Remote Nebraska Acreage to Be Golf Mecca
Denver is 262 miles to the west, Omaha 263 miles to the east. In between is a place roamed by cowboys, where cars are forced to the side of the road by cattle drives.
Its a lonely, desolate landscape perhaps best known as the vast expanse where media mogul Ted Turner established a 450-square-mile reserve thats home to more than 9,000 buffalo.
But if things go according to Jack Nicklaus plan, the area will become a premier golf destination. His vision is for highway 97 to become a trail connecting the acclaimed Sand Hills Club with two new projects, the Dismal River Club and the Prairie Club.
Its so stark, its beautiful, Nicklaus said. If youre not a golfer, then you think theres nothing there. If you are a golfer, you look at the way the land rolls, you picture the grass and high fescues, and you say, Man, this is neat.
Ben Crenshaw was the first golf architect drawn here. His Sand Hills Club, which opened in 1995, ranks No. 12 on Golf Digests list of 100 Greatest American Golf Courses and is No. 1 among those built after 1960.
Nicklaus first visited the area two years ago when he signed on with four Denver businessmen to design Dismal River Club, which is scheduled to open next June.
About 60 miles north, near the town of Valentine, Prairie Club is in the planning stages on land owned and developed by retired surgeon Cleve Trimble. Gil Hanse is designing and building the course, which has a scheduled opening in May 2007.
If you had a city of a million people in the middle of the Sandhills, this would be the golf mecca of the world, in my opinion, said Chris Cochran, senior design associate for Florida-based Nicklaus Design.
The fact is, these courses are in the middle of the Sandhills, which arent far from the middle of nowhere.
Thats the beauty of it, Trimble said.
I see this part of the United States becoming a remote destination for high-quality golf, especially with the likelihood that terrorism is never going to abate in our lifetime, he said. The hundreds of thousands of people who seek a pure golf experience who now to go the British Isles are going to look for something safe and central.
Sand Hills Club was the creation of Dick Youngscap, a Nebraska golf developer who began laying the groundwork for his remote course in 1990. Construction on the Nicklaus course is underway only 6 miles to the west.
Youngscap doesnt accuse Nicklaus of horning in on his enterprise.
Its not like were short of room up here, Youngscap said.
Nicklaus credits Youngscap and Crenshaw for being the risk-takers in Sandhills golf.
Because Sand Hills Club became popular, adding other golf courses makes it more of a destination, Nicklaus said. The only thing Dismal River will do to Sand Hills is make it more popular. Because of Sand Hills, ours will be a popular place to play.
The Sand Hills Club boasts a national membership, and Dismal River and Prairie Club plan for the same. The courses are for the well-heeled, with a charter membership at Dismal River costing $50,000. Trimble hasnt set prices for Prairie Club.
Many Dismal River patrons will fly by private jet into North Platte, 60 miles south, and make the final leg of the journey by helicopter. High-end lodging, spas and other amenities are planned for the new courses.
The emergence of golf brings some diversity to an economy tied to ranching in Hooker County, population 737.
Locals are far more likely to work at the courses than play them. Many of the 100 people who applied for construction jobs at Dismal River or to work at the course when it is completed are from the area, course superintendent Kyle Jacobsen said.
Donna Reynolds, who is leaving her job of 25 years at Mackes Deli Corner in Mullen to become Dismal Rivers head cook, said a lot of people in the area need jobs and that the courses provide an economic boon.
Id rather see the golf courses go in than Ted Turner buying some more land out here, she said.
The courses are relatively cheap to build, as is the land on which they sit.
Bill Martin of Denver, one of Dismal Rivers owners, said his group paid $250 an acre in 2003. Trimble, according to Cherry County records, paid less than $75 an acre when he bought his land in 1986.
Minimal earth movement is required because of the natural golf landscape, Cochran said. For the fairways, reseeding is done after native prairie grasses are scraped off. The rough is left as it is.
Even the sand traps are natural. They are created out of blowouts'sandy depressions formed by the wind and the wear and tear caused by cattle'and are groomed to suit hole designs.
The sandy soil means there are no serious drainage issues, Cochran said. All courses tap into irrigation groundwater from the Ogallala Aquifer, which sits under the Sandhills.
Cochran said its the best golf land he has encountered in 21 years of course construction.
All you have to do is not mess it up, he said.
Nicklaus, who said the area reminds him of the Scottish Highlands, said there are thousands of potential holes in the Sandhills.
You have to find the 18 you want to use, he said. You have an excuse to play golf no matter which way you look.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off
NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.
Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.
The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.
Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.
Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.
Third-round tee times for the 147th Open
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.
Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.
Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.
Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.
Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.
4:15AM ET: Gavin Green
4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed
4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose
4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton
4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley
5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner
5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson
5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)
5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood
5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello
6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford
6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma
6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele
6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood
6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na
6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin
7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim
7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira
7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters
7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li
7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker
7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink
8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook
8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris
8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim
8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari
8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson
8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell
9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka
9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott
9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren
9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone
9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett
10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler
10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell
10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau
10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen
10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele
10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood
11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson
Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.
He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.
“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.
At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.
Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.
“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”
Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?
Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.
Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.
“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”
Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.
Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.
“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.
More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.
“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”