Fate of Bandon Muni may be decided this week; Cabot Cliffs update

By Matt GinellaMay 13, 2013, 6:09 pm

What’s the status of Bandon Muni?

“It’s no better than 50/50 that this will happen,” says Mike Keiser, owner of Bandon Dunes, the five-course resort on the Southwest Coast of Oregon.

Keiser’s admittedly frustrated. He has land, money, a vision for a lasting legacy that would continue to positively impact the locals and the local economy, and yet he’s having a hard time giving it away. He has been trying to negotiate a land swap with the Oregon State Parks Department for four years. He’s set to meet again on Wednesday, May 15, where he says he will make his final offer.

Bandon Muni

The proposed site of Bandon Muni, which would be home to a 27-hole course designed by Gil Hanse. 

Keiser covets a 250-acre gorse-chocked piece of coastal dunesland (pictured above) that’s 15 miles south of Bandon Dunes Resort. The No. 1 golf destination in the U.S., as voted by Golf Digest, consists of five courses and 85 holes. In exchange, and in his best estimation, Keiser is offering usable parkland worth four of his dollars for every one of theirs.

So what’s the problem?

“There’s a cultural divide,” says Keiser. “Not to cast aspersions, but they’re afraid.”

Keiser says state park departments aren’t in the business of trading land, especially rare coastal land, and he assumes they’re suspicious of his intentions. In a recent article in the Register-Guard, a local newspaper, writer Ron Bellamy told a story of environmental concerns, such as frogs, turtles and birds.

Keiser has always said Bandon Muni would be his philanthropic offering to a community that has afforded him the opportunity to build his dream of links golf in America. Bandon Muni would create another 80 jobs, and cater to Oregonians and locals with affordable green fees and an extensive junior caddie program.

“I see it as a $15-million gift to Coos and Curry County golfers and juniors who don’t even know they miss golf,” says Keiser.

If he can’t get the deal done on Wednesday, he says he’ll move on. “The resort will be just fine, thank you.”

If he can get the deal done, Gil Hanse, who’s building the Olympic Course in Rio, will be the architect. “If it doesn’t work, Gil will be just as disappointed,” says Keiser, who hasn’t spoken to Hanse in six months. “I’ve been laying low. There’s nothing new to report.”

Going back to 1999, with the modest opening of Bandon Dunes and a 50-room lodge, Keiser began the foundation of what has become a mecca for avid amateur golfers, with four of the top 25 public courses in the country. In doing so, he has created roughly 1,500 jobs and rescued the tenuous timber industry of Coos Bay. Not to mention the millions of dollars in donations for a local medical facility, schools, the environment and the 60-plus caddies who have gone on to earn Evans Scholarships, which consists of full college tuition to the University Oregon or Oregon State. 

“I wish I had better news to report,” says Keiser. “Previously, it seemed we were moving forward.” Admittedly, he could build Muni on the land he owns, and it could be “pretty good,” but if he could turn Hanse loose on a site like the one he wants, “it would be superlative.”

Keiser hasn’t become Keiser by building 'pretty good.'

Bandon's 'Punchbowl' seeded


Punchbowl at Bandon Dunes Resort

Keiser also told me they’ve started seeding 'Punchbowl,' the 150,000 square-foot putting course (pictured above), designed by Tom Doak and Jim Urbina. Keiser anticipates a soft opening in September and then, due to the newness of the turf, closing it again in October until the spring of 2014.

I asked Keiser if he was afraid something like the Punchbowl, which will most likely be free and a lot of fun for the competitive types with sore feet and tight hamstrings, would steal business from his other five courses on property. “I don’t fear it,” says Keiser. “If people are willing to get here, I believe the more things we can present, the better. And I mean it.”

To prove it, Keiser says he’s also considering a second par-3 course, which would be located in the dunes south of the second hole at Bandon Trails. There’s no name or specific timetable for this one, and he hasn’t decided on an architect yet, but don’t be surprised if it’s David McLay Kidd, who built the original 18 holes at Bandon Dunes.

Keiser hasn’t considered Kidd for another one of his courses until recently, after they bumped into each other twice in the past six months. Once at the grand opening of Streamsong Resort in Florida, where Keiser says Kidd admitted that in some of his recent designs, he built courses too difficult for what Keiser likes to refer to as “the retail golfer.”

More land purchased for Cabot Cliffs in Cape Breton

Cabot Cliffs

Keiser recently acquired this piece of land for the 16th hole at Cabot Cliffs. 

If Keiser is frustrated with the politics and progress of Bandon Muni, he is enjoying the opposite experience with his other budding golf destination in Nova Scotia. Cabot Links recently reopened for it’s first full year of operation, and clearing of trees continues on what will be Cabot Cliffs, built by Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw, the second course at the Canadian resort.

“It’s night and day,” says Keiser. “Nova Scotia has been wonderful to work with. I can’t believe how helpful the Canadian government has been.” He says they’ve offered interest-free loans, they’ve paid to relocate a popular bakery so it’s closer to the resort and are looking to develop a commuter airport to this remote spot in Cape Breton as close as five minutes away.

Keiser reports the recent acquisition of two pieces of land necessary to maximize the potential of Cabot Cliffs. Including one parcel of land that will be the 16th tee, which will be the launching pad to a mythical par 3, not unlike a flopped and shorter version of the 16th at Cypress Point.

More: Golf in Cape Breton at Cabot Links and Highlands Links

Another difference between Keiser’s two projects – Bandon Muni and all that is Cabot Links – is a man on the ground navigating the trenches of red tape. Ben Cowan-Dewar, Keiser’s partner at Cabot Links and Cabot Cliffs, is a Canadian who has tirelessly helped “sell” Keiser’s vision and his past successes. Prior to Cowan-Dewar, and before there was a Bandon Dunes, Keiser had Howard McKee, who died of cancer in 2007. McKee was Keiser’s man on the ground in Oregon. It was McKee who convinced Keiser that Bandon, the town, could become Bandon Dunes the destination. And it was McKee who helped sell that same vision to local politicians and reluctant environmentalists.

“In hindsight, if Howard was still here, he would’ve gotten approval for Bandon Muni by now,” says Keiser. “I haven’t sold it like I should have. I didn’t think I needed to.”

If you’ve ever been to Bandon Dunes, had a pint at McKee’s Pub, found the labyrinth tucked into the tilted trees on a cool summer evening, or played Bandon’s 16th hole as the orange sun was setting on your dreams of stopping time, McKee’s spirit lives on.

Chances are, he’ll be at Keiser’s side at the meeting on Wednesday.

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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard

On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry