The Bluffs Golf Course plots a 6,684-yard path through groves of trees and around waterways for a challenging 18-hole layout. A session at the onsite driving range prepares swings and sleep-deprived 9-irons in time for the upcoming pin-hunting odyssey, where water comes in play on five of the first six holes. Duffers can redeem a disappointing round at the 18th hole, a 570-yard behemoth that entices aggressive, satisfying drives and lacks the aquatic hazards that temper bold play on prior holes. A relatively difficult course when played from the tips, the course offers four color-designated tee options to cater to players of all handicaps as well as those with an irrational allegiance to red.
Course at a Glance:
18-hole, par 72 course
Length of 6,684 yards from the farthest tees
Course rating of 72.5 from the farthest tees
Slope rating of 128 from the farthest tees
Four tee options
Featuring professional staff members, an impeccably maintained course, and true-rolling greens arranged according to the position of 18 miniature meteor craters, The Ridge offers a golf experience for clubbers both skilled and woefully handicapped. A full round of evasive holes ($25 weekdays, $27 weekends) tantalizes cleek caressers and promises more excitement than a ruptured appendix. A golf-cart rental ($15) and a medium bag of range balls ($5) are included in the package, as well as a caged self-loathing that, according to The Ridge’s policies, can be unleashed upon any golfer who putts an eagle.
Until the mid '90s, a ball hit at River Wilds Golf Club could travel thousands of yards—that is, if it happened to fall into a cockpit at the adjacent Blair Airport. But then the airport moved away, and the course, originally opened in 1944 as a private club, expanded from 9 to 18 holes and became public. The tarmac hazards are no longer there, but the course still challenges players with trees, bunkers, and a meandering creek. The par 72 championship course spreads to a full length of 6,562 yards from the back tees, with an additional two sets to accommodate all skill levels.
To ready themselves for this challenge, players can practice on a range with an 80-yard tee line, the longest in both Nebraska and Iowa. The natural grass tee boxes are rotated daily to keep the sod fresh and prevent emotional attachment with any particular divot.
Course at a Glance:
Picturesque prairie vistas welcome visitors to Elkhorn Valley Golf Club, which challenges golfers with a par-70 course designed by Duane Mines. Carts voyage past verdant fairways as golfers send balls soaring over grasping grass traps and pools of water with precise drives and well-practiced telekinesis. Players master their short-game skills upon the practice field's chipping and putting greens, and guests may equip themselves for the field with accessories, clubs, and apparel from the pro shop. After a long day of sending dimpled spheroids sailing toward the horizon, visitors share laughs over delicious meals at the clubhouse.
Indian Creek Golf Course's layout snakes through the Hood River Valley between a network of sprawling orchards and wineries with panoramic views of Mount Hood and Mount Adams creating a dramatic backdrop. Water comes into play on 11 holes, including three creeks that bisect fairways to disrupt play and tempt players to take fairway naps to the melodic babbling of their playing partners. On the par 5 fourth hole, precision is paramount, as the dogleg right is entirely fortified by water to the right and the small, narrow green make short putts strenuous with hard-to-read-breaks.
Indian Creek Golf Course won an Environmental Excellence award from Audubon International for its efforts in areas of wildlife and habitat management, chemical-use reduction, and water-quality management. The course and its surrounding land act as a sanctuary to a variety of wildlife, including several species of caddies now endangered because rampant cart use. Course at a Glance:
Elkhorn Ridge Golf Course’s nine-hole, par 3 layout provides a forgiving environment for beginners just taking up the sport and more seasoned players looking to polish their short-game finesse. Holes range from as short as the 95-yard fifth hole to as lengthy as the 173-yard seventh hole, the toughest on the course. Adding up to 1,203 yards overall, the course places a premium on iron accuracy as players bombard the greens and pins from a single set of tees.