Developer Mike Keiser Earns GWAA’s Richardson Honor; Luke Donald Voted Jim Murray Award Winner

By Jeff Babineau, GWAA

ORLANDO, Florida (March 4, 2024) – Mike Keiser’s hunch to incorporate links golf into the sandy dunes of the barren Oregon coast more than two decades ago sparked a modern resurgence in American golf. It was a gamble that paid off not only for Keiser, but also for many golfers who carry his passion for the game and don’t mind traveling to experience it.

Keiser is a visionary who has had a hand in building a number of popular new “must-play” courses. For his “outstanding contribution to golf,” he has been recognized with the Golf Writers of America’s 2023 William D. Richardson Award.

Englishman Luke Donald is a visionary, too. A man who held the top perch in the Official World Golf Ranking for 40 weeks not only took over a young, unproven European squad that would take on the United States in the 44th Ryder Cup, but he led his side to a resounding home victory in Italy. Donald’s words to describe the achievement, as usual, were filled with class and eloquence.

Donald will receive the GWAA’s 2023 Jim Murray Award, given to a golfer “for or his/her cooperation, quotability and accommodation to the media, and for reflecting the most positive aspects of the working relationship between athlete and journalist.”

Keiser and Donald will join several other GWAA award recipients on Wednesday, April 10, at the 50th Annual ISPS Handa GWAA Dinner, to be held at the Columbia County Performing Arts Center in Evans, Georgia, on the eve of the 88th Masters.

Keiser was a passionate amateur golfer wrapping up a very successful business career. He loved his experiences upon some of the most storied links of the world so much that, when he sold his greeting card business for a reported $250 million, he decided to take a gamble. He had a feeling that American golfers just like him would enjoy a links experience a little closer to home.

Nonetheless, the location (Bandon, Oregon) that Keiser chose to build his first links course, Bandon Dunes, was remote – a five-hour drive from Portland. And to compound the business challenge ahead of him, Keiser hired a then-little-known architect (David McLay Kidd) to design his course.

“It was ridiculous that it could work,” Keiser told The New York Times. “But I had the money to lose, which is good, because no bank would have financed it.”

Keiser had a goal to do 10,000 rounds, the break-even number, in his first year of operation; Bandon Dunes would do 24,000 rounds, which allowed Keiser and his team to push forward with more golf. Pacific Dunes, Bandon Trails, Old Macdonald and Sheep Ranch all followed. The resort now features five full-length courses and two shorter courses; Bandon has become an aspirational destination to anyone who ever has sat down to plan a buddy trip.

Because of high demand, two more courses at Bandon are in the works. Keiser also has been involved in several other successful properties, among them Sand Valley (Wisconsin), Dunes Club (New Buffalo, Michigan) and Cabot Links (Nova Scotia).

“I entered the golf business with a hunch that American golfers would fall in love with links golf as much as I had,” Keiser said when told he had won the Richardson Award, named for the longtime New York Times writer who was a co-founder of the GWAA. “This year, Bandon Dunes will celebrate its 25-year anniversary, and I believe my hunch was correct.”

Keiser garnered 41.3 percent of the GWAA vote to beat out World Golf Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam, a winner of 72 LPGA titles and force behind the Annika Foundation, and architect Rees Jones, who has been involved in updating several major championship venues to bring them in line with the modern power game.

Keiser joins past Richardson Award winners such as Bing Crosby, Richard Tufts, Francis Ouimet, Bob Jones, Walter Hagen, Arnold Palmer, Byron Nelson, Kathy Whitworth, Ben Crenshaw, Tom Watson, Peggy Kirk Bell, Nancy Lopez, Karsten Solheim, Doc Giffin, Dottie Pepper and Tim Finchem.

Donald’s sound relations with members of the media in America trace back to his college days at Northwestern, where he won an NCAA individual title before embarking on a successful professional career.

When Donald rose to World No. 1 in 2011-12, the demands upon him, and upon his time, increased greatly. Donald showed ample patience and a high level of thoughtfulness when answering everything asked of him.

Donald took on the Ryder Cup captaincy after Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, who initially was named to the job, joined LIV Golf. Donald, who played on four winning teams for Europe, took on a team that was coming off a historic loss on U.S. soil in 2021. He prepared his players for every small detail as to what they would face, and instilled a deep confidence in his players that would galvanize the team.

Europe swept the opening foursomes session and went on to triumph, 16.5 to 11.5. Donald heaped high praise on his players but earned high grades for his leadership. 

“Luke played a bit on the fact you’re not just playing for the guys in the team; you’re playing for your wives, your families, support staff, coaches, the fans, and I do think that’s really powerful,” said Europe’s Matt Fitzpatrick.

The Jim Murray Award is named for the late columnist of the Los Angeles Times, a Pulitzer Prize winner known for his wit, humor and deft writing touch. Donald earned 47 percent of the vote, defeating fellow finalists Mark O’Meara and Brittany Lincicome.

Past winners of the Murray Award include: Nick Price, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Nancy Lopez, Gary Player, Juli Inkster, Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell, Davis Love III, Ernie Els, Adam Scott and Peter Jacobsen.

In Italy last fall, Donald was humble in victory, but also able to express how proud he was of his team. How impressive was his captaincy? Donald has been asked to captain Europe again when the Ryder Cup visits Bethpage Black in 2025. Being honest, being candid, is something Donald always has delivered. It comes naturally to the five-time PGA Tour winner, who also owns eight international titles.

“I’ve always tried to be authentic,” Donald said. “I always tried to be myself. I wanted to make myself available as much as possible because I felt that was part of our job to explain our story and give some insight into what was going on with our game, or just the game in general, so that the media could share it with the fans.”

This year’s GWAA Dinner also will honor 2023 Players of the Year Jon RahmLilia Vu and Steve Stricker; Bartlett Award winner Jim Furyk; Hogan Award winner Gary Woodland; player/broadcaster Judy Rankin, who will be bestowed the PGA of America’s Lifetime Achievement Award in Journalism; and longtime Golf Digest photographer Dom Furore, the PGA’s Lifetime Achievement honoree in Photojournalism.

For more information: Jeff Babineau (, 407 496-4956)