Sand Valley, a premier resort destination set amid 12,000 acres of prehistoric sand dunes, this week announced plans to expand its golf and resort experience. Construction on Sedge Valley, the third 18-hole design to be built on resort property, will begin this spring under the direction of architect Tom Doak and Renaissance golf design.
Sedge Valley will add to the resort’s collection of top-rated amenities, Sand Valley (Bill Coree and Ben Crenshaw), Mammoth Dunes (David McLay Kidd), The Sandbox (Coore and Crenshaw) and the future Lido, which will open to resort members and guests in 2023.
“The golf experience at Sedge Valley is completely different from anything on the property,” said the Sand Valley co-owner. Michael Keizer noted. “Tom Doak transitions so easily from the large-scale engineering project of the Lido to this much more intimate design. The greens are the heart and soul of any golf course. Watching him identify and work his route to these incredible green spots was an amazing process, it’s the way the greats have always done it.
Sedge Valley occupies an intimate portion of the Sand Valley property rich in sandy soil, native ground cover and a prominent rock outcrop. Sand Valley owners Michael and Chris Keizer gave Doak the green light to follow his own inspiration for Sedge Valley – and it started with identifying the most exciting and best green locations the earth had to offer.
“When you don’t have to think about extending a course to 7,300 yards, you can start thinking about finding cool green sites without worrying about how close they are,” Doak said. “I don’t have to worry so much that a steep slope at the edge of the green is ‘unfair’ if you approach it relatively short. My idea for Sedge Valley is to bring back a more intimate scale and build classic-style holes that everyone can enjoy, but may require some compromise from the long, wild hitters.
Sedge Valley is expected to open in 2024.
“These are exciting times for Sand Valley,” Keizer said. “The Lido is growing and will open in 2023. Sedge Valley will follow a year later, with some significant additions to the resort experience, which we will announce soon.”
Q: How does Sedge Valley contrast with the two existing courses in Sand Valley?
Tom Doak: The first two courses at Sand Valley are among the biggest and widest ever built. They invite you to swing, but you rarely think of the word “finesse” to describe them. My idea for Sedge Valley is to bring back a more intimate scale and build classic style holes that everyone can enjoy but may require compromise from the long and wild hitter.
Q: Sedge Valley borrows from English interior designs. For the golfer who may be familiar with link designs, explain some of the features they will find here.
TD: The moorland courses built around London in the early 1900s were the first great indoor golf courses and Sedge Valley will incorporate some of these features – the native ground cover as a strategic element, for example. This property has sand, open stretches, good terrain and intriguing greens – the fundamentals of holes that hold up over time.
Q: What work did you consider in the design of Sedge Valley?
TD: Harry Colt made hundreds of excellent courses on all types of properties, including moorland and links courses, and he was one of many designers whose best work remains relevant, interesting and challenging. The inspiration for Sedge Valley comes from a handful of courses that never stretched far beyond their original scope – Colt’s Swinley Forest and Rye, Mr Guy Campbell and CK Hutchison‘s West Sussex, Woking by Tom DunnThe Addington by JF Abercrombyand Tom SimpsonNew Zealand Golf Club. These are designs that have remained essentially unchanged over time. I can’t think of a higher standard.
Q: Michael Keizer says Sedge Valley has perhaps the most interesting collection of green sites in the resort. What does this mean for you as a designer?
TD: When you don’t have to think about extending a course to 7,300 yards, you can start thinking about finding cool green spots, not worrying about how close they are. The fifth at Sedge Valley is a 290-yard par-4 with a thin shelf green. It’s the kind of hole that gets long hitters in trouble because they feel compelled to attack even when it’s not wise. This freedom in length also means that consecutive par 3 holes are acceptable, provided they are different. Sixth and seventh at Sedge Valley will be 150 yards and 220 yards, respectively.
Thus, the overall design allows us to focus more on the green sites themselves. … Looking for great green sites. We found them here, and credit to Michael and Chris for allowing us to build around these great sites.
Q: Your work varies greatly in scope and scale. What will golfers discover in Sedge Valley that might surprise them?
TD: One of the most charming parts of the game is just the sheer social interaction – which is why strategic courses that lend themselves to match play are so much fun. You lose something when you have to design for the longest and most powerful players. I don’t think you should build a course that separates players by thousands of yards on the scorecard. A truly great course invites different styles of play but also encourages a shared experience. I think it’s still possible to make it work, and I believe Sedge Valley will show it.