Mike Keiser To Develop Sand Valley in Wisconsin
By Torleif Sorenson on 1/10/14

Mike Keiser's newest "dream golf" experience will happen at this site in central Wisconsin.

Even if you haven't heard of greeting card magnate Mike Keiser, you're probably familiar with some of his work in golf. Keiser is the man who dreamed, directed, and developed Bandon Dunes Golf Resort on the southwest Oregon coast. He has also developed the Cabot Links course in Nova Scotia, with a second course (Cabot Cliffs) under construction just a few miles away.

Now, the modern-day "Johnny Appleseed" of golf will build in Wisconsin:
"I have purchased the land and The Founders and I have decided to build the first of four golf courses at Sand Valley. The first course will be designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw (Bandon Trails, Cabot Cliffs). Design work will begin as soon as the snow melts and we plan to be open for play in Spring 2016.

"With Cabot Cliffs underway and Gil Hanse and I working on Bandon Links, I really tried to resist this project, but within 30 minutes of being on site, I was hooked. It is a thrilling dunescape — a cross between Pine Valley and Sand Hills."
As Gary D'Amato of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports, Coore and Crenshaw will route the first course over portions of the 1,500-acre parcel Keiser and his co-investors purchased in mid-December. The two "retro-traditionalist" architects will keep in mind that Keiser may eventually want to develop as many as three or four additional courses at Sand Valley.

The Wausau Daily Herald has reported that The Oliphant Companies of Madison, Wisconsin will construct the course, near the towns of Nekoosa and Rome, south of Wisconsin Rapids.

Unlike the very private Sand Hills in Nebraska, Sand Valley is envisioned to be a public-access resort complex. Given its location within a four-hour drive of Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Chicago, and Milwaukee, Sand Valley could potentially draw more golfers than the comparatively remote Bandon Dunes.

And in contrast to most real estate-driven golf developments of the 1990s, Keiser — as usual — is emphasizing quality over quantity. In an interview with Golfweek's Martin Kaufmann, Keiser said:
"We've seen Bandon bounce back and beyond. Our dream is that if we build something good enough, people will have fun playing and will want to come. There will always be demand from golf enthusiasts, golf purists.

"A lot of golf that's been hurting the past couple of years is all real estate driven, but the pure golf enthusiasts will still go to the ends of the earth to find something great, to find something unique and often to find something new."
Given that central Wisconsin is far from the ends of the earth, this writer and golf architecture enthusiast fully expects that Keiser, Coore, and Crenshaw's latest project will be exceptionally popular — and something truly special. And when Keiser said he really tried to resist getting involved in another project, I believe him. But Keiser, like most successful business entrepreneurs, knows that if you want something done well, you sometimes have to just do it yourself.

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Image via Craig Haltom

[ comments ]
GBogey says:
So there's Brandon Dunes, Priarie Dunes, Cabot Links, Streamsong, and soon to be Cabot cliffs and Sand Valley - these are all big new resorts in addition to all the older ones - Pebble Beach, Bay Hill, etc. All sound wonderful and all sound like they are chasing the same high end customer, so I'm expecting an implosion in a few years.
windowsurfer says:
What great news. Keiser is unique and a special person. Golf is lucky to have him. Coore + Crenshaw are, by all accounts, brilliant and the perfect implement for Keiser. While Bandon Dunes is not cheap, it's a far cry from the uber-exclsuive Sand Hills, Pebble, Augusta, etc. meant for the wealthy and connected only. The muni being built in Bandon recalls the original village courses overseas, where the golf course was a proud, shared resource - not something just for people from "away" to enjoy. Keiser courses are purposefully less gas-water-labor-chemical intensive and if we golfers allow it, could go dormant (and brown) in summer and still play just as well.

My goal is to play all the Mike Keiser courses - I've notched Trails and Pacific Dunes so far - and if he stays a course or two ahead, that suits me fine.
joe jones says:
That area of Wisconsin should be ripe for this project. Wisconsin has many great golf courses . Two more by Coore-Crenshaw would be a welcome addition. Build them and they will come.
Torleif Sorenson says:
Joe, you're absolutely correct. Factor in the links-flavored Erin Hills outside Milwaukee, and Herb Kohler's resort courses (Blackwolf Run and Whistling Straits) north of there, and it is obvious that Wisconsin really is awash in exceptionally high-quality, critically-acclaimed, public-access courses.

Too bad us Minnesotans have to go "behind the Cheddar Curtain" to get at them...   :-P
joe jones says:
Tor. As a Badger graduate I feel for you. I had the wonderful opportunity to spend one December in Hibbing (it just seemed like one year). I thought I was a warm blooded individual but your cold brought me to my knees. Both Mn. & Wi. have wonderful people, great golf courses but a golf season that is too damn short.
joe jones says:
By the way. I would include Lawsonia @ Green Lake and Sentry World as tracks that anyone wood enjoy.
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