Lac Courte Oreilles Tribe Buys Pete Dye-Designed Golf Course, Seeks to Leverage Cross-Promotion With Casino

The Lac Courte Oreilles Tribe has purchased a golf course designed by Pete Dye, one of the world’s top golf architects. The Tribe put down $1.1 million for Big Fish Golf Course in Hayward, Wisconsin with two directives in mind: 1) cross-promotion and driving business to its Sevenwinds Casino, Lodge & Conference Center, and 2) job generation.

“We are telling Tribal members this is not a gold mine,” Jason Schlender, vice chairman of the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Governing Board, told the Sawyer County Record, “but if we can break even and drive more business to the casino that will be a win for the Tribe.”

The golf course sits on 173 acres of land adjoining reservation property, essentially expanded Tribal boundaries, Schlender said.

The casino will manage operations of the course. The relationship opens opportunity for promotional packages and cross-marketing.

And a Tribal-owned golf course will present opportunity for me charity tournaments in the region.

“The advantage of a Tribal-owned golf course is that we will be involved in the circuit of different Tribal fundraising events,” Schlender said. “It could be the National Indian Gaming Association or American Indian College Fund or Native American Tourism Wisconsin and Great Lakes Indian and Wildlife Commission. A lot of these inter-Tribal agencies will now consider Big Fish in their rotation or as an option for them to hold fundraiser and different events.”

When Tribal officials were evaluating the purchase, Schlender paid visits to regional Tribal casinos with golf courses — and their feedback reaffirmed the Tribe’s potential move. “We got a lot of encouragement from other Tribes,” Schlender told the Sawyer County Record.

“We assert our Tribal sovereignty by owning a golf course and making an economic impact on our neighbors here in Sawyer County,” Schlender said.  

Big Fish Golf Course’s grand re-opening is slated for May 11.