Sand Hills - Nebraska - USA

Sand Hills Golf Club,
Highway 97,
Mullen,
Nebraska (NE) 69152,
USA


  • +1 308 546 2437

  • 10 miles S of Mullen

  • Members and their guests only

  • Cameron Werner

  • Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw

  • None


The Sandhills region of Nebraska is a huge meadow, which extends to some 20,000 square miles but amidst the cowboys and the grazing cattle, lies a magnificent sandy tract of golfing ground, which is otherwise known as Sand Hills Golf Club.

Be prepared for some interesting shots - picture courtesy of Mike Baldwin Sand Hills Golf Club is a club to respect and those in the know admire their non-commerciality, which is a welcome break from tradition in these days of the perennial money-go-round. One hundred golf holes might easily have been laid out on this amazingly natural piece of land, but Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw settled on just eighteen. But make no mistake, they discovered the best possible routing and each and every hole at Sand Hills is very special indeed.

The "Golden Age of Architecture" inspired Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore to set up together sharing the philosophy that traditional, strategic golf is the most rewarding. And, when Sand Hills opened for play in 1995, they must have been quietly delighted with their achievement.

Sand Hills has only a few lucky members, and surely each and every one of them must belong to another golf club. Why? Because Sand Hills is closed for eight months each year… overplayed it is certainly not.

With wide, generous fairways that wind their way beside huge dunes, Sand Hills is a big course on a big scale and it’s tempting to open your shoulders. But beware of the sand. You will need to be either an extremely good golfer or a very lucky one to avoid the crater-like bunkers at Sand Hills Golf Club.

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Reviews for Sand Hills

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Description: Sand Hills Golf Club is a club to respect and those in the know admire their non-commerciality and that is a delightful break from tradition these days... Rating: 5.4 out of 6 Reviews: 11

Sand Hills is a golf course with no weak holes, which, aside from Pine Valley, Cypress Point, and the National Golf Links, is hard to say about almost any course in the world. The land was destined for golf, and architects Coore & Crenshaw did a masterful job designing the course. In 1993, they visited the site and “discovered” over 130 golf holes, and then proceeded to narrow it down to only eighteen, which is the golf course the world is lucky to have today. Although the area is windy, there is no prevailing wind, so the course is routed to be playable in any wind condition. I’m not sure how you design a course as good as Coore & Crenshaw did, but they pulled it off. My journey there was much more than a trip to play golf; it was a life-changing experience, which is one of the unexpected lessons I learned pursuing my dream and what makes Sand Hills such a sought-after destination.

John Sabino is the author of How to Play the World’s Most Exclusive Golf Clubs

6 / 6
Sand Hills
November 07, 2016


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I was fascinated by the divergent reviews on this site about Sand Hills. People seem somewhat divided between thinking this course is definitely top 10 in the world and those that think it is overhyped in its ranking. I was fortunate enough to receive an invite and I was excited to see it for myself.

For me, the course lives MOSTLY up to the hype. The routing is fantastic and the sublime beauty of nature becomes very apparent and is such a relief after playing many a bulldozed course. The greens are quick and treacherous and the course was is very good shape despite a so-far super hot summer trying its best to bake out the course.

Yes there are some holes on the front side that are a little more straightforward, maybe take 3 wood instead of driver but even those holes have challenges especially in the green complexes.

One of the best things of Sand Hills is the silence. So many times crowded tee times, road noise or other modern distractions take you out of the round rather than just relaxing and enjoying the round. Sand Hills is ALL about the golf, the course is wonderful and if you don't feel relaxed after playing here, you might need to invest in a stress ball.

Is SHGC a top course in the world? Heck yes! It doesn't matter where exactly it is ranked only that if you are invited DEFINITELY go, it is well worth the trip!

5 / 6
Sand Hills
August 18, 2016


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Sand Hills is all about the golf. “Golf courses are built for many reasons,” Bill Coore said over lunch months later. “The main ones are demographically driven: to support real-estate development or public play and, in some case, purely for golf.” Bandon Dunes and Sand Hills are two leading examples of the pure-golf scenario.

“Dunes land is the foundation of golf,” Coore continued. “This is the land that golf architects like me look for: wind, sand base, random contours on the land. Sand Hills was site-driven not demographically driven. It was built for the sake of golf and no other reason. It’s a place where millionaires can play next to local rancher members. Golf has its deepest roots in this kind of land.”…

The course terrain is rolling, with fescue surrounding the fairways and hardly a tree in sight. It was calm and hot when we started and very windy when we finished. As we ate lunch outside, it was a challenge to keep our food from blowing off the plates. Jeff, Todd, and I all agreed that there are no memorable holes at Sand Hills, but the experience is one that we’ll never forget. Larry Berle.

4 / 6
Sand Hills
November 19, 2014


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Keith Baxter
November 19, 2014
The above review is an edited extract from A Golfer’s Dream, which has been reproduced with the author’s kind permission. A Golfer’s Dream, by Larry Berle, tells the story of how a regular guy conquered America’s Top 100 Golf Courses (following Golf Digest’s 2001/2002 list). Larry has exclusively rated for us every course in the hundred, using our golf ball rating system. However, Larry did not rate the 100 courses against every golf course he has played, but instead he rated them in relation to each other within the hundred. Consequently, in some cases, his rating may seem rather low. A Golfer’s Dream is available in Kindle format and also on Kindle Unlimited via Amazon... click the link for more. 
alan
November 20, 2014
controversial! , I've not had the pleasure of Sand Hills but no memorable holes for a course consistently ranked as maybe the best 'modern' and top 10 to 20 in the world..
Ian Johnston
November 20, 2014
Controversial indeed..I have had the pleasure of playing at Sand Hills.(see the 1st review on here)..And have to disagree with Larry Berle on his assumption that there are no memorable golf hole,s..In fact it is quite the opposite,there are in fact 18 memorable holes,maybe he should be looking for some of the greatest "natural" holes in world golf..He might then re-word,re-work his comments.
I had the opportunity to play Sand Hills in July of 2011......while the design is definitely challenging it leads me to believe that some of the best holes are ones that were left on the design table. With Coore and Crenshaw designing and doing a layout that incorporated over 100 holes I fear that the front 9 is decidedly weak considering..... That being said it incorporates a little bit of everything into its design and as a result plays tough.....the terrain is beautiful and the back nine is a much better loop than the front..... My issue isn't that Sand Hills is a great course.....it is indeed. I only question it's ranking in relation to other courses that I have been lucky enough to play over the last few years....... Kingsbarns, the Bandon courses and Whistling Straits all are better courses in my opinion.....while it could be said that the water plays into how they are reviewed I can't believe that if you took any of them and placed them in an inland location that they would be at least as good as this course.....In fact Ballyneal just down the road is at least as nice of a design as sand hills......and the accommodations and service there are exponentially better.... My own personal opinion is that Sand Hills is a Top 40 course but is nowhere near a Top 10 course......
5 / 6
Sand Hills
February 19, 2012


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Great course that lives up to all the hype. No frills, simply great golf. Sand Hills - 18th Approach - Photo by MacThe mix of holes and the flow from hole to hole is flawless. Long par 4's have big greens, short par 5's have teeny-tiny greens. And the greens themselves have the perfect amount of undulation/speed mix. The course is darn near perfect. However, it is important to understand prior to playing it that it is no frills, traditional golf. If you are looking for man-made beauty and extravangance (on the golf course or away from it), you will be disappointed. Sandhills is pure golf at its very best!
6 / 6
Sand Hills
August 19, 2010


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As a mad keen golfing Brit living in the states for 2 years there are some courses that I consider ‘must plays’: Bethpage Black, Pebble Beach, Pacific Dunes are some of the top public courses (hopefully by next Wednesday I’ll have played them all) and amongst the long list of private courses which I dream of playing sits Sand Hills. Last Monday that dream became a reality! Through a friend in Kansas I met a member who kindly ‘sponsored’ me to play there. I took his advice, well as much as I could, and stayed a night and ate supper there. It was fantastic and we were treated like royalty by the extremely professional staff. The accommodation cost $100 per person and there is a cheaper motel option for the cash strapped in nearby Mullen. The food in the club house is sensational.

It is easy to be too effusive when writing reviews but in the case of Sand Hills it really is difficult not to be! The golf course was tremendous, the par 3s and 5s in particular, although my favourite hole was 8: a great short par 4. The greens were fantastic; pure, sensual and quick; rather like I imagine putting on a Cuban cigar rollers thigh might be! The $195 green fee was great value for money and although I only played once it’s actually a daily fee. Although most only play 36 you could play more if you had the appetite! Initial I walked off the course somewhat nonplussed. I hadn’t scored as well as I felt I should have and I was cold and soaked to the skin. However, after a great burger at Ben’s Bar (the half way house), a warm shower and several hours reflection as I drove north to Badlands National Park I came to realise what a great track it is. Great variety, relatively straight forward off the tee and, as with any half decent links course, extremely well defended greens. A short game is required if you’re going to score well at Sand Hills. Is it a top 10 course? I’m not sure. But it is a great trip, probably a once in a life time experience and one that I would whole-heartedly endorse to anybody who gets half a chance.
6 / 6
Sand Hills
June 27, 2010


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mitchell
August 31, 2010
A cigar roller's thigh indeed. Where did you golf in the badlands?
I recently had the unexpected privilige of playing this unbeliveable golf course. The setting, facilities and golf course all recieve your Albatross rating.I cannot possibly say more. I have played the very best. Thanx Larry.
6 / 6
Sand Hills
September 11, 2009


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Sand Hills is one of the great golf courses in the States and is literally a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many of those lucky enough to play this course. There's no denying the perfect natural setting for golf. I was slightly disappointed by the lack of a ground game due to the overly green conditions. The greens are some of the fastest and smoothest I've ever putted on, but do lack much in the way of interesting internal contours with the exception of a couple holes. Most putts break less than 2 inches. The back nine and par 5's are world class.
5 / 6
Sand Hills
July 30, 2009


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Two golf pro's played here... Overrated. To much dismay Sand Hills is said to be this and thought to be that, what it is and has and what all other courses don't... Sand Hills has some and lacks some. A friend and I played 36 holes here last June, along with Ballyneal, Dismal River and Wild Horse. While Ballyneal was the only pure links course of the bunch Sand Hills does have its selling points too. Location, location, location, great location! Great Views! Parts of Nebraska are beautiful and this place has It. The burgers at Bench Porch were one of the best we had ever tasted (a must try)!

The course is primarily or is entirely bent grass which we saw as appealing to the novice golfer with an untrained eye or the weekend warrior that might be either a club membership collector or the course raters that visit. As for the super fast greens which are over watered (as is the whole course), and the greens which for high handicappers are almost unplayable to the point even for a scratch player those greens in high winds are not approachable with a full shot or reasonably fair to putt on. In regards to the approach shots the greens are too small. The course has a few well designed holes which are visually keepers of the "Wow" factor but overall for the deign wise person it's an overrated golf course.

The club allows the deathly round ruining rough to grow clear up to the edge of the fringe. This growing method punishes well played shots of all golfing abilities. Fairway widths average a mile wide (60 yards plus). One of the odd things with the club is the clubhouse, it looks like a trailer, the locker room is no more or less than your local muni and the dinner we had was just ok for the type of club that is Sand Hills. One other thing is the gas carts / buggies they are loud, that with the long ride to the first tee take away from the overall experience. The golf course is very good but for where it is in most ranking lists, please, overrated. The review is coming from two golf pro's who have played all over the world from Hawaii, California, New York, Florida, Scotland, and England, studied golf design along with other designs by Coore/Crenshaw. Again this is a very good golf course and makes for an excellent day out but please course raters get it right. There are just too many average holes.
4 / 6
Sand Hills
December 30, 2008


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Harry
August 19, 2009
Overrated for the design-wise person? Few good holes? Are you serious? If YOU were a design wise person, you'd know Sand Hills is probably the greatest design achievement of modern golf course architecture. It has everything that makes great (and classic Golden Age -) design: Strategy, Minimalism, Variety, ground game etc... Coore/Crenshaw thought of every aspect, they went into every detail.... overrated for the design-wise person, that's a joke.
Fred
November 18, 2010
Totally agree with this review. Course is OK but not nearly fantastic enough to be ranked anywhere near a top 50 course in the US. Ballyneal, Rock Creek Cattle Company, all the Bandon Dunes courses are at least as comparable as this course. Additionally, the accomodations are sub-par, basically motel level, and the staff was rude and condesending. Golf for me is the total experience. The Wow factor and history are a big part of it. Worth playing once, check it off the list and move on to the next.
Max
November 07, 2011
It is only #1 modern design because a magazine says so Harry, not because it is earned. 80 yard wide fairways, soft bent grass conditions that don't lend to a "Links" ground game, deep unplayable rough just off the fringe on many greens, the ridiculous (out of place) false front of #2, the tiny greens on most holes in a really windy location, ...it just doesn't add up to the shrine to golf that the press upholds. Sand Hills compared to your local muni is a masterpiece but when compared to Ballyneal just down the road it is fast food. Essex County Club in Mass. is light years better than Sand Hills and it gets no respect in the rankings. The ranking are largely bought off through advertising in these magazines or marketing in other ways. Sand Hills looks great from the tee boxes then you drive out to your ball and it is completely different. There is no strategy there by and large. The course is hyped for the sole purpose of having a mystique to sell to future members. At least the burgers at Ben's porch are good!
I appreciate the design aspects of golf and if you’re like me, take a minute and find the original sketch pad Core and Crenshaw used when they were walking those hills for 6 months before breaking ground. There are approximately 130 holes sketched. To scale that down to 18, could not have been easy. There are no slope or course ratings as the Nebraska winds change the course – every day. They use a lot of local help and the people from that part of the country are people who know what hard work is like - and know how to have fun. My father was born and grew up not to far from there. He pushed cattle through those hills when he was growing up. The look on his face the first time we went (father’s day 2003 – the longest sunlight day of the year!!) is hard to put in words. The fairways are enormous and there are a few holes you can reach from the tips, but if you're spraying it even just a bit and the wind is blowing – I’ll just say you'd better have the flat stick working or you're going to post a huge number. It really doesn’t matter though – enjoy the 1 mile trip on a dirt road to the first tee and Crenshaw’s porch – order a bloody mary and take a deep breath.. The look from on top of the valley is something that you'll never forget
6 / 6
Sand Hills
November 20, 2008


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