At last, it's time to play Sand Hills. First, a word on getting on: Although it used to be possible to secure a tee time by writing a letter to the general manager and offering a list of dates you were available to play, the club recently tightened its policy. Now you must know a member and either be accompanied by him or have him call ahead to arrange a one-time unaccompanied guest round for you.
Playing Sand Hills is an unforgettable experience. This trailblazing design by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw is minimalism at its best: The architects moved only 3,000 cubic yards of earth.The course has an otherworldly feel—more moonscape than prairie. The par threes are particularly heroic, as is the colossal 612-yard par-five sixteenth, which dares you to carry a huge bunker off the tee. Pull it off, and your ball will go kicking down a hill an extra fifty yards—yet you'll still have a scary approach. Whether you play eighteen or thirty-six, savor every hole. You'll replay them in your head as you make the long drive back to Omaha.
Trip Planner: Omaha
Sand Hills Golf Club *****
Mullen; 308-546-2237. Yardage: 7,089. Par: 71. Slope: n/a. Greens Fee: $170. Architects: Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore, 1995.
Wild Horse Golf Club ****1/2
Gothenberg; 308-537-7700, playwildhorse.com. Yardage: 6,955. Par: 72. Slope: 134. Greens Fee: $38. Architects: Dave Axland and Dan Proctor, 1999.
Arbor Links Golf Course ****
Nebraska City; 402-873-4334, arborlinks.com. Yardage: 7,031. Par: 72. Slope: 136. Greens Fees: $48$70. Architect: Arnold Palmer, 2002.
Quarry Oaks Golf Club ****
Ashland; 402-944-6000, quarryoaks.com. Yardage: 7,010. Par: 71. Slope: 143. Greens Fees: $53$72. Architect: John Lafoy, 1997.
Players Club at Deer Creek ***1/2
Omaha; 402-963-9950, playersclubomaha.com. Yardage: 7,088. Par: 71. Slope: 140. Greens Fees: $56$65. Architect: Arnold Palmer, 2000.
Embassy Suites, Omaha; 402-346-9000. Suites: $129$179.
Pony Express Inn, Gothenburg; 308-537-3660. Rooms: $46.
The Drover (Steak house), 402-391-7440. $$$
Flatiron Café (Nouveau American), 402-344-3040. $$$
Old Market District, Omaha; oldmarket.com
Strategic Air & Space Museum, Ashland; 402-944-3100, strategicairandspace.com