Angles of playability: The 8th at Mammoth Dunes

An in-depth analysis of the 8th hole at Mammoth Dunes at Sand Valley


David McLay Kidd’s follow up act to Sand Valley opened to great acclaim at the Wisconsin’s growing golf mecca. One of the holes that stands out is the beautiful par three 8th, which ranges in distance from 90 to 195 yards. After walking off the 7th green, guests are treated to a gorgeous green. Kidd laid the green on top of the site’s sand and it appears to float on the horizon. It’s clear that he and his associates moved little to no earth to construct this hole. Listen to our podcast with Casey Krahenbuhl discussing his work at Mammoth Dunes here

The other aspect of the 8th that I love is how the tee boxes are used. From the back tee box, the green looks like a tiny target surrounded by sand. The green is quite large, but Kidd creates deception with how he laid the green on the land. It plays with your depth perception and can lead to doubt and uncommitted (usually bad) shots. From the back tees, the eighth is akin to an island green – hit it or else.

As players move up tee boxes, their tee positions move to the left. The angle of the shot changes and the burden of the forced carry is lessened with every step up and left. It makes the option of playing a running shot into the green more apparent and the preferred way to attack. The walking path on the left acts as a kicker slope that feeds the ball right into the green. This option is also available to players at the back tee, but it’s a non-conventional play that very few would attempt.

The very front tee box sits at an angle that provides a direct route into the green that requires no carry of the sand. A straight shot can bound down the fairway right onto the green. Instead of a forced carry, it becomes a test of accuracy. Shots a little left or right will topple into the bunker, a much more fair test for a low-trajectory player.

A striking similarity – The 8th at Mammoth bears a striking resemblance to another course designed by DMK, Guacalito Golf Club in Nicaragua. This island hideout’s 18th butts up against the waves of the ocean. While similar, Guacalito’s version is shorter and lacks the kicker slope and alternative path around the sand.