Sand Valley for all Seasons

by | Apr 1, 2024 | Lifestyle

As the Central Wisconsin weather turns from late spring to summer, there’s still time to discuss the Winter season at Sand Valley Resort in Nekoosa and the lure of Sand Valley as one of North America’s more desired destinations even beyond its near-legendary golf courses – Sand Valley, Mammoth Dunes, The Lido and the Sandbox. A fifth course – Sedge Valley, designed by Tom Doak – opens in June.

But remember, Sand Valley is more than just a golf and summer destination. Here’s my conversation with Sand Valley Director of Marketing Brandon Carter on all things Sand Valley, including the resort’s new 13-000 square-foot Tennis Center, where, in addition to 15 grass courts, brothers Chris and Michael Keiser have created the country’s 11th American Tennis Court.

SP: How important is the new Tennis Center to Sand Valley?

BC: Tennis provides another activity for golfers – lawn tennis is rare enough; court tennis is a chance to really dig in and learn about the origins of the modern game. As the Sand Valley community grows to include more and more families, tennis is a major draw.  The tennis center itself, with a scenic patio and the gallery restaurant, is an amenity of its own.

SP: Do you expect it to attract the “non-golf” member or guest?

BC: There may be tennis clubs who want to travel for grass courts.  Certainly, it’s great for non-golfing guests.  Tennis also opens up the door for couples groups and mixed golf/tennis club competitions.


Since introducing its grass tennis courts in 2018, Sand Valley has become a mecca for racquet sport enthusiasts.

SP: Overall, how has this Winter season been at Sand Valley in terms of Sand Valley continuing to evolve into a four seasons destination?

BC: We’re beginning to see return guests in the winter, which is gratifying. The winter schedule continues to evolve. December = retreats and holiday getaways; January = wellness programs; February = ice sports; March = Culinary events. So…we’ve established a foundation for the season. We’ve got plans for additional programming both within that general structure and outside of it.

SP: What’s been the most popular winter sport/activity this year? 

BC: By far our most popular winter sports activity is the Sand County Classic Pond Hockey tournament.  We’re bullish on curling – there are very few places where you can do outdoor curling.  Sledding and pond skating are popular with families.

SP: How has the success of the golf courses—and the anticipation of Sedge Valley—translated into winter guests?

BC: Golf will always be king at Sand Valley.  The coverage of the courses increases awareness, website traffic, and mailing list registration.  Our real estate offerings promote winter.  We did a major campaign in the MetraMarket center in Chicago.  The majority of our winter guests have been golf guests before.

SP: Do more locals (people from Wisconsin) know about the resort’s winter programs, etc., than golfers from all over the world?

BC: Yes – we have B&B packages that Wisconsin residents enjoy throughout the winter.  The Sand County Classic attracts hockey enthusiasts from all over the state.  Our Thanksgiving Dinner and New Year’s Eve programming are very well attended.  And our culinary programs (Friends of James Beard Chef Invitational and Brews and Brats Festival) have shown increased demand year over year.

SP: Other than golf, what’s next on the amenities list for Sand Valley?

BC: Additional restaurants – Bill’s BBQ at the Sandbox, The Gallery at the Tennis Center. The Tennis Center (includes The Gallery) with Court Tennis and new grass courts. The other dramatic addition will be a 40-acre lake with aquatic sports and additional club-style family amenities (2026).

SP: How many Winter Wine dinners have you hosted and how important is the F&B component to the Winter season?

BC: The Friends of James Beard Chef Invitational is a weekend-long celebration of food and wine and is the winter season’s biggest culinary draw. We have introduced a winter wine series scattered throughout the season and past attendance has shown the ability to grow this programming.

SP: How different are the Winter F&B experiences vs. the spring/summer F&B experiences?

BC: The Winter season allows the culinary team to commit to the farm-to-table experience by exploring new menu offerings that change based on seasonal availability. Winter F&B experiences are truncated.  Mammoth Bar is the central winter venue for day-to-day operations and Aldo’s Farm to Table is open for dinner service Thursday -Saturday.  We also offer in-cottage dining and grocery stocking during the winter, along with special culinary events throughout the season.

SP: Plans for any new restaurants/dining experiences?

BC: Yes. The Gallery opens in May with handcrafted pizzas, time-honored Italian specialties, and a curated wine list.  Also, in May, Bill’s BBQ at the Sandbox will open, with traditional BBQ and fixins.


The Gallery, Sand Valley’s newest culinary destination

SP: On the real estate side, where are the home buyers primarily coming from?

BC: Thus far, buyers have come primarily from the Chicago, Milwaukee, and Minneapolis areas.

SP: Are you getting more home buyers moving there permanently and what is the mix of permanent and seasonal home buyers?

The Lido Conservancy has the highest number of permanent and seasonal residents.  These are estate homes and operate with a limited rental pool available only to Lido members.  The privately-owned cottages at the Mammoth Conservancy and Sedge Village areas have owners who generally visit several times a year and participate in the rental pool when not on property.

Photos Courtesy of Sand Valley Resort


About the Author

<a href="" target="_self">Steve Pike</a>

Steve Pike

Steve “Spike” Pike is a lifelong journalist whose career covers Major League Baseball, the NFL, and college basketball. For the past 26 years, Spike has been one of the more respected voices in the golf and travel industries, working for such publications as Golfweek, Golf World, and Golf Digest for The New York Times Magazine Group. In 1998, Spike helped launch the website for the PGA of America. As a freelance travel and golf writer, Spike’s travels have taken him around the world. He has played golf from Pebble Beach to St. Andrews, walked the Great Wall of China, climbed an active volcano in the Canary Islands, been on safari in South Africa, and dived with sharks off Guadalupe, Baja California.