Fall off the grid at The Prairie Club, a grand golf outpost in the Sandhills of rural Nebraska
VALENTINE, Neb. – I’ve been looking forward to this week for a while now.
I’m sure few people would consider Nebraska in October to be a dream golf trip, but that’s exactly what this is.
My visit happens to mix my two favorite things: golf and college football.
I just finished 36 holes of stunning - albiet chilly - golf at The Prairie Club today. Saturday, I’m off to experience my first Big Ten road game, watching the big Michigan-Nebraska game in Lincoln.
Now, I know what you are thinking. The Prairie Club is nowhere near Lincoln. The reality is the Prairie Club is nowhere near anything. It’s a six-hour journey from the two nearest major airports - Denver International Airport and Eppley Airfield in Omaha - hidden off a dirt road in central Nebraska’s famed Sandhills region near the South Dakota border. It’s so remote that cell service can be hit or miss at times. You can also try to fly into Rapids City (S.D.) Regional Airport, or North Platte (Neb.) Regional Airport, but no journey is simple.
The Prairie Club has matured quickly into a spiritual pilgrimage for road-warrior golfers, a Bandon-esque destination that is hard to find but definitely worth the effort to do so. Both Tom Lehman’s Dunes course and Graham Marsh’s Pines course opened in 2010. Pictured above is the 314-yard ninth hole on the Pines. There’s so much land out here, both courses are sprawling par-73 layouts longer than 7,400 yards with bold bunkers and large perplexing greens.
I’m staying in the comfy lodge in one of its 31 guestrooms. Four separate cabins overlooking the Snake River Canyon are also available for stay-and-play packages. The club is scheduled to close for the winter Sunday, perfect timing considering snow derailed golf today.
I’m hoping it melts by Friday for a chance to test-drive the “Horse” course, a unique 10-hole par-3 routing that plays from 485 yards to 1,125 yards depending on where you throw the ball down for a game of shot-making with friends. It sounds like great fun, something The Prairie Club delivers on a regular basis. It looks like Mother Nature won, though. Check out the Horse course below.
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