When you think about Nebraska the two things that usually come to mind are cornfields and flat. Of course flat cornfields are a fixture of the Nebraskan landscape, but you might be surprised to learn that the state also has a rich golfing culture and the golf courses to match it. Although the state has less than 2 million people (its the 38th most populous state in the country) it is home to some amazing golf courses.
Here are five Nebraska golf courses you need to play.
Best Private Course: Dismal River—Red Course (Mullen, NE)
Don’t let the name of this fantastic golf course fool you—it is anything but dismal. On the contrary, Dismal River is the best course in the entire state. The course is built neatly to fit the terrain surrounding it and offers a unique golf experience you can’t get anywhere else.
The course has towering sand dunes, tall prairie grass, and a course layout that follows the natural contours of the beautiful Nebraskan wilderness. Surrounding the entire course are gently, rolling hills that make the setting magnificent.
The course isn’t all that deep either, playing at around 6990 yards from the tips and is a par 71.
While Dismal River is a great track and you should definitely play it if you get the chance, it is private course so getting on might be a challenge.
Best Public Course: Wild Horse Golf Course (Gothenburg, NE)
Located about 40 minutes from North Platte in Gothenburg, Nebraska, Wild Horse Golf Course feels like a golf course carved into a corn field. The bright green tee boxes, fairways, and greens pop against the drab backdrop of the Nebraskan prairie grasses that surround the course. Because of this it is absolutely imperative that you stay in the fairway at Wild Horse if you want to shoot well at one of the best courses in the state.
The front nine opens with an easily parable par 4 that gives you a chance to start scoring well from the very beginning. You won’t find trees or even a lot of water at Wild Horse as the Nebraskan countryside has a de facto links feel to it.
The course is punctuated by the slight dogleg right par 4 that requires a decent amount of technique to navigate around the bunker placed right in the middle of the fairway. If you can do that, you should be able to finish well.
The course is just under 7000 yards from the blacks and is a regulation par 72.
Monday-Thursday you can play 18 holes walking at Wild Horse for $51 and Friday-Sunday for $61.
Most Scenic Course: Quarry Oaks Golf Course (Ashland, NE)
While Nebraska golf is often defined by its flat, wide fairways and prairie feel, Quarry Oaks is one of the few courses in the state to be covered in mature trees. Located in Ashland, Nebraska, the course feels more like a Wisconsin track.
The front nine opens with a slight dogleg right with a landing area that bulges out on the left side of the fairway providing a convenient approach to the green if you can get there. The best hole on the front nine is the par 5 6th. Two large trees act as obstacles and markers on the left side of the fairway.
The bright, tree covered feel of the course continues on through the remainder of the round. It really is a beautiful course offering a fresh and welcome change of pace.
From the blacks the course measures 7010 yards long and is a par 71.
The online special for Quarry Oaks is $69 for 18 walking Monday-Thursday and $79 Friday-Sunday.
Most Challenging Course: ArborLinks Golf Course (Nebraska City, NE)
Located in Nebraska City, ArborLinks Golf Course is one of, if not the, most difficult courses in the state. Rated the 8th best course in the state by Golf Digest, ArborLinks measures 7190 yards long and makes its home on over 300 acres of Nebraskan countryside.
The course features mammoth fairway and green side bunkers, tall prairie grasses native to the site of the course, as well as mature trees. Water also comes into play on several holes and on a number of occasions, fairways are interrupted by brown earth and require consistent shot making and shaping to maneuver them and reach the green in regulation.
The course plays 7190 yards long from the championship tees and is a par 72. It has a 75.3 rating and a slope rating of 143.
ArborLinks is a private course, but guests are welcome to play the course at the invitation of a member.
Best Value Golf Course in Nebraska: Tatanka Golf Club (Niobrara, NE)
Tatanka Golf Club is part of the Ohiya Resort Casino owned and operated by the Santee Soiux Nation.
The course butts up against the grasslands native to the region and makes things tricky if your tee shot doesn’t find the fairway. The course also features cross cut fairways with bunkers located right where you want to land for an approach to the green in some cases. It also has water hazards guarding vast, sloping greens.
Tatanka truly is one of the best courses in the state but can be played at a fraction of the price of some of the other premier courses. Spring and Fall twilight rates cost as little as $18-20 for 18 walking and in the summer you can still play the course for only $25 after 4 pm.
Nebraska is one of the best kept golfing secrets of the midwest and a state you should definitely check out. Whether you are a budget golfer or have plenty of cash to dole out on a round of 18, you will find some amazing golf courses, many of them built right into the unique Nebraskan landscape. Happy golfing.
Did we miss a course? In the comments below write about your Nebraska golf experiences and which courses in the state you think every golfer should play.