Of the hundreds of courses Jack Nicklaus has designed around the world, none possesses as powerful a backstory and as important a mission as the layout he “unofficially” opened late last month at the American Dunes Golf Club in Grand Haven, Michigan.
That’s because there has never been a place in golf quite like it.
Conceived by Lt. Col. Dan Rooney, the decorated F-16 fighter pilot and PGA golf professional, American Dunes was built to be “a safe haven and tribute to the military” as well as a top-notch retreat with a course routed among sand dunes just off the east shore of Lake Michigan. The facility also will serve as a source of funding for Folds of Honor, another Rooney endeavor that provides educational scholarships to spouses and children of America’s deceased and disabled service members. All profits from the club will go to the foundation.
Rooney also hopes American Dunes will raise awareness of Folds of Honor, which in its 13 years has meted out $130 million to 28,000 scholarship recipients.
Finally, Rooney sees the course as a commemoration of the founding of Folds of Honor. It was on a trip there in 2007 – when the course was owned by his parents and called Grand Haven Golf Club – that the idea for that organization was born.
“With American Dunes, we have preserved for generations the birthplace of Folds of Honor as we have created something that will help us help more people,” said the veteran of three combat tours in Iraq. “I also see it making a spiritual game even more spiritual.”
As for the official opening, Rooney says that will not come until May 3.
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