For eight years WiscoGolfAddict has been covering what’s new in Central Wisconsin as revolutionary golf course designs and concepts at Sand Valley have opened to rave reviews and vaulted the property and its two championship layouts into national prominence.
When Coore & Crenshaw’s original Sand Valley course opened for play in May 2017 its rugged, sand-swept terrain offered a brand new style of play to Wisconsin’s incredible public course portfolio, and David McLay Kidd’s Mammoth Dunes blew us away with its gargantuan size and scale. The Sandbox, similarly, gave us something we never knew we were missing: A pocket-sized journey through Golden Age golf course architecture by way of 17 mesmerizing green complexes.
With two projects currently under development, we can all start looking forward to a 2024 debut of Tom Doak’s Sedge Valley – a par 68 course planned to measure around 6,000 yards – and weekday visitors and club members can start counting down the days until the opening of maybe the most revolutionary new experience yet at Sand Valley in the Spring of 2023: The Lido.
Transformed from a jack pine and oak savanna across the street from the resort’s main entrance, The Lido is a restoration project the likes of which the golf world has never seen.
Being painstakingly recreated based on years of research by golf historian and competitive hickory player Peter Flory, The Lido is being constructed to the foot based on historical information and photos used to create a nearly exact 3D digital model of its Long Island, New York predecessor. Its shot values, scale and terrain will almost mirror CB Macdonald’s original masterpiece, which was hailed by many as one of the greatest layouts in the world and for as long as I can remember the number one NLE (no longer existing) course on the planet.
Michael, Jr. and Chris Keiser, along with Doak, his associate Brian Schneider and the team at Renaissance Golf Design, are pulling out all the stops to make this recreation perfect. From the flow of the land to its water features and tremendous scale that can only be comprehended in person, the only details visitors will miss here are the Atlantic Ocean (and its constant winds), traffic and potholes along the Long Island Expressway.
This concept of innovation through restoration is not totally unique to our times. All across the country, great Golden Age courses are undergoing restoration and restovation projects to recapture their makers’ intents. What was old and at a time sent to pasture (or more typically overgrown to the point of losing its strategic value or, in the case of the original Lido, repurposed as a US Naval base) is again being returned to prominence, and if you’ve followed WiscoGolfAddict for any amount of time you know we’re huge fans of it.
Probably the best example of this in our part of the world is the Links course at Lawsonia, a master study in restoration of genius architects’ (Langford/Moreau) design intentions. A 1930 links-style gem that over time transitioned into a parkland track, Craig Haltom and Oliphant Golf razed its forested slate clean, again exposing Langford and Moreau’s thrilling architecture to the delight of golf enthusiasts worldwide.
Lawsonia Links or Blue Mound Golf & Country Club are probably the closest comparisons you’ll find to The Lido in Wisconsin, by the way. Curvy with heavily mounded, elevated greens and low, pot-style bunkers, the course will be the hickory player’s Mecca and the contemporary’s introduction to golf as it was meant to be.
The original golf architect, CB Macdonald
The Godfather of American Golf, CB Macdonald coined the term “Golf Architect” and built our country’s first 18-hole course, the Chicago Golf Club, in 1893. His studies while at St. Andrews University in Scotland and under Old Tom Morris led him to 21 perfect hole designs, or templates, that could be thoughtfully replicated. Macdonald implemented these templates at Chicago, Sleepy Hollow, the National Golf Links of America, Yale, Piping Rock, Greenbrier (Old White), Mid Ocean and others, and shared his knowledge and expertise with protege Seth Raynor.
Macdonald and Raynor’s work has more than passed the test of time, and has in fact become the preeminent example of exemplary course design in America, especially in the past ten or so years since golf architecture has dug its feet in the sand as a bona fide passion for so many golf enthusiasts – myself included. If you’re looking for an interesting conversation, by the way, bring up the concept of “Armchair architects” to an actual course designer and see where things go.
They say The Lido was some of Macdonald’s best work, and from the design it’s easy to see why. Great hazards are incorporated throughout its fescue- and sand-laden terrain, and incredible green complexes make finding the right sections of its putting surfaces a necessity. For a 6,582-yard course with no trees and very little water in play, it will be no pushover.
While I do not have an individual picture of each hole, I did spend time with the scorecard and their website to match up photos from my recent visit with the routing players will walk:
While showing the overall property well, these high-up aerials don’t do justice to the scale of The Lido. For that I wish I would have spent more time on and lower to the ground. Thankfully, fellow Wisconsin golf enthusiast Jerry Rossi posted some shots in July that I think captured it better:
Look no further than his images of the Channel fourth to witness the essence of this property: Its scale is massive and dramatic.
That par five Channel hole is probably the one I’m most excited to play. It’s choose-your-own-adventure golf with decisions to make throughout, starting of course with which fairway to play off the tee. Then, do you go for it and risk hitting the massive sand trap that fronts the green surrounds or lay up to the fairway short-left for a higher-percentage approach? This is a gorgeous golf hole that is sure to make or break many rounds.
The green I’m most looking forward to experiencing is on the par four 12th. I love a good Punchbowl template, and this one looks tremendous.
Similarly, the par three 16th that plays between 170 and 206 yards looks like an all-world Redan:
I will certainly be writing much more on The Lido in the future, but for now you’re probably wondering “Can I play it?”
How can I play it?
The Lido will be a private golf club with access for its membership. There will also be limited weekday tee times available for resort guests who are staying on-site.
There are currently nine holes playable for members and their guests with plans to open the full 18 by the end of the season. No guest play is allowed, though, without a member in the group.
The club plans to open fully in the Spring of 2023 and will feature its own clubhouse and amenities. Like the rest of the golf world, I cannot wait to experience this brand new classic course.