Mike Keiser terminates long-awaited Bandon Links project in Oregon

Mike Keiser's long awaited "Bandon Links" project, designed to be a muni-style golf course for locals near his Bandon Dunes Resort, has been terminated.

Keiser first announced the project seven years ago. In the time since, he's opened Old Macdonald , Bandon Preserve and the Punchbowl putting course among other amenities at his incredibly popular resort just north of the town of Bandon, Ore. He also began construction at Sand Valley and partnered with Ben Cowan-Dewar at Cabot Links , where they've now opened a resort and 36 holes .

But Bandon Links, which would have been located closer to the town and provide local rates as low as $10, caddie opportunities to locals and funding for additional gorse removal in the area, will not be one of his success stories.

At the time of the original announcement, Keiser named Gil Hanse architect of the course. In the time since, Hanse been named the Olympic architect in Brazil, redesigned the Blue Monster at Trump National Doral Miami and is also the architect of the upcoming Streamsong Black course in Florida among others.

It appears the decision by Keiser to walk from Bandon Links was made due to federal regulations. Local officials have been predominantly supportive of Keiser's efforts in the area. He released a statement this morning about it. From the release (which can be read in full below):

The Bureau of Land Management, the federal agency with jurisdiction over a portion of the lands which would be devoted to the project, has just advised that in keeping with federal regulations the fees charged must be commensurate with other golf courses on BLM lands, and that revenues would have to be devoted to use on the property. That eliminates the funding source for subsidizing the low local rates, for the scholarship program, and for the off-site gorse control. Additionally, recent well testing has met with disappointing results; and that in turn creates difficulties for meeting certain Oregon land use requirements which protect lands designated as farm land.

Matt Ginella and Geoff Shackelford reacted to the news at Bandon, as well as addressed Phil Mickelson's involvement at Torrey Pines, in this Morning Drive clip:

Video: Ginella and Shackelford react to Bandon, Torrey Pines news

Keiser does say in the release he will seek a site that is more viable to run these same programs, so stay tuned.

A win for Alberta's Kananaskis Golf Courses

There is some good news in the golf course design business today. In Canada, Score Golf is reporting that a deal to rebuild 36 holes at Kananaskis Golf Course, destroyed in 2013 floods, will move along despite some recent political opposition that threatened the deal.


The full statement by Keiser and Kemper Sports on Bandon Links can be read below:

September 30, 2015

BANDON LINKS PROJECT TO BE TERMINATED

Seven years ago, I hired Gil Hanse, a world renowned golf course designer, to plan a destination golf course near Bandon, Oregon to be called Bandon Links. Coos and Curry county residents would play a world class golf course for greens fees as little as $10 a round. And up to 200 high school students annually would earn money by caddying, and they would be able to apply for college scholarships in association with the Western Golf Association, whose mission is to fund scholarships for young caddies. The project also included funding for gorse removal in the south coast area. Importantly, these programs would only be made possible by charging out-of-state tourists $200 to $250 per round.

The Bureau of Land Management, the federal agency with jurisdiction over a portion of the lands which would be devoted to the project, has just advised that in keeping with federal regulations the fees charged must be commensurate with other golf courses on BLM lands, and that revenues would have to be devoted to use on the property. That eliminates the funding source for subsidizing the low local rates, for the scholarship program, and for the off-site gorse control. Additionally, recent well testing has met with disappointing results; and that in turn creates difficulties for meeting certain Oregon land use requirements which protect lands designated as farm land.

As a result of these problems, I am abandoning the Bandon Links project and will seek a site where the same programs would be viable.

This project had great promise for boosting the local economy and providing employment opportunities and job training. And, the golf experience would have rivaled that which is present at Bandon Dunes Resort 15 miles to the north. So it is with great regret that I make this announcement.

The support of Lisa Sumption, Director of Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, and the hard work of her staff in pursuit of this project is greatly appreciated. We are also thankful for the pleasant and welcoming attitude of the local staff at the Bureau of Land Management office in Coos Bay as we were trying to work through the federal regulatory process.

I am pleased to say that the project did meet some of our other goals. We contributed $450,000 to the acquisition of Whales Cove near Depot Bay; that parcel is now owned by the United States Fish and Game Department for public use into perpetuity. We, along with Ecotrust, facilitated the State of Oregon's acquisition of a highly ecologically significant 357 acre parcel known as "Sand Lake" or "Beltz Farm", one of the last remaining undeveloped estuaries on the Oregon Coast. And in keeping with our commitment to controlling gorse, we contributed $120,000 to the State of Oregon for its gorse control efforts. We had hoped for additional benefits of this project which would have included our contributions of additional lands to the state park system and of money for the acquisition of other park properties.

The termination of the Bandon Links project will have no effect on anything having to do with Bandon Dunes Golf Resort where the public will continue to experience the first class golf experience which they have come to expect there. And, my family and I continue to be devoted to the Oregon south coast area as we remain involved in projects which promote conservation, the local community, and the local economy by blending recreational and educational opportunities with ecological initiatives.

- Michael Keiser

Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Advisor. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours. Follow Brandon on Twitter at @BrandonTucker and on Instagram at BrandonTuckerGC.
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Mike Keiser terminates long-awaited Bandon Links project in Oregon
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