.

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Jimmy and Kenzie decided to drive one into the Pacific to finalize their wedding vows to each other.

Jimmy and Kenzie decided to drive one into the Pacific to finalize their wedding vows to each other.

Jimmy was excited to marry Kenzie.

Jimmy was excited to marry Kenzie.

Some of the most boss bridesmaids that I have ever seen.

Some of the most boss bridesmaids that I have ever seen.

Kenzie did not actually hit this golf ball off of her brother’s face. Golfing in a wedding dress is hard.

Kenzie did not actually hit this golf ball off of her brother’s face. Golfing in a wedding dress is hard.

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After Jimmy and Kenzie were officially married, it was time to head to the reception. That reception was held at Bandon Dunes’ Punch Bowl. The 100,000 square foot putting surface was the perfect place to have some drinks and celebrate two great people and families joining their lives together. There was also a fierce putting duel, in which Jimmy The Groom emerged victorious. I am not gonna say everyone let him win… but everyone let him win.

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Probably talking joint banking accounts and mutual funds.

Probably talking joint banking accounts and mutual funds.

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Jimmy’s father and best man exudes confidence and joy.

Jimmy’s father and best man exudes confidence and joy.

Easily in my top 5 wedding photos. Kenzie did not know that I was taking this picture. She is legitimately angry about her new husband beating her at golf.

Easily in my top 5 wedding photos. Kenzie did not know that I was taking this picture. She is legitimately angry about her new husband beating her at golf.

Nikki B is a talented golfer… but it is just one of her many talents.

Nikki B is a talented golfer… but it is just one of her many talents.

Tisha  and  Chelsea  did not approve the posting of this picture.

Tisha and Chelsea did not approve the posting of this picture.

My favorite shot out of the 3 million photos I took.

My favorite shot out of the 3 million photos I took.

After the sun went down on an amazing day, we didn’t just give up and go to sleep. We grabbed our golf clubs and headed out for some golf… Night golf that is.

The staff at Bandon Dunes provided all of the night golf supplies that we needed. They set up the course, provided the glow balls (Glow V1’s) and even had the staff walk with us to make sure we didn’t get lost. All that was required of us was to show up with our clubs once it got nice and dark.

Anyone can set up night golf if you have a group of 8 or more. Just inquire when booking. The routing is holes 1,2,3, and then you play back into the Bandon Dunes main clubhouse on the 9th hole.

The staff even left a special glow in the dark message for Jimmy and Kenzie.

The staff even left a special glow in the dark message for Jimmy and Kenzie.

Like a true Bandon bride and groom, Jimmy and Kenzie decided to wake up the next morning and play more golf. The agenda for the following day… more golf. It was a true Bandon Dunes honeymoon, or maybe we just call it a Bandon Honeydunes.

I take this picture every time that I arrive on the 6th tee box at Bandon Dunes, it’s always wonderfully different looking back down the 5th fairway.

I take this picture every time that I arrive on the 6th tee box at Bandon Dunes, it’s always wonderfully different looking back down the 5th fairway.

Tisha Alyn deals with one of the newly renovated bunkers on #9 at Bandon Dunes.

Tisha Alyn deals with one of the newly renovated bunkers on #9 at Bandon Dunes.

Since this was the first time playing Bandon Dunes for Nikki, Chelsea, and Tisha, I played the role of Golf Tour Guide. Golf Tour Guide is great because you get to tell all of your old stories and feel real important and knowledgable.

Nikki, Chelsea, and Tisha stroll hard on the 16th at Bandon Dunes.

Nikki, Chelsea, and Tisha stroll hard on the 16th at Bandon Dunes.

The view looking towards the green on the 6th tee box at Bandon Dunes.

The view looking towards the green on the 6th tee box at Bandon Dunes.

The gorse (bottom left) blooms twice a year at Bandon.

The gorse (bottom left) blooms twice a year at Bandon.

the 11th hole at Pacific Dunes is a popular selection for favorite golf hole at Bandon.

the 11th hole at Pacific Dunes is a popular selection for favorite golf hole at Bandon.

Although I knew it was going to be a special weekend, I couldn’t have imagined the outpouring of joy and love from this fantastic group of friends and family. Here’s to a long and fulfilling life together for the new bride and groom. Golf and love on!

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The Canadian Rockies

When you think of the top 5 public golf destinations in North America, do the Canadian Rockies come to mind?  Probably not... but it should.  For most of the US, it's a relatively short flight to Calgary and an hour or so drive into the heart of the action.  Between Jasper, Banff, Kananaskis, and Canmore there are 6 courses on the trail.  Let's dig into the details of my recent adventure into the Canadian Rockies and sort out the details.

My partner in golf crime for the trip would be McKenzie O'Connell, most people call her Kenzie or Kenz, I decided to call her K Dawg.  Now, K Dawg is a 5 handicap and certainly a valuable addition to any golf trip.  She also jumped right in and showed off her impressive golf modeling chops.  Things were starting off nicely. 

The view looking back on the restaurant atop the Banff Gondola.

The view looking back on the restaurant atop the Banff Gondola.

Golf hard, model hard.

Golf hard, model hard.

After getting into Banff, we took the Gondola up for a view of the local scene and had a fantastic meal at the top, courtesy of Brewster Travel.  In terms of easy things to do in Banff, I would highly recommend the gondola ride.  With views of downtown Banff and the surrounding mountain ranges, it was an excellent preview of what was to come.  

Afterwards, we headed back to our first class accommodations at the Delta Hotels Kananaskis Lodge.  The hotel was centrally located in Alberta and has easy access to local hiking and biking trails with outstanding views of the Rocky Mountains.  A world class spa will be opening in 2018.

In the morning we were headed out to Kananaskis Country Golf Course for our first round of golf in the Canadian Rockies.  Designed by Robert Trent Jones and opening in 1983, the 36 hole layout is a favorite of local Albertan golfers.  In 2013, floods seriously damaged the course and it has been shut down for the past 4 years with funding and rebuilding underway.  In a sneak peak event, I was able to get some of the first photos of the new course, as 27 holes will officially open to the public for the 2018 season.  You can click on any of the images throughout the post to get the full course gallery.

Image courtesy of Robert Trent Drones.

Image courtesy of Robert Trent Drones.

The dual green on the Mt Lorette 18.  You can see the 9th hole on the Mt Kidd 18 still under construction below the mountains.

The dual green on the Mt Lorette 18.  You can see the 9th hole on the Mt Kidd 18 still under construction below the mountains.

The Mt Kidd 18 will open with 9 holes available in the beginning of 2018

The Mt Kidd 18 will open with 9 holes available in the beginning of 2018

The best part about the event at Kananaskis was the emotion demonstrated by the participants and the staff as they returned to their course after a 4 year hiatus.  I watched as head professional, Bob Paley, high fived and hugged a couple of familiar faces, afterwards he would turn to our group with a huge satisfied smile on his face... "See, this is the stuff that I miss the most, the people, the camaraderie... it's just the best."  Bob was immediately one of our favorite people we would meet on the trip.  The only downside was that smoke from nearby wildfires would cloud the view of the normally spectacular mountains.  

Next up was paddle boarding courtesy of Rebound Cycle, we would change that to golf paddle boarding as K Dawg would pull off a pretty sweet trick shot effort! 

When traveling with a golf model, it is necessary to note that just about every location is a modeling location.  Here are some of those shots from early on in the action.  As a published Golf Digest model, I would push Kenzie to be the best model she could be, while providing her with the experience and modeling guidance that she needed.

Golf stairway modeling

Golf stairway modeling

Model off standings: PJKoenig: 1.  K Dawg: 0

Model off standings: PJKoenig: 1.  K Dawg: 0

Next up on the Canadian Rockies agenda was Silvertip Golf Club.  With 600 feet of elevation change, Silvertip offers some outstanding views of the Three Sisters and nearby mountain ranges.  Unfortunately, the normally amazing views would be partially clouded by smoke.

As a professional, I’ve played all over the world and I find the Silvertip Golf Course to be one of the most spectacular I’ve ever played. Between Les Furber’s incredible layout and the scenery, it is easy to see why.
— Stephen Ames - 4 time PGA Tour winner & Member of the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame.
I would come out of the gates firing with birdies on the 1st 2 holes,  The flames would fizzle.

I would come out of the gates firing with birdies on the 1st 2 holes,  The flames would fizzle.

With several rounds under our belt, we were ready to put the pedal down on the EZ-GO and turn up the golf action.  With an early start on the Stewart Creek Golf Course, we would find our golf groove for a day of 36.  

Stewart creek is one of the more unique locations for a golf course as it is actually built on top of an old coal mining operation.  The shafts and tunnels run beneath the golf course and several of the mine entrances are still visible on the course.  We were told it was safe, but I took it easy on the divots to avoid plummeting through the fairway and into any abandoned mine shafts.  A big thanks to our host Greg for helping us avoid the pitfalls!

This coal mining shaft would cease operation in 1978.  

This coal mining shaft would cease operation in 1978.  

With several mine shafts and several models on the property, this was naturally the perfect time to start production on our 3 part series: "An Introduction to Male and Female Amateur Mine Shaft Modeling"  As you can clearly see in the video, I have increased my lead in the model off competition with a score of 2-0.

The stunning downhill 9th hole:  I would get nasty and make a 2!

The stunning downhill 9th hole:  I would get nasty and make a 2!

From time to time, I would find a slight gap in the smoke coverage and get a shot of the mountains.  These views are commonplace on all of the courses we would play in the Rockies.

From time to time, I would find a slight gap in the smoke coverage and get a shot of the mountains.  These views are commonplace on all of the courses we would play in the Rockies.

Next up on the tour of the Canadian Rockies was the highly anticipated Fairmont Springs Banff Golf Course.  We were in for a treat as veteran Golf Broadcaster, Luke Elvy, would join us for the round.  Luke is one of the best dudes you can play golf with and he was happy to lend advice, share stories, and even call the action as we golfed our balls.  He also has an Australian accent.

Exhausted from the mine shaft modeling, I would take the day off from the competition.  Surprisingly, K Dawg would still only manage a narrow victory..  Update; PJKoenig 2  K Dawg: 1

Exhausted from the mine shaft modeling, I would take the day off from the competition.  Surprisingly, K Dawg would still only manage a narrow victory..  Update; PJKoenig 2  K Dawg: 1

Kenzie would nearly make an all world 2 on the "Devil's Cauldron"  Check out the video  here .

Kenzie would nearly make an all world 2 on the "Devil's Cauldron"  Check out the video here.

Even with a heavy dose of smoke covering the mountains, the Stanley Thompson course was a highlight of the trip.  The course is strategic, scenic, challenging, and fun to play.

A shot from behind what was originally the 18th hole.  The routing has been changed due to clubhouse and capacity demands.  

A shot from behind what was originally the 18th hole.  The routing has been changed due to clubhouse and capacity demands.  

For the final round of the trip we headed out to Canmore Golf & Curling Club.  In 1926, the original course was only 9 holes with sand greens and coffee cans for holes.  In the 1960's a curling rink would be added, and today, Canmore offers a full test of golf with stunning views of the surrounding mountain ranges.  Thanks to our host Darren Cooke for showing us around.

Even during a historically dry season, The short par 3 11th at Canmore Golf & Curling Club is still a stunner.

Even during a historically dry season, The short par 3 11th at Canmore Golf & Curling Club is still a stunner.

Local golfing stud,  Jack Stoliker  would come out of the gates hot and birdie the 1st two holes.

Local golfing stud, Jack Stoliker would come out of the gates hot and birdie the 1st two holes.

The view from above the 10th hole at Canmore.  

The view from above the 10th hole at Canmore.  

One of the most compelling parts about the Canadian Rockies is that there is a lot more than golf in the area.  Even though our trip was compromised mostly of golf, the opportunities for hiking, helicoptering, kayaking, shopping, and of course, modeling, are endless.

With only one day left in the model-off competition, I decided to give Kenzie a chance to even the score on the downtown streets of Banff.  Naturally, K-Dawg rose to the challenge and pulled off some sort of movie shopping montage.  It is important to note that the original score called for Billy Idol's Dancing with Myself.  However, Billy Idol did not return our requests for copyright approval.  With the score even at 2-2, a return trip is in order.