Keiser’s next chapter
Every time Mike Keiser sets out to create a
golf destination, he aims to make it as good as
Royal Dornoch Golf Club, the ageless Scottish
venue that inspired him to create the acclaimed
Bandon Dunes Golf Resort.
It’s an epic challenge — Dornoch’s championship track is No. 5 on Golf Digest’s ranking
of the world’s greatest golf courses. Keiser has
managed to place a half-dozen courses on the
magazine’s coveted list, two each from Bandon
Dunes, Cabot Links and Barnbougle.
So now, with the debut of his first inland
venue in early May, let’s pose the question on
minds everywhere: How do the new courses at
Sand Valley Golf Resort in central Wisconsin
compare to the waterfront links in Oregon,
Nova Scotia and Tasmania?
“I believe the existing and envisioned golf
courses at Sand Valley will be equal to the oth-
ers we’ve done,” Keiser said. “They’re wildly
different, but I believe they’re top-100 courses.”
For the past year, reviewers have echoed
those comments. Sand Valley, located in
Nekoosa, Wis., has been hailed as “America’s
next great golf resort,” “a legit contender for the
title of best golf destination in North America”
and “as good as anything [Keiser has] done.”
Sand Valley is, however, more than just
another success story for golf’s most indis-
pensible developer. Truth be told, it really isn’t
even a Mike Keiser project.
The managing partner of the entity that’s
developing Sand Valley is Michael Keiser,
Mike’s 35-year-old son. Michael and his
younger brother, Christopher, are the entity’s
sole shareholders. The boys have been part
of the family business for years, but at Sand
Valley they’ve taken leadership positions for
the first time. The younger Keisers manage the
resort’s day-to-day operations and are primarily in control of its future.
“Dad is indispensable, and we talk every
day, but as time goes on, he has more and more
trust in my decision-making,” Michael said.
“We’re making a steady transition.”
Of course, Mike played a vital role in cre-
ating Sand Valley. He selected the architects
for the property’s golf courses — Coore &
Crenshaw for the first one, David McLay Kidd
for the second — and, crucially, he provided
his sons with a loan that will supplement other
financing they’ve secured.
“I have better credit than they do,” he
At Sand Valley Golf Resort, the latest venture of the man who created
Bandon Dunes, Mike Keiser’s sons are taking center stage. BY ROBERT J. VASILAK
Sand Valley Golf Resort
(L to R) Mike Keiser, his sons Christopher
and Michael and architect David McLay
Kidd are opening their newest project,
Sand Valley Golf Resort.