A few hours’ drive north of Chicago, Sand Valley’s otherworldly landscape of massive dunes welcomes sports enthusiasts for incredible golfing—and a rare taste of grass court tennis.
The Sandbox is a 17-hole par-3 course designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw at Sand Valley.
There’s not much happening in Nekoosa, Wis. A solid 100 miles north of Madison and 120 miles west of Green Bay, this burg of about 3,000 is, it’s safe to say, in the middle of nowhere. But a funny thing happened to Nekoosa five years ago: It became one of the centers of the American golfing scene thanks to the opening of a stunning new property, Sand Valley.
Grass court tennis at Sand Valley
Set on 12,000 acres of rolling sand dunes, it’s a majestic environment that takes full advantage of the region’s famous prehistoric terrain. And while the location is remote, the golf is world-class all the way, with three 18-hole courses—two by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw and one by David McLay Kidd, icons of the game all—that have received industry accolades far and wide, and drawn passionate players from all over the world. “[The setting] provides great elevation changes and an inspiring sense of place for guests,” says Sand Valley co-owner Chris Keiser. “The land features massive, exposed sand dunes that tower above players and fit right into the routing of the courses, which were modeled after the heathland golf courses of London.”
The resort’s luxury accommodations include the eight-bedroom Lake Leopold Cottages.
As memorable an experience as Sand Valley offers golfers, Sand Valley might be even more extraordinary for tennis fans, as the resort is home to a whopping 15 grass courts (unheard of in the U.S., let alone central Wisconsin) that allow players to indulge in a bit of Wimbledon fantasy without needing a passport. With a complete range of luxury lodging options, including rooms, suites and cottages ranging from one to eight bedrooms—not to mention sleek dining at cozy Aldo’s Farm & Table and the Mammoth Bar—it adds up to a sporting experience like few others.
Hole 14 at David McLay Kidd’s Mammoth Dunes course.
Here’s the wildest thing: Sand Valley is just getting started. Among the improvements coming to the property are a fourth golf course, Tom Doak’s Sedge Valley, set to open in 2024; a nearby pool house that will offer sauna, steam, cold plunges and more; a 13,000-square-foot Tennis Center featuring a bistrostyle restaurant, a fully stocked pro shop and just the nation’s 11th Court Tennis court; and 36 homesites ranging from 4 to 30 acres adjacent to Sedge Valley so golfers and racquet sports enthusiasts alike can call this place home. Not bad for the middle of nowhere. 1697 Leopold Way, Nekoosa, Wis.
Photography by: FROM TOP: PHOTO BY JASON JAHNKE; PHOTO BY BRANDON CARTER; PHOTO BY JEFF BERTCH; PHOTO BY JEFF BERTCH