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.
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
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.
For nearly a quarter century, Ultimate Golf & Academy founder Chad Westra has been instructing golfers of all abilities while developing original methods for improvement in his book and instructional DVD, The Ultimate Way. Through Chad's methods, golfers discover the components of a balanced swing, including the turn of the clubface and the point of impact. By focusing on clubface connection, the instructor asserts that golfers can develop natural swings attuned to their unique form and golf bag full of modified soup ladles. Ultimate Golf allows visitors to practice their swings on its 22-acre facility, which features a well-lit driving range, 19-hole miniature golf course, and digital golf simulator. The simulator allows golfers to play on digital replications of 100 legendary golf courses.
Bakker Crossing offers 18 holes of water-laden, sloped-green, rough-n-tough challenges. The course includes many pivotal points such as the 174-yard hole 13, complete with a central, rough-rounded pond, and the notorious 18th, which combines a severely sloped green with a tricky back right pin. No matter how the dimpled spheres fall, pendulum players of all skill levels can soak in the open-air surroundings, hear the wind blow through the beautiful old trees, and refuse to grant frenemies a single mulligan or sarcastic golf-clap. Stroke through two rounds with a corporeal friend or one round with an imaginary friend anytime—Bakker Crossing Championship Golf Course is currently open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to dark through September.