First course at new Sand Valley resort officially opens

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    Sand Valley lies around 100 miles north of the Wisconsin state capital, Madison

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    The tenth hole on the new course

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    The course’s fourteenth hole

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    The opening hole at the new Sand Valley course

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    The resort is billing the new course as a ‘heathland’ experience

Adam Lawrence
By Adam Lawrence

The first course at the new Sand Valley golf resort in central Wisconsin officially opened yesterday. 

High winds and low temperatures made life for the 150 golfers booked in for opening day a little uncomfortable, but did little to dent the excitement of those seeing the Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw designed course for the first time.

The resort, set on a remarkable 2,500 acre plot of huge, rolling sand hills and valleys around 100 miles north of the state capital Madison, could eventually feature several more courses, though developer Mike Keiser Jr declined to comment on plans beyond the second course, Mammoth Dunes. The latter is designed by David McLay Kidd’s firm, DMK Golf Design, and is currently in construction. Four holes are already grassed; others will follow in the next few weeks and the resort expects to open a preview loop later in the summer.

The resort’s main clubhouse, which contains bar, restaurant, pro shop and 17 bedrooms, will open on 1 June. It overlooks the closing hole of Mammoth Dunes.

Coore and Crenshaw’s course begins atop one of the property’s largest sandhills. It features an extremely strong set of par fives, several of which feature split fairways, and an especially good collection of one shot holes. These range from the tiny eighth, uphill over a terrifying bunker to a skyline green, to the epic seventeenth, in excess of 240 yards to a largely blind punchbowl green.

The resort is billing the course as a ‘heathland’ experience. Although it is very different from the true heathland courses of England, France and so on, there are a number of overtones of Sunningdale New about Sand Valley, and there are even examples of a plant, native to the sand barrens, that closely resembles real heather.