Sand Valley has become such a hot destination in such a short amount of time - opening three courses in central Wisconsin since 2017 - that it's no surprise golf travelers have more than a few questions about how to best enjoy this unique resort.
I tackle the latest question in this "Ask Golf Advisor" segment, a comment dropped by reader 'Lawrence' in my story comparing Bandon Dunes and Sand Valley.
"Planning a trip to Wisconsin at end of August. Will play Whistling Straits and Erin Hills. Wondering about including Sand Valley or do at a separate visit? Thanks"
As with any golf trip, it comes to how much money and time do you have? But, in a perfect world, I'd split The American Club/Destination Kohler and Sand Valley into two trips, which it sounds like Lawrence can do. My reasoning? Both are standalone bucket-list destinations that deserve your full attention. Stay awhile. Don't rush them. If you want more golf, there are options near both.
The first time I visited Sand Valley in 2017, I wrote about a great "golf trail" in central Wisconsin. Within 60 miles of Sand Valley, you could easily drive to find SentryWorld, a splendid parkland Robert Trent Jones Jr. design in Stevens Point; hit up Wild Rock at Wilderness Resort or the 27-hole Trapper's Turn in the Wisconsin Dells or explore the 36-hole Golf Courses of Lawsonia in Green Lake, where the Links course has become a favorite of architecture buffs. When the new boutique inn opens at SentryWorld in 2021, all three of these locations (Green Lake, Stevens Point, Wisconsin Dells) will offer their own lodging.
Add any of these side trips to the trio of Mammoth Dunes by David McLay Kidd and Sand Valley and the 17-hole Sandbox par 3 course (both by Coore & Crenshaw), you've got yourself an incredible week of golf. I'd be tempted to go around Mammoth Dunes a second time and/or take a lesson with hickory clubs, which includes more golf on The Sandbox.
Going back to Lawrence's original itinerary, he already should have five rounds booked - both courses at Whistling Straits and Blackwolf Run, plus Erin Hills an hour away in Hartford. If battling four Pete Dye courses and the 2017 U.S. Open host isn't enough to thrust your game into submission, he could also tack on The Bull at Pinehurst Farms, a tough Jack Nicklaus course in nearby Sheboygan Falls. If traveling up from Chicago or Milwaukee, Brown Deer Park (long-time PGA Tour host) or The Bog by Arnold Palmer in Saukville are on the way.
As you can see, Wisconsin's an embarrassment of riches when it comes to golf. It's only getting better, too. In 2021, Kohler will debut The Baths at Blackwolf Run, a 10-hole, par-3 course, and hopes to eventually add a fifth course that is currently entangled in political and environmental red tape. I personally can't wait to see what Tom Doak comes up with while adding a fourth course, the par-68 Sedge Valley, at Sand Valley in 2022.