Bill Coore began his professional design and construction career in 1972 with the firm of Pete Dye and Associates. Coore formed his own design company in 1982, completing Texas courses Rockport Country Club and Kings Crossing Golf and Country Club in Corpus Christi and Golf du Medoc in Bordeaux, France. Admiration and respect for the classic golf courses of the Golden Age of Architecture by MacKenzie, Macdonald, Maxwell, and Tillinghast inspired PGA Tour star Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore to establish the firm of Coore and Crenshaw Inc. in 1986. Together, they created the Sand Hills Golf Club in Mullen, Nebraska; Cuscowilla Golf Club in Lake Oconee, Georgia; Friars Head Golf Club in Baiting Hollow, New York; and the Plantation Course at Kapalua.

One of the very few times I worked outside the country was a decidedly memorable experience.

In the middle 1990s, I traveled to Irian Jaya, Indonesia, to build Klub Golf Rimba Irian, a golf course for Freeport MacMoRan, which was an American mining company working on one of the largest gold, silver, and copper mines in the world. Irian Jai, near the equator, was truly one of the most remote, isolated places in the world. Downed World War II-vintage aircraft, which had crashed due to heavy cloud cover, were still being discovered high on the glacier.

The mining company commissioned the course for political reasons. President Suharto, the dictator at the time, loved to play golf, as did many Indonesian government officers. The company had already created a village, with a mosque, church, theater, and schools, for its many employees.

Design associate Rod Whitman and I laughed about it at the time, but we’d been warned that the golf course site was so remote that there were still tribes in the jungle which practiced cannibalism.

“I wonder how they cook people?” Whitman joked.

One morning, after breakfast, Whitman and I went out on the site alone. We were clearing centerlines for the fairways when we were startled by four indigenous tribesmen who came out of the bushy growth right in front of us. They weren’t wearing any clothes, but they had bows and arrows, blowguns, and spears.

We froze in our tracks.

The tribesmen looked at us. We looked at them. Nobody said a word until Whitman finally uttered, “Oh, man…we’re in the pot!”

Much to our relief, the tribesman turned and moved on.