The only thing a golfer needs is more daylight.
by Ken Hambleton
Lincoln has more golf than almost any city in the world and offers so much quality, variety and fun, it would be hard to find fault.
The city is home to five public-owned courses—Highlands, Pioneers, Holmes, Pioneers and Ager Junior.
Privately owned, public-access courses provide another 126 holes on six more courses, and the country clubs offer another 81 holes.
If you can’t get a good rate to play, a tee-time, a lesson, a cart, a beer and a hot dog—and more—you haven’t tried.
The Ager course (par 3) has won numerous awards, including the 2018 PGA Course of the Year—the only public course so honored.
Known as a golf-building course, it offers programs for younger players and helps create golfers to feed the city’s 18-hole championship courses. Ager, a nine-hole track, offers the “Best Junior Golf Program,” according to Golf Digest magazine, and has a daily fee that fits every pocketbook.
Add in the 1933-built Pioneers Golf Course —the oldest public course in the city, with clubhouse vistas that can calm the worst yips and shanks.
Pioneers, attached to Pioneers Park, has no sand bunkers, but more than enough challenges, with deep-grass bunkers and well-tended greens.
Highlands, with plenty of links-style flourishes, is one of the longest courses in the state when played from the tips. Often referred to as the trains-planes-and-automobiles course because it borders the Burlington Northern Santa Fe tracks and the Lincoln Airport, the course has two great finishing holes that bring water and two severely two-tiered greens.
The Arnold Palmer-inspired Holmes course has a huge new clubhouse and views of the Capitol. Braced by Holmes Lake and hundreds of trees, and with plenty of hills and some challenging topography, Holmes is a prime public course. The long par 3 No. 9, usually is into the south wind and is one of the toughest holes in the city.
Mahoney has two hungry ponds that come into play on the challenging No. 8 hole and a series of par 3 holes that look simple but can demand the most accurate of shots due to tiers, traps and trouble.
All of the city courses have a driving range and practice greens, as well as pro shops. Some offer practice bunkers, and all offer lessons.
The city courses are so popular that after a short flutter of management changes, they pay for themselves with fees and no tax dollars.
And that’s just a start.
HiMark, now known as NUMark, has grown from 18 holes in the 1990s to four, par 36 nine-hole tracks that offer some of the best greens in town. Much of the course was built on an old apple orchard and some on fertile farmland, giving lots of shade and water.
Crooked Creek and Hidden Valley provide affordable public golf. Both courses have prime practice areas, top pros and complete golf shops.
Woodland Hills in nearby Eagle has won a five-star rating from Golf Digest—the only course in Nebraska to earn such an accolade. Thousands of trees, bent-green fairways, seven water holes and a Colorado-like feel on the interior holes make this is very special course.
The Lincoln store of golf also offers Wilderness Ridge, which presents immaculate greens in a combination of traditional and links-style holes. It also offers a nine-hole executive course. The Nebraska Golf Academy and extensive practice facilities make Wilderness Ridge as popular as its famous menu in the wood-clad dining rooms.
If you can make the connection to play one of the country clubs, you can play one of the Top 100 courses in the country at Firethorn and one of the oldest courses locally at the eye-appealing Country Club of Lincoln.
Firethorn also offers a par 3 course. The main course, designed by Pete Dye, is a standout, and the run from No. 12 through 17 is beautiful, challenging and as demanding as any stretch in the country
Yankee Hill Country Club has a couple of challenging holes unlike any other—and some of the best greens in the state.
Hillcrest Country Club, a more traditional venue, has a long, narrow varied course that has played host to state tournaments for more than 50 years.
Nearby Quarry Oaks, Iron Horse, College Heights in Crete and the Beatrice Country Club are just a few of the more than 50 golf courses within 55 miles of downtown Lincoln.