Mammoth Success

By | July 25th, 2018

Dan RamellaMike Keiser and his family members are playing an increasingly influential role in the game of golf. And keeping their glass more than half-full in the process.

Is golf’s glass half-full, or half-empty?

Readers of the recently released Annual Golf Industry Report from the National Golf Foundation (NGF) will tell you that, despite the ongoing attrition in the number of courses available for play, the glass is half-full. This will not come as a surprise to most of you, as the NGF normally has the pom-poms out when it comes to its take on the state of the game. The report includes data on golf course supply, participation rates, retail sales, and what‘s referred to as the game’s “overall reach.”

It’s a good read and full of useful information. Spoiler alert: NGF’s favorable take on the state of the game includes the growing popularity of off-course participation at facilities including Topgolf, indoor simulators, and driving ranges. To what degree this phenomenon translates to rounds played at your course or club is open to debate.

Wet and cold weather conditions across the country this spring has caused a significant decline in rounds played, compared to last year. And on this basis alone, the glass is currently half empty for many of you who own or manage a golf course or club. This, like the weather, will change.

The silver lining to this year’s lousy weather is that the bar has been set pretty low for next year’s spring comps, which should be up nicely. So, we have that going for us.

In the real world of golf, and based on a recent trip to Nekoosa, Wis., I can tell you that Mike Keiser’s glass is half-full, if not overflowing.

Nekoosa is home to Keiser’s Sand Valley Golf Resort. I was fortunate to attend a pre-opening celebration and round of golf at Mammoth Dunes, the second of Mike’s courses at Sand Valley. The David McLay Kidd design is stunningly beautiful, and challenging—yet playable for golfers of all skill levels, and a course you will want to play time and again.

But I don’t need a second round to tell you that Mammoth Dunes will be a huge success. In fact, Sand Valley’s General Manager, Glen Murray, mentioned that the course, which had
its official opening on May 31st, is already booked solid for the remainder of the season.

In addition to Sand Valley, the Keiser world of golf includes Bandon Dunes in Oregon and Cabot Links in Inverness, Nova Scotia. These properties represent Mike’s vision for “Golf As It Was Meant To Be,” and are capably managed by the team at KemperSports.

Despite the eclectic nature of their locations, these destination golf resorts have a few things in common: the courses are all on a visually spectacular sand-based landscape; they are epically fun to play; and they are, shall I say, challenging to get to. But well worth the effort.

Golf is the attraction at a Mike Keiser property; however, the lodging, food, service, and amenities are also first-rate at each location. I don’t know the numbers, but my guess is that the majority of golfers who have traveled to one or more of Mike’s properties have been back more than once.

Within the past few weeks we learned that Keiser and Todd Warnock were given the go-ahead to build Highland Dunes—an 18-hole championship golf course, clubhouse, and related facilities on the northeast coast of Scotland. The course will be built on unique sand dunes in a relatively remote part of the country. Sound familiar?

We will take an in-depth look at Sand Valley and Mammoth Dunes in a fall issue of C&RB. Mike Keiser and his family members who are becoming more deeply involved in the business are playing an increasingly influential role in the game of golf. And keeping their glass more than half-full in the process.

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