Friday, August 8, 2014

#88 (Public) Wild Horse Golf Club

July 10, 2014

After spending several amazing days at Sand Hills Golf Course, I checked out and started to make the long drive back to Denver from Mullen, NE. My flight wasn't schedule to depart until almost 10 p.m. so I found myself with six or seven hours to kill. While having breakfast, I started researching if any other courses on my list might be nearby. When I found Wild Horse G.C. was only a thirty minute detour, but generally along my way back to Denver, I called and made a tee time. It was a detour and four hours of my time that turned into a very positive experience.

The drive is through plains and several small towns. after a 90 minute drive south east of Sand Hills, I finally reached Interstate 80 that would eventually take me west to Denver. However, I turned east on I-80 and drove another 15 minutes. I saw nothing but farmer's fields, windmills, and the occasional warehouse.
Upon arrival, you are met by a large sign that let's you know you've made it.
Winding up the dirt driveway, the clubhouse comes into view, sitting on the highest part of the course. A large American flag was flying out front and the carts were neatly lined up in front. I was pleasantly surprised that only four or five other cars were in the parking lot. It meant I could get through my round in about three hours and continue my trip back to Denver.  After parking, unpacking my clubs from the hard case, and making my way up the hill, I checked in. the staff was very friendly, what a person reasonably excepts in this part of the country.

A look at the clubhouse from the 4th or 5th tee box.
I was handed a score card and invited to take any cart I wanted. Above the counter, there is a sign advising what the locals call the rough at this course - "Wooga." I was told a member came up with the name several years ago to keep him from saying more choice words when trying to hit out of the rough. The name stuck and the membership of Wild Horse "adopted" the word. I can tell you, I found this Wooga several times and there were more severe words coming out of my mouth. 

What the locals affectionately refer to their rough.
On the first tee box, I could see it was very well maintained. The fairways had also been recently mowed, and when I reached the greens, they were in immaculate condition. The conditions were better than some of the more well known, private courses I have played and it was a terrific surprise to find. It definitely made me happy I had decided on this detour. The course has four sets of tees - Gold, Black, Silver and Green. I decided to play from the blacks that 71.1/126 and a total of 6,335 yards.

The first hole is a 328 yard par 4. It doglegs to the left 120 yards or so down the fairway, so cutting the corner is almost a must. The tee is slightly elevated so it does help you get a decent view of most of the fairway. Luckily, there is a large landing area in the center of the fairway that will help to hold your ball in the short grass.
A look down the fairway from the 1st tee box.
Cow skulls add a uniqueness to the course, serving as 150 yard markers on each hole.
The fairway is also sloped right to left so any drive that is hit to the right side should roll back towards center, leaving a nice look into the green.

A look into the 1st green from 100 yards out.
 The green is guarded on both sides by natural, windblown bunkers. They aren't very deep so should present little problem getting out of if you find yourself there.

A look at the 1st green from the cart path just behind it. 

The second hole is a 414 yard par 4 that plays long a straight. The drive is across 70 yards of scrub brush to another wide fairway.
A look down the fairway from the 2nd tee box.

 The green is set to the right side of the fairway but is unguarded by any hazards, leaving you the opportunity to take a risk if you like. It is also a huge green, allowing for plenty of room to spin the ball back, or hold an errant shot for a possible birdie putt.

A look into the 2nd green from 120 yards out.
A look at the 2nd green from the cart path just behind it.
There are three different color flags utilized at Wild Horse G.C. I took photos of each when I remembered to take my camera with me, along with my putter. Below is a look at the black version of the flag.

Hole three is a 494 yard par 5. The right-side fairway bunker is a long ways down, more than 300 yards, and is a good aiming point for the drive. There were several sizable bunkers on the left, so aiming towards the right bunker also keeps you away from, and out of, those.

A look down the fairway from the 3rd tee box.
 The closer you get to the green, the more bunkers that come into play, both along the sides of the fairway, as well as the center of it. The most difficult is the one positioned directly in front of the green. The green also slopes from back to front and has several mounds that make for some interesting putts.

A look into the 3rd green from 110 yards out. 

 The fourth hole is a par 3 that plays to 160 yards. A small landing area in front of the green helps with any shots hit short, due to mishit or strong wind that is blowing through the course.

A look into the green from the 4th tee box. 
The green sits at an angle, making pin placements to the back and right more difficult to get to. A safe shot to the left side will allow the ball to bounce back toward the large green.

A closer look into the green from the edge of the scrub brush.

The second color flag of the course - white.

The fifth hole is a par 4 that plays to 339 yards. There is a bunker on the left side of the fairway that's right side makes for a good aim point on the drive. With the slight downhill slope, and winds likely behind you (at least they were on this day), a 3 wood is likely a better choice than a driver.

A look down the fairway from the 5th tee box. 
There is more green over the scrub brush and sand area on the right side of the fairway near the green than can be seen from the fairway, allowing for more options on the approach to the fishbowl shaped green.
A look into the 5th green from 125 yards out. 

The sixth hole is the second par 5 on the front, playing to 527 yards. The hole is a strange shape, starting to dogleg right, then straightening before becoming a true dogleg, only to turn back towards the left. There are no bunkers on this long hole so the opportunity to hit it long and reach the green in two is very possible.
A look down the fairway from the 6th tee box.
Once you navigate the twists and turns, the approach shot into the green is a fairly simple shot to a green that slopes severely from right to left.
A look into the 6th green from 150 yards out.

The seventh hole is a 345 yard, par 4. A fairway bunker sits directly in the center of the fairway. For the best approach into the green, you want to be to the right of that bunker.
A look down the fairway from the 7th tee box.
The left side of the green is flat. However, even though the right side of the green is open, look out for a couple large mounds on the right that could make for some tough angles to the hole.

A look into the 7th green from 1020 yards out.

The 8th hole is a par 4 that plays to 433 yards. A large bunker on the left side is serious trouble if you end up in it so you may want to consider staying to the right side of the fairway. However, you should pay attention to the slope of the fairway that slopes from left to right.  The high side is going to give a better angle of approach, but danger over on that side can easily come into play.

A look down the fairway from the 8th tee box.
A closer look at the left-side fairway bunker.
 The green has two large bumps in the middle that make for a difficult putt. Like any hole, but especially this one, closer to the hole is definitely better to avoid some ridiculous putts.

A look into the 8th green from 70 yards out.

The front nine finishes off with a par 3 that plays to 143 yards. The green runs from left to right. The lft side bunker hides more green to the left side so, depending on where the pin placement is, a shot over that bunker could be your best strategy.

A look into the green from the 9th tee box.

A look down the fairway from the 10th tee box.
The 10th hole is a par 4 that plays to 362 yards. You should aim your drive just left of the fairway bunker you can see on the right hand side of the fairway.  It doesn't show up well in the photo above but it can be seen from the tee box and is also photoed below.

A closer look at the only bunker on the 10th hole.
The green has several mounds and a steep slope from back to front.

A look into the 10th green from 75 yards out.

A look into the green from the 11th tee box.
The 11th is a short par 3 playing at 113 yards. It is protected by three bunkers in the front of the green. The green slopes from right to left in the front with a mound on the left that can run balls back to the middle. The back of the green is flatter with only a couple of mounds.
A closer look at the bunkers that guard the 11th green.

A look down the fairway from the 12th tee box.
The 12th is a 393 yard downhill par 4 that plays differently depending on the tee placement. The forward tees allow you to see the entire hole but take care to avoid several well placed fairway bunkers. The back tee is a blind tee shot over a hill into a flat valley. Shots to the right will likely find trouble in the rough or fairway bunker. A good line is toward the aiming bunker in the distance.

A look into the 12th green from 200 yards out.
The approach shot must navigate three bunkers that closely guard the narrow green. Shots will kick to the left so play just over the short right bunker to find the middle of the green and stay below the hole.

A look into the 12th green from 75 yards out.

A look into the 13th green from the tee box.
The 13th is a long par 3 that plays 191 yards from the black tees and 208 yards from the tips, but it plays from an elevated tee. The tee shot is over a valley to a huge, undulating green. Bunkers in front and left should be avoided as they can be fairly steep depending on where your ball lands. Shots up onto the right hill will find their way back to the green and shots long will avoid trouble. The wind was up on this day and I ended up with a bogey.

A look to the right of the 14th tee box,
The 14th reminds you that you are in the middle of America's heartland. To the right, there are corn fields as far as you can see, occasionally dotted with farms. I turned to the right while on the tee box and took the photos above and below to document just how remote, and quiet, it can be.

A look to the right and front of the 14th tee box.
A look down the fairway from the 14th tee box.
The 14th is a par 5 that plays 490 yards. The tee shot is open to a football-field sized fairway. The left side cuts some distance but presents a more difficult second shot. A shot to the middle or just right will come to rest on a hill looking down to the green. A middle fairway bunker lies about 70 yards from the green and a deep bunker guards the left side of the shallow, wide green. If you play to the right, you give yourself a good chance to run onto the green in two. One thing to keep in mind is that there is a bunker behind the green will eat up long approaches.

A look into the 14th green from 150 yards out.

A look down the fairway from the 15th tee box.
The 15th is a short par four, playing to only 307 yards, but it has a good number of fairway and greenside bunkers. Three fairway bunkers are within reach of the tee shot and that run down the left side of the fairway. A fairway bunker right also comes into play if you slice your drive. 

The green has bunkers in the front right and back left. The tiny, shallow green requires an accurate approach shot to have a chance at birdie. You can play a run up to the front left part of the green and take par if you want to be safe. The green slopes from back to front slightly making for some quick, breaking putts. 
A look into the 15th green from 100 yards out.

A look down the fairway from the 16th tee box.
The 16th is a par 4 that plays at 418 yards. The tee shot is slightly uphill and blind. The best shot is probably to split the fairway between the middle bunker and the right fairway line.

The approach is a tough shot to a green that sits on a plateau and is guarded on the right by two bunkers. The green is two tiered with a good many mounds.

A look into the 16th green from 120 yards out.
As you approach the 17th tee box, you are once again reminded about being in the western part of the U.S. Next to the hole marker, there is a large skull situated near a windmill. Both were a neat reminder of where I was playing a round of golf.

A windmill next to the 17th tee catches the midwest feel of the course.
A gallery of one watches closely as you tee off at 17.

A look down the fairway from the 17th tee box.
The 17th is a short par five that plays 474 yards. The drive is played over the saddle in the middle of the fairway into a broad flat valley. A small pot bunker can catch long drives in the middle of the fairway.

A look down the 17th fairway from the top of the hill.
The second shot requires a decision to go over two bunkers at the turn of the fairway or to play left of those bunkers into a small landing area in the fairway leaving a simple bump and run to the green. The entrance to the green is open but a bunker guards the left front and another parallels the green on the right. The green itself is concave with mounds right and left.
A look into the 17th green from 120 yards out.

A look down the fairway from the 18th tee box.
The 18th is a 384 yard, dogleg right, par four. The best tee shot is hit to the fairway between the middle fairway bunker and the huge blowout bunker guarding the right side.

The green is uphill from the fairway and guarded by bunkers all around.
A look into the 18th green from 80 yards out.
Overall, Wild Horse GC was a very, very fun round of golf and it is one I would definitely look at playing if I ever find myself driving through Nebraska again. I would love to play the course on a calm day to see just how much more enjoyable it would be to play. My thanks to the staff for allowing me to shower before the several hour drive back to Denver, and for being very friendly and open to a chat about anything before, during, and after the round.


  1. Great write up. Really gave me a feel for the place. Hope to make it out there soon!

    Tiger Golf Traveler

  2. Thanks for the compliment. It will certainly be worth your time.