137. Dismal River Club (Red)
Tom Doak (2013)
In adding a companion 18 to the Jack Nicklaus-designed White Course at Dismal River, Tom Doak created as organic and amorphous a design as anyone is liable to do in the U.S., simply following the flow of the land and locating greens with breathtaking backdrops. Doak walked the site several times before routing it, utilizing the existing folds of the land for his holes. His associate Brian Slawnik then mowed out the proposed fairways, which spread across the landscape into wide splotches, even flowing into adjacent fairways. Then Doak personally hand-shaped the greens. All but four of the putting surfaces took less than an hour apiece to transform from raw land to seedbed. There are no formal tee boxes, just broad, freeform pads with a couple of yardage posts. One gets the feeling that you could play the Red Course backwards to equal delight.
Ranked on America's Second 100 Greatest: 2017 through current. Highest ranking: No. 131 (previous).
Panelist comments, Dismal River Club (Red):
"Native "sand hills" terrain without trees. Design utilizes unorthodox hole structure to create challenge and variety. Undefined tee boxes are incredibly unique. Moderate length, but multiple holes require tee shot placement for visibility and scoring opportunities. Isolated property and secluded holes provide wonderful aesthetics and ambience."
"The Red course made wonderful use of the land, and Doak took the land and elevated his design in a way greater than most architects could have done with the same land. The use of green to next tee transitions were outstanding and elevated this course even more. The par 3s were good and ranged in distances and direction and also up versus down."
"The last six holes which are played in the valley are unlike anything in golf and are world class. They approach being the greatest finishing holes of any course in the world. The rest of the course is filled with unique approaches and a superb collection of holes."
"Very playable course with tee boxes you can drive on. creative design. Ambience and Aesthetics in the big sand hills of Nebraska make for a a perfect setting for links style golf. Lots of doglegs and up and downhill approach shots make the course a fun challenge for all level of golfers."
"Dismal River Doak is supposed to be Doak's answer to Sand Hills. Width is not the issue here, I was disappointed about the lack of strategic angles created from the width. There were things to like, particularly the angular 9th and the drivable 15th. Doak did not get too crazy with the greens which I really appreciated."
"Loved the beautiful outdoor fireplace overlooking the Red course. Also a beautiful western motif clubhouse invites golfers in down these remote roads in Western Nebraska."