Sand Valley resuscitates Lido Golf Club in Wisconsin
An old classic golf course – The Lido – is being resuscitated 1,000 miles from the original using a video game and GPS-guided tractors.
The Lido at Sand Valley Golf Resort in central Wisconsin is perhaps the most ambitious project ever undertaken by the Keizer family, which develops golf courses. They aim to recreate exactly the original course of Long Island, New York, right down to the positioning of the bunker, the contours of the fairway, even the directional orientation.
The only thing missing will be the Atlantic Ocean.
The original The Lido Golf Club opened in 1917 and has been considered in the same company as Royal Dornoch, Ballybunion, Pine Valley Shinnecock and National Golf Links as one of the best golf course designs in the world. The course was designed by architect CB Macdonald and featured three holes inspired by entries in a golf architecture design competition in Country Life magazine. One of the competition winners was Alister MacKenzie, considered one of the greatest golf architects of all time.
The Lido fell into disrepair during the Great Depression and closed when the land was taken over by the US Navy in World War II.
It has since become the holy grail of lost golf courses, dubbed “The Best Course You’ll Never Play” by the Golf Channel.
“It was up there in the air,” said Michael Keizer, who runs Project Wisconsin with his brother Chris.
Because the original course had to be fabricated – 2 million cubic meters of sand was brought in to fill the Long Island marshes – detailed blueprints were then filed, providing many details about the design.
Michael and Chris’ dad, Mike Keizer, who developed Bandon Dunes along the Oregon coast, had wanted to replicate the Lido after reading George Bahto’s biography on CB Macdonald, “The Evangelist of Golf.”
After consulting with Bahto, Keizer considered resuscitating him with the Old Macdonald Course at Bandon Dunes before deciding to pay that tribute to Macdonald and construction engineer Seth Raynor. A similar homage to the Lido, Ballyshear Golf Links, was designed by Gil Hanse and recently opened in Thailand at the Ban Rakat Club.
The Keiser’s idea of recreating the Lido was scrapped until Michael began looking for information about the old course that had intrigued his father.
“During COVID, I went down to one of those rabbit holes to study the Lido and convince myself that it was as good as some people had seen it and thought it was,” he said .
Peter Flory, a part-time financial consultant and golf historian, had created a detailed version of the Lido using the video game The Golf Club. Flory looked at photos and other historical information, creating a digital duplicate that turned into a replication plan.
And the Keizer family already had what they thought was the perfect place to try playtime.
Sand Valley was built on dunes that were once the bottom of a glacial lake. The terrain was good for the earthwork and shaping needed to resuscitate the Lido.
The Keizers enlisted Tom Doak and Brian Schneider to build the course to exact specifications, using GPS-guided tractors that can descend to the millimeter.
“What Tom and Brian do is they have these great routes on nice pieces of property where they don’t have to do much,” said Michael Keizer. “They have to touch every square inch here. It’s that high-intensity creative focus on every square inch.
The Lido is being built just north of Sand Valley and Mammoth Dunes, among Wisconsin’s top level courses that include Whistling Straight, Blackwolf Run, Erin Hills, and Sentryworld.
“I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say this will be one of the most anticipated new course launches in history,” said Rob Jansen, executive director of the Wisconsin State Golf Association.
The Lido will be a private course with access for guests of the complex. It will open for 13 preview holes next summer and fully open in 2023.