Guide to Sand Hills Golf Club, Mullen, NE

Sand Hills Golf Club in Mullen, Nebraska, is celebrated for its minimalist design and seamless integration with the natural landscape of the Nebraska Sandhills.

Established in 1994 by architects Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, the club offers an exclusive golfing experience on its renowned 18-hole course.

For a deeper dive into the club's history, membership details, and travel tips, keep reading.

History and Background

Sand Hills Golf Club, established in 1994, is a testament to the vision and philosophy of its acclaimed architects, Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw.

Their approach to designing the course was groundbreaking, focusing on minimal intervention with the natural landscape of the Nebraska Sandhills.

This philosophy resulted in a course that is not only visually stunning but also harmonizes perfectly with its surroundings.

Establishment of Sand Hills Golf Club in 1994

The inception of Sand Hills Golf Club began with a simple yet ambitious idea: to create a world-class golf course that utilized the natural topography of the Nebraska Sandhills.

The club officially opened its doors in 1994 after a meticulous design and construction process.

This project was spearheaded by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, who were selected for their expertise in crafting courses that emphasize natural beauty and strategic play.

Vision and Philosophy of Architects Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw

Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw are renowned for their design philosophy, which prioritizes the natural landscape over extensive artificial modifications.

Their vision for Sand Hills Golf Club was to create a golfing experience that felt timeless and untouched by modern machinery.

They believed that the best courses were those that appeared as if they had always been a part of the landscape.

To achieve this, they adopted a minimalist approach, ensuring that the design of Sand Hills would reflect the natural contours and sandy soil of the region.

The Minimalist Design Approach and Natural Integration with the Nebraska Sandhills

The minimalist design approach at Sand Hills Golf Club is characterized by the minimal movement of earth and the utilization of the existing topography.

This method stands in stark contrast to many modern courses that rely heavily on earth-moving equipment to shape the land.

At Sand Hills, Coore and Crenshaw moved only a small amount of soil, allowing the natural dunes and ridges to dictate the layout of the course.

This resulted in a course that not only looks natural but also offers a unique and challenging experience for golfers.

The Nebraska Sandhills provide an ideal setting for this type of design.

The region's rolling dunes and native grasses create a rugged and beautiful landscape that enhances the golfing experience.

Each hole at Sand Hills presents its own set of challenges, shaped by the natural features of the land.

This approach ensures that the course remains in harmony with its environment, providing a sustainable and visually pleasing experience.

The Club's Early Years and Impact on Golf Architecture

From its inception, Sand Hills Golf Club received widespread acclaim for its innovative design and integration with the natural landscape.

Golf enthusiasts and critics alike praised the course for its strategic complexity and aesthetic beauty.

This early success helped cement the reputation of Coore and Crenshaw as leading figures in golf course architecture.

The influence of Sand Hills Golf Club extends beyond its own boundaries.

Its success has inspired other courses around the world to adopt similar minimalist design principles.

Notable examples include Bandon Dunes in Oregon, which shares the same emphasis on natural beauty and strategic play.

This trend has led to a resurgence in golf course design that values sustainability and harmony with the environment.

Membership and Exclusivity

From the beginning, Sand Hills Golf Club was envisioned as an exclusive retreat for serious golfers.

With fewer than 200 members, the club offers a secluded and intimate experience.

Membership is highly sought after and typically requires an invitation, reflecting the club's commitment to maintaining a close-knit community of passionate golfers.

This exclusivity adds to the allure of the club, making it a coveted destination for those lucky enough to receive an invitation.

Course Design and Layout

Sand Hills Golf Club’s course is a masterclass in minimalist design, strategically leveraging the natural contours and features of the Nebraska Sandhills.

Designed to challenge golfers while showcasing the landscape’s inherent beauty, the 18-hole, par-71 course stands as a premier example of harmonious integration with nature.

Detailed Description of the 18-Hole, Par-71 Course

The course at Sand Hills Golf Club stretches over 7,089 yards, offering a diverse range of holes that require both strategic thinking and skilled execution.

Each hole has been carefully crafted to blend seamlessly with the natural topography, utilizing the undulating dunes, native grasses, and sandy soil.

The design ensures that players are constantly engaged, with no two holes feeling alike.

The layout consists of a variety of par-3s, par-4s, and par-5s, each presenting unique challenges and opportunities.

The fairways are generally wide, but strategic bunkering and natural hazards require precise shot placement.

The greens are large and undulating, adding another layer of complexity to the putting game.

The Emphasis on Strategic Play and Natural Contours

One of the hallmarks of Sand Hills Golf Club is its emphasis on strategic play.

The course design encourages players to think carefully about each shot, taking into account the natural contours of the land.

The fairways and greens have been shaped minimally, preserving the natural landscape and creating a course that demands thoughtful strategy rather than brute force.

Players must navigate the rolling terrain, which can influence ball movement and require adjustments in shot selection.

The bunkers are strategically placed to challenge even the most experienced golfers, often requiring them to choose between taking a riskier direct route or a safer, more circuitous path.

Highlight of Key Holes, Including the Notable Second Hole

Among the standout features of Sand Hills Golf Club are its key holes, each with distinctive characteristics that make them memorable and challenging.

Notably, the second hole is often celebrated for its dramatic views and strategic bunkering.

This par-4 hole demands accuracy off the tee, with a fairway that slopes towards a large bunker complex on the left.

The green is perched atop a ridge, protected by deep bunkers, requiring a precise approach shot.

Other key holes include the par-5 seventh, which offers a risk-reward scenario with a reachable green in two for long hitters but guarded by a series of bunkers and natural hazards.

The fifteenth hole, a par-3, is another highlight, featuring a downhill shot to a green surrounded by natural dunes, making club selection and accuracy critical.

The Course's Length and Yardage Specifics

Sand Hills Golf Club’s course is meticulously measured to ensure a challenging yet fair test of golf.

The course spans 7,089 yards from the championship tees, with multiple tee boxes available to accommodate players of different skill levels.

The breakdown of the yardages for each hole is as follows:

  • Par 3s: Typically range from 150 to 200 yards, requiring precision and control.
  • Par 4s: Vary between 350 and 450 yards, demanding a mix of distance and accuracy.
  • Par 5s: Range from 500 to 600 yards, offering opportunities for birdies but also posing significant risks.

The design also takes into account the prevailing winds, which can greatly affect play and add another layer of complexity to the course.

The Experience of Playing at Sand Hills Golf Club

Playing at Sand Hills Golf Club is an unparalleled experience that combines the serenity of its remote location with the strategic complexity of its course design.

The unique attributes of the club and its surroundings create a tranquil and immersive golfing experience that is difficult to find elsewhere.

What Makes the Golfing Experience Unique and Tranquil

The uniqueness of Sand Hills Golf Club lies in its minimalist design and natural beauty.

Unlike many modern golf courses that rely on extensive landscaping and artificial features, Sand Hills maintains a close connection to the natural environment.

The course design, crafted by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, emphasizes the existing contours and features of the Nebraska Sandhills, providing a pure and authentic golfing experience.

The minimalist approach ensures that players are not distracted by unnecessary embellishments, allowing them to focus on the game and the stunning surroundings.

The tranquility of the experience is further enhanced by the club's exclusivity.

With fewer than 200 members, Sand Hills offers a level of seclusion that is rare in the golfing world.

The limited membership means that the course is never crowded, allowing for a peaceful and unhurried round of golf.

This serene atmosphere is a significant draw for those seeking a respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

The Remote Location and Its Impact on the Experience

Sand Hills Golf Club is located in a remote part of Mullen, Nebraska, far from the distractions of urban life.

This isolation is a key component of the club's appeal, providing a sense of escape and immersion in nature.

The journey to the club often involves flying into nearby cities like Denver or Omaha, followed by a drive through the picturesque Nebraska countryside.

This travel adds to the sense of adventure and anticipation, heightening the overall experience.

The remote location also ensures that the surrounding landscape remains pristine and unspoiled.

There are no nearby developments or urban noise to intrude upon the golfing experience.

Instead, players are treated to expansive views of rolling dunes, native grasses, and wide-open skies.

This sense of solitude and connection to nature is a core aspect of what makes playing at Sand Hills so special.

How the Natural Landscape Enhances the Golfing Experience

The natural landscape of the Nebraska Sandhills is integral to the design and appeal of Sand Hills Golf Club.

The region's unique topography, characterized by rolling dunes and sandy soil, provides a perfect canvas for a challenging and visually stunning golf course.

The designers, Coore and Crenshaw, took full advantage of these natural features, creating a course that feels like a seamless extension of the landscape.

Each hole at Sand Hills is shaped by the natural contours of the land, resulting in a course that is both beautiful and strategically complex.

The sandy soil and native grasses create firm and fast conditions, encouraging a variety of shot types and rewarding creative play.

The natural hazards, such as dunes and grass bunkers, add to the challenge, requiring players to think strategically and adapt to the terrain.

The sensory experience of playing at Sand Hills is also enhanced by the natural environment.

The sights and sounds of the prairie, from the whispering grasses to the calls of native birds, create a peaceful backdrop that enhances the focus and enjoyment of the game.

The absence of urban noise and distractions allows players to fully immerse themselves in the experience, making each round at Sand Hills a memorable and rejuvenating escape.

Membership Details

Membership at Sand Hills Golf Club is highly exclusive, offering a select group of golfers the opportunity to enjoy one of the most prestigious and secluded golf experiences in the world.

The process of becoming a member, the typical profiles of members, and strategies to increase the chances of receiving an invitation are all critical elements to understand for those aspiring to join this elite club.

Exclusivity of Membership and Invitation Process

Sand Hills Golf Club is renowned for its exclusivity, with membership generally limited to fewer than 200 individuals.

This exclusivity is a fundamental part of the club’s appeal, ensuring a tranquil and private experience for its members.

Unlike many other clubs, Sand Hills does not openly advertise its membership opportunities.

Instead, membership is typically by invitation only, often extended to individuals who have demonstrated a significant passion for the game of golf and an appreciation for the club’s unique philosophy.

The invitation process is discreet and selective.

Prospective members are often recommended by current members, with the club’s board of directors reviewing each candidate thoroughly.

This process ensures that new members align with the club’s values and contribute positively to the existing community.

There are no publicized criteria or application forms, making the path to membership somewhat elusive.

The Profile of Typical Members and Their Backgrounds

Members of Sand Hills Golf Club come from diverse backgrounds but share a common love for the game of golf and an appreciation for the club’s minimalist design and secluded location.

Many members are successful professionals, including business executives, entrepreneurs, and individuals from various industries who value the exclusivity and privacy offered by the club.

The remote nature of the club often attracts those who seek a retreat from their busy lives, where they can immerse themselves in the game and the natural surroundings.

Despite the diversity in professional backgrounds, members typically possess a deep respect for the traditions of golf.

They appreciate the strategic complexity of the course and the philosophy of minimal intervention in its design.

This shared ethos helps maintain a cohesive and respectful community, enhancing the overall experience for everyone involved.

Steps to Increase the Chances of Receiving an Invitation

While there is no guaranteed path to membership at Sand Hills Golf Club, there are several steps prospective members can take to increase their chances of receiving an invitation:

  1. Cultivate Connections: Building relationships with current members can be instrumental. Networking within the golfing community and participating in events where Sand Hills members may be present can help establish these connections.
  2. Demonstrate Passion for Golf: Showing a genuine passion for the game and an appreciation for traditional and strategic golf courses can set a prospective member apart. This can be demonstrated through participation in tournaments, involvement in golf clubs, and contributions to the golfing community.
  3. Respect the Club’s Philosophy: Understanding and respecting the minimalist design and natural integration of the course is crucial. Prospective members should appreciate the club’s emphasis on strategic play and the natural beauty of the Nebraska Sandhills.
  4. Write a Letter of Interest: On rare occasions, non-members have been able to play at Sand Hills by sending a letter of interest. This letter should convey a deep respect for the course, a passion for golf, and a compelling reason for wanting to experience Sand Hills. While this may not directly lead to membership, it can sometimes open the door to further opportunities.
  5. Be Patient and Persistent: The path to membership can be long and uncertain. Persistence and patience, combined with continued involvement in the golfing community, can increase the likelihood of eventually receiving an invitation.

Accommodations and Amenities

Sand Hills Golf Club offers a range of accommodations and amenities designed to enhance the golfing experience while maintaining a focus on the natural beauty and tranquility of its setting.

The club’s approach emphasizes comfort and convenience without detracting from the primary focus: world-class golf.

Overview of Available Accommodations at the Club

Sand Hills Golf Club provides a variety of lodging options to meet the needs of its members and their guests.

The accommodations are designed to offer comfort and a rustic charm that complements the natural landscape of the Nebraska Sandhills.

These options typically include private cabins and lodges that are spread throughout the property, ensuring privacy and a peaceful atmosphere.

The cabins and lodges are well-appointed with essential amenities, including comfortable beds, modern bathrooms, and cozy living spaces.

The décor reflects the club's commitment to simplicity and natural beauty, with a focus on creating a warm and inviting environment.

The accommodations are strategically placed to offer stunning views of the surrounding landscape, enhancing the overall experience of staying at Sand Hills.

The Focus on Golfing Over Luxury in Lodging

While the accommodations at Sand Hills Golf Club are comfortable and well-maintained, they are not designed to compete with luxury resorts.

The primary focus of the club is to provide an exceptional golfing experience, and this philosophy extends to its lodging options.

The simplicity of the accommodations ensures that the natural beauty of the area and the golfing experience remain the central attractions.

Members and guests are encouraged to spend their time on the course or exploring the natural surroundings rather than indulging in extravagant amenities.

This approach fosters a deep connection with the landscape and the game of golf, aligning with the club’s minimalist design ethos.

Additional Amenities Offered to Members and Guests

In addition to the comfortable accommodations, Sand Hills Golf Club offers several amenities designed to enhance the overall experience for members and their guests.

These amenities are thoughtfully integrated to support the club’s focus on golf and natural beauty.

  1. Dining Facilities: The club features a clubhouse with dining facilities that offer a range of culinary options. The dining experience at Sand Hills emphasizes fresh, high-quality ingredients and a menu that caters to a variety of tastes. The setting is casual yet elegant, providing a relaxing atmosphere for members to enjoy meals after a round of golf.
  2. Practice Facilities: To help golfers improve their game, Sand Hills Golf Club offers extensive practice facilities. These include a driving range, putting greens, and short game areas. The practice facilities are designed to mimic the conditions of the course, allowing players to hone their skills in a realistic setting.
  3. Golf Shop: The club's golf shop is stocked with a wide range of equipment, apparel, and accessories. Members and guests can find everything they need to enhance their game, from top-of-the-line golf clubs to stylish apparel. The shop staff are knowledgeable and can provide expert advice on equipment and gear.
  4. Caddy Services: Sand Hills Golf Club offers professional caddy services to enhance the golfing experience. The caddies are experienced and familiar with the intricacies of the course, providing valuable insights and assistance to players.
  5. Clubhouse Amenities: The clubhouse serves as a central hub for members and guests, offering comfortable lounges, locker rooms, and a pro shop. The clubhouse is designed to be a welcoming space where members can relax, socialize, and enjoy the serene environment.

Playing as a Non-Member

Playing at Sand Hills Golf Club as a non-member is a rare opportunity, given the club's exclusivity and private nature.

However, for those passionate about golf and eager to experience one of the world's premier courses, there are a few avenues to explore.

Rare Opportunities for Non-Members to Play at the Club

While Sand Hills Golf Club is predominantly reserved for its members, there are exceptional cases where non-members have been granted access to play.

These opportunities are infrequent and usually come about through special invitations, charity events, or by the grace of the club’s members who may extend an invitation to a guest.

Another potential path is through professional connections in the golf industry, as industry insiders occasionally have the chance to play at exclusive courses like Sand Hills.

One of the most notable avenues for non-members is by sending a letter of interest to the club.

This method, while not guaranteed, has historically allowed a few passionate golfers the chance to play the course.

The club occasionally entertains such requests, particularly if the individual demonstrates a profound respect for the game and a genuine desire to experience the course.

How to Craft a Compelling Letter of Interest

To increase the likelihood of a positive response, a letter of interest must be thoughtfully crafted. Here are some key elements to consider when writing the letter:

  1. Personal Introduction: Begin with a brief introduction of yourself, including your background in golf and any relevant accomplishments or experiences. Mention how long you have been playing and what the game means to you.
  2. Expression of Respect and Admiration: Clearly convey your admiration for Sand Hills Golf Club and its unique design philosophy. Demonstrate that you understand and appreciate the minimalist approach and the natural integration of the course with its surroundings.
  3. Genuine Passion for Golf: Highlight your passion for the game. Share specific experiences that illustrate your dedication to golf, such as participating in tournaments, contributing to the golfing community, or visiting other notable courses.
  4. Purpose of the Request: Explain why you wish to play at Sand Hills specifically. Whether it's a lifelong dream, a desire to study the course’s design, or simply to experience its renowned challenges, be sincere and articulate about your reasons.
  5. Polite and Respectful Tone: Maintain a respectful and courteous tone throughout the letter. Acknowledge the exclusivity of the club and express gratitude for the consideration of your request.
  6. Contact Information: Provide your contact details and express willingness to discuss your request further or provide additional information if needed.

Success Stories of Non-Members Who Have Played the Course

There are anecdotal success stories of non-members who have had the privilege of playing at Sand Hills Golf Club.

For example, a passionate golfer who had long admired the work of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw penned a heartfelt letter detailing his appreciation for their design philosophy and his dream of playing Sand Hills.

Impressed by his genuine enthusiasm and respect for the course, the club extended an invitation, allowing him to fulfill his dream.

Another instance involved a golf journalist who, through professional channels and a well-crafted letter of introduction, secured a rare opportunity to play and subsequently write about the experience.

His detailed account highlighted not only the course’s challenges and beauty but also the warmth and hospitality of the club’s members and staff.

These stories underscore the importance of sincerity and respect when approaching the club.

While there are no guarantees, a thoughtfully composed letter of interest and a genuine passion for the game can occasionally open doors to this exclusive golfing sanctuary.

Rankings and Recognition

Sand Hills Golf Club has garnered significant acclaim in the golfing world, consistently achieving high rankings and numerous accolades.

These recognitions reflect the club’s exceptional design, strategic complexity, and unparalleled golfing experience, solidifying its status as one of the premier courses globally.

Overview of Sand Hills Golf Club's Global Rankings

Since its establishment, Sand Hills Golf Club has been a mainstay in top golf course rankings.

Its unique design, which emphasizes minimalism and natural integration, has resonated with golf critics and enthusiasts alike.

The course frequently appears in the top positions of various prestigious lists, including those by Golf Digest, Golf Magazine, and Golfweek.

These rankings often place Sand Hills among the best golf courses in the United States and the world, highlighting its strategic brilliance and aesthetic beauty.

One of the most notable rankings is its consistent appearance in Golf Digest's “America's 100 Greatest Golf Courses.

Sand Hills is often featured within the top ten, a testament to its enduring appeal and excellence.

Additionally, Golf Magazine has included the club in its list of “Top 100 Courses in the World,” further cementing its global reputation.

Detailed Look at Accolades, Such as Golfweek's Best Modern Course in 2022

In 2022, Golfweek honored Sand Hills Golf Club with the title of “Best Modern Course,” a significant accolade that recognizes courses built from 1960 onwards.

This award underscores the club's innovative design and its influence on contemporary golf architecture.

The recognition by Golfweek highlights the course's strategic challenges, natural beauty, and the seamless integration of its design with the surrounding landscape.

The “Best Modern Course” award is particularly meaningful as it places Sand Hills at the forefront of modern golf course design, distinguishing it from other courses that rely heavily on artificial elements.

The accolade is a nod to the vision of architects Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, who championed a minimalist approach that has since inspired numerous other golf course designs worldwide.

What These Rankings Mean for the Club's Reputation

The high rankings and numerous accolades bestowed upon Sand Hills Golf Club contribute significantly to its esteemed reputation.

These recognitions serve as a validation of the club’s design philosophy and the exceptional golfing experience it offers.

They attract avid golfers from around the world who seek to play at a course that is not only challenging but also aesthetically pleasing and harmoniously integrated with its natural surroundings.

The club's reputation as one of the best courses globally also enhances its allure and exclusivity.

Prospective members are drawn to the prestige associated with playing at such a highly regarded course, and the accolades further justify the club's selective membership process.

The rankings reinforce the perception of Sand Hills as a must-play destination for serious golfers, contributing to its status as a bucket-list course.

Moreover, the consistent high rankings and awards spotlight the club's influence on modern golf course architecture.

Sand Hills has set a benchmark for minimalist and sustainable design, inspiring other courses to adopt similar principles.

The recognition by leading golf publications not only celebrates the club’s achievements but also promotes a design philosophy that values natural beauty and strategic play.


Sand Hills Golf Club stands as a premier destination for golf enthusiasts, renowned for its minimalist design and natural beauty.

Its high rankings and numerous accolades underscore its exceptional status and influence in modern golf course architecture.

For those seeking an unparalleled and exclusive golfing experience, Sand Hills offers a unique blend of strategic play and serene surroundings.