At Sand Valley, the third is shaping up to be a charm.
Operators of the acclaimed Wisconsin resort have announced plans to break ground on the property’s third 18-hole course, a Tom Doak design called Sedge Valley.
Construction is scheduled to begin this spring.
When the project is completed, in 2024, it will add to a resort portfolio that currently includes two GOLF Top 100 Courses — the eponymous Sand Valley and Mammoth Dunes — and a 17-hole par-3 course known as the Sandbox.
The new course will also represent an aesthetic departure from the resort’s existing offerings, providing what Sand Valley co-owner Michael Keiser described as a “golf experience different from anything else on property.”
Where both Mammoth Dunes and Sand Valley (designed, respectively, by David McLay Kidd and the duo of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw) are expansive layouts with exceptionally wide playing corridors, Sedge Valley will occupy an intimate site and stretch just more than 6,000 yards. Par has yet to be finalized, but it is likely to be 68.
In written remarks that accompanied the announcement, Doak said he drew inspiration for the design from some of his favorite heathland courses outside London, including Rye and Swinley Forest, both by Harry Colt, as well as from other artful layouts around the world “that never expanded much beyond their original scope.”
Doak said that working on a smaller scale affords a kind of artistic freedom, unbound by the conventions of the modern power game.
“When you don’t have to think about stretching a course to 7,300 yards, you can start thinking about finding cool green sites, without worrying about how close together they are,” he said.
Compact sites also often result in inventive routings, with targets defended by compelling slopes and shapes that might be considered “unfair” on a longer layout.
As examples, Doak pointed to holes 5 through 7 at Sedge Valley, a stretch that will kick off with a 290-yard par-4 with a skinny shelf of a green, followed by back-to-back par-3s of 150 and 220 yards, respectively.
With its intimate dimensions, Doak said he expected Sedge Valley to promote the sort of “simple social interactions” that are often lost on courses that prioritize length.
“I don’t think you have to build a course that separates players by thousands of yards on the scorecard,” Doak said. “A truly great course invites different styles of play but also encourages a shared experience.”
Sedge Valley is not the only job Doak has underway for Michael and Chris Keiser, the sibling co-owners of Sand Valley whose father, Michael Keiser Sr., founded Bandon Dunes. The architect is also currently working on the Lido, a faithful recreation of a fabled, long-defunct C.B. Macdonald design of the same name, on Long Island.
One of the most hotly anticipated courses in the country, the new Lido will be a private club, on land adjacent to Sand Valley, with limited tee times set aside for resort guests.
It is scheduled to open in 2023.