Bent Tree Earns Kudos

Bent Tree Golf Club, the new Scottish-style, golf community that opened in Council Bluffs, Iowa last August, became so popular so quickly that Phase 2 of the development has begun, a year ahead of schedule. ”The perception,” said managing partner Doug Wicks, is that the Jeff Brauer-designed semiprivate golf course “may be the finest layout in the Omaha metro area.”

The limit of 100 memberships has been reached, Wicks said, adding that 40 of the 44 house lots in Phase 1 have sold. The demand surpassed all expectations, especially since the region was mired in a drought last summer, causing water restrictions and hampering grow-in.

”Once the drought broke in October, the grass exploded and the course turned into a masterpiece,” said Wicks. “This spring we anticipate opening in perfect shape. Golfers will be surprised how much turf we has grown in since they last played.”

Golfers, and potential homeowners, may also be startled by the affordability of the golf ($35 a round). The course’s economical pricing is due to Brauer’s use of the existing land forms, and because Wicks performed much of the construction in-house.

This is actually a second life for the property on which Bent Tree sits, across the river from Omaha. Part of the site was once a homemade golf course called Field of Greens. Eighteen holes were squeezed onto land meant for nine holes, and the facility went bankrupt. Hills LLC bought the parcel and added land to its south. The new golf course totals 200 acres.

”It took me six seconds to decide we could build a golf course there,” said Brauer, president of Golf Scapes in Arlington, Texas. “It is very dramatic rolling farmland, with a number of terraces and wonderful native fescues and prairie grasses. Most courses in the area are pure housing. But the houses at Bent Tree won’t detract from the golf, which is compelling. It struck me immediately as a Scottish dunes-type course. It can be very, very windy, so it is designed to play like Scottish links. We purposely instructed them to keep it dry and fast running.”

In keeping with the Scottish feel, Brauer said: “I tried some new/old concepts here – old concepts, but new for me – such as bunkers in the middle of the 4th fairway, to force a choice off the tee.”

Working with loess soil, a wind-blown silt that “moves like butter,” Brauer said he carved both the 1st and 10th holes into a steep hillside, giving the 10th hole in particular that “Ballybunionesque feeling of enclosure.” The terraces, Wicks said, are “the theme of the golf course. Where they don’t interfere with play, we left them for aesthetics. Plus they add to the links style of play.”

For a Bent Tree tee time, call 712/566-9441

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