My group of 12 just got back from there and I wanted to leave a formal review as I often check this forum as I plan our annual trips.
About my group - This was our 27th year of our annual golf trip so we've been quite a few different places. Our handicaps range from 2 to 10 +/-.
We played Sand Valley (3) times, Mammoth Dunes (3) times and the Sandbox once. We took caddies every round, but you can walk without caddies. We also made special ADA arrangements for a riding cart with a caddie for a couple rounds as one of our guys had his hip replaced in January. We aren't spring chickens anymore so we did not play the tips, but instead opted for the Orange tees which were in the 6,500-6,600 yard range. We stayed on property and due to the timing of the booking ended up with one of the 4 bedroom cottages, a couple single rooms and a few double rooms.
Booking and Lodging - Pretty easy to book and the people are nice to work with. Like many of the top trips these days, you need to book this one at least a year out to ensure you can get the lodging and tee times you want (depending on the size of your group). We booked our trip about 11 months out and were already closed out of the 8 bedroom cottages and could not get the exact tee times we wanted (got very close though). The lodging is very nice and on par with what you will see at Bandon and Streamsong. Doubles aren't too bad at $175 night (plus fees and taxes) per person, but the single rooms sting a bit more at between $325 and $450 per night per person.
Food and Staff - The food was surprisingly good. They have one "nice" restaurant on property and it wasn't 5 star by any means but it was good. The more "pub food" type stuff was very good and the stuff from the lunch place on the Sand Valley course and the food truck at the Sandbox was terrific for what it was and ridiculously inexpensive. We are talking $2 beers and $1.50 tacos. The people were extremely nice (what you would expect from a heartland destination) and well trained. Much better than Streamsong for example. They had shuttles running between the various places on property every 3 minutes so you never wanted for transportation from the various courses and the practice area. Right now, with only the two courses, you could pretty easily walk to everything you needed, but the final build out there is supposed to be 6 or 7 courses so this nice shuttle service will prove very important in the future.
Golf - Our fees were $225 for the morning round and $112 for the replay rounds + caddie fees which were suggested at $100. The courses are links style and very "big" layouts. You will see many similarities between the Sand Valley courses and the ones at Streamsong and Bandon Dunes (for obvious reasons). There is no water on either course and you would have to hit a pretty atrocious shot to get one into the trees. We do a gag award each trip for the person who plays with the ball they start with the longest. We had to flip the award this trip to the person who lost a ball first. Only 2 of our group lost any balls on this trip at all. The courses are big fun for golfers of all levels, but compared to most of our trips, would be more enjoyable for higher handicaps. The fairways are WIDE, you have to really work at it to miss them. The greens are ridiculously large with lots of slope and everything plays very firm and fast. Sand Valley is the tougher of the two courses, but neither is too tough. I turn 53 years old this year and my handicap is typically between 2 and 4. I shot (+1, -2, even, +5, -4, & -4) for my six rounds which gives you some idea about how easy they play. The only round we had significant wind was the one I shot +5 so I suppose if the wind is up it will make a difference. That may be my only complaint though, that they didn't have a tougher course option as well. My understanding is the one currently under construction (that will open in either 2022 or 2023) will be much tougher than the original two.
Overall, I can't say enough good things about Sand Valley. We will definitely come back in a few years when they get another couple courses built out. Of course, by then I expect the prices to get "built out" as well.
As far as great guys golf trips in North America are concerned, my top 5 (in no particular order) are:
No, I didn't forget about Monterey, but it's stupid expensive these days and has a different (less appealing to me at least) feel to it than these places.