Bandon Dunes Proposing another 27 Holes

Mike Keiser, the developer of Bandon Dunes, the destination resort on the southern Oregon coast that already contains four much-acclaimed layouts, is working with state and Coos County officials on a land swap that, if approved, would help pave the way for a new 27-hole golf course.

Keiser has pegged Gil Hanse as the architect. Keiser was impressed with Hanse's work at Applebrook GC in Pennsylvania, Boston Golf Club in Massachusetts, and the Castle Stuart course, which recently hosted the Scottish Open and received rave reviews from both the players and spectators.

The site for the new holes would be about four miles south of the resort. The proposed Bandon Muni would offer discounted green fees of approximately $25 to $35 for residents of Coos County and nearby Curry County, $45 for state residents, and the standard resort cost for everyone else, which can run as high as $275 during the peak season.

Hanse's course would augment the original Bandon Dunes designed by David McLay Kidd; Pacific Dunes by Tom Doak; Bandon Trails by Coore-Crenshaw; and Old Macdonald by Doak and Jim Urbina. A new 13-hole short course by Coore-Crenshaw is now under construction just west of Bandon Trails and will open in 2012.

For the new 27 holes to work, Keiser is working on a land swap with the state. He wants to build part of the track on a 206-acre plot in Coos County owned by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. The developer already owns land adjacent to the Bandon State Natural Area, nearly enough for an 18-hole course, but he wants state land that is now rife with gorse, an invasive species, in exchange for a portion of Bandon Dunes' oceanfront property alongside the ecologically sensitive New River. That land also contains a "foredune" which is prime nesting habitat for the threatened western snowy plover.

According to Eugene Register-Guard reporter Winston Ross, Keiser has been working quietly with Coos County officials on the proposal, and the county is interested due to its high unemployment rate; Keiser estimates the new facility could generate 80 jobs once it's up and running.

On Wednesday - despite Keiser efforts to keep the project under wraps until he went through the county and tried to convince residents that the project would be a "win-win" for all concerned parties - during a state parks commission meeting it was on the agenda. It was a discussion item right next to a much more controversial project in Curry County at the 1,750-acre Floras Lake State Natural Area, which includes the bluffs at Blacklock Point, and also involves a land swap.

For the Curry County property, four unnamed developers say they intend to build a "world-class" golf course, an RV park and visitors center, according to the Register-Guard's Ross, who attended the hearing.

As evidenced by the many people who spoke against it, that project will be much more difficult to gain public support, and Bandon Dunes officials tried to distance themselves from it. "We are not a part of the Curry County proposal," said resort general manager Hank Hickox. "It's completely separate, and we have nothing to do with that project."

Hickox also got support from Coos County officials during the meeting on Wednesday. "I just can't say how much we support this project," said Bob Main, chairman of the Coos County Board of Commissioners. "It means so much to us. We're desperate for new jobs and new economies."

Further discussions are planned.