Nekoosa, Wisconsin, USA
6935 YARDS (PAR 73)
COURSE RATING/SLOPE: 72.4/132
COURSE ARCHITECT: David McLay Kidd (2018)
COURSE WEBSITE: https://sandvalley.com/mammoth-dunes/
ROUNDS PLAYED: 1
LAST PLAYED: July 31, 2018.
LOW SCORE: 81 (+8)
– Golf Digest America’s Second 100 Greatest 2019: #145
– Golf Digest America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses 2019: #27
– Golfweek Best Modern Courses USA 2019: #28
FROM THE MAMMOTH DUNES YARDAGE GUIDE
“At the turn of the last century, one man, Mike Keiser, strove to return the game to its roots. He spent decades seeking out the most beautiful landscapes with sand as deep as one could dig, as firm as any Scottish Links and weather appealing to the wiry fescue. At Bandon Dunes he introduced a generation to Golf as it was meant to be.
At Sand Valley he has found the perfect inland site and allowed the same architects to design courses fit for this landscape. Having designed Bandon Dunes, Mike asked that I design Mammoth Dunes. These two courses share scale, width and playability. Mammoth Dunes is intended to engender confidence, reward bold, aggressive play and offer the chance of recovery.”
– David McLay Kidd, Course Architect, Mammoth Dunes
David McLay Kidd’s big break in course design came courtesy of Mike Keiser, who boldly awarded the commission to build Bandon Dunes (click link for Now on the Tee course profile) to this practically unknown 27 year old.
Fast forward twenty years and Bandon Dunes is now one of six courses at the eponymous resort on Oregon’s pacific coast and Keiser has now expanded his empire into the American Midwest, opening the Sand Valley Golf Resort in 2017.
Keiser elected to go back to the architects that made the courses at Bandon Dunes a household name, with Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw designing Sand Valley and McLay Kidd hired to build Mammoth Dunes, which would open a year later in 2018.
I had the good fortune of visiting the resort in late July 2018, only weeks after Mammoth Dunes opened to the public.
The course sits on an impossibly expansive canvas and McLay Kidd uses that to his advantage, with massive fairways, incredible ground contours and large putting surfaces, all surrounded by rugged dunes and natural blowouts.
The aesthetics are astounding and with the massive width and scale, the course is a blast to play for even the most novice of players. Conditions were close to ideal for a brand new course – the turf was firm and bouncy and most of the greens allowed running approaches.
The course has come under criticism in some quarters for being too wide and I’ll admit, as a somewhat decent player, I had trouble understanding some of the design choices, which in certain cases rewarded players for the “safe play” as opposed to taking on a tougher line.
My playing partner on this day, a long-time course rating panelist who has played every course within the top 100 in the US, was not a fan of the “wonky strategy” and neither of us were enthused by the glacial pace of play, which exceed five hours on this day.
That all said, I liked the golf course a lot more than my playing partner and I hope to venture back someday soon to see it again, once it has the chance to mature a little bit.
The course has already garnered significant acclaim. It won Golf Magazine’s Best New Course award for 2018 and sits within the top 200 courses in America on Golf Digest’s most recent 2019 ranking. It also sits a lofty 28th on Golfweek’s list of the best modern courses in America.
It’s a wonderful course to walk and caddies are certainly suggested for the first-timer, as there are a number of blind shots throughout the day.
Combine this with the enchanting short Sandbox, the resort’s original Sand Valley course and a soon-to-be built fourth course on the site, designed by Tom Doak, and you have the makings of yet another spectacularly successful golf resort from the Keiser family.
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