Mammoth Dunes – Course Profile

Mammoth Dunes
Nekoosa, Wisconsin, USA

6935 YARDS (PAR 73)
COURSE ARCHITECT: David McLay Kidd (2018)
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

“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.

Not ideal.

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.

All photos within this review are the property of Now on the Tee. The use of any photograph, in whole or in part, for any reason other than viewing them on this site, including copying and reproduction online or in print, is strictly forbidden without written consent from Now on the Tee.

The massive scale at Mammoth Dunes needs to be seen to be believed
Photo by Now on the Tee
The gorgeous aesthetics at Mammoth Dunes are on full display at the outset, as seen here on the par four opening hole
Photo by Now on the Tee
The semi-blind approach to the first green
Photo by Now on the Tee
To gain the best angle on the par four 2nd, you need to hit to the right side of the fairway, requiring a very long carry over sand
Photo by Now on the Tee
Whereas on the left hand side, you have another semi-blind approach
Photo by Now on the Tee
The lovely vista off the par five 3rd tee
Photo by Now on the Tee
The uphill approach to the 3rd green
Photo by Now on the Tee
The 207 yard, uphill par three 4th hole at Mammoth Dunes
Photo by Now on the Tee
The short and reachable par four 6th hole
Photo by Now on the Tee
The 6th has one of the most uniquely designed greens I’ve ever seen
Photo by Now on the Tee
The landing area on the par five 7th hole
Photo by Now on the Tee
Looking back down the fairway from behind the 7th green
Photo by Now on the Tee
So much width! A well-placed centerline bunker still gives the player pause on the elevated 9th tee
Photo by Now on the Tee
The par four 9th features another lovely greensite
Photo by Now on the Tee
One of the most tantalizing holes on the course is the par four 10th, which features a challenging uphill approach over a cavernous bunker
Photo by Now on the Tee
The second shot into the par five 11th hole
Photo by Now on the Tee
The par four 12th looks impossibly tight off the tee but is anything but!
Photo by Now on the Tee
The splendor of Mammoth Dunes, as seen from behind the 12th green
Photo by Now on the Tee
The visually spectacular par three 13th plays just as well as it looks, with a much longer green than you can possibly imagine
Photo by Now on the Tee
The downhill par four 14th offers another chance to drive the green from the tee, something the author accomplished by playing it well right and using the slopes to his advantage
Photo by Now on the Tee
Another very interestingly shaped green, as seen here on the par five 15th hole
Photo by Now on the Tee
Looking back down the 15th fairway from the 16th tee
Photo by Now on the Tee
The lovely par three 16th
Photo by Now on the Tee
The mid-length par four 17th hole at Mammoth Dunes
Photo by Now on the Tee
The sun starts to set as we reach the par five finishing hole at Mammoth Dunes
Photo by Now on the Tee
The short iron approach shot into the 18th hole
Photo by Now on the Tee
A closer look at the approach on the final hole, with the clubhouse and many interested bystanders taking in the action from behind the green
Photo by Now on the Tee
A late-day look at the clubhouse at the Sand Valley Golf Resort
Photo by Now on the Tee

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