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Made by a Farmer By Ben Vigil (cover photo by Andy Johnson, The Fried Egg)

It's impossible to tell the story of Nebraska without discussing its long history of farming. Generations of farmers have made the Cornhusker state what it is today.

Golf also has a long history in the state, dating back to the 1800s. Countless golf courses across Nebraska border cornfields, and many see those same farmers hitting the links after their work is done.

The Andersen family from Dakota City has combined their two pursuits to create a golf experience unlike any other. Landmand Golf Club is the newest golf venture in the state, and it will bring breathtaking views and 18 holes of pure golf.

The Danish heritage of the Andersen family is the inspiration for the name of the new course, which will be located just north of Homer in northeast Nebraska, about 90 minutes north of Omaha. Landmand, pronounced "Lan-man," is Danish for "farmer," so yes, it's Farmer Golf Club.

Bryce Andersen and his son Will have been in the golf business for several years, building Old Dane Golf Club in 2012. Will designed the nine-hole course in their hometown of Dakota City. That was just the beginning.

In 2015, the idea of an 18-hole golf course on their farmland took shape. They reached out to several different architects before a challenge from a friend caused Will to take a stab at one of the hottest names in the industry. Will's friend told him there was no way he could get King-Collins Golf Course Design to consider the project. He took the challenge and sent Rob Collins an email, and the very next day he was on a phone call with him and his partner, Tad King. They were out for a site visit within two weeks.

King-Collins is most known for their work at Sweetens Cove Golf Club in Tennessee. The duo turned a flat, seemingly boring and bland nine-hole golf course into one of the most raved about designs in modern golf.

The land King-Collins will have to work with north of Homer is anything but flat and boring. From the lowest point on the course (No. 17) to the highest (No. 11 green), there is about 150 feet difference in elevation. Will said one of the highest points will be the location of the clubhouse, which will be modest. The building will be somewhere around 35 by 35 feet, but will feature a 360-degree porch to enhance the view. At 1,380-feet above sea-level, patrons will be able to see three different states, Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota.

The key is to make Landmand a golf-haven, where playing the game is the main focus. Will said the clubhouse will feature a small golf shop and a bar, where players can have a drink or two after their round, but the focus is on the golf course.

Unlike the land that borders it to the south and north, the Andersen's land off South Bluff Road is essentially treeless. Will's grandfather, Leo, cleared most of his land of trees to make way for farming, and this was one of the last pieces of land he cleared in the 1970s. The land hasn't been used for farming in more than 20 years, but it was the location of Bryce and and his wife Luanne's first home.

King and Collins traveled to Nebraska in May to check out a few possible locations on the Andersen's land. One of those was just off the Missouri River, but with the wet year and flooding issues of 2019, it didn't present as a great spot for a golf course. Instead, their eyes were drawn to the hills to the west.

It was sort of like a magnet up in the hills, we just kind of pointed up in the hills and said 'let's go up there and see what you have up there,'" Collins said.
"We drove up and when we got to the top, to the apex of the hill, we looked across the property and it was just, wow, this is where the golf course is going to go," King said.

The duo had been to Nebraska before, to play Sand Hills Golf Club, and they were also considered to design a course at Dismal River Club, both in Mullen. However, they were pretty shocked to find what the eastern part of the state had to offer.

We were pretty familiar with that side of the state (the Sandhills), but neither one of us had spent much time over here," Collins said. "When we got up in the hills up there, it was really quite jaw-dropping. It's got a little bit of the Sand Hills look to it, it looks like a links course in Ireland or the Sandhills, it's just this very raw, natural, tumbling landscape."
The site of Landmand Golf Club north of Homer, Nebraska (Photo courtesy of Andy Johnson, The Fried Egg

The golf course will measure around 7,075 yards from the tips, and will play to a par of 73. The greens are certain to cause some shock and awe, with the smallest estimated at 2,500 square feet. That's the par-3 eighth hole, which measures in at just 110 yards. Compare that to the behemoth 17th green, which will stretch across 40,000 square feet. The hole is just 310 yards and the giant target is sure to entice some big swings from the tee.

A mock-up of the King-Collins design at Landmand Golf Club (Image Courtesy of King-Collins)
The 17th green is going to be nearly an acre in size," Collins said. "It's going to be based on a famous, old Alister MacKenzie green that's no longer in existence at a golf course called Sitwell Park in England, and it's kind of a white whale in golf course architecture circles. It's something that people have always wondered if anybody would ever try to do a green like that. Well, we're going to do that out here, and you can do it out here, because the land is bold enough, and it will allow you to attempt something like that."
The 40,000 square foot 17th green at Landmand Golf Club, bottom, next to the green on No. 1, top right. (Image Courtesy of King-Collins)

Variety is what King and Collins focused on with their design. Short par-5s, long par-5s, par-3s of varying lengths. Landmand has it all.

There's just tons and tons of variety," Collins said. "(The holes) are all intermixed in a way that it has a nice ebb-and-flow in it, up-and-down, and push-and-pull to it. It doesn't just slam you over the head for five or six holes straight, it'll absolutely kill you for a hole or two, and then give you a break, and then put the pedal down again, its got this nice flow to it."

King said golfers will be faced with something different on every hole, and also each time they play the course. He also said the views will be memorable.

"It's a 580-acre parcel, and even though it's such a large parcel, the way it's routed is you can see long views of a lot of golf, and there's two hubs of golf that really standout," King said. "It's got wow factor written all over it."

Another goal was to make the golf course walkable. Though players will be able to take carts, Collins said the course won't wear them out if they decide to walk. It was also important to the architects to consider the unrelenting wind in Nebraska, especially with the exposed land at the top of the hill.

It was very important to have holes played in each direction, and every direction, and not back and forth, so you're always into it the wind or with it," King said. "You've got it coming at you from everywhere, and we want that, we embrace that. Also, due to the nature of the wind, there's a lot of width in the fairways. We don't like to lose golf balls, that's one of our mantras."

King and Collins have received a lot of praise of their work at Sweetens Cove. They've been considered for several other high-profile projects, and they just recently opened a new nine-hole course in Accord, New York, which is already being dubbed "the back-nine" with its similarities to Sweetens Cove. However, they still see this opportunity in Nebraska as their big break.

We've looked at some really good sites, and been close to some really good projects over the last four years, you know, this one here in Nebraska is really our breakthrough," Collins said. "This is the proverbial big-one that Tad and I have dreamt about for many years. We've been wanting to get our hands on a site like this, and the Andersen's gave us our big break, really. This is the real deal, and we're pretty pumped about it."

The construction process began just a few days ago, when King and Collins arrived on site, and the dirt started moving. The Andersen's purchased all of their own equipment, straying from the normal tradition of renting. Will said renting can be very expensive, and at the end of it, nothing is owned. So, purchasing the equipment made sense for the family, which will also use it on their farmland, and it also helps King-Collins know exactly what they will have at their disposal.

The goal is to open in June of 2021, but that assumes everything goes exactly as planned. Other factors could change that date, including the unpredictable weather in Nebraska, but Andersen hopes to be seeding by next September and open for play by the following summer.

Landmand will be a public golf course, but will have a membership option as well. Andersen said he expects a round with cart to cost around $75, unless you're a guest of member, which will drop the price to about $50.

We want to have a balance on the rounds, and get enough to keep the place profitable, but also keep the quality of the golf course high," Andersen said. "We think that will be around 80 rounds a day, or a shade under that."

Andersen said there is a possibility of adding some cabins on the ridge up to the clubhouse and some stay-and-play packages, but that is down the road a ways. For now, their goal is to just get the golf course going and he's very excited about the crew he has to get that done. He said King and Collins are "passionate" and "down to earth."

As the land goes from pasture to links, the golf world awaits to see what the farmers can bring to the table.

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