17×3: The Sandbox

A visit to Coore & Crenshaw's par-3 course at Sand Valley Golf Resort


Golf in America is full of needless conventions:

  • A round of golf is 18 holes
  • Par for a course should be 72
  • Golf takes at least four hours to play
  • A real golf course has par-3s, par-4s and par-5s
  • Par-3 courses are boring

The latest addition to the fast-growing Sand Valley Resort goes right down the list, breaking every convention along the way. The Sandbox, designed by Coore & Crenshaw, is a 17 hole par-3 course that offers interesting golf course architecture on a small scale. The course spans 25 acres with holes ranging from 40 to 150 yards. Thanks in large part to its greens, The Sandbox is able to provide a challenge for the best players while being friendly for the beginners. It can be played with a full bag, one club or any combination the player desires.

The Sandbox’s property is modest in comparison with the resort’s other courses, Mammoth Dunes and Sand Valley. The relatively flat site shows that this type of golf is feasible just about anywhere, especially in communities that are struggling to make the game work on “conventional” courses. The Sandbox’s style of golf quells golf’s problems most pressing problems – it’s fast, beginner friendly, and most importantly, fun. It makes you want to play more golf and gets more compelling with every trip around.

The stars of The Sandbox are its spectacular greens complexes. Each of the 17 provides a different look and character from the others, presenting unique challenges. The greens possess interesting internal contours as well as mounds and bumps in the surrounds that allow creative players to use the ground to get it close.

A few of the greens on The Sandbox are modeled after the C.B. Macdonald and Seth Raynor’s popular Template holes. These greens are the Double Plateau 3rd, the Road 5th, the Biarritz 8th, the Punchbowl 9th, the Lion’s Mouth 13th, the Alps 14th and Redan 16th.

The Sandbox has already made a big impact on golf in the state of Wisconsin. The Wisconsin State Golf Association (WSGA) jumped at the opportunity to begin holding a new state championship at The Sandbox. Dubbed the Wisconsin State Par 3 Championship. Add the conventions of competitions to the list that have been smashed.

Most will look at The Sandbox as a quick option at the end of a long day of golf at Sand Valley Resort, but it’s much more than that. It represents another model for golf. With many communities evaluating their golf courses, it would be wise to look at par-3 courses as legitimate options. The key, making them as fun and interesting as The Sandbox. Build courses like that, and the players will come.

For golf fans who want to bring home a piece of this course, we offer a collection of The Sandbox photography prints shot by the Fried Egg Golf team available in our Pro Shop.

Sign Up for The Fried Egg Newsletter

The Fried Egg Newsletter is the best way to stay up to date on all things golf. Delivered every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for free!