"I even thought that I was dead...turns out, it was just that I was in Nebraska," Gene Hackman said in "Unforgiven". If you have ever felt that way being in Nebraska take heart, there is more to the story.
If you ever find yourself in Lincoln, Nebraska and have a day to kill to play golf...follow me. Head west out of Lincoln on Interstate 80, after 180 miles and 1,180 corn fields later you will arrive at mile marker 211, welcome to Gothenburg, Nebraska.
One mile north of Gothenburg, on Highway 47 there is a small inconspicuous sign with an arrow pointing down a dirt road. This dirt road intersects two corn fields and it seems like you could travel on it forever. After about a mile and a half you hang a left into a dirt parking lot and you swear you have just entered heaven. In front of you is Wildhorse Golf club.
The parking lot reads like stuff from a fourth grade geography of the United States. I saw plates from Kansas, Texas, Florida, and New York. I was in my own Field of Dreams.
Wildhorse Golf Club must be experienced once if your lifetime if you consider yourself a golfer. It is the most pure golf experience you will ever have. Nestled in the heart of Nebraska, hidden among fields and fields of corn...who knew.
No two holes are alike with multiple tee options that change the hole dramatically. The fairways are cut ridiculously tight but are actually quite open to allow for multiple angles into the guarded greens, which by the way, are like putting on linoleum. The course meanders through it's natural setting of rolling hills and natural vegetation, which by the way, has its own name, "Wooga." I played from it all day!
The course has collected numerous accolades from sources such as Travel and Leisure, Golf World, and Golf Digest as one of the best courses in the country.
Top that off with a very friendly and accommodating staff and green fees of $38 bucks, and you have the makings of one of the best experiences you will have in your life.
I played three rounds of golf there last summer in a day and a half. I could have kept playing until my hands bled. Wildhorse is in my blood now, a part of me, almost on a spiritual level. Sounds crazy but it's just that good.
Each of us may have a favorite course, one where we feel comfortable playing, where we return to to make ourselves feel good about the state of our game. A course where we can score well and maybe make ourselves believe "This game isn't so hard."
But if you ever want to really challenge yourself, to find out just what kind of shape your game is in and get a small taste of what kind of conditions players in the US Open deal with, then Wildhorse is your course.
It will challenge you to no end. It will frustrate you, mess with your head, and make you go home and change your swing and your clubs. You will love every minute of it.
So if you ever feel like Sheriff Bill Daggett in "Unforgiven", head to Gothenburg and you will find Heaven is just a cornfield in Nebraska.