In a state that has features Whistling Straits and Erin Hills, it is saying something when the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel touts Sand Valley in Town of Rome, Wisconsin, as perhaps “the most ambitious golf development project ever undertaken in Wisconsin.”
Gary D’Amato reports the Bill Coore, ASGCA, and Ben Crenshaw designed “first course at Sand Valley is under construction. Thirteen holes will be seeded by mid-September and the other five will be seeded next spring. Founding members will be able to play nine holes by the summer and the full 18 will open to the public in 2017.
“Coore has designed golf courses all over the world — on the Oregon coast, in the sand hills of Nebraska, on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia and in exotic locations such as Tasmania and Hainan Island in China.
“He has never seen a site quite like Sand Valley.
“‘It really doesn’t remind me of anything,’ Coore said. ‘Everybody wants to make the comparisons. It’s like this, it’s like that. Sand Valley, no, it doesn’t remind me of anything. That’s what’s so neat about it. It’s Sand Valley. It’s not trying to be Pine Valley or Pinehurst. It’s itself.’
“Considering the habitat restoration and what Sand Valley will mean to the local economy, the resort is destined to join SentryWorld (1982), Blackwolf Run (1988), Whistling Straits (1998) and Erin Hills (2006) as the most important golf course developments in Wisconsin in the last half-century.
“But what about the golf experience itself?
“Two words come to mind: Fabulous and memorable.
“I toured Sand Valley for a third time last week — Coore was out on a Toro Sand Pro, shaping a green — and the transformation of the land is difficult to describe.
“The rough grading uncovered expanses of sand as far as the eye can see; a massive lake covered central Wisconsin in prehistoric times and the sand goes down 200 feet here. With the red pines removed, only scraggly jack pines and specimen oaks remain and the rolling terrain is exposed.
“There is no sign of civilization and wind whistles across the desolate landscape. The place looks and feels like eastern Montana.
“What makes Sand Valley special, though, is that it’s also a habitat restoration project of immense size and scope. What was once a sprawling red pine plantation — a monoculture not unlike a cornfield — will be returned to a 1,700-acre sand barren, home to native plants such as prickly pear cactus and wild lupine, and endangered species such as the Karner blue butterfly and Kirtland’s warbler.
“‘Restoring that jack pine sand barren was one of our main goals,’ said Michael Keiser Jr., the project manager at Sand Valley. ‘We’ve cleared 800 acres of pine. We are seeding with native species, but one thing I’ve been amazed by is the seed bank in the ground. They have been dormant for 90 years, and they have popped up on their own.
“‘It’s been incredible to experience that. It’s a huge part of our mission.’
The complete artcile can be found here.