In an open letter to the media, Mike Keiser, the owner of Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, has announced he is withdrawing his plans to build a public golf course on the southern Oregon Coast just south of the town of Bandon.
Here is his letter, in its entirety:
Seven years ago, I hired Gil Hanse, a world renowned golf course designer, to plan a destination golf course near Bandon, Oregon to be called Bandon Links. Coos and Curry county residents would play a world class golf course for greens fees as little as $10 a round. And up to 200 high school students annually would earn money by caddying, and they would be able to apply for college scholarships in association with the Western Golf Association, whose mission is to fund scholarships for young caddies. The project also included funding for gorse removal in the south coast area. Importantly, these programs would only be made possible by charging out-of-state tourists $200 to $250 per round.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the federal agency with jurisdiction over a portion of the lands which would be devoted to the project, has just advised that in keeping with federal regulations the fees charged must be commensurate with other golf courses on BLM lands, and that revenues would have to be devoted to use on the property. That eliminates the funding source for subsidizing the low local rates, for the scholarship program, and for the off-site gorse control. Additionally, recent well testing has met with disappointing results; and that in turn creates difficulties for meeting certain Oregon land use requirements which protect lands designated as farm land.
As a result of these problems, I am abandoning the Bandon Links project and will seek a site where the same programs would be viable.
This project had great promise for boosting the local economy and providing employment opportunities and job training. And, the golf experience would have rivaled that which is present at Bandon Dunes Resort 15 miles to the north. So it is with great regret that I make this announcement.
The support of Lisa Sumption, Director of Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, and the hard work of her staff in pursuit of this project is greatly appreciated. We are also thankful for the pleasant and welcoming attitude of the local staff at the BLM office in Coos Bay as we were trying to work through the federal regulatory process.
I am pleased to say that the project did meet some of our other goals. We contributed $450,000 to the acquisition of Whales Cove near Depot Bay; that parcel is now owned by the United States Fish and Game Department for public use into perpetuity. We, along with Ecotrust, facilitated the State of Oregon’s acquisition of a highly ecologically significant 357 acre parcel known as “Sand Lake” or “Beltz Farm,” one of the last remaining undeveloped estuaries on the Oregon Coast. And in keeping with our commitment to controlling gorse, we contributed $120,000 to the State of Oregon for its gorse control efforts. We had hoped for additional benefits of this project which would have included our contributions of additional lands to the state park system and of money for the acquisition of other park properties.
The termination of the Bandon Links project will have no effect on anything having to do with Bandon Dunes Golf Resort where the public will continue to experience the first class golf experience which they have come to expect there. And, my family and I continue to be devoted to the Oregon south coast area as we remain involved in projects which promote conservation, the local community, and the local economy by blending recreational and educational opportunities with ecological initiatives.
– Michael Keiser