This 2024 trio of openings is worth the wait

As three of the most heralded new golf courses prepare to debut in 2024, it is worth noting what they have in common. Sand. Lots and lots of sand.

There are also common threads with these three ballyhooed courses — Pinehurst No. 10 at the iconic Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina; the Karoo Course at Cabot Citrus Farms in Brooksville, Florida; and Sedge Valley, the latest addition at Sand Valley Golf Resort in Nekoosa, Wisconsin. That’s because the names of some of golf’s most important players, architect Tom Doak and golf course developers Mike Keiser and Ben Cowan-Dewar, are very much in the conversation.

Exercising proper respect, start with the oldest of these resorts, venerable Pinehurst, which dates back to before 1900. They are passionate about their heritage in the Sandhills and things can move slowly there, but Tom Pashley said the resort embraced the opportunity to build its first new course in nearly three decades.

The site of Pinehurst No. 10, part of which was The Pit from 1985 to 2010.

“We’re excited to show off (architect) Tom Doak’s masterful interpretation of Pinehurst golf,” said the resort president.

No. 10, which is scheduled to open April 3, has already generated thousands of advance tee times. It will offer golfers swaths of sand, elevation changes, and a dramatic walk over and through a quarry that was mined decades ago. Much of the course was built on what used to be a quirky local favorite, The Pit. 

“Our very high expectations were exceeded, and we can’t wait for everyone to see it,” Pashley said.

Doak’s passion for sand is well documented and it will play out, also, at Sedge Valley. Unlike Sand Valley (a Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw design) and Mammoth Dunes (David McLay Kidd) — the first two courses at SVG, both sprawling — Doak designed Sedge Valley to feel intimate and cozy, choosing to leave it at a par 68 and just 6,200 yards.

“This property has sand, open expanses, good terrain and intriguing green sites,” said Doak, whose Sedge Valley is just waiting for winter to melt away before an opening can be assessed.

Sedge Valley at Sand Valley Golf Resort in in Nekoosa, Wisconsin.

Meanwhile, the genius behind Bandon Dunes in southwestern Oregon, Keiser proved that if you build it well, golfers will come, and he has entrusted Sand Valley Golf Resort to his sons, Michael and Chris. They have clearly learned well from their father, but the education has also spread outside the family.

Cowan-Dewar is a Toronto native who is co-founder and CEO of Cabot, an umbrella company that owns a collection of impressive golf properties. Years ago Cowan-Dewar made the brilliant move to associate himself with Mike Keiser and if you’re going to follow your vision for building golf courses, there is not a better mentor and partner.

Cowan-Dewar’s latest success story is Cabot Citrus Farms, the former World Woods Golf Club in Brooksville, 45 miles north of Tampa. Cowan-Dewar has overseen an uncanny transformation to a property that will be two 18-hole courses and shorter courses of 10 holes (The Squeeze) and 11 (The Wedge), plus some impressive housing components.

The first of the 18-hole golf courses, Karoo, will open soon and golfers will get to experience the talents of an architect, Kyle Franz, who polished his resume with acclaimed restoration work at Pine Needles, Mid-Pines, and Southern Pines in the Sandhills.

If you’re thinking, “Hey, he must work well in the sand,” give yourself a gold star because Karoo will capture your attention in a big way. Designed over rugged terrain and framed by sand dunes, Karoo will offer golfers different routes to the pin thanks to wide fairways, some of them double fairways.

The expectation is that Cabot Citrus Farms will become one of Florida’s best public-play options. With the Keiser and Cowan-Dewar magic and Franz vision in full force you wouldn’t bet against it.