THE REBEL GOLFER RATING:
REBEL GOLFER CERTIFIED GOLFER DESTINATION
Golfers are foolish. We travel all over the world for golf when there are golf courses in our backyards. The beer tastes the same, the gas and accommodations cost less and the golf is just as good.
But every once in a while we rebel’s find a place that’s worth traveling for, and my Valentine, The Prairie Club in Nebraska, is one of those places.
Located deep in the heart of Middle America in Valentine are 2,789 of my kinda people who can just give up on traveling for golf (except through hibernation months) because The Prairie Club is the only backyard a golfer should ever need.
As insane as it may seem to anyone who knows The Rebel Golfer (me), I took a plane (what?), rented a car (whAT?) and drove 5 hours into nowhere (WHAT?!?!) to check out The Prairie Club. And it wasn’t until the last hour of my drive before I started seeing the large sand dunes everyone was talking about that I started to think the trip might actually be worth it.
- Course: Pines Course
- Type: Semi-private
- Season: May – October
- Architect: Graham Marsh
- Location: Valentine, Nebraska
- Year opened: 2010
- Holes: 18 | Par 73 | Length: 7403 yards | Slope: 135 | Rating: 75.0
When I finally got to the Prairie Club I was just anxious to park the car, grab the sticks, hop in a cart and find the nearest watering hole. And by watering hole I mean non-water hole. And by non-water hole I mean alcohol hole. And by alcohol hole I mean beer…basically, I just wanted a beer ASAP.
The Pines Course was designed by Aussie Graham Marsh. Now I know my Aussies, and Aussies know their beer. So after my bartender advised me the Pines Course works in and out of the dunes along the Snake River Canyon, I knew Marsh would have wanted me to load up my cart with a few, or more, extra brews. They don’t name a canyon snake for no reason and I ain’t no fan of no snakes. I wasn’t going to be dealing with any of them without the proper amount of white gold in my tummy.
And off I went to the 1st tee.
If ever there was a good intro to Nebraska golf the 1st hole on Pines was it. A strong Nebraska wind and sauna-like heat slapped me in the face like the floor from my previous weekends drinkapades. At 2,500 feet of elevation, I was pumped to be picking up an extra 12 or so yards on my distances. It was a nice change having to walk 12 more yards into the s*&t looking for my balls. So I sent my playing partners in every time — snakes…remember?
As I worked on my sunburn, I started to notice how much this AAA prime cut piece of meat liked the golf course. I’m well seasoned when it comes to golf, but The Pines was different than any other course I’d played before. The greens were tough as turds and the putter felt like I was grabbing on to one of them rattlers I was trying to avoid and my playing partners knew nothing about.
Like my wardrobe Pines blends two styles of golf perfectly: rough and rugged with stubbly and prickly. Sure, those are descriptors more fitting of my body type, but it overpowers any style I might have. Half the holes at Pines are wasteland type and work through the Pines along the river canyon and the others more links type with wide fairways, huge bunkers and wild greens set along and over the dunes.
Even though I’d never played golf in Nebraska, I had played in Nevada. That has nothing to do with The Pines, but given my regular mental incapacity and inebriated state, the fact I can make that distinction demonstrates rather well that The Pines didn’t beat me up too badly. The best holes — like the 2nd, 6th, 13th and 18th, and all the rest, I never learned to count — were some of the best on the property and allowed me to get accustomed to the firm, fast fairways that ran like a son of a B.
19TH HOLE THOUGHTS
Being that the 19th hole was actually my first stop on arrival I should have put this section first, but then my whole format would be ruined.
The Pines was fun. I’ve played my share of links golf courses and it comes as close to pure golf as any links around the world. Add to that some real down home people, the likes of which even The Rebel Golfer had trouble keeping up with in the throw’em down competition, and you have a Rebel Golfer Certified Golfer Destination.
Yup, this is a rare certification and these types of destinations are few and far between. A Rebel Golfer Certified Golfer Destination means the drinking is prime, the accommodations are prime, the eating is prime and the people are prime. Add to that a Rebel Golfer’s crappy golf game and there’s no place a rebel golfer would rather be.
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