You’ll need to head for the prairies of Nebraska to play one of the best value courses in the US. The course at Wild Horse Golf Club was designed by Dave Axland & Dan Proctor – who have a track record of designing quality golf courses that are great value to play – and it opened for play in 1999. Axland & Proctor worked for Ben Crenshaw’s design company for more than ten years and their first solo project at Delaware Springs is one of Texas’s best kept secrets.
The inclusion of Wild Horse in our 2006 US Top 100 rankings raised a few eyebrows, but we felt its entry was valid as we're are always thrilled to shine a light on unhearalded courses.
In Tom Doak’s Little Red Book of Golf Course Architecture, the author commented as follows: “Look at Wild Horse… a very good golf course but one which nobody really goes gaga over, because it doesn’t have loads of bunkers and because it’s inexpensive to play. Everybody likes it, but hardly anyone really supports it as one of the great courses in America; it’s often dismissed as a “poor man’s Sand Hills,” precisely because it doesn’t have a lot of superfluous bunkers.”
Excellent pay-and-play golf courses are few and far between, but Wild Horse fits squarely into this bracket. With a scattering of wonderfully natural “blow-out” bunkers and tall native grasses waving in the prairie winds, Wild Horse is one of the most challenging and affordable municipal courses you could desire.
From a design standpoint this course is a failure. It fails to do what a links course ought to do, make you think and play golf differently than you normally would, this course doesn't do much of that. The course can be played brain dead, there are no critical decisions to make You can play the course brain dead and wind up with a simple shot into almost every green and attack most pins.
I have played this course many many times and it's possibly one of the most boring golf course designs I've ever played in my life. The holes are so boring and repetitive, after playing the course well over 10 times I still don't remember many of the holes. Although it has a neat look to it from the road, there aren't any memorable holes, and it lacks the beauty of other courses in Nebraska.
Off the tee there is an obvious landing area on every hole, where the fairway is incredibly wide (usually 50 yards wide at a minimum). If you hit the ball to that area you are then left with a shot of approximately 125-140 yards on most holes. The tips aren't difficult at all as the ball rolls quite well on this course, and you'll simply find yourself hitting a 3 wood or hybrid on many holes instead of your 4 iron off the standard men's tees. Playing the tips doesn't make the course any more difficult as hitting a 3 wood or a hybrid into a 60 yard wide fairway is about as easy as it can get. In addition, the par 5's where you hit a driver, are somehow even wider than the par 4's.
Your approach shot to most holes is quite simple, few of the green-side bunkers actually come into play.
The greens lack much character and lack anything that will make a player actually think.
Many people enjoy the course simply because they haven't played a better links style golf course.
The course conditions are excellent, and it features fast firm greens, but that's about the only thing you'll remember about this course.
If you're going to that part of Nebraska and want to play some memorable golf, Bayside Golf Club, Heritage Hills, and Cross Creek Golf Links will all give you better views and more interesting holes to play. Unfortunately, many people opt for Wild Horse as a more convenient option but don't understand they are missing out on courses that offer more memorable holes and views.
Why have you played Wild Horse “many many times” if it’s “boring and repetitive”?
My brother and I played Wild Horse last week and were both blown away. What a great golf course. So many fantastic holes that are simply designed without a bunch of unnecessary bunkering. The bunkering that is on the course is perfectly placed. The condition of the course far exceeded expectations for the cost. Simply put, it is the best value I've ever had for my money in golf. The fairways were green and lush fescue. And the greens rolled perfectly. The view of the plains/sand hills of NE adds to the experience. Even though several houses have gone up on this course it still feels pretty isolated and probably will even with more houses. They are on big lots and don't take away from the view. Wild Horse is a perfect example of simple golf being better. Its a must.
Along with Rustic Canyon, Wild Horse has a strong reputation for great golf at very affordable prices to the public golfer. But was I prepared for the greens at the public course in Gothenburg, NE to be the best-conditioned greens I’d played all year? Certainly not! With low budget isolated golf courses, one generally expects mediocre conditioning, but Wild Horse (July 2018) was in splendid shape with beautiful receptive putting surfaces.
On the outskirts of the Sand Hills region, the golf course has limited change in undulation, but does have more interesting land movements in the corners of the property.
In 2006, the Top 100 website graciously ranked Wild Horse among the US Top 100, while we’re all a lot more educated since then, the golf course has many delightful holes including the strong par 4 8th with a large blow-out bunker and the tricky short par 3 11th hole with a devilishly small green surrounded by bunkers. I can certainly see the appeal to play here and commend the green-keeping staff for a fun presentation at exceptional value.
Since its opening, Wild Horse has been consistently ranked in the Top 100 courses you can play and is ranked here as one of the top courses of Nebraska. After playing it, I have to agree with all the rankers.
The routing is mostly fantastic and there are a tremendous amount of blind shots. The fairways and greens were in great shape despite playing it in the middle of a hot summer and I bet during the Fall its even better.
It definitely helps to have played the course as the line off the tee is not obvious and there is an unfortunate overlap of the second and third fairways but for the most part this course is a great time and one you shouldn't miss.
Double bonus, Wild Horse has built several cabins which are right on the property that are well maintained and you should definitely stay there if they have availability.