A Resort Developer Who Puts the Emphasis on Golf, Not Authentic Estate

This article is portion of our most up-to-date exclusive report on Worldwide Golf Households, about

This article is portion of our most up-to-date exclusive report on Worldwide Golf Households, about some of the top spots to stay and enjoy.


Mike Keiser started creating Bandon Dunes, a distant golfing vacation spot in Bandon, Ore., with tiny care as to the place the golfers who arrived may possibly keep soon after they played.

Bandon is surely hard to get to: It is hrs absent from any airport and a five-hour generate from Portland. But in the late 1990s, Mr. Keiser felt the time was ideal. He also experienced the resources to make it occur, having constructed a successful greeting card firm, which he bought for $250 million in 2005. And he wanted to take a look at his principle that golfers in The united states would love back links golfing — an old type of the sport, invented in Scotland, involving a extra open landscape and normally in close proximity to the water — if uncovered to it.

“I envisioned we’d have 10,000 rounds the to start with yr, which was the crack-even range,” Mr. Keiser said. “We did 24,000 that first calendar year and that fundamentally compensated for two several years of improvement.”

Even with that sort of accomplishment, Bandon needed somewhere for gamers to continue to be. Enter an early partner, Howard McKee. At Mr. McKee’s urging, Mr. Keiser created a clubhouse with 12 rooms and 4 guest cottages with unique rooms for team journeys. “It was self-funding after the first investment in 1,200 acres of land, 48 rooms and a clubhouse,” Mr. Keiser explained. “But that wouldn’t have been feasible if Howard hadn’t made me build the rooms and the clubhouse. I give him kudos for that.”

Mr. Keiser is one particular of the most thriving golfing builders of the previous three decades. From barren, coastal land in Oregon, he made a new template for the stay-and-participate in buddies’ trip. He has considering the fact that designed a few additional.

His product is the reverse of several developers who guide with true estate and healthy the golfing in around it: Mr. Keiser places the golfing classes initially, then he listens to what the local market desires. Right now his identify is spoken of among the major golfers in the same manner as top rated gamers and star architects: with reverence, a little bit of jealousy and a superior deal of amazement.

Quickly, he was growing. In 2014, he experienced opened Cabot Inbound links on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, and has just lately begun development on Cabot St. Lucia in the Caribbean, both with an exterior lover, Ben Cowan-Dewar. In in between, he served distribute the model to Sand Valley, a golf vacation resort his sons Michael and Chris opened in 2017 in central Wisconsin.

Sand Valley and Cabot Backlinks both of those have authentic estate developments inside of the resort. Cabot St. Lucia is dealing with a pandemic-driven increase in need for its residences — even while the vacation resort is however several years from opening.

At Bandon, nevertheless, Mr. Keiser had a functional purpose to develop momentary dwellings and not holiday vacation residences: He could not envision golfers’ successfully advertising their households on trekking out to a vacation home in coastal Oregon.

“The Bandon model is it is cold and windy and it rains a great deal,” Mr. Keiser reported. “Does that seem like a marketing hook? Experienced we tried out, we would have failed.”

Two a long time on, Bandon, with its 5 entire-length classes, two limited courses and worldwide track record, has remained a “spartan” working experience, as Mr. Keiser’s son Michael place it. But the resorts less than the Keiser brand that have appear given that Bandon have all located a way to include authentic estate with out cheapening the golf practical experience with Florida-model condos lining every fairway.

“Most developers try out to increase the volume of serious estate they can set about their golf program,” Michael Keiser reported. “We promote just ample genuine estate to gas our golf habit.”

The market for Sand Valley, not like Bandon Dunes, is one particular where by most attendees are driving a lot less than three hours to get to a element of Wisconsin regarded for vacationing. So the households can be rented and generate profits for their entrepreneurs.

“It doesn’t go in opposition to the spirit of Sand Valley,” Michael Keiser stated. “Our company adore staying in them. By selling actual estate we’re also able to give our vacation resort attendees far more of what they want, like hearth pits and screened porches.”

However, like his father, Michael Keiser mentioned he was resisting the siren connect with of income from dwelling profits. He has crafted only 15 homes at Sand Valley with eight much more in the works.

“We just want to provide more than enough to home our resort guests and fund golf classes,” he said. “I’d alternatively invest my time building excellent golf programs, and the genuine estate lets me do that.”

At Cabot Back links, which opened in 2012, serious estate has occur slower. For a long time, Mike Keiser was uninterested in partnering with the possible developer, Mr. Cowan-Dewar, then a 20-one thing Canadian golfing fanatic, and did not return his phone calls.

“A close friend persuaded me to just take his contact,” Mr. Keiser said. “The offer was land for a dollar. It was distant, but I’d presently completed that.”

“When I finally went there,” he added, “I was flabbergasted that it appeared that superior.”

Cabot marketed out its initial 19 villas in 2014, but it only not too long ago received zoning acceptance for 29 added homes at its 2nd golfing training course. Those households sold quickly and are now funding other advancements. Mr. Keiser claimed that he had by no means wanted to rush a advancement and that he experienced been lucky to have the dollars to consider his time.

Soon after surveying the initial house owners, Mr. Cowan-Dewar reported persons preferred far more non-golf features like tennis, going for walks trails and barns for physical exercise and entertaining. “As persons reside in these locations, they behave differently than if they just come for golf,” he explained. “You begin to go to the seashore. You really don’t just engage in 18 holes when you arrive, then 36 holes the next working day and 36 holes the working day immediately after that.”

Mr. Keiser did not balk at the distinct system. A single of his organization philosophies is to hear to the clients and shape the vacation resort about what they want.

“You need to have to come across the greatest residence you can, but then sit subsequent to the first tee and ask folks what they want,” Michael Keiser reported.

His father can take that method pretty much: When Cabot Hyperlinks opened, he eschewed the ceremonial 1st round, and rather sat with Mr. Cowan-Dewar on the initially tee, asking people today what they liked and disliked.

Mainly for the reason that of its geographical spot, the challenge underway in St. Lucia is the most different. There is practically nothing chilly or uncomfortable about the golfing period there and it has been a pandemic escape, which Mr. Cowan-Dewar credits for promoting out the very first 42 homes upon their release.

For each the Keiser method, the golfing training course in St. Lucia came first: 9 of 18 greens will be on the ocean and the system is remaining created by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, acclaimed architects who have also built classes at the other Keiser resorts.

The philosophy of Sand Valley has developed to be a little something different still — not a dream buddies’ journey or a Caribbean escape but a household-pleasant holiday location.

“Our goal is not spartan, it is comfort and ease,” Michael Keiser reported. “The non-golf routines are the change at Sand Valley. We bought golf heading initially but we’re incorporating other issues like a pool and a pool house and courtroom tennis.”

In addition to its two current programs at Sand Valley, a 3rd is about to be authorised. For really hard-main golfers, one of the Keiser family’s favored class architects, Tom Doak, is in the procedure of recreating the Lido, a revered Very long Island course that closed soon after World War II. The new Lido, scheduled to open up in 2023, will have just 17 homes, with 50 % of them for lease to supply 50 guest beds. Supplemental rooms may well be included higher than the club property, if necessary, he mentioned.

“Part of that secret sauce is that nimbleness and skill to flow and adapt,” Michael Keiser stated. “Just like at Bandon, my father didn’t established out to create all these programs. He set out to do what was right away in entrance of him.”

The success of Bandon begot the subsequent resorts, but that results required a wholesale reimagining of what the golfing vacation would be.

It started off with the land. Then Mr. Keiser additional architects who were little acknowledged — David McLay Kidd, now a sought-after designer, had but to style a study course when he was selected at age 26 to build the very first Bandon class, which opened in 1999. And he requested the designers to make the classes exciting, not penal as quite a few top classes experienced been.

“I’m applying a no-identify inexperienced golfing architect at a distant web page that experienced no probability of succeeding,” Mr. Keiser explained. “It was preposterous that it could do the job. But I had the income to eliminate, which was superior mainly because no financial institution would have financed it.”

That threat has been rewarded. In addition to a continuous stream of golf travellers at all the resorts, Bandon was just awarded 13 national championships from the United States Golfing Affiliation in excess of the future two many years, starting with the U.S. Junior Amateur up coming 12 months. Mr. Keiser is very pleased of having the recognition but prouder still of having the courses to do some thing that, all over again, hasn’t been done before.

When Bandon hosts the U.S. Men’s and Women’s Beginner in 2032, the tournaments will be played the exact week. “With five courses, we can have two televised golfing tournaments likely on at the very same time,” he reported. “It will be quite vital for girls golfing. I’m very proud of that. Which is the immediate consequence of obtaining more than enough golf programs.”