The Prairie Club - Dunes Course
|Black M: 75.5/133||458||478||590||145||371||542||171||481||492||3728||609||364||548||429||164||581||201||457||481||3834||7562|
|Blue M: 72.6/127||426||444||525||138||326||525||161||461||473||3479||532||310||518||394||158||556||173||420||441||3502||6981|
|Blue/White M: 71.0/123||426||342||525||138||326||525||146||423||407||3258||532||310||518||343||131||556||173||401||441||3405||6663|
|White M: 68.9/116||359||342||498||131||287||433||146||423||407||3026||506||266||500||343||131||519||143||401||349||3158||6184|
|White/Green M: 67.7/113||359||320||498||113||287||433||139||351||316||2816||506||266||500||343||129||519||118||359||349||3089||5905|
|Green W: 69.3/116||306||320||433||113||255||377||139||351||316||2610||453||190||371||277||129||433||118||359||320||2650||5260|
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Golf Advisor: Top Courses in Nebraska
Links(ish) golf at it's Midwest best. Rustic, simple, and fantastic.
The Prairie Club is a special place (for a variety of reasons). One of the first things I noticed as I made my way through the first few holes is that there are no rakes on the course… everything is a “waste” bunker. As far as I know none of the bunkers are man-made, they are natural blowouts that are lovingly maintained by a combination of grounds crew and Mother Nature. I was pleasantly surprised, given this, by how few areas in the bunkers were left difficult to play due to footprints, divots, etc. This was good, because they are tricky enough on their own.
The Prairie Club has an interesting (and fantastic for the casual golfer) public private mix. Their two courses alternate day by day between being public or private for the members. This allows both members and the general public to enjoy both courses in a two day span; while maintaining the private feel for members when they play. It’s a great setup and given that both courses are in Golf Digests “Best Courses You Can Play” list (again) everybody wins in this configuration. Also unique (that I was tragically unable to take advantage of) is the no-charge-for-rerounds policy. Once you tee off at the Prairie Club, the course is yours (although you do have to share) for the day, if you can get in 36 (or 54???) holes in a day, it’s the same “all you can eat” price.
Regrettably I was only in Nebraska for one day so I was unable to play the Pines course (private on the day I visited). However, that – and missing the bagpipe player – were the only things I regretted about my visit, and if those are your two biggest problems, you probably had a whale of a visit (which I did).
The Prairie Club, in many ways feels like pure links golf; with wide open fairways, sand blow outs, and tall grassy fields ensconcing the very well maintained fast rolling fairways. The greens were also brisk as far as pace; however, in many cases I found them unconventionally tough to reach for a links style course (i.e. I had to go in “by air” far more than I expected). This actually plays to my game better than the bump and run method so I didn’t mind, but it’s worth noting.
One of the things I really liked about this track is there are several holes with “pick your poison” levels of risk/reward for your drive. Multiple points of entry to these fairways, depending on how far you elect to hit the ball, offer different levels of risk (usually involving fairway bunker play, but also at times compromising your view of the target of creating greater elevation change). Other holes, of course – notably many of the par 3’s – simply provide protection in the form of waste area to carry and plentiful traps without forcing a decision about how to assault the green.
You cannot help but appreciate the simplicity of the layout either. Tee boxes are nothing more than a wooden stake in the ground near a more closely cut and (generally) flat area of land. It harkens to “old school” golf where you sink your put and drop your ball within a clubs length of the cup to tee off for the next hole. This was actually my single favorite thing about this course, and that’s saying quite a bit because there is a lot to love here. It’s rustic, it’s western, and it’s delightful.
I mentioned above the roll on the fairways, it is significant. I actually talked to the guy in the pro shop after my round and asked if it was possible some of the distances might have changed since the cards were printed (they hadn’t) because I couldn’t believe I was reaching the places I was off the tee’s. But, simply put… run matters, and you’ll get it at the Prairie Club.
Pace of play was terrific and the staff both in the pro shop and on the course were outstanding. Overall my experience at the Prairie Club was more than I imagined it would be (and I have a very vivid imagination which was coupled with some very high pre-conceived expectations for this track).
Valentine is a long way from anywhere “big,” so expect some effort to get there, and expect to feel completely rewarded for your decision to make that effort. I can’t recommend strongly enough that you should plan to be there for at least two days and play both courses. If you are on a golf trip with buddies, you can’t miss the Horse course either.
Based on all that I missed (and everything I experienced), I am absolutely planning a return trip to the Prairie Club.
A prairie land masterpiece
Now this course just screams Nebraska. It's rolling hills and wide open spaces (think runways for fairways) help create a wildly different experience for golfers. It's the only Tom Lehman course I've played. He's teased me into wanting to see more.
The blown-out bunkers are great visually, yet deadly to golfers. The greens might be a touch too wild, although that's part of the allure.
I played it in late October in 2013, a day before a snowstorm cancelled my rounds and closed the resort for the season. While I was playing the maintenance staff was filling the bunkers with old Christmas trees to keep the sand from blowing out during the harsh winters. That's how windy and extreme this site is. What a cool place for golf.
Golf Home on the Range
The Dunes course is the more difficult and better of the two courses at the prairie club. I am sure that the length takes into account the firm and fast conditions that should be part of the links like experience. If it isn't playing firm and fast then par 4.5 holes abound. Low handicaps will enjoy the challenge. I still found it to be fun and appreciated the par 5s (all 5 of them) and the drivable par 4.
Although this is advertised as links golf, the approach shots are not really linksy. Plenty of the greens are elevated and bump and run is not an option. What did remind me of a links course we're the fairway width and needing to hit the correct side of the fairway or the approach is difficult to say the least. The best example of this, and my favorite hole, is the 8th. There is a need to hit the drive to the appropriate distance. Left leaves you an alps like approach that's blinded by a hill. Too long does the same thing. The correct drive leaves an approach through a gap where the flag is visible.
The rest of the holes are solid and will provide a fair test of your game.
In addition to the two courses there is a par 3 horse course and a putting course.
Beside the golf, I must mention that the hospitality at the club is second to none. If you spend the night, and I suggest you do, do find out when the Milky Way will be out. You can see the milk with the naked eye. Hanging out in the starlight with or without beverage is a must. One of the unique opportunities the club offers.
TOP Destination in the Country
I have played Bandon, Straits, Arcadia and even Lahinch, Portmarnock and Dingle across the pond. The Prairie Club rivals them all. For the complete package, Golf,Lodging etc it is second to none. Bandon is the "KING" with 4 top 20 courses and of course the Pacific Ocean, but, they are going to add a 3rd course here designed by Gil Hanse across the Snake River, all indications point to another Outstanding 18 holes!!! once this is completed look for The Prairie Club to be in the TOP 3 GOLF DESTINATIONS, along with Bandon and Straits in the country,
Bucket List! Just Do it!!!
Outstanding golf course a million miles from everywhere. If you get here you will fall in love. Rivals the extremely private Sand Hills Golf Club where you need to know a member to play. Anyone who makes the trip can play the two courses at The Prairie Club and its doubtful you will forget the experience. The Dunes course is superior but the Pines is nice too. I understand a 3rd 18 hole track is under development. A short course is available too. Greene fees are for all day so play until you drop. Nice cabins and you'll find most golfers drop into their bed soon after a long day of golf. The golf itself is beautiful, challenging, manicured and brutal in the wind.