Highlands Golf Course

The fifth stop on the 2020 Early Break Golf Tour is Highlands Golf Course in Lincoln. It’s one of the five courses considered part of the public Lincoln City Golf courses, and always brings a different feel than any of the other courses in town. Located in northwest Lincoln, Highlands is a links-style course, unlike the other public courses in town which have tree-lined fairways on what for a long time turned into the traditional type of course.

Highlands has challenging and rewarding holes all the way through. Hole 1 is a beautiful par 5 with a slight dogleg left with bunkers in the landing area on both sides of the fairway. Hole 2 is another dogleg left, with bunkers again on both sides of the fairway in landing areas. If you’re a big hitter, you can carry the left bunker and have a small wedge into the green, a par 4. Hole 3 is one of the most difficult holes in town. There’s no water or hazards—it’s just a long par 4, playing about 430 from the tips, and uphill. Again, a bunker left in the landing area, and another bunker on the front right part of the green. Take a par here and celebrate it as a birdie if you get one.

Hole 5 is a good risk-reward hole. It’s a shorter par 4, but you can try to get the corner and get close to the green, but if you don’t cut the corner (dogleg left hole), you’ll end up likely losing your ball in the tall grass. A safe play puts an iron or hybrid to the right in the fairway. Hole 6 is another dogleg left par 5 with long grass on the left side for the entire duration of the hole. Bunkers are in play near the green, and the green is tricky with two tiers.

Hole 7 is a short par 4 that long hitters can drive, as it’s around 320 yards from the tips. There is a greenside bunker on the left, and also a bunker short of the green if someone doesn’t catch their drive clean. Hole 9 is a scary par 4, where daring hitters will hit their teeshot directly over the lake, but require a 230 carry to do so. If you’re not as confident, play your teeshot right, and the approach shot goes uphill with a bunker protecting the front right.

Hole 10 is a good-looking par 4 that goes into a valley and then back up. A bunker once again is in the landing area on both sides of the fairway, and also on the right side of the green. Out of bounds right on tee shot and long grass left. Hole 11 is a par 5 that has the entire right side protected by trees. It’s one of the few holes that trees are relevant on the course. Keep your drive left and you’ll have a chance at getting on the green in 2 or close…but if you’re right, it’s a world of hurt.

Hole 12 is a short par 3 over a pond, playing about 165 yards from the tips. This green has three different tiers and is hard to make putts on. Hole 14 is one of the toughest par 3s in the city, measuring 230 yards from the tips. No bunker on this hole, but very difficult green to hit. Hole 16 is another tough par 4, going back uphill and playing 450 yards from the tips. Even if you hit a good drive here, you’ll have a long iron at the least for a second shot, with a green that is protected on the left by a huge bunker. Hole 17 is a nice dogleg right par 5, and hole 18 is a par 4 going back to the clubhouse that has a pond on the right side for your teeshot, and a huge tree on the left side of the fairway that presents problems if your drive goes that direction. Another very difficult two-tiered green awaits you on the finishing hole.

Highlands is a wonderful course that is difficult, and is extremely difficult if there’s any wind at all. With hardly any tree protection, this course can add 5+ shots to your score in windy conditions. Make your way to northwest Lincoln today to play one of the city’s top courses!

 

Course Info:

Head Pro:  Denis Vontz

Phone #:  402-441-6081

Website:    www.lincolncitygolf.org/highlands

Lakeside Country Club

The fourth stop on the 2020 Early Break Golf Tour is Lakeside Country Club, just to the south of Johnson Lake, near Elwood, NE. I’d never played the course before, so I was excited to get on the road out west and see what there was to offer. I was immediately intrigued on the drive in by seeing the lake so near the course—it made it pretty easy to decide what I’d be doing after my round.

Lakeside was in great shape. It’s been a pretty wet spring in Nebraska, and the course was indicative of that with green grass everywhere and fast greens. I played the tips, which is just shy of 6,400 yards for the entire course. Hole 1 is a straightaway par 5 that goes downhill the last 100 yards—I was informed by Richie (the course’s general manager) that the hole was flooded last year, but you couldn’t tell. The course has been well taken care of by the maintenance staff.

Hole 1, Lakeside Country Club

After a few short par 4s on holes 2 and 3, you reach the toughest hole on the course, which certainly defeated me. I was 1-under going into the hole, and ended with a double-bogey. It’s a 430 yard par 4 that doglegs left the final 100 yards of the hole, and the green is protected by a massive tree on the front left side. So, if you want a chance of getting on for a birdie, you’d be best served by going to the right side of the fairway, or even in the right rough. I pulled my drive left and had to drop, and then played the rest of the hole poorly after that.

Hole 4, Lakeside Country Club

Hole 5 is a nice looking par 3—164 yards from the tips. Hole 6 is a gettable par 5, and holes 7 and 8 are par 4s that take a slight dogleg to the right, with protective bunkers on hole 7 in the landing zone from your drive. Hole 9 is a difficult 165 yard par 3 that is downhill, but has a very narrow green that is tough to hit. If you go right at all, it will carom off the hill and present a difficult chip. If you’re left at all, you’ll find a bunker. Richie said that even though it’s a shorter par 3, bogey is the most common score on the hole.

Hole 7, Lakeside Country Club

The back 9 is the easier side for sure. Hole 10 is a 340 yard par 4, and hole 10 is a 515 yard par 5, but plays much shorter than that since it’s a severe dogleg right, and if you hit it over the trees, you can have a short iron into the green for your 2nd shot—eagle and birdie are common here. Same goes for hole 12, another short par 4, about 320 yards in length, straightaway. Hole 13 is another good-looking par 3, about 170 from tips, and 150 yards from the next tees up.

This brings us to hole 14. I had a group behind me and they asked me if I was looking for the back tees, and I said yes—because they are so far behind the other tees. The guys said they had never seen anyone hit from those tees (Richie informed me before the round that 95% of players play the tees up from the backs). That hole played as a 520 yard par 4 (!), which doglegs left. If you make a birdie or par on 14 from any of the tees, you’ve done well. I pulled my drive left again and had to drop, and came away with a double bogey. Very difficult hole.

Hole 15, Lakeside Country Club

Hole 15 is a nice break after that, as a short par 5. Hole 16 and 18 are both 165 yard par 3s.

Lakeside is a very enjoyable course that is in great shape. I was a little bummed I couldn’t see the actual Johnson Lake at all from the course, because it’s below the dam on the other side of it, but otherwise, it is a course worth playing if you’re headed out that direction for the weekend for camping.

General Manager:   Richie Bennett

Website:      www.playlakeside.com

Phone:   (308) 785-2818

Mahoney Golf Course

The third stop on the 2020 Early Break Golf Tour is Mahoney Golf Course in Lincoln. This long-standing public course gets a lot of traffic, and is generally considered the best course for a beginner to play on, as it’s the least punishing of Lincoln City Golf courses. You’ll arrive to see a large driving range to the east of the clubhouse, which also has a massive net on the south side to protect golf balls hit from the range to go on Adams Street or the surrounding neighborhoods. The practice putting green is also spacious enough to hold many golfers, as there are often high school tournaments played there.

Hole 1 is a massive dogleg right par 5 that has in-course out of bounds left, and also right (the driving range). If the wind is from the south, this hole is easy to reach in 2. If not, placement of your drive becomes that much more important to give you a chance at a birdie still. Hole 2 is a 190 yard par 3 (from tips) with a large bunker on the left side. This two-tiered green causes issues putting often. Hole 3 is a dogleg right par 4 that requires an accurate drive to have a chance to get to the green for birdie. Holes 4 and 5 are straightaway par 4s, followed by another 190 yard par 3 uphill on 6.

Hole 8 is undoubtedly the toughest hole on the course, and considered by many as one of the hardest holes in Lincoln, in general. With two ponds on the left side of this long par 4 (440 yards from tips), it becomes a mental grind. If you don’t hit in the first pond, the second pond is closer to the green, and any chunked shot will surely find the pond. If you get past the pond, you could still end up short in the bunker right before the green. Hole 8 is where many good rounds go to suffer. Hole 9 is a nice par 3 with a protective bunker on the front right, and again, is about 190 yards from tips.

Hole 10 is a straightaway par 4, and hole 11 is the same, but a par 5. Hole 12 is a pleasantly short par 3, playing 124 yards from the tips, but an uphill shot where you can’t really see what the ball does once it gets to the green. Hole 13 is a short par 4 that is a ‘birdie hole.’ Hole 14 is another 190 yard par 3 with a protective bunker on the front left. Hole 15 looks identical to hole 7, as they are both right next to each other and are both dogleg left par 5s. Reachable in 2 on most days. Hole 16 is a difficult 90 degree dogleg left that long hitters can carry the large gathering of trees on the left side, but short hitters must go right of them and it creates a very long second shot. Hole 17 is a good-looking downhill par 3 with a bunker in the front right, and hole 18 is a dogleg left par 4 that if you go right, you’re in trouble–if you’re left, you’ll likely have a punch shot but a chance at getting to the green, still.

Overall, Mahoney Golf Course isn’t considered the toughest course in Lincoln by any means, but it can provide a fun time for beginners and also for advanced players. The greens and fairways are in excellent shape. I enjoy walking when I play, and it’s a fairly easy course to walk. Book your teetime today at lincolncitygolf.org!

 

Head Pro: Jonathan Benson

Course address:  7900 Adams Street, Lincoln, NE  68507

Website:   www.lincolncitygolf.org/mahoney

Phone #:   (402) 441-8969

 

 

Fremont Golf Club

Our second stop on the 2020 ‘Early Break’ Golf Tour is Fremont Golf Club! I had the chance to play the course last year, too, and it looks even better now than it did then. What a tremendous looking course. I played the tips (black tees–6,532 yards). The putting green indicates quick, smooth greens, and that’s exactly what you find on every hole on the course. No bumps, no dry areas of greens–they are taken care of to the fullest extent. The course isn’t long, but pretty much every hole is tree-lined, so if you find yourself erratic off the tee (which I was when I played this time), prepare for a tough day of scoring. If you can keep the driver in the bag and hit long irons or a hybrid consistently straight, you’ll have a chance to score well.

 

The bunkers were redone two years ago and they are immaculate. They honestly look like the sand you’d see on a beach, as they are white and refined. The rough at Fremont Golf Club is fair but punishing, and the fairways are always in great shape. Memorable holes on the course are hole 3, which is a long straightaway par 4 with a creek that runs about 75 yards short of the green. If your teeshot doesn’t find the fairway, good luck making par. Hole 4 is a par 3 that has a massive bunker on the left side of the green. If you’re left on the hole, you’re looking at a bogey at best, as the green runs away from that side and the ball is impossible to stop on a chip from the bunker or rough.

Hole 8 is listed as the toughest hole on the course, as a long par 5. However, if your drive is straight, you can reach the green in two. The green is the difficult part, as it’s a smaller green than normal with lots of curve to it. Hole 9 is 90 degree left turn that requires a long iron or hybrid off the tee, and a second shot into the green will need to be struck well to avoid the pond that protects the green.

Hole 13 is a difficult dogleg right hole that has OB right to prevent players from trying to hit into hole 14 fairway for a better angle at the hole. If your teeshot is off-line, par becomes hard to achieve, as you’ll have to either punch out or lay up for your 2nd shot, assuming you get that shot into open area for an approach. Water comes into play on holes 14 and 15, with both doglegs left requiring accurate tee shots. The course finishes with a straightaway par 4, hole 18 that does have OB left, but is otherwise gettable.

The bunkers were redone last year and they are immaculate. They honestly look like the sand you’d see on a beach, as they are white and refined. The rough at Fremont Golf Club is fair but punishing, and the fairways are always in great shape. Water does come to play on holes 14 and 15, with both doglegs left requiring accurate tee shots.

The unique feature of the course is the train track that goes through the middle of it. The 18 holes are pretty much divided right in the middle of the tracks, so you’ll go across them several times in the round to get to your next set of holes. I thought it was impressive how they fit 18 holes into smaller area of territory than usual—it seemed like a puzzle piece in how they fit all the holes in, which was creative.

I highly recommend a visit to Fremont Golf Club! If you have a Nebraska Golf Passport, you can play the course. Otherwise, it’s a private course, so membership is required to get on. They always have great membership specials going on, so check them out to get more info.

 

Contact Info:

Fremont Golf Club
2710 N. Somers Ave.
Fremont, NE 68025

(402) 721-6642

www.fremontgolfclub.org

Head PGA Professional:  Nathan Kalin

Indian Trails Country Club

The 2020 Early Break Golf Tour kicked off over the weekend, and what better way to start than with a trip to Beemer, Nebraska to play scenic Indian Trails Country Club! I’ve had the privilege of playing Indian Trails a handful of times in my life, and the scenery and elevation blows me away every time.

When you get to the parking lot at the course, you are stunned by how far you can see into the distance to the north. The clubhouse sits on a bluff of the Elkhorn River, and everything feeds down toward the river. Only holes 1, 2 and 10 are on the upper level. Hole 1 is a par 5, and if you hit it left, you’re going to go a long way down, as the hole feeds down into the valley. If you keep it in the fairway, you’ll have a good chance at birdie, depending on the wind. Hole 2 is a challenging par 3 that plays 208 yards from the tips, but it feels longer than that—it played straight into the wind when I played. The green all feeds toward the front, and if you hit over the back on your tee shot, you’re in a world of hurt.

Hole 3 is a gorgeous downhill par 5 that feeds to the right from your teeshot, where you also drop (what feels like) a few hundred feet in elevation to the fairway. Hole 5 goes right by the road that leads you up from the village of Beemer to the golf course, and if you have any sort of fade or slice, you’re heading out of bounds. Keep it in play to the right and you should be able to walk away with a par.

Holes 6 and 7 are short par 4s that long-hitters can drive depending on where the wind is at–but you can also go out of bounds on 6 if you go right. A bunker to the front left of the green creates issues for long-bombers. Hole 7 is a straight-forward par 4 that if you’re feeling errant at all with your driver, you should take whatever you trust to get in the fairway and get your birdie or par (only 310 yards from tips).

Hole 8 is a brutal par 3 that is 220 from the tips and 160 from the tees up from the tips–it actually plays as a par 4 for women, as their tee box is just behind the tips. Hole 9 is a boomerang hole that goes almost 90 degrees to the left. Hit a long iron or hybrid on your teeshot and you’ll have a chance to score. However, the two-tiered green causes lots of problems for golfers, especially when the summer temps get high and the greens get even faster than they are in the spring. What feels like a birdie hole can often become a 3-putt bogey.

After you’ve rode the cart back up the big hill to the clubhouse (if you walk the hill, your legs will be burning), you’ll head to hole 10. It’s a par 4 with OB left for the driving range—and make sure not to hit your 2nd shot long, or you’ll end up in a cemetery!

Then comes one of the absolute coolest holes in the state. Hole 11 again drops hundreds of feet downhill, going back to the Elkhorn River. Your teeshot will hang in the air for what feels like forever, and it’s so fun to see how far it goes with the help of elevation. If you avoid the greenside bunker, you can get a birdie on this hole. Par is a good score. Hole 12 is a challenging dogleg right–for someone who draws the ball right to left like me, it’s difficult.

Holes 13 and 14 are the 3rd and 5th hardest handicap holes respectfully on the course per the scorecard, despite being par 4s that are less than 400 yards from the tips. 13 is a straightaway par 4, but has a difficult green that has so many bending putts. 14 goes straight up the hill and is a little intimidating on the tee shot, going through a tight opening on your drive.  Most shots will feed left to right on the hole with the landscape.

Hole 15 is a short but good-looking par 3, playing between 125-135 for all tees. You’ll have to carry a pond on your tee shot and avoid the bunker on the front right of the green. But, this is another two-tiered green that is challenging to make putts on. Hole 16 is another par 3, but another monster, playing 205 yards from back tees. It’s one of the most difficult holes to make putts on for all of Indian Trails, as pretty much every putt has significant bend to it. If you par 16, you’ve done well for yourself.

Hole 17 is the only really long par 5 of the course, measuring at 575 yards from the tips. If you don’t hit a long and straight drive, it’ll be hard to make birdie. I found the trees on the right, but was able to punch out and still get on in 3, and missed my birdie putt. Finally, hole 18 is the number one handicap hole on the course. It’s a longer version of hole 9; a boomerang hole that goes 90 degrees to the left from the teebox. Driver can sometimes be too much, and a hybrid leaves you still a long approach shot. If you par this hole, you probably had a good round of golf. If not, welcome to the life of most who play Indian Trails.

I HIGHLY recommend a visit to Beemer. You won’t be disappointed. Plus, you can pay for 18 holes and play the whole day beyond that for free. The most they’ve seen someone play one day is 81 holes–all the cost of only 18 holes. Grab some buddies and enjoy a full day at this gem of a golf course as soon as you can!

 

Head Pro:   Adam Person

Website:  www.indiantrailsclub.com

Phone:   (402) 528-3404

Pioneers Golf Course

The latest stop on the 2019 Early Break Golf Course Review Tour is Pioneers Golf Course in Lincoln. Pioneers is the oldest public golf course in Lincoln and the surrounding states, actually–constructed in 1930 originally as a 27 hole course, but it’s now just 18 holes. I’ve always viewed Pioneers as one of my absolute favorite courses to play in the city because of the location feeling secluded for being a public course, but also great scenery in general. I’ve been fortunate to play Pioneers quite a few times growing up with high school tournaments and also having lived in Lincoln for the past 10 years.

Pioneers begins with a straightaway par 5 which is in play for an eagle or certainly a birdie if you put a decent drive in play. After a slight dogleg par 4 on hole 2, a blind drive awaits on hole 3, but don’t push it too far right or you’ll be out of bounds and into Pioneers Park. Hole 4 is one of the best looking holes in all of Lincoln, a par 3 over a lake that plays about 185 yards from the tips and requires a carry of at least 150—don’t chunk your teeshot or you’ll be in big trouble! Hole 5 is a short, downhill dogleg right par 4 that requires an accurate teeshot, or else the trees become a world of hurt. Hole 6 is another straightaway par 5 that is totally dependent on wind for how it plays; if it’s downwind, you can get home in 2 easily, but if it’s into the wind, you’re playing for a birdie or par at best.

Hole 7 is a short uphill par 3, followed by a straightaway par 4 that is big trouble if hit it right, and into the trees. Same goes for hole 9; a slightly uphill par 4. I have been in huge issues on this hole with pulled drives and occasionally an overcooked fade, both which head into more tree-lined areas. It’s not an overly long hole, but high scores can be taken here if an accurate drive is not in play.

Hole 10 is a beautiful, downhill par 4 that feels like a funnel back to the fairway if you go left or right; however, you can still get in plenty of trouble with an errant tee shot. Hole 11 is a nice dogleg left par 5, and hole 12 is a short par 4 that you absolutely cannot go left on (OB and forest), and going right also gets you in the trees. If driver is shaky, take a long iron or hybrid here.

After that is what I view to be the best 4-hole stretch on the golf course. Hole 13 is a beast of a par 3, playing slightly uphill and at 215 yards from the tips, but it always feels longer than that. If you can escape that hole with a par, you get the short par 4 14th, which plays about 310 yards from the tips. If you go driver, you can certainly get close to the green or get on it, but going right puts you in trouble for a second shot, and going left puts you behind 2 massive trees protecting the green. It’s viewed as a birdie hole. Hole 15 heads right back uphill and plays around 440 from the tips; there’s been times into the wind where I’ve crushed a drive though (I usually hit driver 275-300 yards), and have still been about 200 yards out because of wind  and the uphill nature of the hole. You feel fortunate to walk away with a par here. And to finish the 4-hole stretch, hole 16 is a dogleg right where left is dead, and far right is dead, too. A good drive is very important for a birdie chance or saving par.

Hole 17 is a short par 3, playing about 130 from the tips, and hole 18 wraps up with a slight dogleg right where you can’t go too far left; you’ll hit some cars in the parking lot. Going too far right puts you in long grass and tree trouble. The hole is only about 330 yards, so if you bomb a drive straight, you’re in major birdie range.

There’s no bunkers at Pioneers, so it’s a good course for novices to learn on; but also challenging enough without bunkers for talented/experienced players to enjoy, too. The greens are in great shape and have decent pace, despite the course being first in amount of rounds played in Lincoln for 12 straight years. There’s a reason why so many people love to play Pioneers—make it a priority on your next golf outing in Lincoln!

 

Course Info:

3403 West Van Dorn St. 

Lincoln, NE 68522

Phone:  (402) 441-8966

Head Pro:  Timothy Rowland

Dodge Riverside Golf Club

The next stop on the 2019 Early Break Golf Course Tour is Dodge Riverside Golf Club in Council Bluffs! I had played this course once when I was in high school for a tournament about 11 years ago (aging myself here), but didn’t remember much of it, so I was glad I was able to play it again with a new perspective.

First things first: it’s a pretty dang easy course to find, as it sits directly across from Harrah’s Casino in Council Bluffs, just off the interstate. The clubhouse is nice and inviting, with plenty of merchandise to buy in the pro shop, and good food/cold drinks in the dining area. I played on a day of 98 degree heat, and was given plenty of ice to keep drinks cold all day long, which is easier said than done.

Dodge Riverside GC is full of doglegs, and you see that off the bat with a dogleg left par 4. I played the tips again, and found myself in the trees, but was able to get up-and-down for a par. The course isn’t overly long anywhere outside of two 500+ yard par 5s, so if you are struggling with the driver (which I often do), a long iron or hybrid should keep you in position to score, if you can hit it straight off the tee or to a specific landing area. This was the case on holes 3 and 4, as 3 is a dogleg left with a huge tree sticking out on the left that you must either go over or around with a draw. Hole 4 is a par 4 that requires specific placement, as a bunker lines the right side, and I hit into it with a hybrid. You can be rewarded by simply hitting a long iron on both of these holes off the tee.

Hole 5 is another challenging dogleg left, before you can go bombs away straight down 6 and 7. I was able to stop a tough start by getting par on both of those holes. Hole 8 is the No. 1 handicap hole on the course, and you can understand why: it’s only 398 yards in distance, but for a guy like me who plays a draw, you have to play your teeshot over an apartment complex AND trees on the right to get into proper position for your second shot (if I could play a fade on command, this hole becomes a lot easier). Regardless, if you hit a bad shot off the tee here, you’re toast.  Hole 9 finishes off the front with a long par 5 that plays 545 generally from the tips, but it was moved up to about 515 on the day I played, but another dogleg left.

Hole 10 is the second toughest hole on the course, a 427 yard dogleg right par 4 from the tips. The greens were starting to bake in the heat, but weren’t showing signs of brown or fatigue; they just started to roll pretty quickly, which is the way I like them. Good maintenance all the way around the course, in general, on the greens, bunkers, fairways, and teeboxes.

Hole 11 is a nice 175 yard par 3 which landed me my first birdie of the day, followed by a very straightforward 12th hole which is big-time birdie territory, too. In fact, holes 12 through 14 should be considered as birdie territory, with hole 13 being a tempting 275 yard par that’s reachable with driver or 3-wood, but comes with the risk of hitting into a pond that protects the front portion of the green. I was able to clear the pond with my drive, but biffed a chip and ended up with par.

Hole 14 is a dogleg right par 5 with OB left, and hole 15 is a 190 yard par 3. Both were nice holes. Hole 16 is a reachable dogleg left par 5 which I was able to birdie, as it was downwind and playing 482 yards from the tips. Hole 17 is a challenging dogleg right par 4 with tree trouble left and right, and hole 18 finishes up with a 374 yard par 4 that can be birdied if you keep your drive in play. The course from the tips plays just shy of 6,500 yards when all is said and done.

I started the round +4 through 5 as I was not very warmed up; but I closed strong and stayed +4 the whole rest of the way, to shoot a 76 on the par 72 course. It’s tree-lined all the way throughout and with all the doglegs, I’d recommend keeping the driver in the bag more often than not and playing strategic golf with long irons and hybrids. For playing on such a hot day, the course looked great and the clubhouse employees were in good spirits. The next time you’re in the Omaha/Council Bluffs area, give Dodge Riverside Golf Club your best shot for 18 holes!

Contact Info:

2 Harrah’s Blvd

Council Bluffs, IA 51501

Phone: (712) 328-4660

Website:  http://www.dodgeriversidegolf.com/

 

General Manager:   Kyle Matson

Holdrege Country Club

The latest stop on the 2019 Early Break Golf Tour is Holdrege Country Club! I had never played this course before, so I was excited to get a chance to go out and play it. I played with David, a local member, who was a fantastic host, and even hooked me up with a nice new water bottle and divot tool upon my arrival. He was extremely helpful in knowing what to do on certain holes, as well as giving many pointers on what my putts might do on the greens. Always great to play with locals who are listeners of the show and also are awesome playing partners!

Regarding the course, it is in fantastic shape. It’s as green as can be for late June–thanks, in part, undoubtedly to the very wet spring/summer we’ve had in the state. The greens are so true and smooth, but not unfairly quick. You can definitely make a lot of putts at Holdrege CC once you figure out the pace of the greens. I started off +6 on the front 9 and shot 3-under on the back 9 once I got things figured out.

The course plays 6300+ yards from the tips, so it’s not overly long, but does provide many challenges. I didn’t hit a driver until hole 4, which is the start of three straight par 5s—something I’ve never seen before anywhere, but found it interesting. Before that, you have two pretty short par 4s to start, and then a scenic par 3 that’s lined with trees and also a pond before the green.

Regarding the three straight par 5s–you can make birdie on them all if you play it smart, as none are extremely long. Holes 4 and 6 are both under 500 yards, while hole 5 is just longer than 500 yards. I didn’t trust my driver and didn’t hit it great, and actually had big problems on hole 6 because of that, but I learned later on that if I just hit a hybrid down the middle, I could still make a birdie if I had a big second shot, too.

Hole 7 was a challenging par 4, playing about 430 yards from the tips. It’s straightaway, but if you go right or left, you’re in tree trouble, and bogey is likely. The front 9 raps up with two nice par 3s, which I was able to par both of.

The back 9 starts with a pretty simple par 4 that’s a dogleg right, but with not much tree trouble to worry about. Hole 12 can be birdied, as it’s another straight par 5 with tree trouble on the right, but I was in the trees and still almost made birdie. Hole 13 is a 152 yard par 3 over water that can be daunting into the wind, but there wasn’t much wind the day I played. I actually almost aced the hole and had a tap-in birdie, and David had a remarkable scramble with a nice chip and long putt for par. Hole 15 is another challenging hole, a dogleg right with tree trouble right. I was in the trees again and made bogey.

Hole 16 is another nice looking par 3, with water short and right. David made a nice birdie and I made an up-and-down par, before we headed off to the par 5 17th, and then wrapped up with the straightaway par 4 18th hole.

It’s a course that you can go low on if you play well, but I can see it being a lot tougher when it’s windy. I was impressed with the speed of the greens and the trueness of putts, as well as the overall maintenance of the course. Only a 2 hour, 15 min drive from Lincoln, it’s well-worth the drive for a day on the course.

 

Contact Info:

314 W. 18th Ave.
Holdrege, NE 68949

Phone: (308) 995-5744

Beatrice Country Club

The fifth stop of the 2019 Early Break Golf Tour is my hometown course, the Beatrice Country Club. I grew up playing this course from elementary through high school, and go back often to play it every spring and summer since I graduated high school. Many refer to it as the hidden gem in southeast Nebraska—I’d argue it’s a hidden gem of the entire state.

BCC has really improved its image from an optics viewpoint over the past few years. When you arrive, you’ll see a nice plaque on the way to the clubhouse, and you’ll see a beautiful new covered patio, which is a huge upgrade over the previous deck that got fried in the sun and in need of constant staining with no cover for it. They also revamped the pool this winter and it looks fantastic, as it sits behind the tee shots of hole 1 and 10, and by the green of 9 and 18.

 

That’s not the only new thing at BCC–the driving range was completely redone this past offseason and it’s full of visual targets to aim at, compared to what it was in the past. Pair that up with a massive putting green, and you have great warm-up facilities for your round.

The golf course is the real treat, obviously. The grass is luscious, and the fairways and greens couldn’t be in better condition. The greens are rolling so true with few bumps and nice speed. You’ll be able to make plenty of putts if your flatstick gets the speed of the greens figured out early.

Hole 1 is an intimidating tee shot, as it’s tree-lined on both sides of the fairway, and there is a pond near the left side of the green. Holes 2 and 3 are also tree-lined but not overly long, so if the driver isn’t accurate, many opt to hit a shorter club to keep the ball in play. Hole 4 is a brutally long par 5 that plays 607 yards from the tips and often times is into the wind, with out of bounds right and hazard left. Hole 5 is a recently renovated short par 3 that is more intimidating than in the past, as the course tore out tall fescue/hazard and instead put in a large pond.

Hole 6 is the signature hole of the course, as a pond lines the entire right side of the teeing area. It can be a driveable par 4 if the wind is helping, but you’re risking putting your tee-shot in the water if you do so. Hole 7 is a challenging hole with trouble again–out of bounds right and hazard left, with another pond by the left side of the green. Hole 8 is a monster par 3 uphill, where par feels like birdie. However, you can bounce right back with a slight dogleg right that is a short par 5 where a birdie is very attainable.

The back 9 starts with a par 4 with OB left and a pond in front of the right side of the green. After the downhill par 3 11th, you’ll need to be accurate with a hybrid or iron on the dogleg left par 4 12th, with a well-protected green awaiting your approach shot. Hole 13 has a huge two-tiered green that sits just beyond a creek. After the long par 5 14th, the course starts opening up again for holes 15 through 17, and then hole 18 finishes with a dogleg right that has OB left and tons of trees on the right.

Beatrice Country Club is a must play for any avid golfer. Just 45 minutes south of Lincoln, it’s a place you’ll want to play often after playing it your first time.

 

Contact Info:
1301 Oak Street
Beatrice, NE 68310

Phone: (402) 223-2710

www.beatricecc.com

Head Pro:  Seth Ray

Heritage Hills

The fourth stop on the 2019 Early Break Golf Tour takes us out to Heritage Hills in McCook! I had the pleasure of playing with one of the board members and the manager of the pro shop (Kelvin), and he was an absolute treat, and a fantastic host. McCook is 3.5 hours away from Lincoln, but it was well worth the drive to play this links-style course.

There was a big pro-am in the weekend following the day I went out there, so the course was in excellent condition. When you drive up to Heritage Hills, you notice extreme elevation on many of the teeboxes to the fairways/greens. There’s also lots of fescue, a typical sign of a good links course. The fescue comes into play on a majority of the holes in some fashion–especially on the back 9. Hitting a ball into that stuff can turn a great round into a disappointing round quickly—I know because it happened to me.

The front 9 is the scoring 9 holes at Heritage Hills. Both sides are par 36, but from the tips (blue tees), the front 9 plays 3,379 yards, and the back 9 plays 3,752 yards. That’s quite a difference for both sides to have the same par, so you’ll need to take advantage of the front to give some padding for surely a higher score on the back. Hole 1 is an elevated tee shot into a valley, as your second shot goes back up to the green. Many holes at Heritage Hills are ‘target golf’—you can’t really see the green, you’re just aiming to a part of the green or to the top of the flag if you can see it. Kelvin drove up to the green often from where my ball was so I could get a good idea of where I needed to hit my approaches.

Hole 6 is a redesigned par 4. The course was built in 1981, but there was some renovation in 2013, and hole 6 went from being a dogleg left par 4 to a straightaway, slightly downhill par 4 that is drivable if you’re risky, but that can get you in trouble in fescue left if you don’t hit it straight. Hole 7 is a nice short par 3 that gives up many birdies, but it’s followed by two straight difficult holes; hole 8 is a long, uphill par 5, and hole 9 is a tough, uphill par 4.

Hole 10 is an uphill, dogleg left, followed by hole 11, which many view as a signature hole on the course, with fairway bunkers in the landing area on another dogleg left. I hit a big drive on hole 13, but pulled it left and lost it in the fescue; one of many times that happened on the back 9. 13 is another hole with an elevated teebox going to a valley, but with a second shot that goes way back uphill. Hole 14 is a monster par 5, playing 616 yards from the tips, and it ends uphill. Hole 15 is another challenging hole, another dogleg left with fairway bunkers and playing 454 yards from the tips.  The course finishes up with a fair but challenging par 5 17th hole, and hole 18 is an uphill dogleg left that certainly brings birdie into play to close.

I enjoyed my time at Heritage Hills, despite struggling on the back 9. The views are great, the people are helpful and inviting, and the greens were rolling perfectly. There are many different ways to get good deals there: Get a discounted rate with the Nebraska Golf Passport; check out the Play the West Tour; or visit their website for more info. On Thursdays, you can play 18 holes with a cart for only $30! And it’s well worth it. Also, you can play 18 holes with a cart and get a hotel room for only $90 total—call the clubhouse for more info. Get out west today to Heritage Hills in McCook!

 

Contact Info:
6000 Clubhouse Dr.
McCook, NE 69001

(308) 345-5032

www.heritagehillsmccook.com

Head Pro:  Bobby Gaulke

Grand Falls Casino & Golf Resort (Larchwood, IA)

The third stop on the 2019 Early Break Golf Tour is Grand Falls Casino & Golf Resort in Larchwood, Iowa—which just so happens to be the town I lived in the first 9 years of my life before moving to Nebraska. The course is called by many as the top course in the Sioux Falls area, and after playing it–it’s hard to deny that claim.

When you get to Grand Falls Casino & Golf Resort, you’re welcomed by valet parking and they also valet your clubs back to your cart, so once you walk through the casino to get to the golf shop and get cleared for your teetime, your clubs are already on your cart out back. They have a very nice driving range and putting green, too. The carts have GPS in them, so you’re never questioning your distances at all. That’s something that more courses have tried to implement, but it’s definitely pricy for courses, so I was appreciative that Grand Falls had it.

The course is still pretty new; it opened in 2013 as a Rees Jones designed course. You’ll be blown away by it when you’re playing–you’ll swear you’re in Scotland and not in northwest Iowa. There are no trees to be seen, as it’s pure links style, with tall fescue that is able to be played from, but still punishing as it should be if you miss too far left or right. I played on a 58 degree day with 30mph winds and cloudy skies after it had rained a lot, so that was the real ‘Scotland feel’ for me—but don’t worry, I promise it’s not like that all the time up there! And, speaking of rain—Grand Falls did an amazing job with their drainage system because you would never know it had rained almost 3 inches there overnight and in the morning we played in the early afternoon. Most of the land around the course was flooded with water, but Grand Falls’ drainage system on the course is top notch and the course is in amazing shape still.

I played the tips (blacks), which plays to 7,110 yards on the scorecard. There are 5 total teeboxes to choose from, so any level of golfer should have a good challenge and good time while playing. I was struck by the length of the par 4s. Hole 4 is 465 yards from the tips, and hole 16 is 475 from the tips. Both of these holes were into the wind, so they played like long par 5s instead of long par 4s. Let’s just say I was thrilled to make bogey on both of them. That’s the sign of a good course though; I wouldn’t say that any hole was ‘easy.’ They all had rewards and they all had punishment. If you keep the ball in play, as it is for most courses, you’ll score well. The greens are very smooth with no bumps. That’s vital to being a good course.

Other holes that stood out were holes 8 and 9, which surround the 12-acre lake. Hole 8 is a par 3 with water left, and water is left on the entirety of the dogleg par 4 9th hole. Add in the attractive waterfall on the finishing par 3 18th hole, and you have yourself a golf course to remember and to desire to come back and play again.

Plus—they’re on the Nebraska Golf Passport, so if you have one of those (you can buy one at nebraskagolfpassport.org), check them out.

Contact Info:
1415 Grand Falls Blvd.
Larchwood, IA 51241

(712) 777-7777
www.thefallsgolfcourse.com

Director of Golf:   Jason Wagamon

Jackrabbit Run

The 2nd stop on the ‘2019 Early Break Golf Tour’ is Jackrabbit Run in Grand Island! Jackrabbit Run consistently hosts high school tournaments for the regular season, as well as districts and state tournaments. It’s a perfect venue for those events, because it’s not overly easy but also not overly difficult.

Most holes are tree-lined, so if you are spraying the ball left or right, you might be in for a long round. I played on a windy day (25mph winds consistently), and that makes any golf course tough–but Jackrabbit Run is not a terribly long course, so although your score will be affected on a windy day, it won’t be crushed.

I was particularly impressed with the length of the par 3s. I played the tips (blue tees), which plays over 6,700 yards total. Two par 3s are 200+ yards, including the tough 14th hole, which plays 225 yards and is tree-lined and well protected especially on the right side of the green. Hole 7 is listed at 195 yards on the card, but with the pin in the back and also playing into the wind, it played more like 230 yards. Tough par 3s are important in making scoring difficult.

I was impressed with the greens—extremely smooth with no bumpiness, and also very nice speed. Putts hold their lines at Jackrabbit Run, which is what every golf course should desire.

Water is only in play on 2 holes (4 and 9), so it’s not a huge factor, but bunkers are everywhere, and the sand is well-maintained.

The clubhouse was cozy, and the people were very welcoming. I’d recommend the hot dogs–I had 2 because they were so good!

Give Jackrabbit Run a visit today! Twilight rates exist, as well as kids 15 and under play for $3 in a cart if accompanied by a fee-paying adult. That’s a great way to get kids into the sport and ‘grow the game’ without breaking the bank.

Contact Info:
Head Pro:  Don Kruse
Address:  2800 N. Shady Bend Rd.
Grand Island, NE 68801
Phone #: (308) 385-5340