in 2017, I made my first visit to Sand Valley Resort Golf Resort. In the fall of 2018, The RGV Tour was coming in hot on a return visit. I was very much looking forward to this leg of the trip as all 3 courses would be open for play.
Coore and Crenshaw have designed 2 of the courses at Sand Valley, the original Sand Valley course and the par 3, Sandbox course. In 2018, David McLay Kidd added Mammoth Dunes to the Sand Valley roster. All 3 are highly regarded in the golf world and I was looking to confirm the previous reports.
The tour started out where most trips to Sand Valley begin, at Craig’s porch. Named after the original land owner, the view from the property’s high point immediately sets the stage for your time at Sand Valley.
Joining the golf party at Sand Valley was the Program Director at The First Tee of Greater Seattle, Evan Johnsen, and Paul Quella, a spirited RGV Tour golfer. Paul would calmly birdie the first hole and we were on our way hunting for more birdies. We would find them in handfuls and there was a 69 watch on the board for a hot second. However, the putters would cool and we would settle for a glorious walk on a crisp fall day.
Sand Valley is carved through the sand of an old glacial lakebed and the course plays fast and firm. With this terrain, drainage is never an issue and the course has a very natural feel to it. Make sure that your 60 yard bunker shot is dialed in because at Sand Valley you will find plenty of them.
After our round on the Sand Valley course, Paul had a special treat for the Tour Commissioner… an RGV Tour care package. It is labeled to open only in case of a golf emergency or hardship. Since there has been no golf emergencies since I left Sand Valley, I have no idea what is actually in the box.
It is just sitting here in the RGV as I type this. Is it a boxful of Snickers Bars? Is it a secret tracking mechanism? Is it filled with bees!?! Let’s just hope it isn’t a Smirnoff Ice.
Next up on the Sand Valley agenda was the Sand Box. But before we took to the course, we decided to kick things off with some rooftop range shenanigans. Naturally, I shanked one way right that barely missed the resort lodges.
We had 7 of us up there really grooving our swings and honing our rooftop shots. Fun is a premium on The RGV Tour and at Sand Valley.
With yardages ranging from 50 to 130, the course only requires a few clubs and still manages to be the most fun place on the entire property. Each green has plenty of interesting features that make playing the course multiple times fresh and enjoyable. For the golf architecture nerds, you have a biarritz green, a road hole, and a double plateau green.
Sand Valley also gives you the option to rent some hickory clubs to really enhance the experience. It is as beautiful as it is fun and I will just let the pictures do the rest of the explaining.
With one final course to explore, we headed out to Mammoth Dunes. Named after the size and scale of the property, the course is a ton of fun to play. The massive dunes are matched by the course’s expansive fairways which allows the golfer to get into good position off of the tee more often than not. The course may look difficult, but most of the fairways and green sites provide options for fortunate bounces and there are plenty of spots to use the terrain to your advantage. For those that have played Gamble Sands, I found it to be similar, but the scale is larger and more challenging in comparison.
As Evan and I walked down the first fairway on Mammoth Dunes, a shadowy figure hustled to join up with us. It was Matt from Chicago! He had made the 2+ hour drive to join The RGV Tour. He was an instant legend in my book. This twosome had turned into a full out golf party!
While building Mammoth Dunes, the crew would uncover a foundation from an old building and turn it into a bunker. Like a true golf idiot, I threw one in there and tried to shank it off the stone for some sort of trick shot entertainment scenario.
It also must be noted that the food at Sand Valley is very good. Since Sand Valley is in a remote location, most of the ingredients are locally sourced. I only have one recommendation…. cheese curds.
As far as accommodations go, the resort is growing fast and all of the cottages are top notch. We stayed in the Wisconsin Suite and felt like kings. We even got a chance to record episode 26 of the RGV Tour podcast in the Mammoth Suite and it was unreal.
The 2 images below are particularly interesting as they were taken 14 months apart from my visit in 2017 and 2018. I like the one with grass better. You can really see how those trees have grown!
In one of my favorite moments on tour, I managed to make an eagle 2 on the deliciously good 6th hole. In an ode to Mackenzie’s 7th hole at Crystal Downs, this short par 4 features a boomerang green. At just over 300 yards, It is a drivable par 4 and I took full advantage.
Is the celebration excessive? Yes. Was it necessary? Yes. Should you visit Sand Valley and create your own memories? Yes.