Keiser to Proceed with Golf Resort in Wisconsin

It's official: Mike Keiser has completed the purchase of land in Wisconsin that paves the way for the development of a new golf resort. The Bandon Dunes developer confirmed the property acquisition on January 9.

Map of the Sand Valley Site

"I have purchased the land and the founders and I have decided to build the first of four golf courses at Sand Valley," Keiser said in an email.

"The first course will be designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw (who also did Keiser's Bandon Trails in Oregon and Cabot Cliffs in Inverness, Nova Scotia). 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 (a new 27-hole municipal layout near Bandon Dunes), 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."

The property involves approximately 1,500 acres in Adams County. The site about 15 miles south of Wisconsin Rapids - a town of about 18,000 in the central part of the state - is on the bottom of a prehistoric lake that has evolved into a sand barren.

Bill Coore, Ben Crenshaw & Mike Keiser

"(Sand Valley) would make Wisconsin the best summertime place for golf in the world," Keiser told reporter Gary D'Amato of Milwaukee's Journal Sentinel in November.

The Oliphant Companies, a Madison, Wis.-based golf construction and management firm, will build the first course on a site blessed with sand 100 feet deep.

The proposal involves harvesting tens of thousands of red pine trees on the property, exposing the sand and creating courses that remind Keiser of the famed Pine Valley in New Jersey. "We're going to restore it to sand barren," Oliphant vice president Greg Haltom told D'Amato. "Globally, that's a rare ecosystem."

Green fees are expected to be in the $125-150 range. Because of the small population and the market for caddies around the Sand Valley site, Keiser - unlike many of his golf properties - will allow the use of power carts, but will encourage walking.

In November, Keiser was uncertain about the size of the development, saying that the success of the first course will determine the resort's ultimate scope. "We won't find out until the golfers come or do not come and then return or do not return," he told D'Amato.

"If they don't like Pine Valley in Wisconsin, there will be one course."