Coore and Ben Crenshaw’s Sand Valley course at the Sand Valley Golf
Resort hardly had time to bed in before a second 18-hole layout
appeared on the property in 2018. Owner Mike Keiser, who twenty years
earlier appointed David McLay Kidd to design the first course at Bandon Dunes, hired the same architect to set out the Mammoth Dunes
course within this enormous 1,700-acre site.
It’s a big course (playing to a par of 73 with five long par five holes) that’s built on a massive scale with an overall design philosophy of bringing fun back to playing the game. Fairways are unfeasibly wide, some measuring as much as 120 yards across, offering multiple paths from tee to green on many of the holes. Of massive importance, protecting par – something the architect had been criticized for on other projects – isn’t an issue here.
Building on the success of a recent development at Gamble Sands in Washington, where playability was an overriding consideration, McLay Kidd has constructed a course that allows golfers to play into greens from a multitude of angles, without paying a heavy penalty for having gone too far right or left off the tee. Essentially, looking back towards the future, the best aspects of the original design at Bandon Dunes have been brought into play at Mammoth Dunes.
Highlight holes include the short par four 6th (played to a boomerang-shaped green that was inspired by the half-moon putting surface on the 7th hole at Crystal Downs), the par three 13th, (where the green sits at an offset angle between a large sandy waste area and tree-covered ridge), and the short par four 14th, which was actually built to the design of the winning contestant in an “Armchair Architect Challenge” organized by a golf magazine.
Adam Lawrence, editor of Golf Course Architecture had this to say about the course: “Mammoth Dunes is huge. It occupies 500 acres of land and has 107 acres of maintained grass. The dune ridge which forms the dominant feature of the property is close on 100 feet high (this explains why the course’s footprint is so large). And, visually, it is simply off the charts. I do not believe I have ever seen a larger-looking golf course. Even standing on the first tee, one is simply blown away by the scale.”
The last word belongs to David McLay Kidd: “There was a lot of effort to bring this commercial timber forest back to this pine-oaks savannah that you're seeing now. And it's the latest groundwork in Mike Keiser's master plan for a bigger project to create a pine barrens resort that spreads out in every direction. I'm just thrilled that my team had a chance to be a part of this, and it's fun to see how Sand Valley has evolved in the past two years.”
There are some big differences between Mammoth Dunes and Sand Valley. Sand Valley begins and ends at the same high point while Mammoth Dunes begins at the back of a putting green and returns near the clubhouse at the finish. Mammoth Dunes has wider fairways. The green complexes are very different. The green surfaces on Mammoth Dunes have more undulating green surfaces along with more tilt to them. The greens also looked to be slightly larger at Mammoth Dunes. More often the green complexes at Mammoth Dunes allow the option of running a ball onto the green or playing a bump-and-run shot. The greens at Mammoth Dunes often have banks to them. Finally, there is more land movement at Mammoth Dunes creating better vistas from the tee. While Sand Valley is attractive, Mammoth Dunes at times is stunning.
Both Sand Valley and Mammoth Dunes share a wonderful routing that takes prime advantage of the land movement. I give David McLay Kidd high praise for a routing that had to incorporate and traverse a high ridge that runs through the property. With the exception of one hole, I think he did it beautifully. The holes go in every direction in order to work below or over the ridge that is nearly 100 feet high. To add to the drama of the routing, there is a fair amount of land movement in the fairways with ripples, waves, and knobs.
I did not see many times where one side of the fairway was preferred over the other side. This is where I differ from other reviewers. Perhaps it is more of a factor for players who can hit the ball longer than I can. There can be blind or semi-blind shots into the green, which is a design feature that I favor as long as it is not overdone.
I have heard from some of the longer/better players than I know that they prefer Sand Valley over Mammoth Dunes because Sand Valley offers more of a challenge. Some of these players have told me they would not go back to Mammoth Dunes or if they did a three day trip they would play Sand Valley three-four times and Mammoth Dunes only once. I can see their point of view. At times one wonders whether they are playing a golf course or having a “carnival-like” experience. Yet I would play each the same number of times on a visit because Mammoth Dunes is the more visually appealing course as well as it is slightly more fun. While it does not quite have the consistency of quality as Sand Valley, one can overlook the weaker holes quickly because the next hole is generally good. In addition, I prefer a course with more interesting green complexes and the surfaces on Mammoth Dunes are a higher challenge yet offer more options as to how to play them. One negative against Mammoth Dunes is an overuse of central bunkers.
From the Black tees, the course is a par 73 and is 6988 yards rated 72.4/132. The Orange tees are 6587 yards, rated 70.5/124. Thre are four sets of lesser tees all the way down to 4055 yards along with four sets of combination tees. Much like Sand Valley, having this many options for tees is a wonderful idea. There really is a tee for players of all abilities. For the longer hitters, there is room to go back further and make their own tees adding as much as another 300 yards.
1. Par 4 – 413/394 The first hole at Mammoth Dunes is a much better starting hole than Sand Valley’s even if it can result in a blind shot to the green if one finds the left side of the fairway. The right side is the preferred side. Having a blind shot does not normally bother me, but this one is a bit different as one has to guess a bit as to how far one’s ball will run out over the mound that fronts most of the green. It looks as though one should be able to get to the green just by clearing the mound but that is not the case. I really liked the novelty of teeing off at the end of the putting green in front of the clubhouse/restaurant/pro shop/lodging. The mound on the left side has a long bunker about 60 yards from the green along with another long bunker on the front left elbow of the green. The green has a higher left side with two smaller mounds on the right side. It is an attractive hole as the fairways has several ripples and smaller swales in it. I think it is one of the best starting holes at a Mike Keiser resort.
2. Par 4 – 410/406. From a slightly elevated tee a long waste are cuts diagonally to the right forcing one to a longer carry because the left side has sand that comes into play 210 yards off the tee. This sand eats into the left side more and more the closer it gets to the green almost cutting in front of the entirety of the green. A central bunker 260-265 yards off the tee is another reason to go down the right side even if the carry is longer. The green has a bank on the right side with two tiers at the back. It is a very undulated, large green at nearly 50 yards but one can run a ball onto it. While this hole does have the drama of the sharply uphill approach shot on Sand Valley’s second, it is a much more visually attractive hole.
3. Par 5 – 518/489. The first par 5 plays out to the right, then back to the left before a final short turn to the right for those requiring three shots. Sand is down the entirety of the left side with more room on the right. However the left side provides both a shorter route and the better view of the green for those going for it in two shots. At the final turn the fairway is still generous, but appears narrower than it is due to the hole working to the left and sand on both sides. About 50 yards in front of another large green is another center bunker that is deep. The green is raised. There is a substantial fall-off of the left side although there is short grass for a chance to recover. The right side of the green has a large mound in front that disguises the distance a bit. One should trust the yardage the caddie provides.
4. Par 3 – 207/181. This green is nearly 60 yards in length which makes it appear thinner than it is. Once again, Mr. Kidd has a central bunker this time at the front left of the green. The hole plays slightly uphill adding to the yardage. Missing left or right will likely mean one finds sand. The green is thinner at the back half. It is an okay par 3.
5. Par 4 – 456/424. The hole plays downhill with ample room down the left side. There is a small indentation of sand on the right side around 200 yards off the tee that if one gets in it they are likely not to be able to reach the green with their second. If in this area of the bunker, it is a blind shot that must be played out to the right as the sand on the left side is angled back into the fairway beginning around 130 yards from the green. This is an excellent green complex with the bunker on the right front of the green cutting into it. The green has fall-offs at each corner but a flattish middle. This is a nice hole.
6. Par 4 – 344/308. I was told about this hole due to its boomerang green. The hole is short and one has to be very precise. A smart play is to lay back of a pot bunker 240 yards off the tee on the left of the fairway although this is almost the middle of the fairway from the tee. Sand creeps in from the right near this bunker creating a narrow gap which then widens again after the bunker. A pin can be almost hidden for the approach shot given the mound fronting the middle right of the green. The back of the green is banked about 5-6 feet creating a backstop that can propel one’s ball in any direction. The green has a sharper fall-off on its far right side. I felt the hole to be too quirky due to the size of the backstop.
7. Par 5 – 560/524. This is a really nice par 5, possibly the best on the golf course. The fairway is very generous and works a bit to the right. The hole plays uphill. There are two big dangers for the second shot which is a wide cross bunker coming in diagonally from the left from 150-130 yards from the green. This bunker is also deep. The sand on the left side all the way to the green is about 5-6 feet below the level of the fairway. For bigger hitters who can carry the cross bunker, there is a central bunker about 50 yards from the green. The green is over 60 yards long, but thin. There are fall-offs on all sides of the green but into short grass. The middle right of the green has a mound. I really liked how this hole played against the side of higher ground on the left with beautiful trees.
8. Par 3 – 198/175. Some refer to this as an island green and it looks it from the tee box. However, both the front, left and back of the green offer short grass. However, to get to this green one has a forced carry over sand unless they catch the front left half. For those trying to play to the left side, Mr. Kidd has a bunker creeping from the left that looks like a finger and it is fairly deep. The green is raised so a miss into the sand on the right is going to be about 4-5 feet below the surface of the green. It is a nice par 3 both visually and in playing it.
9. Par 4 – 445/423. The ninth or the fifth are the two best par 4’s on the front. There is another central bunker about 230 yards off the tee to contend with but there is ample room on both sides to miss it. The hole plays as a slight dogleg right due to the location of the tee box. The fairway continues to be wide nearly all the way to the green. The green is shaped like a triangle with a central high point and sand off the left side. Overall the green goes right to left.
10. Par 4 – 339/323. This uphill dogleg left utilizes another central bunker, this time 230-240 yards off the tee. I did not like this hole because after the central bunker the sand comes into the fairway cutting it by two-thirds which seemed overly punitive for the longer player. It seemed to me the designer wanted to take driver out of the hands of the better player. At the green there is a crescent shaped bunker on the left middle. The green is nearly 50 yards long, angled right to left which I thought to be too large for the length of the hole, even if uphill.
11. Par 5 – 540/505. After playing the eleventh, a hole that I would normally have liked, I started to wonder whether the use of the central bunkers by Mr. Kidd had been overdone. The hole plays as a dogleg left with the first central bunker around 280 yards off the tee. Thankfully, I did not have to worry about as I do not have the length to reach it. Approximately 90 yards further up on the left inner turn of the dogleg is a large central bunker, about 25 yards wide and almost a square. Another 20 yards up from that one is a final bunker on the right side placed inside the fairway. This one is fairly deep. Sand goes down both sides of the fairway as well. The fairway snakes its way after the turn to the green with is angled opposite the bend of the fairway. The fairway goes left and the green is angled right. The green is raised with a vertical tier down the middle. While I liked the strategy of the hole I felt it asked too much of the average player versus the rest of the course. I was grateful to one putt for a par.
12. Par 4 – 433/401. Another central bunker comes into play on this uphill par 4 with this bunker being 245-285 yards off the tee. The bunker is long at 27 yards and certainly dominates one view from the tee. I did like the green, narrower on its left side with a fall-off into sand, and tilted back to front with a lot of internal movement.
13. Par 3 – 130/126. This is a wonderful short par 3 with an angled green to the left set behind a gully with a fall-off of 25+ feet. There is a high ridge behind the green. On our day, they put the orange tee box well to the right creating a straight shot that minimized the hole and took the gully out of play. I walked over to the black tee and played over the chasm which made it a fine hole. The green has a fair amount of inner movement although it does have a bit of a backstop. On the left side it falls to lower ground and a shot hit too long can go tumbling down quite a way.
14. Par 4 – 325/297. This hole is famous for the “armchair architect” contest held by a golf magazine. The marshall on the hole also said it was called out as one of the finest holes in the USA, but I was not convinced that is the case. In any event I did not like it despite my birdie. The hole plays downhill from an elevated tee with another central bunker 240-270 yards off the tee. Hit to the right of this central bunker and one can see their ball get all the way onto the green for a chance for an ace, eagle, or birdie. The green is very long at over 50 yards and has a vertical tier in it with the left side higher. I guess the biggest hitters can fly the central bunker. There is also ample room to go down the left to a small peninsula that offers a good look at the green. However, go too far left and one will end up in the sand sitting below the fairway and likely have a semi-blind shot to the green. We had a back pin position and I hit a second to 4 feet. I felt the hole should be 60 yards longer where longer players would be rewarded for finding the bottom of the hill and have a flat lie while shorter players would be forced to play perhaps from an uneven lie. The hole does emphasize the fun factor.
15. Par 5 – 522/509. The next three holes did not do much for me. Yet another central bunker at 225-240 yards off the tee is used. The sand on the left pinches in from the left about 170 yards from the green. A final central bunker is 85 yards from the green on the right although it appears a bit closer. Still, one can see there is plenty of room between this bunker and the green. This hole is basically straight with the green slightly angled to the left. Most players will be hitting their third from the left into the green going away from them. For longer hitters they will definitely have a go at this green in two.
16. Par 3 – 180/164. This hole plays downhill with trees coming into play perhaps more than any other hole on the course, more so on the right side of the green. The green is angled to the left and is massive at over 55 yards. The green sits in a small bowl from the right side and has a long bunker cutting into the front left. It is a visually attractive hole.
17. Par 4 – 432/427. Trees are on the right immediately at the tee. On the other side of those trees one will likely find balls. There is a large ravine like bunker that is nearly twenty yards long on the left side about 245-260 off the tee. The smart play is down the left side. This hole is basically straight. There is a double set of central bunkers between 70 and 50 yards from the green. The green is large but relatively uninteresting to what came before.
18. Par 5 – 536/511. This hole has the green set well to the left although it is basically a straight hole. The first long bunker of 35 yards is off the right side at 250 yards. A second smaller bunker is on the right at 145 yards from the green. Therefore the hole plays left and then left again. Bigger hitters can definitely reach the green in two even though it is placed on an uphill shelf. Sand cuts in from the left in front of the bunker but it is not much of an issue for those playing the hole in three shots. The green is tilted back to front with run-offs on all sides except the rear. It is an okay finishing hole, not quite as good as the finisher at Sand Valley.
Mammoth Dunes emphasizes the fun factor with generous fairways and very large, often undulating greens. There is good variety in the movement of both the surrounding land and on the fairways. There is a lot of “eye candy” on the course with parallel sand, large bunkers, and beautiful vistas from elevated tees. The par 3’s are visually very attractive with the eighth and thirteenth nice holes to play.
The course has a somewhat poor finish as the land gets flatter, but the routing overall is very good taking maximum advantage of the terrain. I did not like several holes, particularly the fourteenth although I suspect I am in the minority. I also think Mr. Kidd relied too heavily on central bunkers for both defensive purposes and as a distraction. Overall, as stated I would share the number of rounds at Sand Valley and Mammoth Dunes. Sand Valley might be the slightly better course, but for most golfers Mammoth Dunes has the edge on fun and beauty as well as more interesting greens.
The best word to describe golf at Mammoth Dunes is options. On the short par 4 sixth hole, my playing companion had a 30 yard approach shot and commented that he had three different ways he could play the shot……“and with at least three different clubs” was my rejoinder. Options are also in vogue away from the green. Seventeen times the golfer is asked to land a shot in the fairway and on 13 of those there are strategic options to choose from. The fairways are extremely wide, but there is always a better side to be on, usually one challenged by a bunker or other hazard. There are also options on approach shots, as most greens will accept either an aerial or a running shot and finding the right part of the green adds to the challenge. Mammoth Dunes’ greens have some wild contours but green speeds are kept manageable making the often huge breaks great fun.
The holes run in all directions, challenging the player with a variety of wind conditions and the routing is completely intuitive, unlike Sand Valley where numerous signs are need to direct golfers to the next tee. Many prefer the original course here, and while I enjoyed Sand Valley, if I had 4 rounds to play, 3 would be on Mammoth Dunes.
Mammoth Dunes is true to the name- it is probably the largest scale golf course you'll ever see in America. The fairways are huge and the wide open dunescapes yield massive vistas.
Not enough credit is given to how genius David Mcklay Kidd's routing is. Mike Keiser brought in several architects to survey the property, none of whom would dare challenge the massive V shaped ridge running through the property. However, DMK uses it perfectly and to his advantage, with the uphill par three fourth and the awesome driveable 14th serving as transitions over said ridge.
Interestingly enough, McKlay Kidd originally wanted the first two and final two holes to play away from the current clubhouse location, near the current site of the Sandbox, which Keiser was against. Despite this, I honestly think that paddock occupies some really cool holes. The first is one of my favorite starters in golf, introducing the player to what will come. A massive fairway sits on the side of a hill with two distinct tiers. A shot up the dune to the right will result in a great look at the green for a downhill second, while bailing left creates a semi blind approach. 18 is another great hole played over an ocean of sand up to the clubhouse providing a final look at birdie.
There are a lot of features on this course meant to produce fun, picturesque moments. The sixth features a boomerang green, 8 is a deceptive seemingly island green par three, and 13 is a gorgeous par three over a massive crevice. While it is pretty gettable, the course still enforces a decent amount of strategy. The fairways are massive but being on the wrong side of one might result in a bad angle or a blind shot. Possibly the biggest complaint I hear from Mammoth are the blind shots, which I think is idiotic because if you have a blind shot you weren't playing the hole the right way. You're being penalized just as you would on a tight boring treelined course, but wouldn't it be more fun to be able to hit the shot off the fairway, even if you can't see the hole?
Overall, the course might be seen as rather mundane by better players, and it kind of is, but you have to understand what the motive of the course was. It wasn't built to host a major or be unfair but rather to optimize the amount of fun anyone can have on the course. A 15 handicapper can make a bunch of birdies with the bowled greens and wide fairways and have the time of his or her life. This was emphasized to me as I watched the group in front of me, which featured a veteran who had lost the use of his legs. With the help of a modified cart, he was able to hit some awesome shots and I'm sure had a ton of fun. Stuff like that is really cool to see, and an important aspect in growing the game.
Great golf course alongside Sand Valley. I tend to give the nod to Mammoth Dunes as far as which course is better. To me Mammoth has more memorable holes including a drivable downhill par 4. This course does play easier as evidenced by the scorecard however that should not take away from the overall experience of the course. With majestic dunes and gigantic fairways you truly will find this a course to remember
David McLay Kidd’s big break in course design came courtesy of Mike Keiser, who boldly awarded the commission to build Bandon Dunes 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.
That all said, I liked the golf course a lot and I hope to venture back someday soon to see it again, once it has the chance to mature a little bit.
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. Read more here: https://nowontheteegolf.com/2020/05/18/mammoth-dunes-course-profile/
Mammoth Dunes might be the most fun I’ve ever had on a golf course. This course is better than adjoining Sand Valley. Mammoth fairways and greens (see what I did there) make for an enjoyable round but you do have to pick your spots. Some of the mounting and slopes in both the fairways and greens are rather severe. Again-you need a caddy to tell you where to hit it. But I guarantee a great time. Mammoth Dunes is the poster child for what should be a trend in golf course design- a course doesn’t have to be overly difficult to be great (I’m looking at you Erin Hills).
Fantastic course. Perhaps, David McLay Kidds best work since Bandon Dunes. It has been described as vast, grand, but I do not think those words do it justice. Infinite, perhaps, expansive, boundless or perhaps good old new fashioned ginormous. Airplane landing size fairways.
The first hole slightly downhill looks like a par 5, but it is barely over 400 yards from the tips. Favor the right off the tee. The 2nd tilts a little left, favor the right off the tee. This is a very tricky green, make sure you pay attention to the pin location and land your approach right of the target line. The first par 5 is S shaped and definitely reachable. Waste bunkers are on both sides of the fairway. Favor the right off the tee as this will give you the best shot at getting home in two. There is a pot bunker front left and this raised green lists left. There is a steep fall off on the left side to a nasty collection area. The first par 3 is slightly uphill and is protected by a front left bunker. The 5th is the longest par 4. Downhill, favor the left off the tee. If the pin is front, don’t be a hero. We both hit what we thought were good approaches that ultimately rolled into the deep front right bunker. The 6th has gotten much deserved acclaim. A short driveable par 4 with what has been described as boomerang green. Probably because that is what it is shaped like. The back right third also drops off significantly. We were both about 50 yards from the flag on our drives. We both hit excellent blind approaches just left of the ridge line and both shots fed down to inside 6 feet. It was rewarding to see the caddy on the 7th tee give us golf claps. The par 5 7th is the number one handicap hole, but I do not know why. It is 560 yards, uphill, fairly straight with the only real trouble the left side cross bunker starting at about 150 yards out. The mid-length 8th has gotten a lot of accolades as well. It is heralded as an island green without water. Technically, this is not true as the back left has grass. From the tee box the hole can be intimidating. This did not phase my associate as he chipped in for birdie. The front closes with a slight dogleg right. The contour greenside is hard left so aim well right of the flag.
The back starts off with another fun and my favorite hole. An uphill dogleg left that is driveable. I was not capable of that, but I did make a nice approach and got lucky with the putt. The 11th is a dogleg left par 5 with a BAB on the inside left elbow. Play right of this. I am sure someone can fly it, but…. Play this one as a 3 shotter. The 12th is all about the BAB in the middle of the fairway. Pay careful attention to this yardage and do not tempt fate. The 13th is a really cool, visually stimulating par 3 and is supposedly the easiest hole on the course. The redan green sits behand a massive and deep waste bunker. Most shots will go left and there is an indention that acts as a collection area. If the pin is there hole in one greenlight. The 14th is another highlight hole a driveable par 4 from an elevated tee. Heck, if I can do it, so can you. Aim right of the fairway bunker, this will allow you to catch the downslope and trundle onto the green. Hopefully, you will do better than a 3 putt par. The 15th is a reachable par 5. Aim right of the center fairway bunker. What appears to be a greenside bunker front right is actually 75 yards or so in front of the green. Aim right over the middle of this and the ball will squirt left onto the green. The 16th is a gimme par 3, but the green is deep, over 50 yards. The 17th is a long straight par 4. Favor the left off the tee. The 18th is a ? mark shaped par 5 that is reachable. Albeit, well -protected. To give yourself a chance you must be left of the right fairway bunker. If you go for it is all carry over a nasty waste area. High risk, Iwould advise playing it as a 3 shotter. My associate, Moyo, went for and ended up in the back bunker. Eventually, hacked his way out and secured a bogey to go red for the day.
This is a real fun course. If you are in WI, make sure you include it in your itinerary.
Mammoth is a fine course and David McLay Kidd and his team deserve a great deal of praise for designing such a fun but challenging layout. The course plays around larger ridges and mounds than the neighboring Sand Valley course and the whole scale of the course seems wider and larger. The course was not quite as firm as Sand Valley and I don't know if this was by design or not.
The course, however, is not some wide open blast away layout since most of the holes have excellent movement and hazards that still require strategic thought and solid play. The par 5 third is a great example. The hole dog legs left around a large waste bunker so the drive requires commitment to the chosen line. If you can work the ball safely left the longer hitter has the opportunity to go for the green, but right side is guarded by a large mound, and left of the green is a steep drop off. The green itself has outstanding contours. In short a birdie awaits the bold play, par is there for more conservative play, and a misplayed shot could lead to bogey. I like that sort of design.
I think the course really takes off after about hole 7 as the dunes and mounds area little less imposing and the holes, while still interesting, were more straightforward. Even though the course was softer than Sand Valley it still played fairly firm.
Opinions on Mammoth Dunes vs Sand Valley will probably sort out according to the players skill level. Better players will appreciate the more intricate strategic options of Sand Valley while other golfers will gravitate to the open expanded look and style of Mammoth Dunes. Personally I felt like I played much better at Sand Valley versus Mammoth Dunes but I scored about the same on both layouts. The openness and big scale reminds me of Tobacco Road in the Sandhills of North Carolina but I thought Mammoth Dunes was a better and even more fun layout than Tobacco Road. Sand Valley has two outstanding courses and a fun par 3 course, The Sandbox. A third course to be designed by Tom Doak is in the planning stages and I think soon enough Sand Valley will be another bucket list destination for golfers across the world.
Like all of Keiser’s resorts, there’s at least one championship layout and one fun course to give you a breather. Mammoth Dunes is the fun option at the Sand Valley resort.
I enjoyed the golf course, but I must admit that the sheer scale was a little much for me as the fairways and greens are simply gigantic and unmissable. The golf course often feels like a wide driving range with target platforms – but again, that’s essentially the purpose of the course so it lives up to its design to accommodate all skills of players.
The golf on the back nine is the strongest with no shortage of eye-opening shaping. The tumbling terrain was awesome and the routing unquestionably provides an entertaining walk as your imagination runs wild.
I Played Mammoth Dunes Yesterday for the first time, having heard so much about the brand new David McLay Kidd design. The rumors are true, this place is special. The course itself is far vaster than I could’ve imagined, and it’s hard to take it all in having played just one round. Mammoth presents you with the option to play a hole the holes so many different ways, which is a breath of fresh air in the U.S. where you get used to hitting the same high shots to every green. The course requires much thought on your target lines from the tee, and into then again the huge, undulated putting surfaces. However, if you don’t hit the shot you wanted from the tee you still have ample opportunity to make a play for the green from wherever it is you end up. In my group we hit some shots that would’ve been lost balls on most courses, but found the fairway at mammoth. I would recommend a caddy to help with the blind shots that you face out there.
The most outstanding holes are the drivable Par 4 6th with the boomerang green, the great par 5 11th, the short par 3 13th, and the finishing par 5 18th. This is one of those courses that presents the golfer with many chances to make birdies, while still being challenging, and keeps everyone entertained due to it being hard to lose a ball. It is a wonderful course for match play, as there are some many chances to make birdie with the short par 4’s and reachable par 5’s. I have played Kidd’s St. Andrews - Castle course, and I can definitely see the similarities between the two courses, albeit a friendlier, less "crazy" version. The only drawbacks of the course were that the greens were a little slow, bear in mind it has been a dry summer, and the course has only been open 6 weeks so they are a little long still. The pace of play was not great, but, reasonable for a resort course on a weekend.
Mammoth Dunes is a shot maker’s paradise, and I would definitely look to come back and play again. Highly recommend that you make the trip to Wisconsin for this gem. The food and beer after the round isn’t bad either!