Bandon Dunes 25th anniversary: Marie Simonds helps the resort give back

(Editor’s note: Bandon Dunes Golf Resort is celebrating its 25th anniversary and Golfweek Travel Editor Jason Lusk put together a comprehensive package for the occasion, complete with Q&As of pivotal people in and around the operation. To see the entire package of stories, click here.)

Marie Simonds is focused on helping the Keiser family help the people of Bandon and to support local environmental initiatives. She’s also one of the most accomplished amateur golfers at the resort. 

Simonds, now the executive director at the Bandon Dunes Charitable Foundation, spoke with Golfweek as the resort’s 25th anniversary approached.

What was your path to Bandon Dunes?

I played golf at Boise State University, and my husband, Jeff (Simonds, the assistant general manager at Bandon Dunes) and I were looking for a different experience. So he had applied to work in a number of different places, Bandon Dunes being one, and we drove all the way out here from Boise. … We get to this little town of Bandon and we’re out playing golf, and we just both fell in love with the area. That was in 2004.

I come from Seattle then moved to Boise, and I’d never lived in a smaller town – I thought Boise was quite small. Then we came here to a town of 2,500 people and I thought, OK, I can make it a couple of years here. We can do this.

There’s a deep appreciation for how incredible the golf is here, how beautiful it is, how well maintained the courses are here, and how you can play them time and time again and there’s always something new. And it’s always something fun.

Bandon Dunes
Bandon Dunes

The Bandon Dunes Charitable Foundation has expanded to include supporting environmental efforts, including work on salmon fisheries as seen above, all around the South Coast of Oregon. (Courtesy of Bandon Dunes Golf Resort)

What all does your job here entail?

I oversee the charitable giving for the Keiser family and Bandon Dunes Golf Resort.

In 2012, Bandon Preserve (the par-3 course) opened, and the Keiser family dedicated all of the net proceeds from Bandon Preserve to go to community giving. I oversee that and have for about the last four years 

With the start of Shorty’s, the new 19-hole par-3 course (coming online in May of 2024), the ownership – who is incredibly generous – is dedicating net proceeds from the Shorty’s course to the community as well, so that will more than double what is available for community grants.

The focus is primarily on projects that are good for local conservation and ecology in the area, projects that support the local economy and economic development, and community-support projects in which we can just be a good community partner and be a part of the local community. 

How much has been raised through Bandon Preserve so far? 

Since 2012, it’s been just a bit over $8 million. … This is not a rich part of the state in general, so that kind of money has an outsized impact in an area like this.

How have things changed?

We were for the last twelve years called Wild Rivers Coast Alliance. With Shorty’s coming online, and after the first 25 years of the resort, we’ve grown and changed. The Keiser family has been generous in a variety of different ways. Heading into our 25th year, with the increase of funds through Shorty’s, there’s really an opportunity to sort of bring together all of their generosity in one place. 

What’s it been like for the recipients? 

There’s a huge amount of appreciation, I think. … They’re hardworking, and when they’re asking for something, they’re asking for something that they really need. We’ve made it a priority in working on behalf of the Keisers to try and leverage the funds they have made available to the community, so we partner with other funds from around the state of Oregon and elsewhere to see how we can help share the story about the needs of the local communities here and really bring in dollars in addition to the Keisers’ dollars.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek