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Reinvented golf course and community event space open today

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Michael Keizer walked off the ninth green at The Glen Golf Park early Monday morning, having played a round of nine holes in just over an hour.

Keizer saw Theran Steindl, golf operations supervisor for Madison Parks, standing nearby.

Keizer smiled. “It’s ready,” he said.

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Steindl, in the manner of course superintendents everywhere, said there were still a couple of things that needed tweaking.

No doubt Steindl, who served as project manager for the reinvention of the nearly century-old Glenway golf course, made his adjustments before today, July 1, which marks the long-awaited official opening of The Glen Golf Park. .

I was lucky enough to play a qualifying round Monday with Keizer, his stepfather, Gerry Seizert, and Sue Shapcott, whose Change Golf Instruction partners with the city to provide instruction programs on Madison’s public courses.

Introducing Seizert and Shapcott on the first tee, Keizer noted that, as a teenager, Shapcott represented Great Britain and Ireland in the prestigious Curtis Cup team golf competition against the United States.

I remembered that Royal St. George’s, the golf club in England where the event was held, did not allow women members in 1988 and actually had a sign in the parking lot that said, “No women, no dogs.”

Shapcott chuckled and said, “Actually, it was ‘No dogs, no women.'”

The Glen Golf Park strives for the opposite. Everyone is welcome, including non-golfers. This was Keizer’s vision when he and his wife, Jocelyn, offered to finance the design and construction that turned Glenway into The Glen for an estimated $750,000. At the end of July, the park will be closed to golfers on Sunday afternoons for activities such as music, games, movie nights, and exercise classes, along with the opportunity to simply walk around and enjoy the natural beauty of the park.

The Glen Golf Park from above in drone footage.

Photo of the redesigned The Glen Golf Park by Theran Steindl.

For golfers used to Glenway, the transformation of the course is impressive. Keiser’s team has created greens, “the heart and soul of any course,” in his opinion, with the kind of size and slope you’d find on the best courses in the country, yet they won’t roll as fast.

Those greens and some new sightlines from the back tees will challenge good players. At the same time, with multiple teeing areas on each hole and few “force carries” over the hazards, they have designed a layout that is long on “playability” for all ages and talent levels. It’s a return to a concept often lost in modern course design: play is supposed to be fun.

I can remember exactly when I first heard Keizer mention Glenway. It was late winter 2020 and I was profiling him for Madison magazine, highlighting his celebrated Sand Valley golf resort that had recently opened in central Wisconsin.

The Keizers had lived in Madison since 2016 and had started a family. He and I were having lunch in Capitol Square. At the time there were rumors about a renovation of Yahara Hills and he said that he had discussed it with city officials.

What about Glenway? she told her at one point. I don’t remember her exact words, but it was something like, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could make those nine holes something special?”

Frankly, I didn’t think much of it until a year later, when I heard a rumor about Glenway and Keizer gave me an interview describing his hopes for the place, which dates back to the 1920s. George Vitense, whose name now graces a A well-known local golf facility, he was Glenway’s pro in the 1920s. Steve Caravello, a nine-time Madison City Champion, caddyed for Vitense and won junior tournaments at Glenway.

Those two names are Madison golf royalty. The Keizer name is another kind of golf royalty, revered by the countless golfers who made pilgrimages to the Bandon Dunes resort built on the remote Oregon coast by Mike Keiser, the father of Michael Keizer. It is one of the few largest golf destinations in the world. Keizer and his brother Chris took over from his father and created Sand Valley.

Our first round on Monday at The Glen was very nice. We played fast, Shapcott had a lesson to teach at nearby Odana Hills, but we didn’t rush. Keizer made a birdie putt on the first green and everyone made good shots, including me.

Keizer shared details of the design strategy, including how The Glen’s fourth green is modeled after a famous green at Royal Dornoch in Scotland, one of the best courses in the world. Although the route of the course has basically not changed, golfers familiar with Glenway will find that holes four and five bend more into “doglegs.”

Glen Golf Park will have a grand reopening on Sunday, July 10 with a 3 pm ribbon cutting, music, kite flying, a movie and a shooting contest, presumably on the massive new green adjacent to the clubhouse.

I didn’t ask, but I hope Michael and Jocelyn Keizer are there so people can say thank you.

Keizer’s father also has a new book called “The Nature of the Game”.

In the introduction, he mentions his son and points out that one of Michael Keiser’s favorite sayings, which comes from the architect Daniel Burnham, is this: “Don’t make small plans. They have no magic to stir the blood of men.

I first played Glenway about 55 years ago. It’s the course where my son, Quinn, beat me for the first time in nine holes. He shot 37. He had 9.

And now, The Glen Golf Park. It was exciting for me to play. I could not stop smiling.

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