Golf at the Dismal River Club near Mullen, Neb., is part of an auction on
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Legends Erstad, Brown Teaming Up to Showcase Golf in the Sandhills

By None
Randy York's N-Sider 

To "Respond to Randy" click on the link below and choose "Randy York's N-Sider" under "Area of Interest" on the new screen. Whether you're bidding on golf in the Nebraska Sandhills or not, please feel free to share your thoughts on the idea. Don't forget to include your city/town/state with your comments.

A very good friend of mine is going to Wales, England and Scotland next month for 12 consecutive days of once-in-a-lifetime golfing. He lives on a golf course, and his well-planned trip has been a yearlong dream.

You can only guess what the price tag for something like that might be, even if this friend is absolutely masterful in his ability to cut costs.

I have a better idea for you and five friends. Bid on this golf auction, and all six of you will get a taste of what my friend will experience.

And here's the best news: To enjoy the Nebraska version of golf in Scotland, you can jump in the car, take a beautiful drive and play two 18-hole rounds with two of Nebraska's foremost athletic legends - Kris Brown and Darin Erstad.

As members of the Dismal, they've already booked tee times, lodging and dinner reservations for Sunday, July 18 and Monday, July 19, and just think, they're asking you to join them.

So many golf gigs are so much like the others, but not the one that we've put together on - an experience for six lucky fans to play back-to-back rounds at the Dismal River, a Jack Nicklaus signature course near Mullen, Neb.

Brown, the kicker for the Houston Texans, is Nebraska's all-time leading scorer in football with 388 points.

Erstad, an All-America Husker baseball player who was the punter on Nebraska's 1994 national championship football team, came up with the idea of a golfing vacation as a way to raise money for the Nebraska Athletic Department.

Million-Dollar Donor Helping Huskers Again

You may recall that Erstad and his wife, Jessica, donated $1 million to Nebraska Athletics for Memorial Stadium expansion in 2006.

Four years later, Erstad and Brown are joining forces to demonstrate a new way to donate. They're not only hosting the two-day golf experience as a jointly underwritten auction on, but also hoping that other former Husker student-athletes can use equally creative ways to donate themselves.

The auction began June 15 and concludes on Tuesday, June 29, at 2 p.m., so you'll have plenty of time to analyze, strategize and help push your fellow Husker fans.

"Kris and I will pay for two rounds of golf, one night of lodging and a big dinner on that Sunday night," Erstad said. "We were looking for new ways to help the Athletic Department, and we thought this trip to the Sandhills would be fun for just about any Husker fan."

Both base their confidence on a Lettermen's Club golf outing at Dismal River a couple summers ago. "Everyone just thought it was so memorable because the course and the surrounding area reflect the state that we've all grown to love, even if we weren't from here," Erstad said.

A native of Jamestown, N.D., Erstad was the first player picked in the 1995 Major League Baseball Draft and retired this year after spending 14 seasons in Major League Baseball. In 2000, he led the Majors with 240 hits while batting .355. Two years later, the two-time All-Star and Gold Glove winner won a World Series Championship with the Anaheim Angels. He had 1,697 career hits and a .282 career batting average.

A native of Southlake, Texas, Brown has kicked 252 field goals and scored 1,103 points in his 11 seasons in the NFL. In 2007, he kicked five field goals against Miami, including an NFL record of three field goals of 54 yards or more. The last of the five was a career-long 57-yarder with one second remaining to give the Texans a 22-19 win over the Dolphins.

In the dog days of summer, when both fathers of young kids can find time to relax, they see Dismal River as a quick getaway and good tonic for a worthy cause.

Dismal River Like Stepping Back in Time

The Dismal River Club has been described as links golf in its purest form - rugged, windblown, hard and fast. According to the Dismal's own marketing, the course offers elevated championship, member and forward tees that provide magnificent views in every direction, and the grand scope of the land makes each hole seem a universe all its own.

"The experience of arriving at the Dismal River site was like stepping back in time and seeing what the dunes of Northeast Scotland must have looked like a hundred years ago," Nicklaus is quoted as saying on the Dismal's website. "In every direction I looked, I saw great golf holes."

Trev Alberts, a Nebraska football captain in 1993 and now athletic director for the University of Nebraska-Omaha, was part of a sizable group of Husker letterwinners that came away from the Dismal experience rejuvenated two summers ago.

"The Sandhills have a way of changing your perspective. You feel so small out there," Alberts said. "The Dismal golf course goes on forever. You can't see civilization. You can't see the hole. You can't see people. You can't see houses. You can't see anything but beautiful, rolling hills and a sky that doesn't quit. You feel a little vulnerable. It would humble almost anybody. You realize how dependent those people are who live out there with the weather and the conditions. At night, it's the quietest place I've ever been, and the darkest place I've ever seen. I'd describe that golf course as pure, unspoiled serenity."

If descriptions from Nicklaus and Alberts don't motivate golfers to bid on this unique experience, the opportunity to play with two of Nebraska's greatest athletes, who also happen to be two of the Huskers' nicest guys, should provide incentive.

Using current prices for rounds of golf and lodging at the Dismal, plus dining, the value of the auction for six people is more than $3,000, and that's without having either legend in your foursome, at the clubhouse or sharing thoughts during dinner.

One Day with Brown, the Next with Erstad

"Kris will host one foursome, and I'll host another on Sunday, then we'll switch foursomes on Monday," said Erstad, who became even closer friends with Brown over the last two years when he played for the Astros and Brown was kicking for the Texans.

Brown will travel to Nebraska from Houston, and Erstad will join him from Lincoln. "The auction winners will have to get to the Dismal on their own," Erstad pointed out. "Once they arrive, we'll make sure they enjoy the experience. I hope whoever bids on this experience is as eager to help the Athletic Department as we are. We want to do anything we can to show our support."

Bidding for the two-day, one-night July 18-19 experience at the Dismal begins at $4,000 with minimum incremental bids of $50.

Erstad knows his first venture into an experiential auction will never carry the cachet of an anonymous donor who was inspired enough to bid $2.63 million this week to have a steak lunch with billionaire/philanthropist/ Nebraska fan Warren Buffett in New York.

But Erstad would like to think this unique outing is worth whatever money you're willing to spend to bring a bit of an expensive Scotland into the vastly underrated, and much more cost effective Sandhills.

My buddy heading to the birthplace of golf would love to play a course like this one.

"After seeing it online, I'll try to get there sometime anyway," he said. "It looks like a great experience."

Respond to Randy


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