Landmand Golf Club - Homer, NE

When I first spoke to Will Andersen in May 2019, I could tell that he was serious. This was a real inquiry & a real opportunity. After touring the Old Dane & a piece of property on the Missouri River, Tad & I asked to go “up top.” We wanted to see the land that overlooks it all. After a few opaque references to the third parcel during our look at the first two sites, we weren’t sure what was in store for us. The second we pulled up to what is now the 18th green / 1st tee, we knew without a doubt that this was it. This was the big opportunity that we’d fought and scratched for our entire careers. The land was just on another level. Everything was magnified: the views, the contours, the boldness, and above all else, the potential.   It was the perfect opportunity at the perfect time for King-Collins.


After a few weeks, we came back out to work on a potential routing. The entire experience was surreal and unexpected. The site is 550 acres of fascinating holes in all directions. While it seemed daunting at first, the obvious starting and finishing point substantially narrowed our focus & made the task seem less overwhelming. Standing on what would become the first tee with a range finder in hand, we spied a nice looking ridge in the distance. Was it 1,500 yards away or only 1,000? Who the hell knew. Once you’re up top, your senses & ability to perceive distance will be the first casualties. The range finder, however, does not lie. That ridge was only 585 yards away. Ok. Whatever. That’s the first hole. A few minutes later, we were on what would become the first green. Which way next? To the right looks interesting. Let’s see what’s over that ridge. Turns out there is a massive downslope about 280 yards from the first green / second tee that kicks hard down toward another plateau and a perfect, peninsula green setting. Second hole done. To our left was a magnificent valley between two ridges that led to God knows where. Walking down that valley for the first time felt like wandering amongst massive sand dunes or was it the sensation of walking between a wall of skyscrapers? Probably a little bit of both. All we knew was that there was a really nice green setting about 470 yards from where we started and the character of the hole was entirely different than the two that preceded it. It went on like this for a while, until we were coming up to what is now the 6th fairway. We felt like we really needed to get a short par four and a short par three in before we finished the first nine. At the future site of the sixth green, another valley, to our right this time, revealed one of the most obvious holes on the course: the drivable par four seventh & the short par three eighth beyond (the latter of which shifted to a location on a ridge above the seventh after construction started, thanks to a helpful suggestion from Will Andersen). This really wasn’t supposed to be this easy. After wandering around a bit longer, we came to the site of the current twelfth hole, a 155 yard par three with views of thirteen holes. Along with the seventh, this was identified as an essential hole pre-construction & one we knew had to be in the final routing given that we spent time on that location during our first visit & had mentally flagged it for inclusion prior to commencing our first tour. Standing on the twelfth tee, we spied a massive hollow carved into a faraway hill. Could this be our opportunity to finally pay homage to the Good Doctor and his famous Sitwell green? Like the pull of the Death Star, we set our sites on making the routing wind in that direction. When we’d dip into a valley & lose site of it, there was a small sense of panic amongst both of us that we’d somehow lose it or it wouldn’t be there when we reappeared on the next ridge (now would be a good time to mention that Tad & I possess the 1A & 1B worst sense of direction in the world). Coming off the site of the current sixteenth, there it was again, just a hell of a lot closer this time. It was staring us in the face, but distance perception was still a huge issue. What kind of hole were we looking at? With a little help from the range finder, we were informed that the seventeenth would (thankfully!!) be a drivable par four with a green setting we estimated to be an acre in size. Demonstrating remarkable restraint, we reduced the size in the field to only 35,000 square feet of putting surface, which Ron Whitten has since dubbed “the Niagara Falls of greens.” A short distance away, we noticed a natural spine protruding at an angle away from what would become the Sitwell green. Standing on this exposed, little sliver of land, it was clear that we’d discovered the 18th tee. 200 yards away there was a ridge that didn’t know it yet, but was screaming for a Jeff Bradley bunker. Once that obstacle is cleared, it’s steep down the hill to the area from which one final decision must be made: do I lay up or take on The Milk Carton in pursuit of eagle? One small problem: we added up the holes at the end of our walk & realized we only had 16…maybe it wasn’t that easy! So, we got on the phone to Will and asked him if they owned the property out past the current 7th & 8th. He said they did own it and that, yes, we could put golf on it! Nicknamed “Cornfield Corner” by Jim Hartsell, the 9th & 10th were added to the other sixteen to reach the magical number. Interestingly, those holes have their very own unique feel but manage to pay homage to the way of life that is the ultimate reason the course is there in the first place.  Satisfied that we’d found eighteen distinctive golf holes, we presented our routing and were soon hired to begin construction, which began on 9.4.19.


The biggest challenge that we faced was clear from the beginning: the majority of those massive hills & slopes, while beautiful, did not represent true golfing ground. Unlike most of the “great” modern sites, massive amounts of earth needed to be moved to make a course full of the characteristics that we hoped to see in the end: walkability, strategy, variety in length & direction in all classes of holes (par 3s, 4s, & 5s), the ground game, etc. Ultimately, we wanted a course with eighteen distinctive yet varying holes. Thanks to the incredibly talented crew who put it all together, I can say that Landmand has exceeded my very high initial expectations. The dirt that was moved was expertly hidden, and the course feels as if it lays down into and over and across that awe inspiring landscape.


And to the crew who made it all happen, we cannot thank you enough. This team crushed it. Like totally crushed it. Jorge Soler game six ball that has yet to land crushed it.  Gus Grantham & Charlie Cheney moved essential dirt early on. Paul Mentikov kept the whole thing running. Marc Burger built a ton of incredible greens. Jeff Bradley built one awe inspiring bunker after another. Trevor Dormer, Dave Axland, & Jimmy Craig made huge contributions as well. John Ellsworth laid down some amazing dirt that helped it all happen. Lucas Beasley moved mountains to help get things in place. Bruce Schoeber, Benton Burger, Walker Simas, Matt Rouches, Liam Stevenson, David Sanchez, Jackson Murphy, Drew Laake & Eric Bruening all made essential contributions and helped infuse the golf course with many of the fine details that are so important to the final product.


As far as how I feel about it, I think about how I felt in 2011/12 prior to the Sweetens opening. We knew we had something special on our hands then, but there was a question of whether or not it would ever see the light of day. Right now, I multiply the feeling I had early on in my gut about Sweetens by about 1,000x and that’s how I feel about Landmand. We cannot wait for everyone to get out there & experience it firsthand. The pictures don’t do it justice. You just have to go and see it for your ownself.


-Rob Collins