The beaches of Myrtle. The mountains of Scottsdale. Sun-kissed winter days on Florida fairways. For most Midwesterners, these are the must-haves of an everyday golf getaway — full of warmth and scenic views. So many people believe that you have to travel far to have a great experience. The truth is, that’s not really true at all.
Great getaways can often be found in the most unlikely of places.
Yes, Nebraska, a place often thought of as flat land, cornfields, and cattle farms for days. Surprisingly, Western Nebraska has some of the prettiest locations I have ever seen. What it lacks in mountains, warm climates or coastlines, it more than makes up for in a wonderful way of living. The residents are polite, easy going and believe in the simplicity of enjoying life and all its beauty.
And make no mistake, it is indeed gorgeous. Western Nebraska provides a serene, scenic backdrop for some of the greenest and lushest courses I have ever played. Driving through these small towns and rural countryside, seven spectacular courses arise like oases into the natural landscape of sand hills, creeks, and vast plains. Aside from their stunning views and breathtaking beauty, these courses present a challenge and a golf experience like none other at an extremely affordable price.
The first I played, Heritage Hills Golf Course (pictured above), is as long on looks as it is on character. This links-style course nestled in the heart of McCook is chock full of uneven lies, tall, fescue-like grass, smooth greens, and there’s not a flat spot to be found. This course really is a test of accuracy more so than distance. And it plays even tougher when the wind comes out of the east to southeast through the canyons and valleys. It requires a boatload of strategy and skill, and tests the patience of even the most experienced golfers.
After your round, Coppermill Steakhouse is a great place to settle down for a good meal. They have everything from steaks and burgers to salmon and lobster mac and cheese. After a round and a meal check on in to the Horse Creek Inn.
Less than an hour drive from McCook, our second stop offered one of the most hidden gems of Western Nebraska. Surrounded by cattle ranches, bluffs and rough terrain, Bayside Golf Club in Brule, NE was built on the land south of the Oregon Trail.
Don’t miss the view from the balcony of the log-cabin style clubhouse, overlooking the course and the 25-mile-long lake. Don’t let the view lull you into complacency, however. This course is full of native grass, tough pin placements and a heaping helping of bunkers for good measure.
Following your round, you won’t have to travel far for some great food and comfortable accommodations. Bayside Golf offers everything you need for a stay-and-play special, with townhouses and bedroom suites on-site.
Two scenic hours away you’ll find Skyview Golf Course, tucked away on the southeast side of an old military town called Alliance. Located on the grounds of a shuttered Army base in the beautiful rolling sand hills, this course is filled with wide-open fairways, well-kept greens and very little water.. If you have time after your round, be sure to check out the cool, quirky monument called Carhenge, just north of town. A car art reserve, Carhenge was formed from vintage American cars to replicate England’s Stonehenge. It’s certainly a sight to see!
The ultimate Western Nebraska Golf Getaway includes these next four locations which were among my favorites. This Stay-and-Play package features four championship courses within an hour drive of each other. These courses provide an unbelievable golf experience with beautiful views in Gering, Scottsbluff, Sidney, and Kimball, Nebraska. The package allows you to select a minimum of two rounds (cart included) and a one night’s stay starting at $180 per person. There is also an option to customize your golf adventure by adding additional courses and overnight stays. All you have to do is contact the Western Nebraska Golf Trail,
Our next stop was at Monument Shadows Golf Course, nestled between the lush greens and historical sand hills marking the town of Gering. With bluegrass fairways and some very scenic backdrops, the championship course stretches to 6,870 yards. With the scenic surroundings looming in the distance, Monument Shadows was definitely one of my favorite courses on the trip.
Just 15 minutes away in Scottsbluff, you’ll find the Riverview Golf and Country Club. This course offers a little bit of everything with scenic sand hill views, water hazards and plenty of mature trees. I found this course to be one of the most challenging of the trip. Because this course is heavily wooded with towering cottonwoods, it makes even the easiest of tee shots difficult. If you’ve come to Nebraska looking for a challenge, Riverview Golf and Country Club is the place to play.
After a day of great golf, it was time for shut-eye at the Monument Inn and Suites. This quaint little hotel was nestled in the heart of Gering, and has all the historical charm you could ever hope for with some excellent amenities.
If you’re hankering for a great steak head to the Steel Grill Restaurant and Bar, and skip the sizzler and try the steak nachos.
We were up early the next morning and headed off to play the Hillside Golf Club in Sidney. Hillside GC sits in the canyons and the bluffs that border the south side of the South Platte River. It’s a great layout that features several elevated tee boxes and greens that present quite a challenge. A round at Hillside Golf Club is a “must” on your Nebraska golf trip, so go ahead and add it to your itinerary.
We found our final stop in the highest point in the state of Nebraska, Kimball, Nebraska, the home of Four Winds Golf Course. Standing 5,400 feet above sea level, I can guarantee you that your golf ball is going to fly farther. Unfortunately, at this golf course accuracy is much more of a factor. Lining the blue grass fairways are clusters of pine and poplar trees that help shape each hole. It’s challenging, but it’s fair, and another excellent entry in your intinerary. After your round, make sure to stop in the newly renovated Wind Break Bar & Grill for a cold beverage and a quick bite to eat. It’s a great place to relax and enjoy the rest of your afternoon.
After a whirlwind week in western Nebraska, it’s proof-positive that the state has a lot more to offer golfers than ever expected. What lies in the vast plains of the Midwest region are beautiful, challenging golf courses nestled among the historical sand hills, rolling hills and western trails of the Cornhusker State. If you’re looking to book an affordable golf getaway, I’d highly recommend considering Western Nebraska, I think you’ll be glad you did.