Review for Wild Horse

Reviewer Score:


Date played: 8/11/21

The August heat was battling a stiff breeze on the prairie this afternoon. My first foray in the coveted Nebraska Sandhills came after a drive from the Denver suburbs. This is not a terrible drive for those seeking value flights and deals; eyes set on breaking into this burgeoning sandy golf Mecca. Wild Horse is the litmus test that tells us all that affordable, destination golf is possible.

I was thrilled to be on a washboard road and kicking up dust upon arrival. This is the prairie after all and dirt and sand are far more plentiful than pavement. The clubhouse is perched on top of a hill and serves as a utilitarian accompaniment to the star of the show. After paying your greens fee, you can step out onto the practice green, look out, and realize how cheap the charge on your card was. Great views across dramatic land are always welcome and there is no shortage of scale at Wild Horse. You have made it to the Sandhills and your wallet is still intact.

The greens were fantastic. They offer swirling contours and slopes that runoff; the near-miss that is reminiscent of Pinehurst and the ball rolling back into the fairway. They were firm and fast. Difficult pin placement for the Nebraska-Kansas Junior Cup taking place that afternoon. I only putted off the green once and this felt like an accomplishment. These were some of the fastest and most difficult greens I have encountered. They were immaculate and fun; offering attractive slopes on approach and true roll on the surface.

I debated hitting my driver on every tee box, including the par 5’s. Centerline bunkers and intense natural cross bunkers make for several strategic decisions off the tee. I played one up and accurate driving led to many shorter approaches with the rollout. There are a few forced carries off of the tee but other than that the ground game is completely in play. I felt that every approach offered a safe play and an enticing aggressive play. It depends on what you can stomach. The golf was engaging, fun, and I couldn't wait to hit my next shot.

Wild Horse is a local gem that plays in the destination realm. If you live within a day's drive, I would highly recommend getting out here and playing multiple times. After seeing the course up close, I would hit different shots and aim for different landing areas next time.

Is this course a world-beater? This seems to be the question on everyone's mind when they hear about Wild Horse. Since the advent of Sandhills we have learned many things and a few are: 1) the people will come, and the journey should evoke a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction before the round even begins, and 2) minimalist design features appeal to the greatest segment of players. Wild Horse checks both of these boxes but was never meant to be Sandhills. The course was built by the toil of local people for local people. This is, in my experience, unequivocally one of the best values in public golf in North America. You cant get these conditions everywhere and the course is a testament to what is available in the region. Let's bring on many more courses like this

Date: August 12, 2021

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