Story at a glance

  • PGA tour legend Jack Nicklaus teamed up with Air Force Reserves Lt. Col. Dan Rooney to bring a new level of patriotism to American Dunes Golf Club in Grand Haven, Mich.
  • Nicklaus, who won 18 major tournament championships over the course of his professional career, waived his customary $3-million course design fee to aid Rooney’s dream to offer golfers a uniquely patriotic experience.
  • "I don't have a lot of dreams of my own," Nicklaus said. "I enjoy helping other people's dreams."

PGA tour legend Jack Nicklaus teamed up with Air Force Reserves Lt. Cl. Dan Rooney to bring a new level of patriotism to American Dunes golf course in Grand Haven, Mich. 

Nicklaus, who won 18 major tournament championships over the course of his professional career, waived his customary $3-million course design fee to aid Rooney’s dream to offer golfers a uniquely patriotic experience, The Detroit News reported

"I don't have a lot of dreams of my own," Nicklaus said at the grand opening event, according to FOX 17. "I enjoy helping other people's dreams."

Each hole features two plaques — one commemorating Nicklaus’s major victories and another honoring a service member who gave their life for the country. 

But before making it onto the course, players will enter the new clubhouse, which takes them through a walkway featuring the boot prints of soldiers who died in service along with their stories carved into plaques on the walls. 

“You’ll actually walk in the bootprints of soldiers who have been killed in action whose families are Folds of Honor recipients,” Rooney said. “So incredibly powerful. This will be the most reverent entry experience in the world of golf, and people will really understand when you come to American Dunes why the place exists, and freedom is not free.”


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The club, formerly known as the Grand Haven Golf Club, had been in Rooney’s family for nearly 20 years. Rooney asked for Nicklaus’s help with the redesign three years ago. Each round of golf at the new American Dunes comes with a $150 price tag, but profits will go to Rooney’s Folds of Honor organization, which offers academic scholarships to the children of fallen and injured soldiers. 

“Other than sitting on the same site, it’s a complete reimagination,” Rooney said at the grand opening. “And it’s a next-level, amazing design and nothing like the bowling alley, target golf we used to play out here.”

"It just speaks to the Patriotic nerve that we've touched with people that love the game and they love their country," Rooney added. "And they want to come someplace to celebrate both of those."

At 1 p.m., golfers will stop their games while Taps is played. Players walking between the 17th and 18th holes will encounter a cross, where nickels can be left to honor the fallen. A bar designed like a fighter squadron awaits players after their rounds. 

The course opened to the public Monday and already had 11,000 tee times scheduled, according to FOX 17. 

Nicklaus said the project gave him a chance to give more to posterity than the memory of his game.

"You are taking away something that you are going to leave here long beyond my golf game, my lifetime, Dan's lifetime," Nicklaus said. "It will carry a theme and a purpose for many many years to come."


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Published on May 04, 2021