Mike Keiser, the Bandon Dunes domo, says that the architect of the second course at his new Sand Valley project in Wisconsin will come down to a competition.
Speaking exclusively to Golf.com, Keiser explained that routings have been submitted by Tom Doak, David McLay Kidd and the team of Rod Whitman/Dave Axland. Following an evaluation of all three, a winner will emerge from the bake-off.
“We’re considering all three entries equally,” Keiser said. “On November 15, I’m going to walk the routings, along with a group of advisors. After we’re done, we’re going to blind rate them. We’ll know more after the weekend.”
Doak created Pacific Dunes for Keiser’s Bandon Dunes Resort, which became the nation’s top-ranked public course. Kidd designed Bandon’s acclaimed first course, which put the remote destination on the map. Whitman, a Canadian, built Cabot Links in Nova Scotia, a recent entry into GOLF Magazine’s Top 100 Courses in the World for Keiser and co-developer Ben Cowan-Dewar. Whitman’s ties with both Pete Dye and Bill Coore go back to the early 1980s. Axland is a longtime Coore-Crenshaw associate who was instrumental in the creation of Sand Hills, Bandon Trails and Friar’s Head, among others. With design partner Dan Proctor, they created Wildhorse in Nebraska, one of the best value courses in the U.S. Axland is currently assisting Coore-Crenshaw on the new Nova Scotia project, Cabot Cliffs.
Sand Valley is situated on an enormous natural sand deposit near the town of Rome, just south of Wisconsin Rapids in the center of the state. Dunes and ridges up to 60 feet high sprawl in every direction. Plans call for lodging and four or five golf courses, a boon to a depressed economic area. Currently, Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw are progressing with the design of the first course.
“Jim Craig and Troy Russell (from the Coore-Crenshaw team) are rough grading, roughing in greensites right now,” Keiser said. “We’ll give a few of these greens a trial run before winter sets in.”
Keiser and Coore were slated to meet this past week to help determine a clubhouse location for the first course. “Bill (Coore) and I favor one site,” said Keiser “and everybody else likes the other site. We’ll see.” Kesier claims they’re set with the routing, but Coore told Golf.com that the routing could change depending on which clubhouse location is selected.
Don’t expect to play Sand Valley anytime soon, however. Keiser expects construction throughout 2015, limited preview play in 2016 and a grand opening in 2017. If the track records of Mike Kesier and Coore-Crenshaw are any indication, Sand Valley will be worth the wait.