Mike Keiser tabs David McLay Kidd to design second golf course at Sand Valley in Wisconsin

When David McLay Kidd's phone rang, the caller ID read: "Recycled Paper Greetings." He knew who it was, but would the voice on the other end of the phone be delivering good news?

Mike Keiser is the owner of Bandon Dunes and one of the former owners of Recycled Paper Greetings, a successful greeting card company he sold in 2005. And in 15 years, along the southwest coast of Oregon, Keiser has pieced together the best pure golf destination in America. Having gone on to help build a two-course destination in Tasmania and another two golf courses in Nova Scotia, Keiser has now shifted his attention to Rome, Wisconsin, where he has hired Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw to build his first course at what he's calling Sand Valley.

Keiser's now famous formula is one plus one equals three. And he clarifies by saying, "One course is a curiosity. Two courses is a destination." When he builds one course, the second course is never far behind.

Now avid amateur golfers want to know: Who will build the second course at Sand Valley?

Kidd to design second golf course at Sand Valley in Wisconsin

After an unprecedented bake-off of three architectural firms vying for the job of building the second course in Wisconsin, the curiosity hovering over the sand-based topography of the small Midwestern town is over. Keiser, who once plucked a 28-year-old Scot from relative obscurity and dropped him in Bandon, Ore. long before it would become Bandon Dunes, has gone back to Kidd 15 years later.

"Mike is like a father to me," Kidd says. "And I'm excited to be working with him again."

Keiser says the same about Kidd. Now. But after Bandon Dunes, which opened in 1999, apparently the two needed a break.

Kidd went off and built courses for a variety of other owners and developers in central Oregon, Scotland, Nicaragua and more. Meanwhile, Keiser was hiring Tom Doak for the second and fourth courses at Bandon Dunes, and the first course he built in Tasmania. Keiser hired Coore and Crenshaw for the third and fifth courses at Bandon, the second course at Tasmania and the second course in Nova Scotia. Kidd was looking like he would be "one and done" with Keiser.

"Mike made it very clear he didn't like what I was doing after I built Bandon Dunes," Kidd says. "And his opinion had an impact on me."

Within the last few years Kidd realized he had moved away from a design strategy that made him famous. More importantly, he had developed a strategy that clashed with Keiser's emphasis on what he refers to as "the retail golfer." Quite simply, Kidd's courses were too hard to get people to want to come back.

Video: Kidd, Lesnik join Morning Drive to discuss Sand Valley

Keiser calls Kidd's Gamble Sands design a "grand slam"

And at Gamble Sands, in Brewster, Wash., which opened to rave reviews earlier this year, Kidd went back to building fun.

Kidd says it was his work at Gamble Sands that earned him another chance to add to Keiser's portfolio.

"Not long after I finished Gamble Sands, Mike called and asked me to do a speaking engagement at Bandon Dunes," Kidd says. "I told him I would do it if he agreed to go play my new course in Washington."

Keiser played the course in September, and followed up with an email:

"We all thought Gamble Sands was a grand slam home run. We thought the second hole was off the charts. For whatever it's worth, I attach my hole ratings in the left column of the scorecard. Each hole gets a score of 1 to 10."

Not long after that email, Kidd was invited to tour Keiser's site at Sand Valley. Kidd went twice, and on the second visit, was asked to submit his ultimate routing on 2,000 acres not being used for the first course by Coore and Crenshaw.

Kidd spent a week on site, honing in on a portion of land that includes an 80-foot dune that is shaped like a giant V.

The other two architects invited to tour the site and submit routings were Tom Doak and Rod Whitman, who built Cabot Links, Keiser's first course in Nova Scotia.

After Keiser had three submissions, he removed the names from the plans and solicited feedback from several founding members of Sand Valley, which included Mike Davis, executive director of the USGA, and Josh Lesnik, president of Kemper Sports, which manages more than 100 courses and resorts in America, including Bandon Dunes, Streamsong and Chambers Bay.

"What's amazing is that all three architects gravitated to three different parts of the property," says Lesnik, who was also 28 when Keiser named him the original general manager of Bandon Dunes in 1999. "Mike really likes all three routings, and with almost no overlap, chances are, he'll eventually build all three."

But for now, Kidd and Keiser are together again. The prodigal son has come back with lessons learned and an appreciation for the past. Kidd will break ground in the spring, with the plan to open the second course at Sand Valley in summer 2018. (Coore and Crenshaw's course will open in summer 2017.)

Doak, who recently graded Kidd's work at the Castle Course at St. Andrews a "zero," will be busy building a second course at Forest Dunes in Roscommon, Mich. Whitman and his partner, Dave Axland, will most likely be hired by Coore and Crenshaw to help shape the first course at Sand Valley.

Keiser just continues to shape the landscape of golf and modern architecture.

Matt Ginella is Golf Advisor's Editor-at-Large and host of Golf Advisor Round Trip travel series on Golf Channel. Matt serves as resident buddy trip expert and captains a collection of VIP trips called Golf Advisor Getaways.
1 Comments
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Definitely Kidd's courses got harder, Tetherow the main case in point. They had to go back and tweak it several times to make it palatable to members and visitors. Glad to see the two "Ks" have patched it up and are working together again.

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Mike Keiser tabs David McLay Kidd to design second golf course at Sand Valley in Wisconsin