Activity in western Nebraska has accelerated again, with new courses at Caprock Ranch (Gil Hanse) and Landmand (King Collins) opening in the near future, nearly 30 years after the landmark Sand Hills debuted. Although all of the aforementioned courses are or will be private, a number of public-access courses opened on the sandier side of Nebraska for more widespread enjoyment. Among these were Wild Horse (Axland and Proctor) and Awarii Dunes, a Jim Engh design from 2011.
The dunescape encouraged the adventurous Engh, known widely for his bold mountain and desert designs, to take a more minimalist approach. The result is a series of holes, totaling 7,000 yards, that weave among the sand hills, playing to greens both tucked into natural hollows and, in more difficult cases, perched atop the dunes.
Enormous “blowout” bunkers, filled with conspicuous numbers of grassy islands, provide the primary defense for the wayward golfer, however the natural contours of these greens will make two-putts a worthwhile accomplishment. Your ball, like the sandy terrain, will always be moving on these fairways.