The 10 best golf courses in Nebraska (2022/2023)

The 17th hole at Sand Hills.

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As part of GOLF’s course rating process for 2022-23, our fleet of 100-plus expert panelists identified the best golf courses in Nebraska. Browse the links below to check out all of our course rankings, or scroll down to see the best courses in Nebraska.

GOLF’s other course rankings: Top 100 Courses in the World | Top 100 Courses in the U.S. | Top 100 Courses You Can Play | Top 100 Value Courses in the U.S. | America’s Best Municipal Courses | The 100 Best Short Courses in the World


1 = Top 100 Course in the U.S.
P = Public/Resort Course
V = Top 100 Value Course in the U.S.
M = Top 30 Municipal Course in the U.S.

Ed. note: Some courses were omitted from our rankings because they did not receive enough votes.

The best golf courses in Nebraska (2022/2023)

1. Sand Hills (Mullen) [1] 

Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw moved teaspoons of dirt to construct the most natural, hew-to-the-land layout built since World War II. Rolling, sandy terrain, rippled fairways that were spared from a bulldozer, ever-present winds, wavy prairie grasses and gigantic blow-out bunkers create the sensation of being seaside in the middle of landlocked Nebraska. The design was immediately embraced, and the minimalist movement started in earnest, with this course arguably kicking off the second Golden Age.

2. CapRock Ranch (Valentine) [1]

CapRock Ranch in Valentine, Neb. Brian Oar

This Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner design is the only new course built in the modern age to break into the 2022-23 U.S. Top 100. The raw property enjoys copious natural advantages with which few other properties can compete, and the design takes advantage of both the Snake River valley and the bordering dunescape. Eight greens are set along or border the Snake River valley. Standing on the 6th green, you look down and see the winding river some 190 feet below. (Always neat to see a 10-million-year-old feature included in a two-year-old design!) The holes away from the valley play into dunes, with some greens, like the 8th, enjoying punchbowl qualities. Other greens, like the 14th, are perched high, poised to wreak havoc. The routing effortlessly runs to the spectacular caprock cliffs back to the dunes and back again. Though the finishing four-hole stretch, including the dramatic 230-yard 18th, is tough to beat, the front nine is equally as good.

3. Prairie Club — Dunes (Valentine) [1], [P]

Co-architect Tom Lehman set out to build a walkable course very much in harmony with nature. He and partner Chris Brands more than succeeded, turning this former cattle ranch into an epic homage to links golf. Carved out of rolling sand hills near the Snake River, the Dunes Course has it all — sweeping vistas, rolling fairways, enormous bunkers and imaginative green complexes. A taste of Scotland in the middle of Nebraska, this is Lehman’s second major and it features some of the widest fairways on our list — which are offset by some of the wildest greens.

4. Landmand (Homer), [P]

5. Dismal River — Red (Mullen) 

6. Omaha CC (Omaha) 

7. Wild Horse (Gothenburg) [V]

The Sand Hills of Nebraska are best known to golf buffs for a high-ranked private club of the same name. This is the Everyman’s equivalent. For less than what a caddie costs at its exclusive counterpart, Wild Horse offers a kindred golf experience, with firm, fast fairways and rough-lipped bunkers gouged out of the rolling terrain. While the big skies and open spaces are pure prairie, the bouncy conditions and wind-whipped native grasses create the look and feel of a course across the pond. Think links golf, minus the sea.

8. Dismal River — White (Mullen) 

9. Prairie Club — Pines (Valentine) [P]

10. Firethorn (Lincoln)

How we rank our courses 

For GOLF’s course rankings lists, each panelist is provided a list of hundreds of courses and “buckets,” or groupings. If they believe the course to be among the best in its category (World, U.S., Value, etc.), they check the corresponding box to place it in a specific bucket. Panelists are also free to write in courses they felt should have been included on the ballot. Points were assigned to each bucket; to arrive at an average score for each course, we divide its aggregate score by the number of votes. From those point tallies, the courses are then ranked accordingly.

The key to the process is the experience and expertise of our panel. Hailing from 15 nations and all the worldwide golf meccas, each of our 115 handpicked panelists has a keen eye for architecture, both regionally and globally. Many of our panelists have played more than 1,000 courses in 20-plus countries.

Because we don’t prescribe a set method to assess courses as other ranks do, no one opinion carries the day — our rank is a democracy. Some panelists believe that enjoyment is the ultimate goal, and thus prioritize design attributes such as width and playing angles, while frowning upon having to constantly hunt for balls in thick rough. Other panelists value challenge and the demands of hitting every club in the bag. Still others consider a course’s surroundings and overall environment of paramount importance, thereby emphasizing the setting and naturalness of the course. In the end, allowing raters to freely express their tastes is what produces the desired eclecticism in our Top 100 lists.

Panelist integrity is vital. Voters with any ties or associations to eligible courses must flag such conflicts. Panelists also know not to let the quality of their play influence their ballot — same for a luxe experience or clubhouse. While opulence may make for a more memorable outing, it’s not what GOLF’s course lists are about. Our focus is on design and architecture. We study the course, not the trappings around it.

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