Shoot a Round on Lincoln’s Links
Lincoln is known for having wonderful public and private golf courses where each course has something unique to offer. There are more courses per capita here than in most Plains and Midwestern cities, offering a course to suit nearly every golfer.
Wilderness Ridge was designed for quality play. Featuring 18 holes of championship golf (riding only) and a 9-hole, par 32 executive course, the resort-style facility includes 22 lakes, four large waterfalls, and over 5,000 trees. Exceptional service is the standard at the clubhouse, which features a well-staffed restaurant, private dining rooms and banquet facilities for 250 people. Ask about their special fees for seniors, juniors, and twilight times. (1800 Wilderness Woods Place, South of Yankee Hill Road via 27th Street, 402-421-2525, www.wildernessridgegolf.com). One of the added features in this location is their amazing restaurant.
Hidden Valley is a challenging and fun par 71, 18-hole course. Rental carts are available to take on the smooth asphalt cart paths, and when you’re done, you can enjoy the lounge, pro shop and deck in the clubhouse. A short game area and a practice range featuring four target greens are available when you want to pop in to work on your game. One visit, and you may be vying to build a house on one of the adjacent lots (10501 Pine Lake Road, 402-483-2532, www.hiddenvalleylincoln.com).
For a completely unique experience, take a swing at the Scottish links-style Highlands. This 240-acre, par 72 adds skill to your game as you work through the windy, wide-open, 7,095-yard course. Plenty of sandtraps, some water and few trees provided the hazards and some of the beautiful greens are tiered for an extra challenge. The roughs are as long and dense as any PGA course. Highlands is planted with native Nebraska vegetation for unique beauty and water conservation. (5501 N.W. 12th Street, 402-441-6081, www.highlandsgolfcourse.net).
Built on a former apple orchard, you can expect many fruit trees to offer equal parts of shade, beauty and skill-testing obstruction at HiMark. The 27-hole course features what many describe as the best greens in Lincoln because they are so smooth and consistent. Lighted driving range lets you perfect your skills even after dark and a complete pro shop provides the latest clubs, grips, gloves and anything else you might need. (8901 Augusta Drive, 1/4 mile east of 84th and Pioneer Blvd., 402-488-7888, www.himarkgolf.com).
Wrapping around the tip of scenic Holmes Lake, Holmes is a 200-acre, 72 par course with a combined 6,805 yards. Hilly and resplendent with trees, this course will test your skills in the long game and approach shots. Water hazards enliven four holes. Be sure to take in that gorgeous view of the State Capitol when you’re out for a round (3701 S. 70th Street, 402-441-8960).
Since 1977, locals have been honing their chipping and putting skills on the elevated greens at Mahoney. Generally considered the toughest course in town, it’s officially a par 4, but some golfers insist it must be a par 6. Dense trees board open fairways, and the whole par 70 course totals just under 6,500 yards. Modern clubhouse and an expansive pro shop add to the pleasure of your experience (7900 Adams St., 402-441-8969).
You might miss Pine Lake if you were just driving by, since it’s situated in an attractive neighborhood. A good place for beginners, the nine holes are all par 3, ranging from 100 to 170 yards with no bunkers. Pine Lake offers a clubhouse with a banquet facility, club rental, pull carts for all and riding carts for those unable to walk.
The “grand old lady” of Lincoln’s golf courses is 75-year-old Pioneers. Popular for generations, Pioneers has huge pines, oaks and cottonwoods and the occasional deer strolling through the greens. A traditionalist through and through, Pioneers’ lush bluegrass fairways lead to grass-only bunkers — no sand traps — for a 71 par played out on 6,478 yards. Perfect your swing even into the evening on the lighted driving range (3403 W. Van Dorn, 402-441-8966, www.pioneersgolf.com).
Just east of Lincoln city limits lies the sloping, par 72 Crooked Creek. Plenty of water, lush trees and five sets of tee boxes make for a satisfying game, and the greens are truly beautiful. The driving range is fully lit, from tee to landing area. Make sure you stop by the winning pro shop, which has been awarded one of America’s 100 Best Golf Shops by Golf Digest/Golf Shop Operations for years (134th and O streets, 402-489-7899, www.crookedcreekgolfclub.com).
Golfers seeking a fun way to improve their short game won’t want to miss Jim Ager Junior Golf Course in the center of town. It’s one of the few junior courses in the country. While preference is given to youth, anybody is welcome to play. Every year, hundreds of kids fill the course to participate in the summer golf league or just come out golfing with their parents. Golf Digest magazine has listed the 9-hole, par 3 course as one of the best 100 “Bang for the Buck.” Antelope Creek serves as a water hazard on three holes, while a beautiful backdrop of trees overhang the narrow fairway (3761 Normal Blvd, 402-441-8963). Possibly the most decorated of all the Lincoln-area courses, Woodland Hills in nearby Eagle has been rated the Number 1 public golf course in Nebraska by Golf Digest magazine, which also gave Woodland Hills a four-star rating in “Places to Play in America.” Woodland Hills is lush and challenging with nearly 40,000 trees and more than 10 acres of wildflowers and grasses. It’s a course that stimulates your mental game and sharpens your strategy with every swing. Relax after your game in the log clubhouse with enclosed deck and banquet room (5 miles south on Highway 43 in Eagle, 402-475-4653, www.woodlandhillsgolf.com).
Lincoln’s members-only, private courses require you to be a member or a member’s guest to play. All six are excellent and unique courses for the Lincoln golfer:
- Country Club of Lincoln, 3200 S. 24th St., 402-423-2271
- Firethorn Golf Club, 9301 Firethorn Lane, 402-488-2071
- Hillcrest Country Club, 8901 O St., 402-489-8181
- Knolls, 2201 Old Cheney Road, 402-423-1776
- Links at Lincoln, 375 Fletcher Avenue, 402-476-1012
- Yankee Hill, 7600 San Mateo Lane, 421-1799