Golf Blog

Sand Valley

On May 2nd 1999, Mike Keiser opened a little golf resort called Bandon Dunes.  It was located in a remote coastal area of Oregon that was hard to get to.  Most golf experts told Mike that he was crazy for building a course in such a remote location.  But golfers came in droves to play the highly regarded David Mclay Kidd layout.  Two years later, Pacific Dunes joined the original course and then came Bandon Trails, Old Macdonald, and finally Bandon Preserve.  It is easily one of the greatest golf success stories of this generation.

After adding Cabot Cliffs to his portfolio of courses in 2016, Mike Keiser decided to open another golf resort in a remote location.  This time it's in the middle of Wisconsin, it's a little easier to get to, and its called Sand Valley.  With preview play already open on the resort's second course, Mammoth Dunes, and a par 3 course in the works, the Bandon Dunes formula that worked so well is looking to repeat itself.

 The view from "Craig's Porch"  which is named after Craig Haltom, the landowner who originally brought the land to Mike Keiser's attention.

The view from "Craig's Porch"  which is named after Craig Haltom, the landowner who originally brought the land to Mike Keiser's attention.

 The view of the clubhouse as you drive into the property.

The view of the clubhouse as you drive into the property.

Sand Valley Facts

  • The course opened to the public on May 2nd 2017, exactly 18 years to the day after Bandon Dunes opened.
  • Sand Valley is 4 hours from Chicago, 3 hours from Milwaukee, 2.5 hours from Whistling Straits, and 2.5 hours from Erin Hills
  • I drained a 40 footer on #5 for birdie and fell over attempting an overly unnecessary fist pump.
  • The course is designed for walkers only. 
  • The brisket tacos at "Craig's Porch" for $1.50 will knock your socks off
  • Ashley Mayo hit the opening tee shot at Sand Valley.  She found the fairway... she always finds the fairway.
  • Sand Valley has 53 rooms with 107 beds on property
  • The team of Coore & Crenshaw built Sand Valley and David McLay Kidd is the course architect for Mammoth Dunes.
  • Because of the name's negative connotation, the name for the par 3 course, "Quicksand" is up for review.
  • I disagree with the up for review thing.  Quicksand is an awesome name.
 Even the parking lot at Sand Valley is filled with sand.  You can see the resort's par 3 course in the top left and the 1st tee and 18th green on Mammoth Dunes on the right.

Even the parking lot at Sand Valley is filled with sand.  You can see the resort's par 3 course in the top left and the 1st tee and 18th green on Mammoth Dunes on the right.

 Sand Valley was built on top of a sand bed left behind from a glacier.

Sand Valley was built on top of a sand bed left behind from a glacier.

 The green on the par 5 4th hole

The green on the par 5 4th hole

 It's tough to make an uphill par 3 look this good.  Coore & Crenshaw  have figured things out at Sand Valley

It's tough to make an uphill par 3 look this good.  Coore & Crenshaw  have figured things out at Sand Valley

During my visit to Sand Valley Resort, I was able to play 6 holes at Mammoth Dunes and I was fortunate enough to get a tour of the other 12 while they were under construction.  For those of us outside the world of golf course construction, It's a unique experience to view a course in it's various stages of development.  I much prefer them with grass.

 The sand dune I am standing on here partially obstructs the view of the green from the tee on the par 3 16th.  Given my experience with golfer's and their reactions to blind shots, this one should spark some debate.

The sand dune I am standing on here partially obstructs the view of the green from the tee on the par 3 16th.  Given my experience with golfer's and their reactions to blind shots, this one should spark some debate.

 Basketball soon to be replaced by golf ball.  Kidd uses these basketballs to get an idea of how the green will break when finished.

Basketball soon to be replaced by golf ball.  Kidd uses these basketballs to get an idea of how the green will break when finished.

 Fresh seed at Mammoth Dunes is coming in nicely.

Fresh seed at Mammoth Dunes is coming in nicely.

 While creating Mammoth Dunes, Kidd and his team uncovered an old housing foundation.  Instead of removing it, they made a bunker out of it.  It's gnarly and awesome.

While creating Mammoth Dunes, Kidd and his team uncovered an old housing foundation.  Instead of removing it, they made a bunker out of it.  It's gnarly and awesome.

With Sand Valley Resort off and running, Wisconsin is quickly turning into one of America's go to destinations for amazing public golf.  With Whistling Straits, Blackwolf Run, Sentry World, and Erin Hills all a reasonable drive away from one another, the area is poised to see a dramatic spike in buddy trips and birdies.  I know I added a couple to the tally.

To get an idea of the courses you would like to visit, you can view all of my course photos from Wisconsin here.