Sweetens Cove put them on the map. Overton Park and Inness solidified their reputation. But with Landmand, Rob Collins and Tad King’s northeast Nebraska thrill ride, the sights are set even higher: “We think it’s going to blow the tops of peoples’ heads off,” Collins says.
In his 2019 preview, Will Bardwell tied King-Collins’ trajectory to that of “Born to Run”-era Bruce Springsteen: uber-talented artists with grand dreams and chips on their shoulders. Now, before the Broken Tee Society travels to Homer for The Premiere @ Landmand in June, here’s all 18 holes in Rob Collins’ words.
No. 1 – “Out” Par 5 – 575 yards
The first hole at Landmand is a great introduction to everything you’re going to see there. You stand on the first tee and you’ve got 10 or 12 golf holes in the distance.
There’s a massive shared fairway with No. 18, but the ideal line is out over the trio of bunkers on the right. The green is a big one. It’s about 15,000 square feet, and there’s a massive false front that we nicknamed the Gene Simmons Tongue, which was inspired by a false front that used to be on the front of the 10th hole at Pine Valley.
No. 2 – “Further Out” Par 4 – 365 yards
The second hole is [owner] Will Andersen’s favorite. When Tad and I routed it, we just walked up this hill, and there’s this big, sharp drop about 280 yards out from the tee, where it screams down toward this natural plateau.
Marc Burger built an amazing green that wraps around a central roll. If you hit it up that far left-hand side, you’ll catch this big contour, and it will take you right down to the front of the green. It’s a little reminiscent of the second hole at National Golf Links. If you push it out to the right, things get exponentially more difficult because you have to start to negotiate this big knob in front of the green.
When you’re walking down No. 2 for the first time, glance to your left and take a look down the valley at No. 3. That’s one of my favorite reveals on the course.
No. 3 – “Waterway” Par 4 – 445 yards
No. 3 is a valley hole that plays between these massive ridges. It’s not like any other section of the course. That’s one of my favorite things about Landmand: You’re on a trip through this landscape, and the course meanders through valleys, up on ridges and along the sides of hills.
The defining characteristic of this hole is the dry creek bed expertly shaped by Marc Burger and Jeff Bradley. That barranca goes all the way up into No. 4, and this entire valley drains down through that feature. It’s an interesting hazard because you can play out of it, and you’ll always find your ball, but sometimes you might not exactly like your lie.
It’s kind of a split fairway: If you go left, which is the safe route off the tee, you’ll have a blind or semi-blind approach, but to the right, if you challenge that big bunker, it opens up views to this really cool lay-of-the-land green.
No. 4 – “Bogey” Par 4- 330 yards
No. 4 plays up and out of the valley. The three bunkers help define the strategy, and the ideal line is out over the left side. If you can get out high-left, you can have a level shot into this eccentric and wild-looking green.
If you lay out to the right, you have to hit over two bunkers. It looks like they’re up against the green, but there’s actually a big false front and a Valley of Sin feature between the bunkers and the green. That’s a broad part of the fairway—it’s easy to get to, but you’re going to have a challenge getting that ball far enough to get it onto this green.
Only a small fraction of this green is pinnable. Trevor Dormer came in to help us build the hole, and we had a lot of fun. The only pinnable area is about a 2,500-square-foot flattish plateau up on the high side. That was our original design for that green, but as we got into it, we just kept expanding the green farther out into these really cool contours. That big, long front section is part intimidation and part invitation.
No. 5 – “O’Heck” Par 3 – 245 yards
The tees of No. 5 are strung along a ridgeline, and it’s the first expansive view that you have of the golf course since the first tee. It gives you a real sense of place. You’re seeing all the way into South Dakota on the left horizon, and into Iowa on the right.
Building this green was a learning experience. The average putting surface in America is about 6,000 square feet, and we planned one for 10,000. Like a lot of the greens here, it kept getting bigger. It ended up being 25,000 square feet, which might seem gratuitous, but if you try to imagine hitting a 10,000-square-foot green here, with the expansive land around you and the wind, it starts to seem like an impossible task.
The defining characteristic of this green is a big roll in the right-center. It’s inspired by, I believe, the 12th hole at Garden City. You need to try to be on the correct side of that roll—on the same side as the flag—in order to have the best chance to two-putt.
No. 6 – “South” Par 5 – 565 yards
No. 6 goes way down off the top of this ridge and then climbs steeply back uphill. There’s some central bunkering dotted throughout the corridor there that makes you think on your second shot if you lay up. If you hit a really good shot down that right-hand side, you’ll get a forward kick, which will give you a chance to go for the green in two.
This is a lay-of-the-land green, sloping from front-left to back-right. Will Andersen said that the back-right pin is one of his favorite pins on the golf course, because you can throw it up on that left-hand side and the ball will funnel back there for a shot at a birdie or even eagle.
No. 7 – “Flush” Par 4 – 325 yards
The day Tad and I routed Landmand, I distinctly remember saying, “Before we get out of the front nine, we need to try to find a short, drivable par 4 and a short par 3.” We got up near the sixth green and turned right, and there was this magnificent valley. We pulled the rangefinder out, and lo and behold, there was an ideal green site about 300 yards away.
They had a hole-in-one here during the Mid-Am qualifier, and they also had a 10. It has one of the most severe greens on the course. Credit to Tad, he was very thoughtful in the execution of the different sections, and how you can utilize the contours away from the pin to pull the ball down toward the hole. It’s very MacKenzie-ish in that way.
On this hole, Jim Hartsell hit one of the best shots I’ve ever seen at Landmand. He was about 40 yards out, and there’s this big roll on the right-hand side. He played it on the ground the whole way, off the roll—which is nicknamed Pat’s Forehead after the superintendent—and stopped a few inches from the hole.
That was a design characteristic that Tad and I were hoping to see executed on the ground, where you could use the contours to play away and around the bunker, and then have it come down and lie dead at the hole. It was a thrill to see something that Tad and I had noodled over for a couple years actually play like that.
No. 8 – “Little Piggy” Par 3 – 105 yards
Landmand constantly keeps you off balance. You’ve seen a lot of grand holes with gigantic greens, and then here’s this little hole, about 105 yards long with an angled green that looks absolutely tiny. You’re standing on the tee and you’re like, “I’ve hit a lot of 100-yard wedge shots in my life, and I should be able to execute that shot.” If you do, you’re going to have a birdie putt. If you don’t, you could be in some serious trouble.
It’s a horizon-line green tilting from the front to the back, and it’s basically a gangplank. You see the windsock, and then the next thing you see is a hillside 1,000 yards away.
It’s the start of what Jim Hartsell nicknamed Cornfield Corner. No. 3 took you through the valley. Five, you’re up on the hill. Here at Cornfield Corner, you’re surrounded on three sides by an active farm. Which is what this golf course is: The farmer’s golf club.
No. 9. – “Hill” Par 4 – 455 yards
No. 9 goes steeply downhill, and has a large waste bunker that stretches from 10 tee over to 9 fairway. The only out of bounds line on the whole course goes along the right side. Some days you may want to challenge that OB, other days you may want to try to bite off some of the edge of that bunker. The green wraps around a natural ridge, so there’s a back lobe that’s protected and hard to access.
It’s a quieter moment. It’s one of the more gentle greens on the golf course, and an opportunity for a breather after some of the furious stuff going on in the past few holes.
Courtesy: Landmand GC
No. 10 – “Bowl” Par 4 – 405 yards
From the 10th tee, it looks like there’s this little sliver of fairway to hit, but on its own, as a singular hole from side to side, I think it’s the widest fairway on the course. You can even throw it up to the right of the fairway bunkers and benefit from a huge kick.
The punchbowl green sits down in a natural depression. We flashed the back of the green way, way up: If you look closely from the tee, you can catch a glimpse of the back of it about 10 feet higher than its floor. Once you’re in the punchbowl, the contours are straightforward, but the flashes up the side are as bold as anything I’ve ever seen on any punchbowl anywhere.
No. 11 – “Tree” Par 5 – 560 yards
There’s one tree on the entire golf course, and that’s your aiming point off the tee here. Then you’ve got a decision to make, because there’s a clover leaf-shaped green up there that’s reachable in two.
If you do want to lay up, there’s a little bunker in the middle of the fairway that you can hit over and up into this high left-hand side of the fairway, where you’re actually coming downhill into the green. It looks like there’s nowhere for that ball to go, but that fairway is forgiving on that lefthand side. You just gotta let it rip, and then you can play your third shot into that green.
Then from the green to the next tee, I have a lot of holes that I call my favorite green-to-tee transitions, but 11 to 12 is as good as anything out there. There’s a really cool walkway that Bruce and the guys built through the bunker—it walks you right out on the 12th tee.
No. 12 – “Top” Par 3 – 160 yards
This is the highest point on the golf course: You can see 13 holes, and it’s one of the crescendos of the round. You’ve got 155 yards to a green angled left to right: Very similar angle to No. 12 at Augusta National, but instead of Rae’s Creek, you’ve got a couple 20-foot-deep Jeff Bradley bunkers.
No. 12 was one of the most obvious golf holes out there before we started. This was one of the first places Will took us when Tad and I visited the site in May 2019. It just had to be a par 3, so part of the routing puzzle was figuring out how to get over to this point.
One of my favorite things about Landmand is the sense of anticipation that you get at different points in the round. When you look from 12 tee, you get a really great view of No. 17, the big Sitwell green, and then 18 in the distance. In the same vein, over the top of No. 12 green, you see No. 5 green way in the distance. To me, every time I’m there, I can’t believe that I’ve traversed that far across this landscape and made my way way out to this point.
No. 13 – “Arrowhead” Par 4 – 435 yards
In the interest of ebb and flow, 13 is a bit of a breather: Downhill tee shot swooping left to right, and one of the more subtle greens on the course. You can lay back off the tee and get a full view of the green, or if you want to be a little more bold with your drive and wind up with a shorter shot, you may be blind or semi-blind coming in.
It’s a choose-your-own-adventure type of hole, but you do need to be aware of the fall-off on the right-hand side and the two clusters of bunkers through the fairway that’ll help dictate a lot of the strategy and exactly how bold you want to be.
No. 14 – “Sidehill” Par 3 – 240 yards
This hole typically plays downwind, and combined with the gigantic Redan kicker on the right, it’s not as intimidating as it might seem on the scorecard. You’ve got a 16,000-square-foot green with maybe 3,000 of that actually pinnable, way on the left-hand side. If you play it out right, your ball is guaranteed to come down to that far left-hand side. It’s already had some dramatic moments in the tournaments they hosted. I believe they had a hole-in-one or two, and a couple that lipped out.
A lot of Redans don’t function like they’re supposed to. The ball never quite rolls out like it should. This one here fits right into the hillside, and the slope that Marc Burger built will carry that ball all the way down. To watch the ball roll on the ground for 50, 60 yards, disappear behind the bunkers, and then all of a sudden reappear right by the hole, it’s thrilling.
No. 15 – “Bin” Par 5 – 640 yards
No. 15 is almost always a true three-shot par 5. There’s a centerline bunker out there, a big, wide fairway. Ideal place is just to the left of that center bunker. If you can find that, you’re going to have the best angle into that green if you want to go for it in two.
Stepping onto the green is a treat. It’s the second biggest green on the golf course at 28,000 square feet. It’s got a massive trench through the middle of it, a front plateau and a back plateau. It’s sort of a modified Biarritz. The transitions between those different areas are massive and intimidating, and finding the right place on that green is huge.
No. 16 – “North” Par 4 – 470 yards
No. 16 is a reverse Cape hole, banks hard left to right, with a strong drop-off on the righthand side. There’s a central bunker in the fairway, and if you can challenge that right drop-off, you’re going to be rewarded with the best angle to the green.
This hole is totally wind-dependent. It’s the longest par 4 from the tips, but if the wind is behind you, you can get it up there pretty far and gun for a late birdie. Into the wind, it’s a stout, classic, strategic test where bogey won’t be a bad score at all.
No. 17 – “Big Gulp” Par 4 – 315 yards
The 17th is the one you’ve been staring at all day long. It’s the largest green in North America: 34,000 square feet. You’ll see it from the second tee box if you look behind you, just over your shoulder. Cresting the hill to No. 16 green, the horizon view is right into No. 17. Most of the time it’s going to play about 300 yards downwind, and the green has an infinite number of pin placements.
Alister MacKenzie had a famous drawing of the 14th hole at St. Andrews with four different routes. This hole has four or five different routes. If you want to be bold and go for it, you can. The high-left fairway just bleeds right into the central plateau of the green, and if you can get there, it’s an easy second shot. But that brings in all sorts of trouble off the fairway. The lower right side is easier to access from the tee, but offers a harder approach. Of course, the green is a flat-out tribute to MacKenzie’s famous Sitwell Park green that’s no longer in existence.
No. 18 – “In” Par 5 – 565 yards
Landmand has one last shift for you. You come off the big grand tee shot at 17, and here we strung the tees out on a ridgeline, down low, and you hit out over this Himalayas bunker on the right-hand side to get the ideal line. There’s a real conceal-and-reveal aspect here. You know what’s coming once you get over that ridge, but as you wind your way around that bunker and take in a full view of the Milk Carton bunker and the 18th and first fairways, it’s a take-your-breath-away moment. The scale of the bunker on 18 is hard to believe, and hard to describe unless you’ve been there. If you take a bold line out over that right-hand side and get a strong forward kick, you’re going to have a chance to take a crack at this green.
Green angles right to left, and it accepts long irons and woods. With the wind behind you, firm conditions, downhill landing area, you could have a mid-iron or even shorter into this green. As Bryce Andersen said in his flyover, “Did you come all the way to Homer, Nebraska, to lay up?”
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