From Golf Digest Architecture Editor emeritus Ron Whitten:
Although his architecture is usually far more stylistic than anything found on the Emerald Isle, course architect Jim Engh has long had a love affair with Irish golf. The tumbling topography, blind shots, ragged edges and general quirkiness of Carne Golf Links are his ideals. So it’s no surprise that his Awarii Dunes course, in the southern edge of the sand hills of Nebraska, four miles south of Kearney, uses the slogan, “Where Ireland Meets the Heartland.”
Awarii is not exactly the reincarnation of Carne. Its dunes are not the towering peaks found at Carne or in other parts of Nebraska. They’re low, gently rolling, soft dunes, but still sufficiently dramatic to allow Engh to concoct a links-like experience by rerouting a failed nine-holes, the Links at Craneview course, plus a second nine on additional land across a county gravel road. This was a very tight budget, so Engh had to really practice minimalist, lay-of-the-land architecture.
He went with the flow of the windswept terrain in his routing; holes twist and turn, bob and weave around native grasses and very naturalistic bunkering. The greens are ingenious in their contours. Some are fabulous, others outrageous; all encourage creative shotmaking into, around and on the putting surfaces. Slippery slopes abound, often off the sides and back corners where massive moguls and gnarly traps await.
There’s at least six feet of elevation change on the green of the 404-yard sixth, so there are literally spots from which you must putt away from the hole in order to get it close. The tilted bathtub green hidden behind a gigantic bunker on the 398-yard 17th is even more treacherous, so steep that uphill putts could conceivably roll back to one’s feet. The most docile green on the course is the long flat one on the double-dogleg par-5 18th, but its awkward angle and position along a wide expanse of sand and scrub brush makes it the perfect walk-the-plank finale.
Awarii Dunes is an affordable romp, the perfect weekend companion to the delightful duneslike Wild Horse Golf Course in Gothenburg, farther west on I-80.