Couple of years ago now but we arrived in Denver, rented a Chev Tahoe and played Commonground, Bear Dance and The Ridge at Castle Pines. Bear Dance was the pick.
Stayed in Hawthorn Suites which was excellent value for money. We ate at sports bars and went downtown one night which was fun.
Then out to Ballyneal which was a highlight. Got talking to a few of the members, all very friendly. Stayed onsite. Great food and lodging but quite expensive (by Aussie standards). The big course was a gem, The Chop Hills are very very undulating so every hole is interesting. The little course, The Mulligan was great fun. and you could play it free anytime. So I went out at dusk one night and just played about 10 holes by myself. Awesome.
Next stop was Wildhorse at Gothenberg, home of the pony express. Stayed at Howard Johnson's typically luxurious digs and ate at the legendary Nebraska Bar and Grill followed up by a visit to the late night bar to mix with the locals. Loved Wildhorse. Very open and fairly flat but a stern test. Clubhouse had basic food only.
Head north to Valentine and the Prairie Club where we stayed in the lodge. Top quality and reasonable price. Both courses were enjoyable but while the Dunes was probably better than the Pines it is similar to others in the area.
You asked about the long drives. We just listened to music and rapped to each other. It was all new to us so a very interesting trip.
One of the roads was flooded so we had to go the long way around via Thedford (good general store) to Dismal River where we played the White/Nicklaus course. Its very hard but strategically sound and nice looking. Did not have time to play the Red/Doak but there are lots of good Doak courses and not so many good Nicklaus ones.
Next stop was the big cohuna - Sand Hills. What a course. Like getting in to a Mercedes after being in a Toyota. Every hole was outstanding, difficult but playable. At one point I think after the 2nd you are on this ridge and you can see forever. Amazing country the sandhills. Ben;s Porch had excellent burgers. As members for a day or two we had dinner in the clubhouse and experienced their superb food. And you have to try the Sand Hills Mule. The members were very welcoming. You stay in wee cabins down by the river Snake which are exactly the right level of comfort for the place. Basic but top quality. Understated would be the best way to describe SH. When you arrive they give you a cart which is for your use while there. Played the course twice for the price.
Onwards to Bayside which is a solid course on a windswept lakeside. Not the best we played but still worth it. Ogallala is a typical western town where we experienced a massive prairie storm, thunder and lightning, pretty awesome.
Back to Denver to see the US Mid AM at Colorado Club which was won by an Aussie Lukas Michel who is a mate of ours.
Two of us went up to the Rockies for a few days. Played Ironbridge near Aspen and Redlands Mesa at Grand Junction. Stayed in Glenwood Springs and ate at the CRH restaurant. Probably should have played Lakota too.
Course Ratings Sand Hills / Ballyneal / Wildhorse / Redlands Mesa / Prairie Club Dunes / Dismal River White / Bear Dance / PC Pines / Bayside / Ironbridge / The Ridge / Commonground (9 holes only).
All that took 2 weeks. Pure joy.