Course Reviews/Travel


PGA Golf Club Ryder Course Renovation PDF Print E-mail

 

 

 

By Jason Bruno

On a sunny and cool mid-December morning, PGA Golf Club showed off

its newly renovated Ryder Course to the golf media. PGA Golf Club is

the main attraction at PGA Village, the flagship property of the PGA of

America - located in Port St.Lucie, Florida (less than a two-hour drive

from Orlando and Miami and is just under an hour from West Palm Beach).

The home to 3 distinct golf course designs by Pete Dye (Dye Course),

Tom Fazio (Ryder) and Jim Fazio (Wannamker). The in-house renovation

project on the Ryder Course was led by 2016 Superintendent of the Year

Dick Gray.

 

 

 

 

 

 



Along the first tee these plaques commemorate past Ryder Cup

competitions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Named after Samuel Ryder (founder of the Ryder Cup), the Ryder Course

features a Carolina style setting where many of the holes gently traverse

through mature stands of Slash and Loblolly Pines. The Tom Fazio design

features numerous lakes and ponds along its fairways and green complexes,

many of which come into play. The Ryder Course renovation is the final piece

of a $10 million multi-year property-wide investment to upgrade every element -

from the clubhouse to last blade of turf on each of the courses.

 

“Our dedicated staff has accomplished an impressive transformation that

cements PGA Golf Club as a top golf destination in Florida,” says Jimmy

Terry, PGA Senior General Manager. “The stunning renovations are shining

examples of our dedication to providing great course conditions day in and

day out to our club and PGA members, as well as guests.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The routing on the new edition of the Ryder remains unchanged,

however, all of the bunkers have been updated and new drainage

installed. Turf throughout has been replaced - Paspalum tees,

Celebration fairways and Tif-eagle greens provide an eclectic mix

of turfgrass - each specialized for a specific playing application.

Perhaps the two best examples of the renovation work and Tom

Fazio's design, come back to back at the par 5 fourth and par 3 fifth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The tee box here on the left to right 484 yard par 5 - fourth is easily one

of our favorite and no doubt is among the most beautiful in South Florida.

The ideal line here is the dip in the tree line (W shape), with a slight cut

shot. Be sure to check the wind here and adjust accordingly. Anything

solid just inside the bunker line leaves a tasty risk reward proposition -

whether to lay up or go for the green . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The new green complex at the fourth was moved slightly left and given

a Dye style bulkhead.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If the fourth rewards power and courage, the 137 yard par 3 - fifth

is a brilliant challenge of your precision and restraint. The shortest

hole on the course will repel the greedy pin seeker, especially when

the pin is front left as it is here (shown above), play for the center

of the green and take your chances with the flatstick.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This image of the left to right finisher gives a great visual of the beauty

and style of the property at PGA Village. On the Ryder course all tees

have been framed by ornamental grasses (above).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A look at the approach on the last, shows off Fazio's signature bunkers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What was a golf

property in decline

and disarray five

years ago, is now

back on the map

as of one of the

nation's most

memorable golf

destinations.


Recent upgrades

to nearly every

facet of the property

- all three courses

(at PGA Golf Club)

along with the

clubhouse and dining

facilities is no minor

accomplishment.


A big kudos to what

GM Jimmy Terry,

Agronomist Dick Gray

and staff have been

able to do here in

such a short period

of time.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information on PGA Golf Club:  https://www.pgavillage.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
North Course at Innisbrook Re-Opens After Renovation PDF Print E-mail

 

By Jason Bruno


A few weeks back in November, Innisbrook unveiled their newly renovated

North Course, also known as "Little Copperhead". Owned and operated by

Sheila Johnson's Salamander Resorts, Innisbrook's media event was day two

of grand re-openings for the resort company. Just a day earlier and 200 miles

northeast in the city of Palm Coast, the Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort

re-opened after a 13 month extensive overhaul. The renovation at Innisbrook

wasn't nearly as extensive, but was deemed necessary due to years of wear

and tear to one of the resorts most played courses. The most noticeable facet

of the six month project is the new Tif-Eagle Bermuda greens that now play

firm and fast providing a much more consistent putting experience.


 

Innisbrook's Managing Director Mike Williams who returned to the resort

after more than two decades away (when it was part of the Hilton portfolio),

returned to Innisbrook because of his passion for the Tampa area and the resort.

Williams spoke about the North Course renovation that focused on the greens:

"The North course is re-opening with exceptional putting surfaces that our

guests and members will truly enjoy playing. We never rest on our success

as a nationally recognized PGA Tour venue, and the popularity of the North

Course offers yet another championship golf venue that attracts golfers from

all over the world. We replaced all 18 greens, and it was a project that was

tremendously successful, on time and under budget."

 

 

 

 

Known as "Little Copperhead" because a portion of the North when it was first

designed by Larry Packard was orginally part of the Copperhead Course. The

renovation also included bunker re-conditioning, clearing of storm canals, tree

work and expanding greens back to their original size to allow for more pin

placements.

 

 

 

The flagship of Innisbrook Resort is the Copperhead.

 

 

 

The North is one of four courses at Innisbrook, which also includes the Island,

South and Copperhead Course - home of the PGA Tour's Valspar Championship.

In addition to Championship golf, Innisbrook also features 500 guest rooms and

suites, four restaurants, three bars, tennis facility, the Salamander Spa, Fitness

Center, six heated swimming pools, nature preserve, and three conference halls

with 100k square feet of meeting space.

 

For more information on Innisbrook Resort: www.innisbrookgolfresort.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 
Hammock Beach Ocean Course Re-Emerges PDF Print E-mail

 

By Jason Bruno

Just south of historic St.Augustine, Florida is the city of Palm Coast - the home to

Hammock Beach Resort and its renowned Ocean Course. When Hurricane Matthew

came thru the area in October 2016 it's storm surge and salt water intrusion caused

such significant damage to the Jack Nicklaus signature layout that a decision had

to be made by the resort's owners - Lupert-Adler and its management team from

Salamander Resorts. Options ranged from: repair the damage and re-open as soon

as possible, close down operation permanently or completely renovate the Ocean

Course. Luckily, they chose the latter. The renovation included a complete re-grassing

of the entire routing using Platinum Paspalum (a salt tolerant dense short bladed turf

that thrives in all seasons), this resulted not only in improved playing conditions, but

provides a much needed sustainability for several decades to come. On November

2nd, 2017 the Ocean course re-emerged better than ever with the slogan "New Turf,

Same Surf".

 

 

 

Known for its six shorline holes, the Ocean Course and its closing stretch called

the "Bear Claw", underwent an extensive 13 month restoration that not only

included the re-grassing of the entire Nicklaus design, but also the reconstruction

of every bunker, tee box and green complex. When Hurricane Irma blew into the

area in September, the new surfaces were put to the test, but held up really well

(the re-grand opening was delayed by only a few weeks). Along with the new

upgrades is the idea of one length turf from tee to green. The only existing rough

now is the slopes and surrounds of tee boxes and bunker collars. This speeds up

resort play and allows for much greater shot making. More importantly, the lack

of rough and firmer surfaces allowed the ground game to again be a factor on the

Ocean Course. When you consider the persistent winds that influence ball flight on

seaside layouts, bringing the ground contours into play creates better playability

and enjoyment for players of all ability levels (The most brilliant designs we've

featured in 2017 - Sand Valley and Streamsong Black are perfect examples of

this no rough philosophy). The newest edition of the Ocean Course garnered

unanimous superlatives from the media that was on hand for the flawless fall

day at Hammock Beach Resort.

 


 


 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ocean Course driving range and resort accommodations in the background.

The restoration of the course is just one of the many enhancements to Hammock

Beach Resort, recently renovating its grand lobby, 15,000 square feet of indoor

meeting space and its boutique hotel experience. The lodge also re-opened its

signature restaurant, The Atlantic Grille.

 

 

 

Brad Hauer - Director of Golf at Hammock Beach Resort who was an integral

part of the re-emergence of the Ocean Course gave his insight to what was

accomplished after Hurricane Matthew, "By replacing Bermuda grass with salt-

tolerant Platinum Paspalum, we now offer golfers one of the purest surfaces in

the game. In addition to improved playing conditions for golfers of all levels,

the views of the Atlantic Ocean are simply incredible."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 508 yard par 5 second hole provides an opportunity to get home in two,

for those laying up, the left side is the best angle to avoid the majestic slash

pine (pictured above) that guards an approach from the right side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 164 yard eighth ticks all the boxes of an iconic coastline par 3. Scenic

ocean views, fresh seaside breezes, and a bold design that challenges you to

pull off the big shot. This is our pick for the best one-shotter on the Ocean

course.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The view from the tee on the 468 yard par 4 ninth, easily the handicap 1 hole

on the Ocean Course as well as being one of the toughest holes anywhere in

Florida, but not in a typical sense. So Why is it so tough? Considering that

Nicklaus provides a super wide fairway and the prevailing wind usually is helping

off the right. Three factors, the first is obvious - length. Even 3 tees forward from

the tips it's still 402 yards (from our tee it was 452 yards). Second (which often

works in tandem with the first factor) - the wind tends to shift here and can

come from any direction at anytime. For instance, when we played the wind

was coming from the north (a crisp steady 15 mph straight in your face), so from

our box it played more like 480. Third - Nicklaus provides plenty of real estate

to bail left off the tee (which leaves a much tougher angle for the approach)

but the narrow elevated green is easily the toughest to hit in regulation on the

course. Only your two best knocks have a prayer on the ninth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The reverse view of the ninth shows the new Paspalum green surrounds and

the elevated putting surface. Any approach shot that lands short or has the

incorrect shot shape will be repelled to a tight lie well below the green. The

steep turf wall that fronts the bunker snags shots that roll off the green, and

believe me when I say you'd prefer to be in the sand. The 4" tall Paspalum

rough grabs the ball like a catchers mitt - thick gnarly stuff. I'd like to see all

of greenside bunker collars also be cut to fairway height. Just sayin . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The routing on the Ocean Course remains essentially as Nicklaus presented

it at the opening in April of 2000, the 450 yard par 4 fifteenth plays to a severe

uphill green that overlooks the Atlantic. The two fairway bunkers (right center)

are a good line to start a slight draw tee shot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This plaque that greets you as you enter the seaside "Bear Claw" commemorates

the Ocean Course's restoration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The back right pin on the 17th was 165 yards, but with the breeze blowing into,

it played a good club and half longer. This view is a links postcard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ocean Course's dune line which has been restored, is over a mile long and

perhaps is only matched in Florida by famed Seminole Golf Club's 14th tee

(some 230 miles south) in Juno Beach. Unlike exclusive Seminole, Hammock

Beach Resort is accessible, offering unparalleled views along the "First Coast".

The seventeenth green, eighteenth hole and clubhouse in the background.

 

 

With tees ranging from 4261 to 7201 yards, the Ocean Course will challenge

the best players, but also provides links fun for all golfers. Kudos to resort

owners Lupert-Adler and Salamander Resorts for making the bold decision

to make something that was special into something spectacular. Not merely

repairing the storm damage, but to give the Ocean Course the investment

and treatment it deserves as one of Florida's very finest golf designs in a

setting that's as good as it gets. A no-brainer vote for 2017 restoration of

the year.

 

 

To learn more about Hammock Beach Resort and the Ocean Course:

https://www.hammockbeach.com/golf/ocean-course

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 
The Gil Hanse Design of Streamsong Black PDF Print E-mail

 

 

By Jason Bruno

Photo by Tracey Hanse

 

It's widely known that there are more golf courses in the Sunshine State than

anywhere else in America, nearly 1300 in total. Quantity certainly can't be

mistaken for quality, but there are standouts in the land of links abundance.

Five years ago, The Mosaic Company created a next level golf experience when

they brought us Streamsong Red & Blue, raising the bar for what qualifies as

a WOW golf destination for the east coast of the United States (and especially

in Florida). In late September, Streamsong took it up another peg with the grand

opening of their Gil Hanse designed Black Course.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

Photo by Larry Lambrecht

The Bone Valley Tavern and clubhouse at Streamsong Black designed by

Tampa based architect Albert Alfonso fits perfectly into the vast horizontal

landscape of the Black Course.

 

 

 

 

 

The opening of Hanse and Jim Wagner's Black course now puts Streamsong in

the rarified position as the only golf destination on earth that features a Coore/

Crenshaw, Tom Doak and a Gil Hanse layout all at one location. In our initial Blog

post just a few weeks ago we described the Grand Opening experience at the

resort's third offering, and in this edition we highlight many of the design

features by Hanse and his team - easily the most sought after firm in golf

course architecture today.

 

 

 

Rich Mack the executive VP of the Mosaic Company (who is also the visionary

and heartbeat behind Streamsong Resort), was eager when opening day finally

arrived: "The anticipation and buzz for this course has been remarkable. From

this expansive sandy site, Gil and his team have uncovered a dramatic course

that fits its bold landscape and flows as if it has been here for years. We are

ready to introduce Streamsong Black to the public and elevate our golf experience

with three must play courses that will rival the best golf venues in the world."

 

 

 

Photo by Larry Lambrecht

The par 73 Black Course plays 6759 yard from the black tees (which are one up

from the tips that play a mighty 7331 yards). After starting you out with a benign

par 5 on the first, the gorgeous 326 yard second is the first visual adrenaline rush

that grabs hold and announces itself as a true beauty. Just like many Gil Hanse

creations, this hole requires you to think and have a blast doing so. Here at the

second, he favors finesse over power. Challenging the left side here leaves a much

better angle to this elevated green that is angled left to right. Notice the classic

weathervane in the background that serves as a landmark on this big and bold

routing.

 

 

Although there is no shoreline within 70 miles, the firm and fast waves of Celebration

Bermuda turf and endless ripples of sand that make up the 300 acres of the Black

will have you favoring the ground game and contemplating the bounce - perhaps

more than you've ever experienced along the east coast of the United States. With

ample space off the box, you will hit more fairways and greens than usual, but the

task just begins once the flatstick is in hand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Larry Lambrecht

Here on the 601 yard fourth, you get a good idea of just how boundless the

mini-verde putting surfaces and surrounds on the Black are. The height of cut

extends well beyond what is technically considered "the green". For example,

what you see above is probably 60-70% of actual green, but because the 11

acres of greens and surrounds are cut at the same height, for all intents and

purposes you're dealing with colossal sized greens and an experience not

commonly found in the U.S .

 

Hanse gives you an option off tee here at the fourth, chose the safer right fairway

and you face a tough uphill lay up, or chose the riskier left fairway and you have a

better view of the green. This may be a hole that gets tweaked down the road, it's

the one that can easily be a round wrecker, but doesn't need to be. In our opinion,

the hole is a bit too severe for the masses, moving the tees up might go a long way

towards solving the issue here. In all fairness to Hanse, he did say that there would

likely be a few modifications after reviewing early play.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Nile Young

The 177 yard fifth is another visual bolt of adrenaline, playing uphill it tempts

you to bail left (from what playing partner and noted course design expert

Bradley Klein referred to as a Royal St.George style Hill bunker), but resist

the urge. Short left is a decent chance for recovery, but as I found out, long

left is certain doom. This is the most severely undulated green on the course,

and that's saying plenty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Larry Lambrecht

Another look at the fifth, this perspective gives the view looking back towards

the tee.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Larry Lambrecht

The deep greenside funnel bunker and green surrounds on the short 321 yard sixth

makes for an exciting and interesting scoring chance on this brilliant design.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Larry Lambrecht

The 158 yard par 3-seventh features a reverse redan design and an Aussie

sand belt look. The par 3's throughout the resort are memorable, this was

my selection as the best one shotter on the Black.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Larry Lambrecht

The 408 yard eighth plays longer than the yardage, Keep your tee shot left

center to avoid this right fairway bunker and the natural areas that surround

it.

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

Among the 11 acres of super tightly mowed green complexes, is this two-

tiered punchbowl on the 408 yard ninth. A fantastic uber sized homage to

classic designer Seth Raynor. Not many greens anywhere are as impressive

or as fun to play as this one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Larry Lembrecht

The 524 yard par 5 - tenth features this immense crumpled stream of sand and

turf remnants that pinches the layup landing area, demanding you to make a

choice whether to go for the green or stay well short of this ginormous hazard

that measures nearly 100 yards in length. This might be the most underrated

hole on the Black, but easily was one our favorites.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Larry Lambrecht

This portion of fractured sandy terrain between the 531 yard par 5 -twelfth

and the 463 yard par 4 -sixteenth fairway has been dubbed "The Glove" based

on its appearance when flying over the property.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Larry Lambrecht

The par 4 -13th can play as a fairly straightaway hole or as dogleg right,

depending on which of the two greens are in play. It plays 409 yards to

the left green/421 yards to the right green.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Larry Lambrecht

The 15th is the shortest hole on the Black, playing a mere 133 yards from the

tips. Pick the right club, although its broad from the left edge to the right, it's

only 24 paces deep - neither short or long provides an easy recovery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Larry Lambrecht

The 189 yard -17th plays downhill with a sideboard on the left that will feed

everything towards the center of the green. Doesn't appear that Hanse and

company had to move much earth to create this natural beauty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Larry Lembrecht

In our blog feature regarding the opening day experience, I discussed the drama

that this 530 yard finale can and will bring to your match. There's very few forced

carries on the Black, and with a bail out area left, this technically isn't one either -

but it's definitely the one white knuckle finisher at the resort if you take it on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Roundabout, located between the driving range and the 9th tee features

several green complexes and practice holes for those who just cant get enough.

Created to give players multiple ways to test their short game, the Roundabout

also includes an alternative ninth green, giving players the option of a shorter

nine-hole loop back to the clubhouse.

 

 

 

 

 

The modern style clubhouse at Streamsong Black.

 

 

 

 

 

Ranging from 5293 yards to 7331 yards, there is a proper teeing ground for all.

The serene environment just begs you to walk the golf landscape, gaining the

full experience of the Black.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The two acre "Gauntlet" putting course that sits right outside the clubhouse,

is the perfect pre or post round gathering spot.

 

 

 

There may not be enough superlatives to describe the journey around the

Black, and all that makes up the experience on the grounds of its stand alone

parcel that's just a 2 minute shuttle ride from the main lodge. Gil Hanse and

his design team just simply nailed it. It's Gamble Sands caliber fun on the

scale of Sand Valley's Mammoth Dunes, with a Streamsong signature style.

Rarely does the third production ever get mentioned as the finest in a trilogy,

but the Black just might be that. By our assertion - an instant classic.

 

 

 

 

For more info on Streamsong Resort: http://www.streamsongresort.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 
Sand Valley Golf Resort - Heathland in the Heartland PDF Print E-mail

 

Heath: shrubland habitat found mainly on free-draining infertile,

acidic soils and is characterised by open, low-growing woody vegetation.


 

Story and photos by Jason Bruno

Perhaps the most anticipated new entry in American golf destinations is Sand

Valley Golf Resort. Mike Keiser's latest golf utopia is located in the "Badger State"

in the Central Wisconsin town of Nekoosa. Earlier this summer we made our way

to Sand Valley to experience the latest golf treasure in a state that is quickly

becoming known for being one of the finest golf meccas in the world.

 

The over 1700 acres of rippling heathland naturescape that features sand dunes

usually only found on the coastlines of Scotland and Ireland is an idyllic setting

for golf. The property at Sand Valley is the type of site that course designers dream

their whole lives about, and having Keiser as the principal only amplifies the

pedigree. Already open for play is the course that bears the resort's name - Sand

Valley. Crafted by Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw (that officially opened on May 2nd

of this year), the course has trace elements of many of their other fine works,

most notably Bandon Trails and Sand Hills (although Trails does open and finish

along the gusty shores of Oregon's Pacific coast). About the only thing missing at

Sand Valley is the coastline.

 

David McLay Kidd's - Mammoth Dunes, which is now open for 9 holes of preview

play is something to behold, a brawny eclectic mix of designs that's inspired by

a renewed and re-energized original and his evolved thought process regarding

golf course architecture. MD is slated to officially open in the summer of 2018.

 

 

 

 

 

In true Mike Keiser style, the resort at Sand Valley is a natural and modest

setting that's ultra functional in all forms. Not unlike Bandon, the hardcore

linkster will truly appreciate the minimalist vibe here. The Clubhouse that

includes pro shop, restaurant and lodging had just opened the week before

we arrived, and although there were still a few details to be finished up, the

rooms, service and cuisine were spot on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If an image tells a thousand words, than this one had me at hello. The

accommodations at the lodge are spacious and the views are grand. After

trekking 8 miles up and down the dunes of Sand Valley, it's important to

shift beyond the grind and experience comfort of the body and mind. No

detail was left unanswered, the beds are just right, the proper shower

(which is a key component of links recovery) which includes a sitting

bench. The in-room Keurig coffee machine is really convenient, and made

for a glorious morning. If that wasn't enough, the views of Mammoth Dunes

at sunset are priceless. Also, just in case you were wondering (and it's

likely you weren't), the carpet in the room rolls the perfect putting

speed of about a 10 on the stimp meter. Sometimes it's just the little

things, through multiple weather delays the flatstick was put to work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The view from the back porch outside my clubhouse lodge accommodations

is of the first hole on the newest design at Sand Valley - David McLay Kidd's

Mammoth Dunes.

 

 

 

 


 

 

Another angle of the view from the back porch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lake Leopold cottages are located between the clubhouse/lodge and

the first tee on the Coore/Crenshaw course.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(photo courtesy of Sand Valley Resort)

Craig's Porch overlooks the 1st and 10th tees and acts as a pre-round and

halfway house eatery. The 18th green also is situated just below, so a there's

another chance after the round to grab another brisket slider. You can't have

just one - they're absolutely delicious.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The hangout just below Craig's Porch is another ideal spot to soak in the setting

or just relax before or after the round. You can watch golfers play the first,

tenth, seventeenth and eighteenth holes from here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New construction continues to emerge at Sand Valley. More lodging, a Coore/

Crenshaw short course and there are rumors of additional courses in the future

as well.

 

I'd really like to see Keiser branch out a bit and include a designer that he hasn't

worked with before like Jay Blasi (Chambers Bay), Michael Hurdzan (Erin Hills) or

even ASGCA President John Sanford (Ferry Point) - all very talented and highly

creative minds worthy of a site of this quality.

 

 

 

To say the central Wisconsin weather was uncooperative for golf and photography

would be a serious understatement. Numerous persistent thunderstorms pummeled

the area on day 1 of our visit, we only got in a total of 4 holes. Day 2 was an

exercise in patience and determination, after bolting first off the tee at 6:15 a.m,

we barely completed the front 9 before lightning and thunderstorms once again

blitzed the area, halting us for an additional 3 hours. Then finally, six hours

after teeing off, the 5 footer on the 18th dropped for birdie. After a quick bite, I

met Michael Keiser Jr, Glen Murray (the General Manager at SV), David McLay

Kidd and his globe trotting course design accomplice Casey Krahenbuhl. Kidd

then took me to get a preview of their work on Mammoth Dunes. A huge thrill

since I've been an admirer of David's work for quite some time. He was kind

enough to give me the grand tour and all the while looping the bag while we

discussed course philosophy and some of his prior work. It was an experience

any course design enthusiast would greatly appreciate (for a 30 year landscaper,

turf head and golf scribe, it was as good as it gets).

 


 

 

image courtesy of Sand Valley Resort

The par 4 - first at Mammoth Dunes

 

 


(coming soon)  Our conversation with DMK in Bruno's Blog:

"A Mammoth Stroll with David McLay Kidd".

 

 

It should be noted that one of the best things about Sand Valley is the variety

and playability created by the designers here. The tips are a modest 6913 yards

at Sand Valley and the three shortest sets of tees: Green - 5557 yards, Silver -

4757 yards and Royal Blue at 3883 yards. In other words, it's super playable

for everyone who wants to play, but there is one catch - it's a walking only

facility with caddies readily available.

 

 

From the orange tees (6500 yards), the short par 4 - 1st hole plays just

325 yards. A slight right to left shaped shot with a fairway club is the play

here as the fairway falls off to the native area on the right. Nothing more

than a wedge for your approach. This is a welcoming starting hole and a

chance to post a red number on the card right out of the gate.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Image courtesy of Sand Valley Resort

At 395 yards, the dogleg right 2nd requires discipline. No more than a 230 yard

tee shot leaves you just short of the cross bunkers. An uphill semi-blind approach

shot to a severely sloped (back to front) green here on the 2nd hole will be the

first true test of the day. The miss here is short, anything missed pin high left or

right leaves a tough chance to get up and down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The par 3 - 3rd is another example of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw's affinity

for the designs of C.B MacDonald and Seth Raynor. This modern day "Redan"

is 192 yards but plays shorter because it's slightly downhill and the crest of the

slope will feed the ball towards any hole location.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The par 5 - 4th is the longest hole on the course at 593 yards from the tips

(557 from the orange tees). It plays directly uphill so three accurate well

struck shots are required here. This particular hole design felt reminiscent

of one of Coore/Crenshaw's lesser known designs - the now deceased Sugarloaf

Mountain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 164 yard par 3 - 5th is a bit of a sleeper. The extreme elevation of the

tee makes it play far less than the actual yardage, but don't underestimate the

challenge here. Notice the far left pin position, it appears fairly innocent from this

view, but there is only a small area to land your ball or it will be repelled off the

green, requiring the touch of a brain surgeon to save par. A worthy short par 3.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 455 yard par 4 -sixth was not only the toughest hole on the course, but

it was also one that impressed from a design perspective, but it likely won't

be a favorite of the masses. Why you ask? It doesn't have any real elevation

to speak of, or anything really unique visually, but it's a good old fashioned

strap it on golf hole that requires your absolute two best strikes to have a

chance at par.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


I'm a big advocate of playing different tees during a given round, either to

accommodate your skill set or to create more buzz amongst your group on

a given hole. Many never even consider moving a box up (or back) to make

a given hole play more interesting. The sixth is a prime example, the big

hitter will welcome the exam, while the senior or high handicap player can

easily struggle here. The best players will take the bold line challenging the

left fairway bunker, while the recreational player will have to play around the

sand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notice the freshly cut green complex here on the sixth, we were making

good time trying to beat the weather. This 90 foot shortgame challenge

proved too much for my early morning bump and run skills. No par save

here. That's a championship golf hole.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 536 yard par 5 - seventh tee sports an elongated bunker that runs

the entire length of the tee shot and then some.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you get closer to the green, this linear fairway bunker guards the left

side and acts as a clever misdirection to the right as the fairway veers

back to the left. Easily one of the best designed sand complexes on the

front nine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A closer look at the bunkering here on the 7th shows the minimalist

style that designers Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw are known for .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The green complex at the seventh and the predicament of a shortgame

grinder.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the demanding sixth, the finishing three of the outward nine are

just a blast and offer legit opportunities to get healthy on the scorecard.

The short uphill eighth is no exception, it played 118 yards, requiring

nothing but a smooth and precise gap wedge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the sight as you walk over the rise after putting out at the eighth,

the driveable downhill ninth might provide the biggest adrenaline rush on

the course. It played 281 yards to the front pin. After a decent drive I was

pin high left in the swale between the trees and bunkers and it took a pretty

creative pitch to get it on and walk out of there with a par.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another view of the ninth, this one from the very top of the hill. You didn't come

all the way to the heartland to lay up, did you? The tees range from 150 yards to

305 yards, so there's a sensible risk/reward opportunity for everyone - so find the

tee box that gives you a chance and let it rip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The green complex at the ninth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The view of the 541 yard par 5 tenth from Craig's Porch. The line for big hitters is

directly over the center bunker.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The approach at the tenth shows the overall right to left tilt of the green

complex. The best angle to this green is from the left side allowing for

the ground game to be a factor.


 

 

 

 

 

It only plays 387 yards, but the eleventh demands respect and favors a

slight draw between the bunkers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The green complex at the eleventh plays slightly uphill, anything short will be

repelled back down towards the fairway. Beyond the green, you can see the

mound and thick rough, leaving a slim chance to save par.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The photo from the back right side of the eleventh green shows the severe

tilt from back to front.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sky was becoming threatening once again as I teed off at the short

par 5 - 12th. The aggressive line is over the trees in line with the white

tee markers, otherwise favor the right side.


 

 

 

 

 

 

With hundreds of acres of native sand visible at SV, this fairway cross bunker

at the twelfth is probably my favorite gnarled creation - it looks demonic and

spectacular all at the same time. Just magnificent stuff by the Cooore/Crenshaw

design squad. I'm thrilled to say that I didn't have to play out of it though.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And of course they follow it with yet another just a few yards closer to the green.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 175 yard par 3 fourteenth felt like we were dropped off at Pine Valley, a

rugged beauty that is easily to be enamored with. Overall, the one shotters at

SV are top shelf and offer magnificent variety of design and length - one short

(8th), two medium (3 & 14) and one long (17). Here at the fourteenth, the two

levels require proper distance control to have a decent chance at birdie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The tee on the dogleg left 451 yard par 4 sixteenth, easily the most

formidable on the inward side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can tell by the ominous sky that we were lucky to get this round in.

Stay out of this nasty bunker that guards the center of the fairway at the

sixteenth, it's a mandatory pitch out. Par on this hole is quite an achievement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The "Punch Bowl" par 3 seventeenth is a beast. It played all of 226 yards to the

back flag location. Once again choose the appropriate box and torch your Sunday

best over the right mound and let the contours do the rest. Needing two birds

to get back to level, this was going to require something special.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you're a fan of course design, you're likely to appreciate the green complex

here on the seventeenth, the slopes will assist in funneling even slightly errant

shots onto the elongated putting surface. From there the task has just begun.

Bent grass was a a good choice for the greens at SV, can't ever complain about

making a 3 here on this the toughest of the par 3's at Sand Valley.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The par 5 eighteenth is a fantastic finisher. Playing straight uphill at 507

yards from the orange tees. Avoid the fescue on the left, and the numerous

bunkers along the right side. Perhaps your two best swings will give you a

chance to walk off on a high note.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The bunkering around the eighteenth is vast, and luckily I managed to avoid it,

just clearing the sand with a 3 wood. I couldn't resist capturing this image from

about 50 yards out. A successful up and down for birdie 4 from just in front of

the green made lunch taste just bit sweeter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

image courtesy of Sand Valley Resort

Breakfast, lunch, dinner or anything in between, the Mammoth Terrace (above)

and Mammoth Bar & Grill is the perfect setting to relax and enjoy the Heathland

views, and delicious food and spirits.

 

 

 

An Ode to Keiser


As I headed east towards Erin Hills to cover the spectacle that is the U.S Open, it

dawned on me - It's a great time to be golfer, especially in North America, and a

lion's share of that is due in large part to one man - Mike Keiser. It's not just the

golf landscapes like Bandon, Cabot and Sand Valley that he has founded through

his vision and resources, but it's also his incredible conservation efforts like the Wild

Rivers Coast Alliance and the native foliage and plant life he preserves and strictly

demands the same of his course designers on each and every parcel of the properties

that have become links sanctuaries to us all. What he does with his influence and

passion is create and preserve the things that are most sacred - experiences with

nature. Consistently, Keiser makes things better than he found them and surrounds

himself with talented people who share the vision that bonds passionate golfers

that prefer golf in it's most pure and raw state. When he was once asked "What

would you like your legacy in golf to be?" Keiser answered: "He built golf courses

that withstood the test of time."

 

I think we can safely check that box. For that, I say Thank You Mr.Keiser . . .

 

 

 

 

Fee structure for golf at Sand Valley is extremely reasonable:

 

Ranging from Mon-Wed     $85 (low season) - $150 (high season) resort guest

Thurs-Sun  $105 (low season) - $195 (high season) resort guest

 

Mon-Wed    $95 (low season) - $175 (high season) day guest

Thurs-Sun $125 (low season) - $215 (high season) day guest

 

*Replay rates are 50% off posted rates.

 

 


 

9 hole Preview Play now available on Mammoth Dunes (image courtesy of Sand Valley Resort)

Mammoth Dunes par 3 -16th

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Just announced (8/15) - New Coore & Crenshaw Short Course

will begin a complimentary 6-hole loop that will be available for

lodging guests staying Sept. & Oct. 2017.


Also the Heathland Cup will take place Sept. 2nd-4th, 2017 -

54 holes Best Ball Tournament

 

For more information: http://www.sandvalleygolfresort.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


By Jason Bruno

 

Heath: shrubland habitat found mainly on free-draining infertile,

acidic soils and is characterised by open, low-growing woody vegetation.

Perhaps the most anticipated new entry in American golf destinations is Sand

Valley Golf Resort. Mike Keiser's latest golf utopia is located in the "Badger State"

in the Central Wisconsin town of Nekoosa. The over 1700 acres of rippling heathland

naturescape features sand dunes usually only found on the coastlines of Scotland

and Ireland, not in a land locked mid-western setting. Already open for play is the

original layout crafted by Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw (that officially opened on May

2nd of this year), and David McLay Kidd's - Mammoth Dunes, which is now open for

9 holes of preview play (the Grand Opening will take place likely in July of '18). Earlier

this summer we made our way to the resort to experience the latest golf treasure in

a state that is quickly becoming known for being one of the best golf meccas in the

world.

 

 

 

 

In true Mike Keiser style, Sand Valley exudes a natural and modest atmosphere

that's ultra functional in all forms. Not unlike Bandon, the hardcore linkster will

truly appreciate the minimalist vibe of Sand Valley. The lodge had just opened

the week before we arrived, and although there were still final details to be finished

up, the rooms, service and cuisine were spot on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

If an image tells a thousand words, than this one had me at hello. The accommodations

at the lodge are spacious and the views are grand. After trekking 8 miles up and down

the dunes of Sand Valley, it's important to shift beyond the grind and experience comfort

of the body and mind. No detail was left unanswered - the beds are just right, the

proper shower, which is a key component of physical recovery, included a sitting bench

in the shower (a wonderful idea that aided in feet/leg recovery). The in-room Keurig

coffee machine is really convenient, and made for a happy morning. Just in case you

were wondering (and it's likely you weren't), the carpet in the room rolls the perfect

putting speed of about a 10 on the stimp meter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The view from the back porch outside my lodge accommodations is of

the first hole on the newest design at Sand Valley - David McLay Kidd's

Mammoth Dunes.

 

 


 

 

Another angle from outside our room.

 

 

 

 

 

The Lake Leopold cottages are located between the clubhouse/lodge and

the first tee on the Coore/Crenshaw course.

 

 

 

 

 

 

(photo courtesy of Sand Valley Resort)

Craig's Porch overlooks the 1st and 10th tees and acts as a pre-round and

halfway house eatery. The 18th green also is situated just below, so a there's

another chance after the round to grab another brisket slider. You can't have just

one - delicious.

 

 

 

 

 

The hangout just below Craig's Porch is an ideal spot to soak in the setting

or just relax before or after the round. You can watch golfers play the first,

tenth, seventeenth and eighteenth holes from here.

 

 

 

 

New construction continues to emerge at Sand Valley. More lodging,

a Coore/Crenshaw short course and McLay Kidd's Mammoth Dunes

which takes full flight in 2018. There are rumors of additional courses

in the future as well. Would love to see Keiser branch out a bit and include

designers that he hasn't worked with before like Jay Blasi, Michael Hurdzan

or even ASGCA President John Sanford - all very talented and highly creative

minds worthy of a site of this quality.

 

 

 

My only beef with the visit was with mother nature, to say the Central Wisconsin

weather was uncooperative for golf and photography would be a serious

understatement. Numerous persistent thunderstorms pummeled the area on

day 1 of our visit offering no quarter, we were granted a total of 4 holes. Day 2

was an exercise in patience, after starting first off the tee at 6:15 a.m, I barely

completed the front 9 before lightning and thunderstorms once again blitzed the

area before halting us for an additional 3 hours.

Then finally the last putt on the Coore/Crenshaw course dropped for birdie

6 hrs after we teed off at 6:15 am. After a quick bite, I met up David McLay

Kidd to discuss and preview his new Mammoth Dunes layout. See our Bruno's

Blog section for "A Mammoth Stroll with David McLay Kidd".

 

Before we feature the course, it should be noted that one of the best things

about Sand Valley is the variety and playability created by Coore/Crenshaw

(and David Kidd). The tips are a modest 6913 yards on the CC course and the

three shortest sets of tees are Green - 5557 yards, Silver - 4757 yards and

Royal Blue 3883 yards. In other words, if you can walk and swing a club you

can play Sand Valley. Kudos to that . . .

 

From the orange tees (6500 yards), the short par 4 - 1st hole plays just

325 yards. A slight right to left shaped shot with a fairway club is the play

here as the fairway falls off to the native area on the right. Nothing more

than a wedge for your approach.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At 395 yards, the dogleg right 2nd requires discipline. No more than a 230 yard

tee shot leaves you just short of the cross bunkers (shown above). An uphill semi-

blind approach shot to a severly sloped green (back right to bottom left) will be

the first true test of the day. The miss here is short, anything missed pin high

left or right leaves a brutal chance to get up and down.

 

 

 

 

 

The par 3 - 3rd is another example of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw's affinity

for the designs of C.B MacDonald and Seth Raynor. This modern day "Redan"

is 192 yards but plays shorter because it's slightly downhill and the crest of the

slope will feed the ball towards any hole location. I executed the shot to the top

of the slope and it played exactly as it was designed feeding across the green

leaving an uphill 15 footer. Be careful to not overcook a draw into the left bunker,

the native sand is a true hazard at SV.

 

 

 

 

 

The par 5 - 4th is the longest hole on the course at 593 yards from the tips

(557 from the orange tees). It plays directly uphill so three accurate well

struck shots are required here. This particular hole design felt reminiscent

of Coore/Crenshaw's prior work at Sugarloaf Mountain.

 

 

 

 

 

The 164 yard par 3 - 5th is a bit of a sleeper. The extreme elevation of the

tee makes it plays far less than the actual yardage, but don't underestimate the

challenge here. Notice the far left pin position, it appears fairly innocent from this

view, but there is about a 6 foot circle to land your ball or else it will be repelled

in nearly every direction. This hole location offers perhaps the greatest amount of

slope of perhaps any on the course. A great short par 3.

 

 

 

 

 

The 455 yard par 4 -sixth was not only the toughest hole on the course, but

it was also one that impressed from a design perspective, but it likely won't

be a favorite of the masses. I'm a big advocate of playing eclectic tees during

a given round, either to accommodate your skill set or to create more buzz

amongst your group on a given hole. The 6th is a prime example, the big hitter

will welcome the exam, while the senior or high handicap player can get

bludgeoned on a brute like the sixth. The better player will take the bold line

challenging the left fairway bunker, while the recreational player will have to

play around the hazard. In other words, choose your tee box wisely.

 

 

 

 

 

6th

 

 

 

 

A closer view of the sixth shows the 6th fairway bunker and large greenside

sand that guards the right half of the green.

 

 

 

 

Notice the freshly cut green complex here on the sixth, I was the first one

on the course and was setting a blistering pace of play. After a big tee shot

and a less than mediocre approach, this 90 foot shortgame test was presented

(and failed to be executed successfully).

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 536 yard par 5 - seventh tee

 

 

 

 

This linear fairway bunker guards the left side and acts as a clever misdirection

to the shortgrass tha trails to the left.

 

 

 

 

 

A closer look at the bunkers at SV shows off Bill Coore's minimalist style.

Many of the Sand Valley's hole designs will remind fans of their fine work

at Bandon Trails.

 

 

 

 

 

The green complex at  the seventh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The front nine at SV is about as memorable as any we've experienced in

recent memory, a super mix of short/long, challenging and fun. After the

demanding sixth, the finishing three of the outward nine are just a blast,

and offer legit opportunities to get healthy on the scorecard. The short uphill

eighth is no exception - it played 118 yards, requiring nothing but a smooth

and precise wedge.

 

 

 

 

The driveable downhill ninth may be the most fun design on the course. It

played 281 yards to the front pin, which is just about at my maximum for

the big stick, so we had to have a go. What a hole! I was pin high left in the

swale between the trees and bunkers and it took a pretty creative pitch to

get out of there with a par.

 

 

 

 

Another view of the ninth, you didn't come all the way to Nekoosa to lay up,

with tees ranging from 150 yards to 305 yards there's risk/reward opportunity

for everyone - so find the tee box that gives you a chance and let it rip.

 

 

 

 

The green complex at the ninth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The view of the 541 yard par 5 tenth from Craig's Porch. The line for big hitters is

directly over the center bunker.

 

 

 

 

 

The approach at the tenth shows the overall right to left tilt of the green

complex. The best angle to this green is from the left side allowing for

the ground game to be a factor.


 

 

 

 

 

It only plays 387 yards, but the eleventh demands respect and a slight draw between the bunkers.

 

 

 

 

 

The green complex at the eleventh plays slightly uphill, anything short will be

repelled back down the towards the fairway. Beyond the green, you can see

the mound and thick rough, leaving a slim chance to save par.

 

 

 

 

 

The photo from the back right side of the eleventh green shows the severe

tilt from back to front.

 

 

 

 

 

12th tee

 

 

 

 

 

With hundreds of acres of native sand visible at SV, this fairway cross bunker

at the twelfth is probably my favorite gnarled creation - it looks demonic and

spectacular all at the same time. Just magnificent stuff by the Cooore/Crenshaw

design squad. Having stated such, I'm thrilled to say that I didn't have to play

out of it.

 

 

 

 

 

And of course they follow it with yet another just a few yards closer to the green.

 

 

 

 

 

The 175 yard par 3 fourteenth felt like we were dropped off at Pine Valley, a

rugged beauty that is easily to be enamored with. Overall, the one shotters at

SV are a top shelf and offer magnificent variety of design and length - one short

(8th), two medium (3 & 14) and one long (17). Here at the fourteenth, the two

levels require proper distance control to have a decent chance at birdie.

 

 

 

 

15

 

 

 

 

 

The tee on the dogleg left 451 yard par 4 sixteenth, easily the most formidable on the inward side.

 

 

 

 

You can tell by the ominous sky that we were lucky to get this round in

(and this was after a nearly 2 1/2 hour delay between each nine). Stay

out of this nasty bunker at all costs, located dead center in the middle

of the fairway at the sixteenth. Par on this hole is quite an achievement.

 

 

 

 

 

The "Punch Bowl" par 3 seventeenth is a beast. It played all of 226 yards to the

back flag location. Torch your Sunday best over the right mound and the contours

will do the rest. Needing two birds to get back to level, this was going to require

something special.

 

 

 

 

 

If you're a fan of course design, you're likely to appreciate the green complex

here on the seventeenth, the slopes will assist in funneling even slightly errant

shots onto the putting surface, but from there the task has just begun. There are

numerous ripples waves and knobs in this green that quickly have you realizing

that the the strike from the tee was perhaps the easy step.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The par 5 eighteenth is a fantastic finisher. Playing straight uphill at 507

yards from the orange tees. Avoid the trouble, and perhaps your two best

swings will give you a chance to walk off on high note.

 

 

 

 

The bunkering around the eighteenth is vast, and luckily I managed to avoid it,

but couldn't resist capturing this image from 50 yards out. A successful up and

down from just in font of this green made lunch taste just bit sweeter.

 

 

 

 

Breakfast, lunch, dinner or anything in between, the Mammoth Terrace (above)

and Mammoth Bar & Grill is the perfect setting to relax and enjoy the Heathland

views, and delicious food and spirits.

 

 

An Ode to MK

As I headed east towards Erin Hills to cover the circus that is the U.S Open, it

dawned on me - It's a great time to be golfer, especially in North America, and a

lion's share of that is due in large part to one man - Mike Keiser. It's not just the golf

landscapes like Bandon, Cabot and Sand Valley that he has founded through his

vision and resources, but it's also his incredible conservation efforts like the Wild

Rivers Coast Alliance and the native foliage and natural plant life preserves that he

demands his course designers protect on each and every parcel of the properties

that have become links sanctuaries to us all. What he does with his influence and

Passion is create and preserve the things that we often don't appreciate enough.

He consistently makes things better than he found them and surrounds himself

with talented people who share the vision that bonds lovers of golf in it's most

minimal state. Even the most humble leaders of industry need to be acknowledged,

for they are rare and irreplaceable. Thank You Mr.Keiser . . .

 
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