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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Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.