Wild Horse Golf Club emphatically answers the question ‘is affordable golf in Nebraska any good’

Wild Horse Golf Club

Wild Horse Golf Club has made fine use of Nebraska’s prairies to create a unique and surprisingly affordable experience.

The course was designed by former Ben Crenshaw proteges Dan Proctor and Dave Axland, who have a reputation for crafting great layouts with a modest budget.

The reason some love Wild Horse Golf Club and some criticise it is that the course makes use of minimal bunkers.

However, a lot of courses built on lower budgets have to find creative ways to add challenges without adding vast numbers of bunkers, which will drive up the cost of maintenance substantially.

Among the most prominent defenders of Wild Horse is esteemed course architect Tom Doak.

“Look at Wild Horse…a very good golf course but one which nobody really goes gaga over, because it doesn’t have loads of bunkers and because it’s inexpensive to play,” he wrote in Tom Doak’s Little Red Book of Golf Course Architecture.

“Everybody likes it, but hardly anyone really supports it as one of the great courses in America; it’s often dismissed as a “poor man’s Sand Hills,” precisely because it doesn’t have a lot of superfluous bunkers.”

There are several great courses scattered across Nebraska, from the private Sand Hills Golf Club to the public but astonishingly breathtaking Landmand course in Homer.

However, Wild Horse does a great job of slotting seamlessly into a landscape with minimal changes to the natural topography.

While it’s not known for its bunkers, Wild Horse’s signature 18th hole is a bit of a slicer’s nightmare, with a massive blowout bunker guarding the right side of the fairway.

The fairway would be exceedingly generous were it not for the middle fairway bunker. Those who hit it reasonably straight and relatively long would aim to disect the two bunkers.

The chronic hookers in your group have a fairly sizeable safe zone on the left-hand side of the fairway, but there is a tricky depression in the fairway ahead of the bunker that has its own pitfalls. The green is uphill from the fairway and guarded by bunkers all around except for the right front, where the approach slopes right to left, allowing a shot to feed down onto the green if you get it right. Finding the green in two should give players an excellent chance to birdie, as the green is relatively flat.

Wild Horse Golf Club is far more challenging when the wind is blowing, but the course does aim to accommodate players of all skill levels.

Winter of the prairies makes it nearly impossible to keep this type of golf course open, and the club is shut down from mid-November until mid-March.

For what it provides, the green fee of $61.00 for a full round on a Monday-Thursday is excellent value for a golfing experience on this level.

You won’t get a links-style experience like Wild Horse further away from the coast, and it could be one of the finest examples of the so-called prairie-links-style course.