Sand Valley Golf Resort in the town of Rome opened May 1 for Community Day, ahead of its public grand opening on May 2. Residents gathered at Craig’s Porch, a restaurant and bar that overlooks the first hole of golf, for the event. Tyler Rickenbach/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
The event was held ahead of the public grand opening on Tuesday. Residents gathered at Craig’s Porch, a restaurant and bar that overlooks the first hole of golf, and heard from the resort’s managing partner and general manager.
Mike Keiser, one of the owners and the managing partner of Sand Valley Golf Resort, said the Rome resort is unique.
“(It has) incredible landscape,” Keiser said. “I have never seen any other place like it in the world.”
Keiser said golf is symbolic of endless opportunities, and he saw endless opportunities as well as warm hospitality in Rome.
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While each visitor came for a different reason Monday, many said they appreciated the resort’s view.
Gary Pelot, 67, of Grand Rapids said he is interested in golf and the resort, although he isn’t an “every day golfer.”
Besides the golfing, Pelot said he is interested in seeing nature, as well.
“I didn’t realize how many sand dunes we had in our area,” Pelot said.
Sand Valley will also be home to a recreational park and nature preserve, taking care of native plants to the area like the prickly pear cactus.
Ronald Zillmer, 51, is dean of transportation, agriculture, natural resources and construction at Mid-State Technical College in Wisconsin Rapids. He said he was invited to attend Community Day because of the ecological preservation at the property. Zillmer said it’s globally unique and he’s happy the public gets to see it.
“It’s more than a golf course,” Zillmer said. “It’s an ecological home run.”
The resort is the largest in central Wisconsin and is part of efforts to attract attention and tourists to Adams County and the south Wood County area, while providing local jobs. Sand Valley General Manager Glen Murray said the resort already employs about 350 people and most already live in the area. Murray said many of the almost 200 caddies are young people with an interest in golf.
Sand Valley’s sister resort, Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Oregon, opened May 2, 1999. The Oregon resort now employs about 800 men, women and youth, Murray said.
Carol Willert, 79, used to golf but said her cane has since limited her game. The Rome resident said she was interested in checking out the golf resort and it passed her expectations.
“It’s pretty awesome,” Willert said. “I didn’t expect such a high elevation or how far you can see. The view is unbelievable. I can’t imagine not wanting to golf here.”
Alexa Schultz, 36,of Plainfield was preparing for her first round of golf on the course Monday afternoon with her father, Daryl “Gabe” Gabriel, and brother, Blake Gabriel.
“I’ve never golfed a course like this and of this caliber,” Schultz said. “I’m excited for the experience.”
She said she considers herself a golfer, but her father is more of an expert. Daryl Gabriel, 66, said he was a golf coach for 26 years in Spooner and has seen a lot of good golf in his life.
“(Sand Valley) sounds awesome,” he said.
The trio joined their caddy and began their round of golf among dozens of other groups who checked out the course for the first time Monday.
The all-public golf resort opens Tuesday. Golfers can schedule a tee time at the course or learn more from an instructor. Lessons are available at $50 for 30 minutes or $90 for one hour. The resort has walking-only courses, but pull carts are available for $10 per day.
Contact reporter Caitlin Shuda: 715-424-7307 or email@example.com; on Twitter @CaitlinShuda