Plop architect David McLay Kidd down on pure sand and he's as happy as, well, a kid in a sandbox. Past sand-based triumphs at Bandon Dunes and Gamble Sands have steered the 50-year-old Scotsman to his latest playground, Mammoth Dunes at Sand Valley. Coming on the heels of the central Wisconsin resort's well-received inaugural Coore-Crenshaw layout, which debuted in 2017, Kidd's walking-only creation arrives with giant expectations. Following preview play last fall of a dozen or so holes, plus a peek at the finished product in early spring, the verdict is in: Mammoth Dunes is big—as in, a big winner.
Situated on a huge natural sand deposit 170 miles northwest of Milwaukee and 55 miles north of the Wisconsin Dells, Sand Valley is the brainchild of Bandon Dunes developer Mike Keiser. It was Keiser who championed the return of this commercial (pines-for-pulp) property to its original sand barrens state, and he chose Kidd to tackle the resort's second course in part because of their shared Bandon history, and in part due to Kidd's renewed commitment to course design that emphasizes fun. Highlights at Mammoth Dunes include enormously roomy fairways, vast areas of open sand and gigantic greens.
With a scale that at times dwarfs Sand Valley's namesake course, Mammoth Dunes wows early and often. Most memorable are the drivable, 332-yard, par-4 sixth, which features a horseshoe-shaped green and a humongous sand feature short and right; and the 128-yard, par-3 13th, which demands a carry over a 50-foot-deep sand chasm to a slender, 150-foot-deep, wind-lashed green. Bottom line? Mammoth Dunes is our idea of a sand blast.