The Takeaway: Coore and Crenshaw designed a course with exceptional variety and several birdie opportunities. The fairways and greens are slightly smaller and the course is a bit easier to walk than neighboring Mammoth Dunes, but both courses play like interior links similar to Streamsong. With just one water hazard on the property, you will rarely lose a ball and you are sure to have a ton of fun. Grade A
Designer: Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw in 2017
Cost: $105.00 - $225.00 (caddies available for $50 - 90 depending on experience level) Click for current rates
Phone Number: (888) 651-5539
Course Website: Official Website - Visit Sand Valley's official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - 1697 Leopold Way, Nekoosa, Wisconsin 54457 – UNITED STATES
Accolades: Ranked 4th in Wisconsin on Golf Course Gurus' Best in State list.
What to Expect: The third installment of Mike Keiser resorts after Bandon Dunes and Cabot Links, Sand Valley opened with a Coore and Crenshaw design that debuted in 2017 on a sandy site in rural Wisconsin. It is an interior links design with a similar look and feel to what you find at Streamsong in Florida. There aren’t many opportunities to lose a ball with just one water feature on the property located well right of the 9th hole. The course offers an olive branch start with a short par four where an early birdie is certainly possible, especially if you have the length to drive the green. The routing goes on an uninhibited routing that allows for great variety in hole directions, shapes, and lengths. The terrain features beautiful movement in it which allows for fun and memorable features with uphill and downhill designs for every type of par. The lack of constraints in terms of acreage or routing is what has allowed Keiser properties to do so well in the golf world; the designs are all about the golf and nothing else. In comparison to Mammoth Dunes, Sand Valley has smaller fairways to hit and requires more precision with approach shots but is certainly considered generous in terms of fairway width and green sizes. When it is time for a snack, Sand Valley has some of the most affordable options in the business with tacos you don’t want to pass on.
By the Numbers
|Royal Blue (Women)||72||3883||62.5||106|
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 9th Hole – 305 Yard Par 4 – The exciting downhill 9th hole can create a little backup on the course as someone in your group surely will want to take their chances at driving the green. 285 yards from the back tee will get you to the front edge of the green but the landing zone tightens up significantly 35 yards from the green where bunkering squeezes down the fairway. The drop from the tee will help give you some extra distance and allow the ball to land softer enroute to the green but if you swing for the fences and your slice rears its ugly head then you'll find the one water hazard on the course. If you can't muster the courage to go for the green then you are afforded plenty of fairway to layup to your favorite yardage so that you can dial in a pinseeker approach. The waves in the green can make putting a challenge if you don't hit your approach pin high, but this still stands as a fun opportunity to take a stroke back from Old Man Par.
Best Par 3: 17th Hole – 236 Yards – This hole is a brilliant rendition of a Punchbowl green and I absolutely loved it! Punchbowl greens should be approached from a long distance to act as some defense for how generous the putting surface is in accepting shots. The right side of the green is blocked from view by a large lip on the bowl while the left side features an opening to chase ball through. If you can manage to hit it anywhere in the bowl you'll be rewarded with a rollout that should feed your ball towards the most common pin locations and perhaps a chance of carding a deuce with one of the most rewarding approach shots at Sand Valley.
Best Par 4: 6th Hole – 455 Yards – The 6th is a brilliant two-shotter that has intriguing architectural elements from tee to green. The main fairway on the right features a speed slot that if negotiated properly can shorten up this hole significantly while the fairway on the left terminates into a waste bunker 270 yards from the back tee. Approach shots from the right will have to fly the sand fronting the green while shots from the left fairway are afforded a tightly mown entryway that can be attacked from the air or utilizing the ground game. The unique green features two levels to consider; the raised front and the lowered back. The front portion of the green is reminiscent of Pinehurst No.2 with sloping edges on every side that are quick to repel approach shots that aren't spot on while the smaller portion of the green in the back is a sloping bowl with balls releasing to the lower right side. Pin placements in the back third must be approached with a club that will initially land on the higher portion of the green and feed to the back since flying a ball all the way to flag depth will likely result in the ball releasing out the back and leaving you with a tough chip off short grass back towards the hole. It really is brilliant architecture that is loaded with a variety of options and strategies to employ.
Best Par 5: 18th Hole – 523 Yards – The closing hole at Sand Valley is a top shelf offering with a risk/reward element to consider. Players taking on the risk element will need to put a good poke on their drive but will need to contend with the portion of the fairway that tightens up as a bunker rests on the right 260 yards out and a center bunker 205 yards from the green. On the approach shot players will find the right half of the fairway disappearing and being replaced with a waste bunker that must be carried to reach the green in two. The putting surface looks like a round edged diamond with the front right quadrant being removed and replaced with a bunker to unveil one of the most uniquely shaped greens you'll ever encounter. If you have the discipline to stay up the left side you'll be rewarded with a sloping hill that will work balls onto the putting surface, but go too far left and you'll find a waste area or bunker with a testy chip back down the hill with a steep bunker carved out of the green staring back at you. If you are playing this as a three shot hole you don't even need driver off the tee in order to stay in the fattest part of the fairway before laying up somewhere in the 100 - 150 yard range from the green that will get you past the center bunkering and provide a good angle for your third shot. The hole steadily climbs uphill the entire way home which needs to be taken into account whenever calculating your yardage and executing your shots. Coore and Crenshaw did a brilliant job with this finishing hole where a full array of scores can present themselves with a unique route to that score each time around.
Birdie Time: 8th Hole – 136 Yard Par 3 – In the same vein as the 11th at Shinnecock, this short uphill one-shotter is a fun little hole to play. The green is 42 yards long and only half as wide with holes locations in the back being out of view from the tee, although you'll have no problem seeing the flagstick. The front quarter of the green offers a tiny bowl to hit in and will feed balls toward the hole location if you catch an edge of the bowl and potentially yield an ace. The green slopes from left to right and with a short club in your hand you should have a great chance of going pinseeking and have your ball finish close.
Bogey Beware: 4th Hole – 593 Yard Par 5 – The longest hole at the entire Sand Valley Resort . . . and it plays uphill. The slithering fairway is laced on both sides by waste area sand speckled with foliage to create additional heartache is you leave the fairway. The tightest part of the fairway occurs 215 yards from the green which you should be clearing on your second shot enroute to a landing spot to attack the green from. The steep approach plays a good club longer than the yardage shows and balls that come up short can zip right back down the fairway. Players that think they can save themselves by going long will find themselves in a bunker with a dreaded downhill shot to a green sloping away from them. This is just a long hole that will be quick to punish anyone with a lapse in concentration on the climb home.