September 11, 2015 – Glimpses from Nebraska Highway 12 of the eagerly awaited Tatanka Golf Club amid the spectacular rolling hills of the region have drawn passersby seeking information.
“They realize just from looking that it is something unique for miles, not just some little golf development, but a dramatic 18-hole championship golf course,” Brian Burshiem, general manager at Tatanka said.
Tatanka, a Lakota word that translates to buffalo, will open Monday, Sept. 14, creating a new golf destination in northeast Nebraska for visitors to the Ohiya Casino Resort of the Santee Sioux Nation.
“The golf course will put the resort on the map and make its own name,” said Burshiem, who is planning special stay-and-play packages and expects the course to create as many as 25 new jobs. “It is a great add-on for the Santee Sioux Nation. They have a great casino, a great hotel and this is a great golf course.”
Golf course designer Paul Albanese, inspired by his research and the culture of the Santee Sioux Nation, has created what he calls a modern day gem that fits naturally on the land and integrates with the environment.
“Nothing is forced,” he said. “Nature has been respected in the design process, which is something very important to the Sioux and appreciated.”
Albanese said stories were discussed during construction with his team for the creation of every fairway, green and bunker.
“We took the history and the culture of the area and the Santee Sioux Nation and used it as a design inspiration in a subtle and respectful way,” he said. “We looked at the land forms and designed something that might reflect local stories. For instance, how a certain mountain looked and got its name was used. We used a story about a medicine woman as inspiration, too.”
Many of the stories include the great buffalo of the region, and in that regard Albanese took great care to make sure there was literal interpretation. In fenced in spaces very close to the golf course great buffalo roam.
“Depending on where the buffalo graze on a given day the golfer on a tee can be 10 yards from buffalo,” he said. “We routed the golf course close to them, especially Nos. 11, 12 and 13 and they will be part of the experience of playing Tatanka.”
Burshiem said, “golfers will go away talking about playing the course and seeing the buffalo up close, and the stories shared will beckon more golfers.”
Albanese compared the design and creation of the golf course to writing a book and said every hole is a chapter, with each one being an integral and unique part of the story.
“I change my mind every day on what chapter I like best,” he said. “Today, maybe it’s the par 3 fifth hole – standing on the green, it offers the most gorgeous views of the rolling hills, up to 40 miles. It’s unobstructed, no housing, just the land as it was 100 years ago – untouched.”
Another hole that will capture golfers attention Albanese believes is the 15th, a short par 4 that will beckon golfers to try and reach it with their driver on tee shots.
“There is a series of bunkers on the side of the hill that are rugged and rough protecting the green,” he said. “Golfers will choose the risk reward, play down through the valley or go for the green and challenge the bunkers. It will be exciting from a golf standpoint.”
Ohiya Casino Resort was the first casino in Nebraska, and was developed 17 years ago.