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TST Takes on Sand Valley, WI (July 18-23, 2021)

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Wisconsin Trip Composite Course

Hole #1 - Sand Valley 
This was the best starting hole of the four courses. SV #1 is a drivable par 4 for some, but one were driver can give you an easy pitch or a putt for eagle, but also put you in a really nasty spot. A 3-wood off the tee leaves you with a difficult 2nd short shot to the green due to the green complex. I really like this hole. 

Hole #2 - Mammoth Dunes
A solid par 4 with a wide landing area off the tee, but a bunker in the fairway to challenge the direct angle to the green. I think LLB #2 is just a bad hole. Sand Valley #2 is just not enjoyable because of how penalizing it is to miss the green anywhere but short. 

Hole #3 - Sand Valley
I like this par 3, it has a lot of variety in pin positions. If the pin is left, you can challenge it or end up in a very nasty lie left or bail out right. This was close with MD #3, a good par 5 where you can challenge the hole on the left to cut some distance off your 2nd shot. 

Hole #4 - Sand Valley
An OK par 5, but its really that the other holes were not as strong as this one. They were all par 3's, but non of them were all that interesting. 

Hole #5 - Sand Valley
This is a really good downhill par 3. It's not a long par 3, and the green his huge, but with a lot of contour. The wind can swirl a bit making the shot selection difficult. I like the view and challenge of this par 3.

Hole #6 - Lawsonia 
A nice long par 4 with a difficult 2nd down hill, to a green with a false front. I like this hole, a solid straight forward par 4. I think if the tees at Sand Valley allowed you to see the entire fairway to the left, it would take this spot. 

Hole #7 - Sand Valley
This might be a controversial pick for some, but I liked this par 5. You do have to check the yardages, but you either challenge the hole with a driver, and have a view of the green where you can challenge carrying the long bunker, or you can lay back off the tee and then play out to the right for your 2nd shot. It is a hole that you need to play once to realize how far right you can go. 

Hole #8 - Sand Valley 
A par 3 up the hill, that is protected left and short. The green has some big contours. It's a nice difficult short par 3. 

Hole #9 - Lawsonia 
This is a nice par 5, where you actually get to see the hole from the tee box. You have to challenge the hole on the right to have a shot of getting near the green in two, but with it being a dog leg right, there is plenty of landing area off the tee. 

Hole #10 - Mammoth Dunes
This was a tough decision between MD and SV. I went with MD because I liked the challenge of this short par 4 that has a tricky 2nd shot to the green. You can challenge the green off the tee, but you will be left with a tough short game shot. If you lay back, then the approach shot is also difficult. SV is a good par 5 that is reachable in two, but for me the drive is not interesting. Honestly, this is close to a toss up for me. 

Hole #11 - Lawsonia
This is just a solid par 5. With a good tee shot, you have a great chance at going at this green in two, which is large, but protected by three bunkers. 

Hole #12 - Sand Valley
I really like this par 5. It's a split fairway par 5, where the landing area for most will be a wide area. You just have to miss the two trees that split the fairway. The fairway to the left is elevated giving you a great look of the hole. If you have the distance, you can challenge the gap between the two bunkers that constrict the fairway where they meet up. There is a nice bank to the left of the green that funnels shots back to the green. 

Hole #13 - Lawsonia
I like this par 5 because if you hit a great 2nd shot you can reach the green in two, or come up just short for an easy pitch. If you miss hit the 2nd shot you will hit a big bank and funnel back down into a small valley about 80-120 yards short of the green. Then you will have a tricky 3rd shot. A good challenging longer par 5. 

Hole #14 - Mammoth Dunes
This is a good short par 4, with a good drive you can challenge the front of the green. The bunker blocks the line to the green and forces a good strike. You can lay up short left which leaves you with a more blind shot to the green, but a flat lie. You can lay up right, have a clear look at the green, but maybe get a more challenging lie for your 2nd shot. The green is large, with a slight backstop to the left to catch errant shots.  

Hole #15 - Lawsonia
I like this par 4, it requires a good drive to have a short iron into a small green that is tucked back to the right. It is a good mix of hitting a good line off the tee to get a good angle to a smaller green. A nice challenging shorter par 4. 

Hole #16 - Sand Valley
I really like this par 4. The bunker challenges you off the tee to hit a great shot to have a mid iron into the green. If you clear the bunker, there is a big slope the rewards you with extra yardage. You have a line left of the bunker that is super aggressive. You can lay back right, but have a long iron into the green. The green is pretty large with bail out areas left and slightly long left. A bunker protects the front right. Any shot that ends up short is a very tricky pitch shot. Just a really challenging, and rewarding par 4. 

Hole #17 - Mammoth 
Mostly, I went with Mammoth because it was a par 4, and it was the better par 4 over Lawsonia. This was probably the weakest collection of holes over the four courses. SV par 3 was interesting at first, but I wish you could see the green. LLB par 3 is just a generic mid range par 3. 

Hole #18 - Sand Valley
If it wasn't for SV having one of the best finishing holes I've played in a long time, this would be extremely hard to pick. At SV, the finishing hole is a visually stunning par 5 up the hill. You have to navigate bunkers in the middle of the fairway, and bunkers that encroach on the right and left side. You can lay back to a wider landing area, or hit driver to make this a reachable par 5. The 2nd shot is tricky with a boomerang shaped green that lets you funnel a cut off some slopes. Right is a very difficult bunker shot. Just enough risk to make you think about going for it in two. Just a fantastic finishing hole. 

Sand Valley - 9, Mammoth - 4, Lawsonia - 5, LLB - 0

Overall, Sand Valley took half of the holes for me. Lawsonia came in 2nd, but because the last 10 golf holes are very strong contenders. LLB didn't get picked, mostly because a lot of their holes were just OK to golf, but their very good holes got out shined by the other courses. 


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Hole #1 - Sand Valley

Fun par 4 that gives you the choice to try driving the green or laying back to a wide fairway. The green is one where you have to pay attention to your spin and where you land the ball. It's tiered and slick. It's not an easy par if you lay up off the tee and wedge it on. 

Hole #2 - Sand Valley

This one will be controversial, but it's a no brainer in my eyes. It required to you make a decision off the tee on whether to hit 3 wood or driver, and then your line mattered a great deal on what club you hit into the green. Missing right of the green is death, yes, but short is fine and left isn't terrible. I don't mind that challenge, personally.

Hole #3 - Mammoth Dunes

I thought this was an incredible par 5. A good drive gives you a good shot to go for it in 2. If you clear the big bunker hiding the green, you will have a good look at eagle. If you don't commit to that line, you still have the chance at a par. Not seeing the green leads to some excitement as you approach it. Fun hole.

Hole #4 - Lac La Belle

I think this is more by default than anything. It's a par 3 with a punchbowl style green. A lot of balls will end up in the same spot, but the challenge is pretty straightforward. I liked the hole. Lawsonia #4 was a tough par 3 that was a bit forgettable. SV #4 was an uphill par 5 that was (nearly) impossible to get at in 2 and not that memorable. Mammoth #4 was a good par 3, but I preferred Lac La Belle's par 3 to it.

Hole #5 - Mammoth Dunes

Dramatic downhill par 4. The line off the tee is very important, because you can end up with a blind second from 200 (like I had), or you can end up with a wedge from a flat spot with a view of the green.

Hole #6 - Lawsonia

A downhill par 4. Mounds off the tee hide the dangerous bunkers that are in play with your tee shot. The green is raised from the end of the fairway, meaning a short miss is left with a 20 yard pitch up a 15 foot slope. Even though it appears downhill, from where you approach the green, I actually think the green is on the same elevation as the approach. Good visual trick. Really fun hole.

Hole #7 - Lawsonia

Great par 3. Downhill shot to an elevated green. Do not miss the green, or you're what seems like 40 feet below the surface of the green. It's definitely a tough hole, but it was short enough that it felt reasonably fair.

Hole #8 - Sand Valley

This is sort of the uphill version of the previous hole. Short par 3, but you're hitting up a hill. The green is narrow but actually pretty big. Missing the green left or right is death (as I found out on both days). Nice little test of your wedge or short iron game after a couple of really tough holes.

Hole #9 - Lawsonia

Pretty much the same things @saevel25said above. You can cut the corner of the dogleg and try to go for the green in 2 if you want. If you lay back, you have to pay attention to bunkers at about 150 out on the left and right. Fun par 5 where eagle and double are in pay.

Hole #10 - Sand Valley

For my money, the best hole on the resort property. Centerline bunker forces you to choose whether to play left and try to get a shorter, easier shot at the green, or play right and have to challenge a long carry over sand if you go for it in 2. Plenty of space to lay up short of that bunker, but the pin placement may prevent a look at birdie with lay up.

Hole #11 - Mammoth Dunes

This was a visually challenging hole. You didn't quite know what to do off the tee because of how the bunkers looked from the tee box. If you managed to overcome that, you had to pay a lot of attention to your lay up because the green was pretty narrow. I almost went with the redan at Lac La Belle here, but this just barely edged it out. Lawsonia's par 5 was good, but it was a little forgettable. SV was also just a straightforward par 4. So it's MD by a hair over LLB for me.

Hole #12 - Sand Valley

Another fun par 5. It's gettable in 2, but you have to avoid a few bunkers off the tee. A shot up the left might be the shortest short, then you have to get over 150 yards of sand to get to the green. A shot to the right has bunkers narrowing the fairway right in your landing zone. The green makes a lay up something you have to pay attention to, as well.

Hole #13 - Mammoth Dunes

Short, downhill par 3. Green is a really funky shape, and it's hard to tell exactly what it looks like until you get to the green. You have to trust your yardage a lot here. There are opportunities for birdies with a great shot, but also an easy way to make a double with a bad tee shot. This is a bit by default, although I liked this hole. Lawsonia's 13 was not my favorite, LLB 13 was not great, and SV 13 was not that memorable.

Hole #14 - Mammoth Dunes

Driveable par 4, but could be penalizing if you miss in the wrong spot. There's an asshole bunker in the middle of the fairway, and left of the fairway leaves you a 50 yard sand shot. You can roll the ball onto the green. The only negative was that all our tee shots seemed to end up in the same spot, and everything funneled towards the green, meaning there wasn't that much jeopardy with a bad approach. Still a fun hole.

Hole #15 - Lawsonia

An uphill par 4 where you had to pay close attention to your drive. You need to be on the left to have a clear approach at the green. Again, this is not a strong offering of holes in my opinion. A winner by default.

Hole #16 - Sand Valley

Tough but fair par 4. Gives you a choice of a long or short approach based on how much risk you want to take on with your drive. The green is interesting but not unfair, and small enough that there is a benefit to taking the risk on with your drive. 

Hole #17 - Sand Valley

I liked this hole, personally. Even though it's a 240 yard par 3 (or par 4, depending on your view of it...), it's not as tough as the yardage would indicate. A shot that goes 200 yards gives you a good chance at birdie. A bad shot is recoverable. I liked it.

Hole #18 - Sand Valley

A solid finishing hole. Only negative for me is that going for it in 2 is likely out for most golfers. But the green is fun, and there are some funnel pins that give you a bonus for playing smart, away from the hole. I like it as a finishing hole, even though an uphill trek is the last thing you want after getting beaten up by Sand Valley all day.

Had one hole for LLB, 8 from SV, 4 from Lawsonia, and 5 from MD. Seems about right, given my ratings of them. I picked 6 par 5s, 4 par 3s, and then 8 par 4s, so it's a par 74 apparently.

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My memories and reviews of the courses we played, finally:


10 of 10

Just fun, 40 yards to 170, most under 100 yards, many options to play each hole, including putting, low lofted chip and run, to traditional pitches.  Highlights include 5 or 6 birdies the first two days, 1 over par on day 2 for total 52 strokes.  Also was the first to lose the “no sixes” challenge by going bunker to bunker on Hole 2 on the first day.

Mammoth Dunes


Huge golf course, first fairway was over 100 yards wide, first green was probably 50 yards wide.  Maybe reading the Golf Club Atlas article helped me, but I was able to discern the major v-shaped ridge the course was built on and around.  Greens were generally pretty welcoming on many sides, in lots of areas a ball would funnel onto the putting surface.  However,  there were a few very deep greenside bunkers, in particular on the short 13th.  I enjoyed the course while playing fairly poorly.  Given the width of most fairways, I think additional rounds would lead a player to explore a variety of angles, there were a lot of ways to play most of the holes.  Or maybe the best way to play a hole would vary significantly depending on pin position.  I’d like to get a chance to figure it out a little more.

Sand Valley


From satellite photos it would be hard to discern many differences between Sand Valley and Mammoth Dunes, but playing them becomes two very different experiences.  At Sand Valley the fairways seem a bit tighter, and the areas surround the greens generally funnel balls away from the green.  To me, this meant it played substantially tougher.  I also felt like there were more uphill walks, especially on the front 9, including several climbs to get from a green to the next tee.  Of course, that type of design tends to result in downhill tee shots, as was the case for almost every hole here.  A notable exception was Hole 7 (Dan’s favorite), which required a blind uphill drive to a “fade” fairway with sand on both sides beyond a certain distance.  Highlights for me were #1, with birdies both days, and #17 with two pars (driver on day 1, 3-wood on day 2).  Lowlights were some kind of high number on #2 (first day) after playing back and forth across the raised green a few times.

All in all, I think I prefer Mammoth Dunes, but I’m glad we played Sand Valley twice. If I lived and played here regularly, I’d probably play Mammoth 6 times out of 10.  If I get back there, I’ll almost certainly play shorter tees than I did.   

Lawsonia Links.


We went from modern courses designed by well-respected current designers to a 90-year old course, designed by well-respected designers of their time.  I really enjoyed the look of this course, its a style from a bygone era.  For the most part the course appears to follow the original terrain.  But the designers dug relatively linear bunkers and/or hollows, piling the excavated material to form linear mounds.  And they moved a lot of earth for at least a few of the greens, creating very steep drop-offs.  In many cases, the bunkers and mounds were well short of the greens, requiring a shot to carry the bunker or hollow, but not requiring the ball to carry all the way to the green.  This also confuses the depth perception at times, “just over the bunker” wasn’t anywhere close to being on the green.  Conditions were very good, the greens had plenty of contour, but never seemed to leave an “impossible to get close” putt.  Unlike the very tight turf at the Sand Valley courses, the turf here was a little more lush, so perfect contact on short game shots was a little less critical.  And there was rough, and beyond that some tall fescue, as opposed to the native sand at the previous courses.   The clubhouse and range and other facilities were pretty modest, but the staff were friendly and efficient.  Our foursome enjoyed the first few holes so well we decided that a second 18 was a great idea.  This is also where I had my best round, 76.  As much as I try to evaluate courses based on their merits, the quality of my play is bound to be at least a subconscious factor.

Lac La Belle


This is a very recent rebuild on the site of a previous course.  From what I’ve read, there’s very little remaining from the old course, its been almost entirely redesigned.  Conditions were excellent, and the course is very pretty.  Its pretty demanding in places, with woods or creeks or bunkers on both sides of the fairway, and mostly slightly to significantly elevated greens.  Greens varied, some relatively small, others were huge and heavily contoured.  I thought in that on a few of the greens the slopes were too severe for the speed of the greens, but that was only a few.  The facilities were excellent, a good driving range, nice new clubhouse.  But the course just doesn’t stand out to me, its a good modern golf course.  And there are just a few goofy greens, 60 yards or more deep, really severe contours, its as if they’re done that way to inspire conversation, not to actually play.

All in all, we played some really good golf courses, each and every one.  Of the 5 full-size courses, the ones I’d like to play most are Mammoth Dunes and Lawsonia Links. 

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Hole 1 - Sand Valley (Par 4)

A gentle handshake at Mammoth, a good handshake at Sand Valley, a blind tee shot and the first of many crazy greens at Lawsonia, and a blah start at Lac la Belle.

The winner here is the first at Sand Valley. It's wide enough that you can hit anything from a 4I to a driver, and you can take a bunch of lines even with driver depending on how long you are and how much you want to bite off — it's almost like a quasi-cape hole. The resulting wedge isn't easy to a front pin, either.

Hole 2 - Sand Valley (Par 4)

Lac La Belle is an instant loser here. No need to talk about it more. Lawsonia is semi-blind, though preferring the right side will offer a better line to the green. Mammoth has a great near-center-line bunker that makes it seem as though you want to be left of it, but that's a bit of a trick: the shorter shot will be more blind than from right of the bunker.

Sand Valley wins out here for its tremendous second hole: a driver or, depending on playing shorter tees, less than driver to the end of a fairway where you're better off farther right toward the sandy area for a shorter second and better visibility. The second green is one you'd really like to hit, too, without missing right more than you'd like missing left. It's a solid hole and one of the best at Sand Valley. 

Hole 3 - Mammoth Dunes (Par 5)

A par three at Sand Valley is solid. The third at Lac la Belle is a bit of a dumb hole with a blind 75% cross-hazard where your driver would end up (or a well-hit 3W). This one came down to Lawsonia versus Mammoth Dunes.

In the end I went with the par-five at Mammoth Dunes. I think the green is a bit too big and a bit too contoured, and I don't like how blind it can play from the center of the fairway (yes, which is like 50 yards from the edges), but the third at Lawsonia is solid, good, but not-otherwise-spectacular par four. It is plenty reachable in two, but still leaves some options if you're not quite as long or if you somehow get in a little trouble.

Hole 4 - Mammoth Dunes (Par 3)

Lac la Belle's fourth stinks — the balls end up in the same three places, basically. Lawsonia's fourth is a long, tough par three that's solid, but also just that - a solid, long par three. It doesn't rev your motor, so to speak.

Mammoth features a tough par three with a non-obvious way to get to the hole (play it up the left side, let it feed down) and an obvious bad miss (anything right). Sand Valley has a solid, good par five that's interesting off the tee and for the second shot, with one of the smaller but more interesting greens.

I was going to flip a coin, but then I'd have three par fives in a row, so I went with Mammoth Dunes and the par three.

Hole 5 - Lawsonia Links (Par 5)

The fifth at LLB is a par five where you hit 3W off the tee, then almost lay up with the next shot because the trees on the right block you out. It's not long - I hit 3W, 4I to two-putt from the front fringe/fairway for a birdie. The fifth at Sand Valley is a good, exposed, tabletop par three with some good green movement and a tee on the back side which leads to spectators.

This one was also a toss-up, though, as the fifth at Mammoth Dunes is a solid par four with some interesting strategy - you're better off leaving a longer shot by hitting the tee shot out to the right rather than the blind shot you're left with if you use the "speed slot" down to the left. I thought I'd hit it in the best medium spot… and my ball still kicked down to the left. (Not that I mind a blind shot much.)

One of the few "tighter" holes at Lawsonia, the fifth is a reachable par five with some interesting great bunkers and mounds, and one of the best greens on the course. I two-putted safely from 25 feet for birdie.

I went with Lawsonia here, because it is pretty unique, while there are a decent number of par fours with semi-blind short iron approaches at both Mammoth and Sand Valley, but it was close.

Hole 6 - Lawsonia Links (Par 4)

The worst sixth hole here is clearly the one at Mammoth Dunes. Don't get me started on how dumb the green is. I'm down for some crazy stuff, but since it's a resort course, and players may only play it once or twice in their lifetime, I didn't enjoy the green at all. Not one bit.

Lawsonia's sixth is great. A great green, a great tee shot. Strategy abounds, and you've got to sac up and hit not one but two good shots. Sand Valley's sixth is great, though I wish the second bunker was more visible from the tee because you'd know a bit more what to do off the tee. Both are better than the good Lac la Belle's sixth.

Hole 7 - Mammoth Dunes (Par 5)

LLB's seventh is a 4I and a pitch. Meh. It's a "birdie hole" where you feel kinda bad if you don't birdie. A good hole, but again… meh. Dime a dozen. The seventh at Lawsonia is the famous railroad car par three. Also good, but honestly, the trees pinch in a bit more than I'd like, and the mounding and grass well short of the green obscure your view of the green, so that takes it down a notch.

The seventh at both Mammoth and Sand Valley are par fives, and I birdied them each of the three times I played them. At Mammoth I almost had an albatross, but settled for a two-putt birdie from 15 feet or so. At Sand Valley, I hit Driver, 5I, 5I on the first day and made the 25-footer. On the second day I was closer to the green in two and got up and down for birdie. The cross/crag bunker at Sand Valley complicates things, but I slightly prefer the par five strategy at Mammoth: it's a bit more honest and straightforward, with a bit more risk and reward and penalty involved. Though the tee shot is blind, it's got a big hill that will add 50 yards to your tee shot and give you a good chance at getting up near the green. It's more thrilling than the seventh at SV, so that's how it wins out by a hair for me.

Hole 8 - Lawsonia Links (Par 4)

Par threes all over the place! LLB's is a good mid-length par three vaguely similar to Lawsonia's seventh. Mammoth has a longer par three at 209 that plays with some kickers but downhill, so it's not quite as long as it looks. It has areas to miss, too, that aren't too bad. Sand Valley's eighth is a mid-length hole as well, with a narrow, pear shaped green that really requires some precision.

In the end I enjoyed Lawsonia's par-four eighth the most. You can hit anything from a 5I to a driver off the tee, and the smaller perched green offers a good chance at birdie if you can get it close enough, but will punish a shot played too aggressively toward an edge hole location.

Hole 9 - Mammoth Dunes (Par 4)

The only remaining original hole at LLB is a hybrid/pitch par four. The ninth at Sand Valley is a pretty blah hole as well: 4I/wedge as well. Some will attempt to drive it, but that's really not the ideal strategy. Lawsonia has a good par five played from an elevated tee down to a fairway that angles up and to your right. You can go for it in two, or you can play it as a three-shot hole. It's a thrilling tee shot, but not every par five is great.

The ninth at Mammoth Dunes is a solid hole with a center bunker and a reasonable mid-iron to a green that, yes, funnels balls toward the middle, but which plays with a high bank to the right so any shot right of the centerline bunker plays blind to the hole locations on the right. It's a solid good test that tempts you to swing a bit too hard with the wide fairway… but the straight line to the hole is fraught with danger, and chickening out too far left brings that center bunker into play.

Hole 10 - Sand Valley (Par 5)

10 at Lawsonia, meh. I'll pass. It's either too long for the green it's got, or it's too undulating for the length of the hole. The tenth at LLB is a good, if not boring, golf hole.

10 at Mammoth is a good par four that winds up the hill. You can miss pretty far right and have a wedge in, and Dan pulled his driver but was left with a little pitch. It didn't feel all that challenging, really.

The tenth at Sand Valley is a good par five with a centerline bunker that forces a strategic choice off the tee, which may change depending on the wind and tees and the day. The green has good contours, and scores from albatross when the ball is in the bowl to bogey even with a well played hole are possible.

Hole 11 - Sand Valley (Par 4)

A redan-style hole at LLB (minus the green falling away to the left). The 11th at Mammoth is a par five that has some of the most deceiving distances I'd seen in years. Despite being greenside in two, a large bump made two-putting from just short pretty difficult.

Lawsonia's par five is very good. I may have taken a bit of a shortcut, because I hit a hybrid to a greenside bunker and made birdie. Sand Valley's 11th is a good par four playing to a green with a big fall-off to the right. It takes two good, solid golf shots to play, even if it's not the most riské hole.

I'm in danger of picking too many par fives, so I'm going with Sand Valley's.

Hole 12 - Mammoth Dunes (Par 4)

LLB's 12th, blah. The hole is too long, with ponds that just feel out of place. Make the hole 30 to 40 yards shorter and you've got something. As it was, meh. Lawsonia is just a par three. A good one, but a par three that's… just a par three.

Many will like Sand Valley's 12th for reasons already stated, but I'm going with Mammoth Dunes again here. It's a good par four that has a BIG center bunker that you have to work to avoid playing the proper tees. From there, a partially blind shot (the front half of the green is obscured) off an interesting lie will challenge you, though a backstop exists to help you stop a short- to mid-iron. Sand Valley's 12th is great, but I like a good par four that's in the sweet spot: enough challenge to keep your interest without being unfair or overly harsh.

Hole 13 - Sand Valley (Par 4)

Man, Lac la Belle's not going to have much luck. It's a good par four, though a bit of an annoying one with a creek running straight down the middle of the hole. The 13th at Lawsonia is meh, and would be really good if it was 30 yards shorter. Maybe even just 20. Or maybe even if you could just see the second flat landing area at about 130 yards.

13 at Mammoth is a shorter par three with a green that's a bit too narrow and severe. You can bank a ball off the mound back right, but if it gathers too much speed it can roll off. It's just a bit too narrow.

13 at Sand Valley is again a solid par four, with trouble up the right and a sort of infinity green that still has a false front and a bit more generous landing area than you think. The smarter play is out to the right, but that makes for a longer approach shot. A good test.

Hole 14 - Mammoth Dunes (Par 4)

Lawsonia has a short-ish down-hill par three. No. LLB's 14th is a layup and a wedge. Pass. Sand Valley's 14th tees off from back-right of its 13th, and is a good length par three with an interesting green. Almost.

I'm going with the downhill roller-coaster that is Mammoth's 14th. It's nearly drivable, and even tee shots well right will funnel well left. A shot down the left side, though, may end up in a 50-yard bunker shot (like I found). The green slopes away, too, front to back, making getting up and down from anywhere (as I did from the fairway/greenside bunker, natch!) a difficult proposition.

Hole 15 - Sand Valley (Par 4)

LLB has a pretty typical par four. Meh. Lawsonia has a more interesting uphill par four which tempts you to play it up the tighter right side. Both good holes (with Lawsonia being the better one).

Mammoth has a really good par five with one of the smaller greens. It's long but not all that wide. The par four at Sand Valley wins, though: play is out to the right so as not to find many sandy areas to the left, and the green has enough contours to make it interesting, even though you'll approach with a 7I or so.

Hole 16 - Sand Valley (Par 4)

16 is a blind downhill par three with no way to get the ball close to some hole locations at Mammoth Dunes. Pass. At Sand Valley, the hole winds up and left with a center-line bunker that really forces a decision. It's a good par four at Lawsonia, with a mid-iron approach. At Lac la Belle, it's a par five that plays to a winding fairway that cants toward the right.

I'm going with the 16th at Sand Valley. It's a good, tough, solid par four that presents a challenge that you either take on off the tee or with your second shot. Everything else except Mammoth Dunes was a close second.

Hole 17 - Mammoth Dunes (Par 4)

LLB has a blah par three (nearly made par with a bunker rake). Lawsonia has a short-ish par four (hit a partial wedge to two feet). Mammoth has a good par four. Sand Valley has the controversial par three (that really shouldn't be all that controversial).

I'm going with Mammoth Dunes here — it's the best of the bunch, though I could be talked into Sand Valley as I almost made an ace. My birdie putt there was six inches, or about 1/4 as long as my birdie putt on the 17th at Mammoth. 😄

Hole 18 - Lawsonia Links (Par 5)

LLB, sorry, nah. Good, solid, tough par four that requires a good tee shot and a good approach. It doesn't play nearly as long as the yardage indicates. Mammoth's 18th is a good par five, as is Sand Valley's. SV's is a bit gimmicky when the hole is in the back right, but it's tough to nit-pick. In the end, I'm going with…

Lawsonia's 18th is a very good par five at 580 yards, with some partial-cross and angled bunkers that force some interesting lines.


Par Fives: 5
Par Fours: 12
Par Threes: 1

(Par 76 total)

LLB: 0
Lawsonia Links: 4
Mammoth Dunes: 7
Sand Valley: 7

I could have gone a few different ways on a number of the holes. The list above may be different if I wrote it on a different day, or if I had to choose at least four par threes or something.

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Erik J. Barzeski —  I knock a ball. It goes in a gopher hole. 🏌🏼‍♂️
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10 hours ago, iacas said:

I could have gone a few different ways on a number of the holes. The list above may be different if I wrote it on a different day, or if I had to choose at least four par threes or something.

Same. I was a bit worried about having to many par 5's. It's hard to pick a par 3 as a favorite hole. 

It was a fun exercise, good idea. 

Matt Dougherty, P.E.
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My course is a par 74 and plays 7081 yards.

1. SV (Par 4 – 335) - This is a great starting hole, it allows for clubbing down and getting out the gate without too many nerves. Driver also works fine, but it isn’t necessary, and can possibly even hurt your score.

2. Mammoth (Par 4 – 410) - This hole was not overly hard but it was just a fun hole to look at as you tee off over the sand dunes to a gentle right to left curving fairway. Apparently I love holes with a lone tree in the fairway which there is one the left side here.

3.  Mammoth (Par 5 – 518) – I thought this was one of the par 5s where you actually had to make a couple shots. I tugged my drive just slightly and just barely missed clearing the waste area that is more to carry the more you try to cut off to the left.  The second shot up hill also makes this hole a little longer and tougher than the 518 yards it is. It plays as the 3rd hardest hole at Mammoth and is a fun one.

4. Lac La Belle (Par 3 - 192) – Best hole on the course.

5. SV (Par 3 – 216) – Severely downhill par 3, wind is a factor, club choice and execution is very tricky here.

6. Lawsonia (Par 4 – 439) Big reveal after passing the first mound in the fairway, opens up to an amazing view. Just too many blind shots for me to this point, and this one was also partially blind, but playing it a second time will be even better. 

7. Lawsonia (Par 3 – 161) Boxcar hole, hit the green or else.  Love it.

8. Mammoth (Par 3 – 198) Island green surrounded by sand, what is not to like.

9. Mammoth (Par 4 – 445) All the other number 9s are just okay, it’s probably between this and SV #9 but SV#9 is basically does not have much reward in going for the green from the tee and more or less forces a lay up off the tee.  Mammoth #9 is a neat par four that is an interesting green to play into up an to the right after your first shot.

10. SV (Par 5 – 563) I love the slopes on this par 5, play it right and you can get there in two with the right shot and a if you catch the downslope, miss a bit though, and you don’t have a chance. It also has a very cool bowl like green complex here that can lead to a close eagle putt or in my uncle’s case, an albatross.

11. Lawsonia (Par 5 - 510) I love the tee box here, 10 kind of stinks as a hole and then you walk up to 11 and you immediately are struck by the scale of the property on the back 9. It is a very long par 4 but I love the way it slopes and plays. I hit a decent driver and still had a 5 iron in.

12.  SV (Par 5 – 499) - Very getable in 2. Fairway tree count number 2, this time you can go right over it depending on your tee position.  Love it.

13. Lawsonia (Par 5 - 568) – This hole was not loved by all in out group but I think the design and choice you have to make on your second shot is brilliant to avoid death valley. It is also visually amazing.

14. Mammoth (Par 4 – 325) – Drivable downhill par 4 with a well-placed bunker which I managed to fly into. One of the most stunning holes on the course.

15. SV (Par 4 – 419). Waste area comes into play more than it appears to do so from the tee on the left and a miss right is maybe worse with uneven terrain and patchy lies. This hole is a blast to play and is much tighter than it appears.

16. Lac La Belle (Par 5 - 524) – Picturesque, with a tricky landing area of the tee, and a nice risk-reward choice. You have to really pay attention to the wind direction for your tee shot as well. Fairway tree count number 3.

17. SV (Par 3 – 236) – Possibly my favorite par 3 I have ever played even though I have not made par in 3 tries. It messes with your head and your state of exhaustion.

18. SV (Par 5 – 523) Up the hill, you’re exhausted and need to make 3 good shots here.  Love this finishing hole with the back right pin position.

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Golf.com just ranked Lawsonia Links as the #2 "value" in the US:


When the experience is more valuable than the expense, you are playing a special golf course. Meet GOLF's Top 100 Value Courses in the U.S.


- John

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