Magnificent Golf Crafted by the World’s Finest Architects Awaits in Nebraska
By Chris Duthie
Of all the places that offer spectacular golf, one that doesn’t get near enough credit is Nebraska’s Sandhills, a region brimming with brilliantly designed, grass-and-dunes laced courses that have redefined the allure of America’s heartland.
Considering it’s about five hours northeast of Denver — much of it easy driving via Interstate 76 — there aren’t many excuses to ignore this made-for-golf, Scottish-style countryside.
To whet your appetite, here are six standout courses:
Sand Hills Golf Club (private):
In 1995, Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw were 10 years into a partnership that would make them the 21st century’s most celebrated and sought-after golf architects. That was also the year they penned 136 holes in tiny Mullen (pop. 509), whittled it to 18 and christened what today is ranked the 17th best course in America by Golf Digest. (308) 546-2237
Wild Horse Golf Club (public):
Illustrating the underrated and highly playable design talents of Dan Axland and Dave Proctor — both of whom worked on Sand Hills — this astonishingly gorgeous course in Gothenburg now earns Golf Digest’s ranking as the 77th best public course in America.
The Prairie Club (semi-private):
In Valentine near the South Dakota border, take advantage of lucrative stay-and-play packages and go experience this 46-hole triumph that encompasses the Dunes (a Tom Lehman design), Pines (Graham Marsh) and Horse (a 10-hole par-3 rota from Gil Hanse and Geoff Shackelford).
Dismal River Club (private):
This sensational members-only golf club 20 miles southwest of Mullen entices its exclusive membership with two sumptuous 18-hole courses (Jack Nicklaus and Tom Lehman), hunting, five-star dining, luxury cabin overnight lodging, sporting clay pavilion and a stellar outdoor adventures program.
Awarii Dunes (semi-private):
If you’re a fan of esteemed golf designer Jim Engh, make your way to this brilliant, golf-in-the-kingdom estate in Axtell. Featuring a routing that required the moving of less than 30,000 yards dirt, the 7,000-yard challenge is further complemented by a golf academy, well-appointed clubhouse and savvy stay-and-play packages.
Bayside Golf Club (public):
Another shining design by Axland and Proctor, this surprisingly challenging links course in Brule is anchored by a crowd-pleasing clubhouse, special lodging packages and another natural attraction, 22-mile-long Lake McConaughy.
For more about this scrapbook-worthy destination, go online to VisitNebraska.com.
Chris Duthie is a Durango-based contributor to Colorado AvidGolfer. Colorado AvidGolfer is the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it, publishing eight issues annually and proudly delivering daily content via coloradoavidgolfer.com.