Dismal announces second course


Sean Dudley

Tom Doak has been confirmed as the designer of the second course at the Dismal River club in the Nebraska sandhills. Adam Lawrence, who saw the site during a visit in May, reports on the project.

Dismal River’s second course, much mooted since current CEO Chris Johnston and his consortium bought the club last year, has finally been confirmed.

Tom Doak and his team from Renaissance Golf Design are in charge of the US$2.5 million project, which is being funded by an assessment on existing members. Don Mahaffey, builder and superintendent of the Wolf Point club in Texas, is designing the course’s irrigation system. Tiger Woods Design was widely rumoured to have been among the possible choices for the project.

Situated to the north of the existing course, and with holes on either side of the lengthy entrance to the club (which is itself 17 miles down a single track road!), the new course essentially occupies a north facing slope, running down to the Dismal River itself. The two closing holes will run along bluffs above the river.

Doak’s routing uses the higher ground above the entrance road for the first eight holes, before crossing the road for the downhill par four ninth, likely to be one of the course’s most spectacular. A ravine, running down to the river, will be a diagonal hazard for the tee shot on this hole, and continues down the right hand side for its whole distance.

After the ninth hole, a bridge will carry golfers across the ravine and to a long par five. As the course works its way down towards the river, the design team will need to deal with some areas that are damper than most of the free-draining Dismal property; owner Johnston and his staff will need to find a solution to the deerfly population that also inhabits this area.

Dismal’s existing course, built by Jack Nicklaus’s practice and extensively revised in the years since it opened, sits on wildly undulating ground. The property chosen for the Doak course, though still heaving, does not generally feature the same huge contours, and is likely to be an easier walk.


GCA’s October 2011 issue will feature the new course at Dismal River.