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Why Tom Doak’s new Sand Valley design could be resort’s toughest test

Construction is well underway on the third 18-hole course at Sand Valley Golf Resort. Sedge Valley, the latest project at Dream Golf’s sandy oasis in Central Wisconsin, is expected to have more than half of its holes grassed by the end of September.

The Tom Doak heathland design, inspired by such English gems as Rye, West Sussex, and Swinley Forest, contrasts in style to the two 18s already at the resort: Sand Valley and Mammoth Dunes, both of which are among GOLF 2020-21 Top 100 Courses in the U.S.

While both of Sand Valley’s existing courses measure nearly 7,000 yards, with expansive bunker complexes and even wider fairways, Sedge Valley is expected to tip out at about 6,000 yards and play to a par of 68. Despite its modest length, the course won’t lack for defenses. Michael Keiser, who operates the resort with his brother, Chris, believes Sedge Valley could be the most difficult course on property in relation to par. 

Bunkers and mounds will surround the 18th green at Sedge Valley.

“If you’re out of position at that course, it’s not like you have a better angle versus a slightly good angle,” Keiser said. “You might be in the fairway with a wedge, and if you’re in the wrong position you should seriously think about laying up to the right position.”

Michael and Chris are the sons of Bandon Dunes developer, Mike Keiser. They have worked closely with Tom Doak and his team at Renaissance Golf Design as Sedge Valley comes to life.

Chris explained that Sedge Valley’s routing has evolved since its inception. Among other changes, what was originally the 5th hole has become the 6th since GOLF.com reported on the course earlier this year.

“Even if you know where a hole is going to go, what will Doak and his team come up with for that green, for that bunker?” Chris said. “It’s super-cool to see through those various stages.”

The goal at Sedge Valley is for 12 holes to be seeded by the end of the month, giving the grass some time to establish itself before winter. The other six holes still need shaping on tees, fairways, bunkers and greens.

Irrigation systems help bring grass to life on Sedge Valley’s 2nd hole.

Sedge Valley is slated for a 2024 opening, with seven to 12 holes open for preview play next year. For an exclusive look at all the progress that’s been made at Sedge Valley, and an in-depth explainer from the Keiser brothers on how the course is built, check out the video above.

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