Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Sand Hills Golf Club



A brief apology up front for a longer than normal writeup. I never know when inspiration will hit and it hit in force at Sand Hills. If you want to get right to the golf course, scroll down. Otherwise, indulge me for a brief history and geography lesson to help put Sand Hills in perspective.

My view of the United States is more or less consistent with the famous The New Yorker cartoon. The United States consists of New York, some other east coast cities, New Jersey and California. Nebraska is part of the vast midwest that pretty much doesn't exist. It is a place you fly over. Why in the world would anyone want to go there? The closest that most people I know have ever been to Nebraska is to read Warren Buffet's annual letter to shareholders.

Well, I have to tell you, this view of Nebraska has been shattered for me. The Sand Hills region of Nebraska is out of this world. It is not row after row of corn fields and flat lands. Quite to the contrary, it is one of the natural wonders of this great country.

My trip to The Sand Hills Golf Club (ranked #11 in the world) began with a flight into Denver. Denver is actually the closest large city to Mullen, Nebraska where the golf course is located. It is a five and a half hour drive northeast of Denver. The overall journey to Sand Hills actually took me longer than any of my many trips to play in Britain and Ireland. You can also get to Sand Hills by taking a commuter flight from either Denver or Chicago into North Platte, Nebraska which is about an hour away, but with afternoon thunderstorms common in this part of the country, I'd rather drive. For the investment bankers, hedge fund managers and private equity followers of my blog the good news is you will be able to land your private jets in North Platte.

You leave Denver on Interstate 76 and travel into Nebraska. This part of Northern Colorado is kind of bland and non-descript. It is a high plain with a lot of scrub and frankly not a lot of beauty. Once you cross into Nebraska, it is more or less more of the same until about three hours into the trip you find yourself on state highway NE-61. The contrast to the area you have just traveled through is stark. NE-61 is one of the hidden gem, sleeper roads of this country. For beauty, NE-61 rivals driving between San Francisco and Los Angeles on US-1 or Route 112 in New Hampshire during September. It's that beautiful, although it is a stark and subtle beauty that reveals itself slowly. It is one of the most scenic roads in the country. Have I lost my mind? No, not at all. I had no idea what the Sand Hills region even was prior to this trip. I assumed there was a small area of dunes where they built a good golf course. This assumption has about the same validity as assuming that Donald Trump is modest. The reality is that the Sand Hills region of Nebraska is 19,300 square miles and takes up about 25% of the entire land mass of the state. This is larger than the states of Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware and Rhode Island, combined! A geological anomoly, the Sand Hills region was formed at the end of the last ice age when sand was wind blown into large dunes during a severe drought. It must have been one hell of a drought indeed.

It has the biggest, most impressive sand dunes I have seen anywhere in the world. NE-61 is a two lane road that winds through the Sand Hills region. You round bend after bend and your mind plays tricks on you. You will look away and look back and think once you get over the crest of the next hill you will see the Atlantic Ocean or the Irish Sea. It is bucolic, peaceful and dramatic. You drive along rolling hills punctuated by ranches. To call the area sparsely populated is an understatement. The county seat in Arthur we drove through had a post office, bank, county courthouse, a fairground and not much else. The total population of the county Sand Hills is located in is 793. I have more people than that on just one subway train on the way to work. The beauty of the region is unexpected. You know the Monterey penninsula is going to be beautiful and the Grand Canyon. Likewise, the Pacific Northwest has a reputation for beauty as do the Rocky Mountains. This just takes you totally by surprise. Living in a metropolitan area I never really appreciated how beautiful this region of the country is.



I felt at times that I was in a time warp. The picture above is of one of the 'towns' you pass through on the way to Sand Hills. In many of these places it could be 1930. You drive on NE-61 thankfully for a full hour and then you turn right onto NE-2 to make the final approach into Mullen. NE-2 parallels a Burlington Northern rail line, which has long freight trains made up entirely of coal cars transporting coal out of Wyoming. The rail line is set at the base of the Sand Hills, and here I go again, but it is a beautiful sight. A rail line, beautiful? Certainly, my mind is gone now. But, those of you that have driven it, tell me if I'm wrong.



Once you get into Mullen (population 554 and yes those are bullet holes in the sign), you turn right onto NE-97 south. In shades of Muirfield, you have to know where you are going. The club has told you to look for mile marker 55 on the left side of the road and the Sand Hills Golf Club is your next right. Once you turn off the road, it is 2.5 miles to the clubhouse. The clubhouse is a decidedly understated affair as are the cabins that guests stay in. The cabins sleep two people and are setup on the top of a hill overlooking the Dismal River. You are never given a key since the cabins are on the honor system and are unlocked. The booklet left in each room for guests warns you not to be alarmed if you hear strange sounds in the night. Deer often bed down under the cabins and wild turkeys are known to roost on the porch railings.

The Golf Course

How is it that a golf course built in 1995 and located in the middle of Nebraska is ranked #11 in the world? Well, it deserves to be ranked this high, it is that good. The land is perfectly suited for golf. Architects Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw have done a masterful job designing the course. In 1993, they actually visited the sight and 'discovered' over 130 golf holes and then proceeded to narrow it down to 18, which is the golf course the world is lucky to have today. Although the area is windy, there is no prevailing wind, so the course is routed to be playable in any wind condition. I'm not sure how you design a course as good as Coore and Crenshaw did, but they pulled it off.

I have never met Dick Youngscap, the man behind Sand Hills, but the man is an obvious genius. No one has had greater vision in sponsoring and developing a golf course since Charles Blair Macdonald when he built The National Golf Links in 1910. The entire Sand Hills Golf Club is on 8,000 acres of land. By way of comparison the East Course at Merion was built on only 120 acres. The place has sand dunes of epic proportions. Some of the dunes are over 400 feet tall. What you see at Bandon or Pacific Dunes, Ballybunion, Sandwich, Cruden Bay and Dornoch are hardly even comparable to what you will see here.

The course is located one mile from the clubhouse over sand dunes. You drive out from the clubhouse in a golf cart, across a private ranch and then arrive at the small starters cabin and outdoor grill room - nicknamed Ben's porch.

14th Green
The 14th green at Sand Hills

The course itself has NO weak holes. The seventh and eighth holes are short par fours and have fantastic risk/reward characteristics. The seventh hole, 285 yards, proves that holes like the short eighth at Cruden Bay are not out of date. The eighth in particular has a sort of bowl shaped green that if you land on the correct spot on the green the ball trickles down to a pin set right behind a bunker. The fourteenth hole also stands out as another super risk/reward hole. It is a 475 par five that most players can reach in two, particularly if the wind is at your back. It is nice as a mortal golfer to have a shot at an eagle every now and then. If you miss your shot, however, you're dead. There are severe bunkers in the back and front and the green slopes sharply from back to front. One of the best holes in the world, in my view. The seventeenth (pictured below), their signature hole, is a short par three and has a postage stamp green.

17th Hole
The 17th green at Sand Hills

Part of what makes the course shine is that every green (except 17) is accessible from the front, encouraging bump and run or pitch shots. The fairway blends into the green in a spectacular fashion. Many play up hill so you can frequently misjudge and under-club in which case you are going to be hitting the same shot again with the ball rolling back to your feet. In shades of Pinehurst #2, the fourth hole at Sand Hills has a dramatic falloff from the elevated green on the right side. Although the holes on the course are not handicap rated, this is probably the #1 handicap hole for most people. It is like Pinehurst #2 on steroids. The eighteenth hole is a long, uphill par four that played into the wind on the two days I played the course and is a worthy finishing hole given the heroic scale of Sand Hills.

At times when playing Sand Hills it feels like you are playing at Royal St. George's or North Berwick or Shinnecock, but also many of the holes have the feel of desert golf with wide fairways and 'target' tee shots. Miss your tee shot, though, and you will be chipping out of the fescue. Consistent with Coore-Crenshaw's design philosophy it is the shots into the green that you have to play well at Sand Hills

Note to golf course architects: Study the approaches and greens at Sand Hills. You don't need to put greenside bunkers everywhere to create a great course. You can walk the course, but this is the one place I recommend taking a cart - for the simple reason that you don't want to tire yourself out for playing again in the afternoon. Believe me, you will want to play at least 36 holes a day.




I had a very peaceful experience at Sand Hills and enjoyed the quiet beauty of the place. You can have coffee delivered to your cabin in the early morning. Each cabin has a wooden deck on the back with wooden rocking chairs. I stayed in cabin #14 which sits up on a bluff over the Dismal River. As the sun was coming up I enjoyed a fresh cup of coffee and a Havana Bolivar #2 while listening to the sounds of the water running below. It was a total state of serenity. At Sand Hills you will see no planes flying overhead. There is no background din of a distant highway. If you stop talking and just listen you will hear total silence punctuated only by the occasional bird chirping or wind blowing.



The entire time at Sand Hills, you are in-communicado. There is basically no cell phone service, blackberries do not work, there is no wireless internet connection, no internet service at all, no Wall Street Journal or USA Today. Cell phones are not allowed. The phones in your room will only let you make collect calls. You are thankfully out of it. Let's hope they always keep it that way. Although being a type 'A' personality I will let you in on a little secret of mine: cell phones do work in the bathroom of the halfway house near the first tee. It created some interesting moments during my trip when my playing partners thought I had a weak bladder, continually spending a lot of time in the bathroom, when in fact I was on the phone.

The Sand Hills Golf Club is also a maternal type of place where they look after you. The men and women there are like a long lost aunt and uncle and they take good care of you. They prepare you a hearty breakfast to order. A genuine westerner, a leather-faced cowboy in a big hat grills you either a hamburger or hot-dog at lunch at the starters cabin/grill. I was so excited driving into Sand Hills that I hadn't noticed that my car had run out of gas after the 5 1/2 hour drive. When I started it to leave the fuel light came on. The nearest gas station is 15 miles from the golf course. The nice people at Sand Hills put a couple of gallons of gas in the car for me from their own private reserve. It reminded me a lot of how people in Manhattan treat each other hailing cabs in the rain.

Eighth Green - Sand Hills
The 8th green at Sand Hills

There are few places in this world left where you can still find true peace. The Sand Hills region is one of those places. At Sand Hills I experienced a range of emotions oscillating from "Where am I?" to "This is unreal". In a post-September 11th world we need to treasure places like Sand Hills where you can still be completely at peace, can see the stars in the sky at night and disconnect from modern life and enjoy the fresh air and wide open spaces. It is a great contrast to modern life. Peace and quiet are sadly no longer valued in the world today. Sand Hills is the antidote to your asshole neighbor who uses his leaf blower at seven in the morning. It helps to heal your soul from all those times sitting in the airport with CNN blaring in your face. It helps you forget all those blowhards on the train that scream into their cellphone. And it reminds us what life was like before everyone had their iPODs and DVDs set so high that everyone around them can hear. It reminds us that peace and quiet are to be treasured and that modern life is sadly out of balance.

The course itself is rather difficult to get invited to. There are only 150-160 members who are scattered all over the world. The course is only open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Play is limited to 50 rounds a day and an unaccompanied guest can only visit Sand Hills once without the member. If you are ever invited to play, you would be crazy to decline.

The Sand Hills region is starting to be discovered. Jack Nicklaus is building a me too course and resort nearby on NE-97 that will have its own Cessna plane to shuttle passengers in and out. While the region is hardly at risk of being over-run, resorts are starting to spring up for both golfing and for hunting. However, none will ever equal what has been created at the Sand Hills Golf Club. It is one of a kind.

My experience tells me that most avid golfers are not up on famous turn of the century female writers. I'm not normally a Willa Cather type of guy, but I found this quote from her which describes the Sand Hills region: "I wanted to walk straight on through the grass and over the edge of the world, which could not be very far away. The light air about me told me that the world ended here; only the ground, sun, and sky were left. "
Amen.



The Sand Hills region along NE-61




The Sand Hills Golf Club logo with the ranch-style motif

The Sand Hills Clubhouse



A Sand Hills Cabin

40 comments:

Thailand Golf said...

As I'm a compulsive traveler I found your blog quite interestingKeep up the good workMichaelThailand Golf Tours

burban said...

So who can help me get on this course. I live in the midwest and have had a fascination with this place for a very long time, but I fear I do not have the connections to ever be lucky enough to visit.

David Sucher said...

Terrific.
Thanks.

Luckyguy said...

I've had the privilege of playing Sand Hills GC twice and it is everything this article states and more. For a similar (but not nearly the same as Sand Hills) experience I suggest WildHorse golf club in nearby Gothenburg, NE. For less than $50 a round, this public course will give you a feel for Nebraska links-style golf.

golfguyne said...

Thanks for the article. Nebraska is my home and I have a passion for the Sand Hills. Until the SHGC began to garner attention, the area had been our "best kept secret". The golf development ends that, and I'm happy for those that benefit economicaly. It's sad that the development is so elitist that it all but rules out those of us from the state. In turn, I'm grateful for our wonderful courses in Eastern Nebraska (i.e. Quarry Oaks, Woodland Hills) and for Wild Horse in Gothenburg.

Anonymous said...

I had the first opportunity to play here in august of 1995 when i took the same hwy from the denver area through nebraska, through Arthur, and into Mullen. I, too, was amazed at what i saw. I, too was flabergasted by the course. I went home and told my golf buddies that a course had just opened in the middle of nowhere that was a top 10 course in the world. they thought that i was crazy. I then made a very smart decision and joined the club. it has brought much pleasure to me and my guests in the intervening years.

Spencer said...

I'm dying to play this course, it looks like heaven. I'm a 13 year old kid and I want to take a journey to Sand Hills with my dad and a close lifetime friend. I checked it out on your post and golf atlas.com Is there anyway that you can help me out or a reader could to. I called the number at sandhillsgolfshop.com and they told me I need to know a member or be sponsered by one. Does anyone know a member? If you do know one. Can you please email me at ragrossinger@gmail.com Thank You

Anonymous said...

I just received an invite from someone I know through a business relationship. You are right, it's very hard to find someone who's a member, and nice enough to extend you the invitation. Four of us are going to play and stay there for the weekend. We live in Nebraska so the drive won't be too bad.

I would suggest to just keep talking with other golfers and contacts to find someone who is a member. And definitely go if you get the chance. I here there's nothing like it anywhere else in the world.

Anonymous said...

I just got from playing it this weekend! Even stayed in cabin # 14 just like you did.

What a great course! It ate us up on the first 18, then we shot considerably better on the last 18.

A little pricey of an experience for the golf. In general a very nice resort type of getaway setting.

The people were fairly nice in general.

One of the starters was a bit rude.

We got there and were told we could go to the practice green to "putt and look around" but couldn't play until the next morning. So we went and putted and decided to check out the first tee just around the corner since it was getting dark and no one else was going off.

The starter came down and lit into us about not playing. We told him we were very sorry and that we weren't going to play, we just thought we'd look at the first tee since they told us we took "look around".

Anyway, he just kept yelling about not going out there and we deeply apologized about 10 more times. After all, we were guests and didn't want to overstep our bounds or interfere with anything. We apologized one more time for going back to the cabins and told him we wanted didn't want to break any of the rules and would be on our best behavior because we were very honored to be able to play their course. He never said anything. We later were told the next days proceedings for us by the nice lady in the pro shop (who informed us that she was telling us our itinerary for the next day instead of the starter because he was "too mad to come and meet with us". She kind of rolled her eyes and said don't worry about him.

He finally came up and introduced himself the next day after our final round and said he hoped we had a good time. Which was nice.

Just wish he would have not gotten so bent out of shape at first.

It kind of ruined the weekend to say the least! We kind of tip toed around the rest of our stay and felt a little unwelcome. Always kind of afraid if we'd accidentally do something or set someone off.

Great golf course, but I don't think we'd ever go back even if we could. Didn't leave a very friendly feeling with us.

You can only apologize for an honest mistake so many times before you feel unwelcome.

I'd highly recommend Wild Horse for less money and an equally challenging unique course with a friendlier staff.

Just my 2 cents.

Anonymous said...

Great wite up! I am lucky to say that I and three friends will be playing 36 at Sand Hills on Sunday the 26th of July and I am about as excited as I have ever been to play what sounds like a once in a lifetime course. I have been to St. Andrews, walked Augusta and played Torrey Pines, Brookline CC in Boston and Doral Blue after major tounements.....all great experiences. To have the chance to play Sand Hills is my opportunity to add to my growing list of great courses played and I thank my friends for setting this up and including me in this special event.

I will follow up with my perspective when we get back!

DTX Golfer said...

I played it last weekend as a guest and I thought it was an incredible course!

I thought the golf, the service, the staff, and the entire experience were all top notch!

Funny, the starter told us not to go to the first tee also. But I didn't think he was rude about it, just doing his job. When did "anonymous" poster play it?

I would go back every chance I could if I were a member.

All other courses come up way short of the Sandhills by any measurement.

If you get a chance, play it! Play it as much as possible! Because everything you play after it will probably be a let down.

IT IS THAT GOOD!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I have been lucky enough to play Sandhills many times over the last 10 years or so. 4 day trips with at least 7 rounds. My host is always the first one on the course in the morning and usaully we are last to get off. Every shot is always a challenge and differant from any the course has preseanted before. The total environment is almost as perfect as the course. After 36 we sometimes play alternate shot from the forward tees. sometimes even more of a challenge than the tips. It's so facinating to have to calculate the slope and roll every bit as much as the distance. Pine Valley and Royal County Down are the only other courses that gave such mystery & challenge to every shot

Brandon and Julie said...

My friend and I had the great pleasure of playing Sand Hills last year. All I have to say is that, behind my wedding day and my children being born, it was the greatest four days of my life. We played at least 45 a dayand wished it could have been more.

I may never get back to golf heaven, but years from now when I am old and gray I will still be able to tell you every detail about every day thst we spent at this wonderful club.

Anonymous said...

My family and I are members at the Sandhills golf course and we have been lifelong Nebraskans. One of the coolest things about it is that the half-way house is nicknamed "Tom's Porch" by many people after the aging cowboy Tom who fixes the worlds best burgers. Also it is known as "Ben's Porch" or "Ben's Shack" after Ben Crenshaw who helped design and pick out the spot for the course. It is a major source of pride to all Nebraskans and it is very nice to have the course be recognized in the top 100 worldwide. Also, they fix the best nachos in the world.

Chris said...

I'd very much like to play this course. If you have access and do not mind sharing this amazing course with an average Joe, drop me a line. cmartinez09@gmail.com.

Anonymous said...

I visited the Sand Hills course one year (a few days before it opened for its short season) and was able to take some photos -- although it's difficult to do justice to the sense of remote expanse that you experience there. I just put up about a half dozen, starting here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/toadaway/3442174843/

crimsonblue said...

I had the pleasure of playing at Sand Hills last July. It was an amazing experience, but it saddens me that I will likely never play this masterpiece again.

Michael said...

Ballyneal. Play Ballyneal.

Mike Base said...

It is as you described it. Simply amazing. I played there this wed-Thurs (Sept 9-10) with a member who happens to be my neighbor. Note: The course is actually open from May 1st to Oct 1st.

Anonymous said...

Who are you friends with? Bill or Ben?

Top 100 Golfer said...

Bill

Van said...

Cool
Looks like they put a couple of holes in the ground in the sand hills and got someone to propel a ball down them. Unfortunately you have to waste 2 days travel to git there . Hope they had enough to drink.

Anonymous said...

Just heard the sad news that Tom, the cowboy burger man, passed away. He will be missed. Anyone who has been to Sand Hills knows that his burgers were the best and definitley part of the whole experience. I use his special seasoning on my burgers at home.

www.mrpgolf.com said...

You are correct that the course, the experience, and the people are wonderful at Sandhills. It is truly a special place.

Anonymous said...

Just curious,What were you charged for golfing and lodging at Sand Hills? Was the food included in the cost?

What was the highest green fee paid at one of the private clubs?
I know Pebble is high.

Top 100 Golfer said...

It was a couple of years ago, but the costs were modest, less than $200 per round for sure, most likely closer to $100. Food is not included in the cost, but again, the whole place is well run and understated and they don't overcharge. Most expensive was probably Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, $500 per round plus a mandatory stay at the hotel. Valderrama is also not cheap at 300 Euro's per round, but worth it.

Ryan said...

If any Sand Hills members would be willing to share this course with or sponsor an average golfer (10 handicap) and native Nebraskan who now lives in Denver, please send me an email. myryan@gmail.com
Thanks!

Anonymous said...

If you can't play it what does it matter how high the ranking? I think the only courses that should receive a ranking are those that are open to all. The one's that only have a handful of members should be allowed to live in their own isolated, privileged little world. Too many great accessible golf courses out there that I don't have to get down on my knees to beg someone to play.

bchild said...

Goodness, what a treat. Just got back from Sand Hills after 36 on Saturday. We actually flew into Omaha, which amounted to a 5.5 hour drive as well.

To be honest, I wasn't quite prepared for it. The sheer size of the place is remarkable. Absolutely loved the 7th and 8th holes. Probably the most fun I've had on a golf course outside 15 and 16 at Cypress.

I had a small debate with a playing partner on how Sand Hills compares to Kingsbarn. My knock on Kingsbarn had always been the circus-like greens. My playing partner felt that Sand Hills greens were equally tricked-up. While I didn't completely disagree, I think it’s important to note that Kingsbarn chose to build their greens, Sand Hills simply took what the earth gave them.

If you are ever invited, drop what you are doing, and visit. Unbelievable.

Anonymous said...

Had the experience of playing Sand Hills recently... and it was a bit mixed.

The course is wonderful with amazing green complexes and terrifically diabolical angles and inclines that are difficult at best to suss out.

The downside is that there was not a single caddie present on grounds... apparently the kids had gone back to school. This meant that any blind shot -- and there are many -- that was even mildly errant was an adventure to find, even in a bunker (they are enormous). It also meant that the site lines off the tee were all guesses. Worst of all... taking a cart on a course like this is a travesty.

Given the membership I was fairly shocked that they don't keep a stable of professional, year-round north/south caddies on premises. They would only need 15 to 20 given how little play the course gets.

Finally, the course plays far better from the back tees than the middle, at least for a relatively low handicapper. Middle tees left mostly wedges in hand... the back tees were a terrific challenge.

All in all, I liked the low-key nature of things and respect that attitude in a club... but given my high expectations I expected more in terms of a 'golf program' -- a driving range, chipping area, and caddie program are essential to a top club if the space allows.

Anonymous said...

FYI--There are now two additional courses near Sandhills which could give folks who aren't able to get on at Sandhills a taste of the area. The first is called Dismal River and is upriver from Sandhills about 15 miles. Setting is spectacular--I don't know about the golf. The second is called "the Prairie Club" and it is south of Valentine, NE about 50 miles north of Sandhills. Another very nice course is south of Lake McConaughy at Brule, Ne called Bayside.

Anonymous said...

Sand Hills is OVERRATED! Yeah sure it is good fun and nice but after you get past the pure bent grass greens, the burgers at Ben's Porch and the wonderful location the golf course is a big let down. Worst Crenshaw design I have played. Ballyneal is a true links course and blow Sand Hills out of the water. Even Dismal River is more fun with exciting golf holes!

Dr J said...

Come back and play The Prairie Club. A little further North, but 36 holes, going to build another 18 soon. It is new, but ready to play now! Best of luck!

Conner said...

loved the write up, i live in Omaha and it is just ripping me to shreds with the thought that i may never play one of the top 100 courses in the world and its in my own state! if anyone has any connections to help me play this course id forever be in debt to you, as an aspiring PGA Pro id love to have an elite golfing experience, please contact me at mnbaseball24@hotmail.com

Gulf and Golf said...

You hit the nail on the head with your assessment of this club. The true beauty of the place is the intangibles; having a great course to play while you are there is cherry on top. It is an infectious experience.

nancy stevenson said...

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Anonymous said...

Oh, and please don't forget to wave to everyone you come upon on the back roads of the Sand Hills! Because if you don't bother to look - they most likely waved "hello" to you as you passed in different directions. I no longer live close to Nebraska and miss many many things about Nebraska - but I miss the most driving through the Sand Hills. Try driving through the Sand Hills at night in a Convertible!

Anonymous said...

I think it is silly that the people that grew up and live near this course will never get the chance to play but yet people that do not even know the sandhills exist or understand what the Sandhills have to offer are the ones with connections to play the sandhills. I would love to get to walk this beautiful land and appreciate one round but long ago gave up. I love the sandhills what an amazing place. Grouse hunting and duck hunting is quite amazing in the sandhills the pure beauty. Thank you for the great write up.

Liz D said...

I grew up a couple of hours northwest of this area. It was interesting to read the author's take on the Sandhills and the golf course. Thank you for opening the eyes of golfers to a starkly beautiful and serene area.

crocs women said...



I had the pleasure of playing at Sand Hills last July. It was an amazing experience, but it saddens me that I will likely never play this masterpiece again.