With a pair of courses in the Lido and Sedge Valley under various stages of development at Sand Valley, Michael and Chris Keiser continue to add to the already excellent golf offerings at their central Wisconsin resort. At the same time, they also have been looking to expand to other parts of the country. And with a recent announcement, the sons of Mike Keiser, who changed modern golf in America with the opening nearly 25 years ago of Bandon Dunes, revealed that their next move will be to Colorado, and a place they have dubbed Rodeo Dunes.
Located on what the brothers describe as “more than 2,000 acres of pure sand,” the site has all the earmarks of a classic Keiser creation, with well-contoured terrain, dunes that rise as high as 85 feet and awe-inspiring views, in this case of Colorado’s Front Range. And the initial plan is for the property to be home to a pair of links-style courses, both of which will be accessible to the golfing public. One is being designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, while the other represents the first solo effort of their longtime associate Jim Craig.
But what makes Rodeo Dunes different from previous Keisers projects, whether led by father or sons, is its proximity to a major metropolitan area, for this one is located just 50 miles northeast of Denver near the town of Roggen – and a mere 42 miles from Denver International Airport.
Jim Craig (above left), an artist rendering of Rodeo Dunes, and early planning by Craig and Michael Keiser (Click on images to enlarge).
Construction will begin this summer, with the courses expected to be ready for play in 2025. There are also plans to craft a short course and Himalayas-style putting course soon after those come on line. As for building other tracks at Rodeo Dunes, the Keisers say the property is big enough to support another four 18-hole layouts.
“The moment I set foot on this land, I knew this was the place,” said Michael Keiser, who visited the site on multiple occasions over the past four years and then settled on the designers of the first two layouts after waking the property with a number of prospective architects and then reviewing their proposed routings. “The dunes are perfect, tall and rolling with unlimited possibilities for great golf holes.
“The land requires minimal shaping. We know what kind of amazing work Bill and Ben do, and their routing is as great as you would expect from them. Jimmy Craig’s layout explores the property in a way that feels both familiar and fresh. These two courses will complement each other and be a blast to play.”
Craig is understandably excited about the project.
“It is beautiful, rumpled ground, with dunes that pop up out of nowhere,” said the 51-year-old architect, who has worked with Coore & Crenshaw since 1996 and helped create such classics for them as Old Sandwich, Friar’s Head, East Hampton Golf Club and the Sheep Ranch at Bandon Dunes. “And with our course, which we see as being whimsically fun, we will be looking to pull players’ eyes to the ground, and not up into the air.”
“We’re starting out with 18 holes. But that number could grow, which shouldn’t be a problem, because I don’t know anyone who’d complain about playing 20 holes instead of 18.” – Jim Craig
Craig most recently has been working on Coore & Crenshaw projects at McArthur Golf Club and the Chain short course at Streamsong, both in Florida.
“We’re starting out with 18 holes,” he said of his Rodeo Dunes plan. “But that number could grow, which shouldn’t be a problem, because I don’t know anyone who’d complain about playing 20 holes instead of 18.”
For the architect, a native Texan who resides in Fort Worth with his wife, Shea, the Rodeo Dunes gig is the culmination of a long life in golf. His family owned and operated a golf course when he was growing up. And he says he has been driving tractors and mowers ever since he was big enough to reach the pedals from the driver’s seat. “Before that, I was sitting in my father’s lap as he mowed the greens,” Craig said.
In time, he went to work on the course maintenance crew at Shady Oaks Country Club in Fort Worth, where Ben Hogan long hung his ivy hat. And it was then that Craig met noted shapers and course architects Dan Proctor and Dave Axland, who were renovating the bunkers at Shady Oaks. Not long after that, Craig joined Coore & Crenshaw.
To be sure, the Rodeo Dunes project is a big step for Craig. But it is an even bigger moment for the Keiser brothers, as they look to keep growing their golf enterprise. They already have hinted that more courses on that Colorado property are to follow. And they have reportedly identified sites in other parts of the States that are equally well suited for their style of destination golf.
Business certainly seems to be booming.
Top: In 2025, this property will be a piece of the completed Rodeo Dunes. Photo: Brian Krehbeil for Rodeo Dunes
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