Dismal River is located outside of Mullen Nebraska. It is an remote private golfing and hunting club with two great courses.
The White Course was designed by Jack Nicklaus and opened in 2006. It is an interesting course that shares characteristics with other Nicklaus courses but also has dramatic differences. It is said the White Course project required the least amount of dirt movement across the entire Jack course design portfolio which make sense when playing the course. It has bold and distinctive routing through rolling sand country hills with many elevated and blind shots, and undulated greens that look like the course grass was literally just laid over the existing landscape. You rarely feel like you are hitting an approach shot or putt on a flat surface. It is also minimalistic with a natural sand base and dune feel that is not overly manicured. There are other unique elements including a windmill in front of the #4 par 5 green and bunker located in the middle of the 10th green with two bowl complexes in front and behind the bunker.
The first thing that will throw you off guard when playing the White Course is to get to the first tee you need to take a mile journey from the clubhouse down a country dirt road. When you step on the first tee box you will quickly notice the significant elevation shifts you will be encountering throughout the round.
The course will challenge nearly every aspects of your game, especially if the wind is howling: longer carries often put you in greatly improved places for approaches; placement is a important to give you better angles to many greens and better views for blind shots; many of your shots will require ability to strike off an endless variety of different angled lies; speed and alignment putting control is needed for many slope putts; ball trajectory is advantageous to reduce wind impact; and different types of chips are needed to cover obstacles and position your ball for an advantageous putt. That being said it is fun and conquerable if you can bring your A game and successfully navigate a few risk/reward shots that provide great scoring opportunities. It's also a course the grows on you. After having a better grasp of the formidable course setup we were eager to properly armed for our second round and found the challenge quite enjoyable.
Can't forget a great bonus of the White Course. It has a 19th hole (no not to drink) but to settle any lingering battles. Very cool!
GO BIG HOLES
The Red Course was designed by Tom Doak and opened in 2013. While its not quite a ying/yang relationship between the White and Red its pretty close. The Red Course is has wider fairways, less elevation change and larger more subtle green complexes. Doak is one of our favorite architects due to his minimalistic style of maximizing the natural terrain to setup world class routing and design elements.
To get to the Red Course you will need to also take a dirt road adventure. When arriving at the first tee you will immediately see the unique and beautiful course layout through the sand hill topography. You will also notice there are no formal tee boxes but general areas where tees are placed providing greater flexibility in course setup.
As you're round gets underway you will quickly feel comfortable if you have played other Doak courses and also be prepared ongoing routing changes that perfectly compliment and enliven the natural landscape. We were very impressed with the creative transitions and variety that keep your mind strategically engaged with various game plan options throughout the round.
As mentioned above the fairways are ample allowing you to rip the driver with several fun risk/reward par 4 driving opportunities and reachable par 5s. While distance can provide you with strong scoring benefits it was still ultimately control that led to the best scores in our groupings. The placement off of the tees provided notable benefits to approach lies, views and angles on many holes where there is copious danger present around the green complexes. Natural curated (some nasty) and strategic bunkers are regularly in play. Lastly, the wind is always present and when its whipping it will require flighting and spin control to avoid waste areas.
The highlight of the Red Course is the finishing six holes that drop down into valley by the Dismal River with a . These six holes rival the greatest finishes in golf anywhere in the world. Local knowledge is massively beneficial in this stretch with blind shots, heavy sloped fairways and penalizing run-outs so if you aren't playing with a member make sure to take some approach notes beforehand. You will feel energized after wrapping up 18, especially if you finished strong!
Another pro of Dismal is the large rustic themed clubhouse with great amenities including large meeting and dinning entry; bar area with seating and TVs; private dinning; TV lounge with recliners and multiple large TVs; game room; golf simulator; pro shop; and large outdoor entertainment and seating area overlooking the Dismal River valley and Red Course. Compliments to the head cook as well who prepared excellent hearty meals and the staff was friendly and on-top of any need.
No doubt its a trek to get to Dismal but you will truly enjoy the experience.
GO BIG HOLES
ON THE LINKS