Nebraska is home to some of the best golf courses in the United States. From links-style courses with rolling fairways and tight bunkers, to more traditional parkland layouts, these top rated courses provide a challenge for all levels of players. Here is a list of the 13 best golf courses in Nebraska that you must play during your next visit.
Quarry Oaks Golf Club
Quarry Oaks Golf Club has a unique advantage of being situated midway between Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska’s largest cities, and overlooking the picturesque Platte River. While the scenic views can be distracting, the slopes on the other side of the fairway can make the two par fours alongside the river challenging.
The third hole, an 185-yard par three, requires a forced carry across the stone quarry that was previously active on the property. Designed by architect John LaFoy, the course has several long and thin greens that present a challenge while choosing the right club. One such example is the par three at number four, fondly named “Cemetery” due to the burial plot of pioneers located nearby. Golf enthusiasts will find a professional haven at Quarry Oaks with challenging terrain and the added appeal of stunning vistas.
Address: 16600 Quarry Oaks Dr, Ashland, NE 68003
Omaha Country Club
Established in 1899, Omaha Country Club holds a special place in the heart of the Midwest. With undulating topography and a clever mix of uphill and downhill holes, the course is a true spiritual home for golfers of all abilities.
While the club may be situated in a relatively flat part of the country, the elevation changes on offer set it apart from other courses of its kind. Those looking for both challenge and opportunity will find much to love about Omaha’s green complexes. The greens are contoured to add a degree of difficulty to some pin positions, while others allow for excellent scoring chances.
Renowned architect Perry Maxwell played a significant role in the development of the course, overseeing the redesign of several holes, including the 5th, where he transformed the once-daunting climb from tee to green into a challenging uphill par three. All these make the Omaha Country Club a popular spot frequented by golf enthusiasts from far and wide.
Address: 6900 Country Club Rd, Omaha, NE 68152
Wild Horse Golf Club
Wild Horse Golf Club in Nebraska is one of the premier courses to play in the US when looking for value and quality. Dave Axland and Dan Proctor, former designers for Ben Crenshaw’s design company, created a course that opened for play in 1999.
The course boasts tall native grasses and natural “blow-out” bunkers that provide a challenging yet picturesque round of golf. With a length of 6955 yards and a par 72, Wild Horse Golf Club is a semi-private/resort course that provides golfers with an affordable, yet elite golfing experience. The team behind the course’s design has a history of creating quality courses that offer great value for golfers. Overall, Wild Horse is a must-play course for golf lovers visiting Nebraska.
Address: 40950 County Rd 768, Gothenburg, NE 69138
The Prairie Club – Dunes Course
The Dunes Course at The Prairie Club is a masterpiece of design by Tom Lehman and architect Chris Brands. As the name implies, it winds through the rumpled, windswept sand hills of central Nebraska, creating a visually stunning experience for golfers. With most fairways generously broad, players have room to maneuver, but the greens are perched and tucked away, requiring precise shots placed at certain angles for optimal results.
The second hole is a standout, with out-of-bounds indicated by a barbed-wire fence hard along the right, creating a challenging and exciting start to the round. Additionally, the eighth hole offers a breathtaking view of the green, providing a peek-a-boo look as players approach. The course layout is eminently walkable, with wide fairways, making it an enjoyable experience for golfers of all abilities.
While plans for another 18-hole course at The Prairie Club have yet to materialize, golfers who play The Dunes Course will find plenty to entertain and challenge them.
Address: 88897 NE-97, Valentine, NE 69201
The Prairie Club – Pines Course
Located in Nebraska’s Sandhills region, the Prairie Club’s golf courses are nestled within the vast expanse of land that once operated as a cattle ranch in Snake River Canyon. The property, which sits about twenty miles southwest of Valentine in Cherry County, boasts a stunning 46 holes of challenging golf. The Dunes Course presents a pure Nebraska sandhills experience with 18 holes, while the Pines Course, fashioned by Graham Marsh, has 11 holes playing in the tumbling prairie topography.
Touching the edge of a deep canyon formed by the Snake River, the seven pines and cedar-lined holes of the Pines Course create a Colorado Rockies feel. Additionally, there’s the charming Horse, a 10-hole par-three circuit that was introduced by Gil Hanse and Geoff Shackleford. For avid golfers on the hunt for a truly unique and challenging experience, the expansive golf courses at Prairie Club are not to be missed.
Address: 88897 NE-97, Valentine, NE 69201
Bayside Golf Club
Crafted by the skilled hands of Dan Proctor and Dave Axland, Bayside Golf Club offers breathtaking scenic views from almost every angle of the course. Overlooking McConaughy Lake, the rugged terrain that surrounds the 18-hole layout is a testament to the natural beauty that has existed in the area for centuries. With origins tracing back to the early 19th century, when fur traders and trappers passed through the area, the harsh and unforgiving terrain makes the course both challenging and picturesque.
The signature hole at Bayside is undoubtedly the 17th. With a length of just 138 yards, the seemingly simple hole features a ragged-edged bunker and heavily-contoured putting surface that requires precision and control. So, for those looking for an unforgettable golfing experience, Bayside Golf Club should definitely be on the top of their list.
Address: 865 W Lakeview Rd, Brule, NE 69127
Firethorn Golf Club
Firethorn is a remarkable golf course in Nebraska, designed by the late Pete Dye in the 1980s. It’s a fan-favorite for golf enthusiasts especially for being the home course of the University of Nebraska’s golf teams. The course flaunts a vintage Dye architectural affair with deep pot bunkers, challenging water hazards, and an Alps-like short par 4 that poses a swing challenge.
What makes Firethorn unique is the combination of two 9-hole courses, North and South, that are both privately owned by the club. These circuits form the iconic 18-hole course and offer Par-36 and Par-35 respectively. The public West course, designated as a resort, is another spectacular addition to the Firethorn.
Good old Rod Whitman designed the West course in 1999, offering Par-34 across a length of 2403 yards. To sum it up, whether you’re a pro or an amateur looking to experience the best of golf in Nebraska, Firethorn is the place for you.
Address: 9301 Firethorn Ln, Lincoln, NE 68520
Sand Hills Golf Club
Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw spent countless hours walking over a thousand acres of central Nebraska’s rolling sand hills, carefully marking out fairways and greens that naturally occurred in the landscape. With just 4000 cubic yards of earth moved, and allowing the winds to shape the bunkers, they created what is considered by many to be the most natural golf course in America. Although winds can blow ferociously through the area, the designers made sure that each hole was playable under all conditions.
Sand Hills Golf Club is an exclusive establishment with only a few fortunate members. With the course closed for eight months each year, membership is highly sought after. Fairways are designed to be spacious and target areas mostly open, encouraging a chase-in approach shot. The putting slopes and greens are diverse, from pitches in hollows to those set atop plateaus or built beside exposed sand dunes. The result is a timeless course design that has to be experienced firsthand to be fully appreciated.
Address: 36410 Sand Hills Rd, Mullen, NE 69152
Dismal River Club – White Course
Dismal River’s White Course is a prime example of rugged golf course design that will set any player’s heart racing. The course was conceived in the early 2000s, and features landforms similar to the famous Sand Hills.
However, what sets the White Course apart from its inspiration is its more abrupt and extreme contours. If anything, the course could have benefited from a little more trimming, and later work aimed to soften and modify a few holes. But don’t let that deter you – there are still plenty of powerfully emotional moments to be had, ferreting through the grassy dunes and staring out over the endless horizons.
The fourth hole alone is worthy of note, a par-5 that careens through a low valley adjacent to a broad sand blow out. And for the big hitters, the eighth hole includes a blind green that can be tackled by driving over the crest of a dune. Indeed, the White Course is known for its contoured greens, blowout bunkers, blind shots and elevation changes, all challenges that no true golfer worth their salt can resist.
Address: 83040 Dismal River Trail, Mullen, NE 69152
Dismal River Club – Red Course
Tom Doak and his associate Brian Slawnik have created a one-of-a-kind golf experience with the Dismal River Club’s Red Course. Unlike many courses in the U.S, the design of the Red Course is entirely organic and amorphous. The layout follows the natural contours of the land and the greens are placed in breathtaking backdrops. Tom Doak made the course even more perfect by personally hand-shaping the greens.
The Red Course’s lack of formal tee boxes gives it a unique ambience, with broad, freeform pads and just a couple of yardage posts. Players can enjoy the Red Course in reverse without sacrificing any delight. The course begins up on the dunes and then winds its way back down to the Dismal River, with the home hole finishing alongside the water, providing a dramatic backdrop of imposing dunes and bluffs on the opposing bank. The Dismal River Club-Red Course is guaranteed to give golfers a unique and unforgettable experience.
Address: 83040 Dismal River Trail, Mullen, NE 69152
CapRock Ranch Golf Club
Nebraska’s reputation as a golfing backwater changed dramatically with the arrival of the Coore&Crenshaw course at Sand Hills, which opened in the mid-1990s. This world-class layout was soon followed by 36-hole offerings at Dismal River and The Prairie Club, both of which showcased the extraordinary landscape of the sandy chop hills. The newest addition to this impressive lineup of golfing destinations is CapRock Ranch, a private golfing paradise situated in the sand hills, just a few miles north of The Prairie Club.
The ranch features the Snake River Canyon that appears on The Prairie Club’s Pines course, with almost half the holes routed along the rim of this natural ravine. Seven holes on CapRock explore the rim of the canyon, dropping 100 feet or more to the bottom, while the other half explores the gentle, grass-covered dunesland. Melodic minimalism and intense moments of orchestral wonderment are melded together perfectly on this uncommonly diverse and picturesque course.
Address: 38248 Caprock Ln, Valentine, NE 69201
Tatanka Golf Club
Tatanka Golf Club opened its doors to the public in 2015, tucked within the Ohiya Casino Resort of the Santee Sioux Nation. Course architect Paul Albanese, drawing inspiration from the tribe’s culture and history, designed the fairways to seamlessly integrate with the natural surroundings. To stay true to the native traditions, the course features fenced off areas near the course where herds of buffalo roam, paying homage to the great buffalo of the region, as they are remembered through many Sioux tales.
Renowned golf architect Ron Whitten, in his Best New Courses listing for 2014, included Tatanka Golf Club as “Nebraska’s Sand Hills with trees” due to the course’s unique design that sets it apart from traditional golf courses. Each hole is named after a unique Sioux story, and Albanese successfully captured the essence of these tales through his design.
Address: 53138 NE-12, Niobrara, NE 68760
Meadowlark Hills Golf Course
Meadowlark Hills is a true gem among golf courses. Built in 1993 and operated by the City of Kearney, this Championship 18-Hole layout is a challenging yet picturesque course that plays to a par 71 for men and a par 72 for women.
Situated on the bluffs of the Platte River valley, the course boasts breathtaking views from the clubhouse. As you make your way through the course, water hazards on multiple holes will challenge even the most seasoned golfers, and the strategically placed sand bunkers will keep you on your toes and your ball in play. With a length of 6518 yards and designed by architects David Gill and Steven Halberg, Meadowlark Hills is a must-play for any golf enthusiast.
Address: 3300 30th Ave, Kearney, NE 68845
The golf courses of Nebraska provide a unique and diverse range of challenges for players of all abilities. From the ruggedly natural and windswept Sand Hills Golf Club to the stark beauty of Dismal River’s White Course and the rolling dunesland of CapRock Ranch, Nebraska is home to some stunning golfing destinations that are guaranteed to delight. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to experience these premier courses, as well as Meadowlark Hills and Tatanka Golf Club. Whether you’re a casual golfer or an avid enthusiast, the courses of Nebraska offer something for everyone – it’s time to tee off!