Episode 3 - Valentine & Prairie Club

Secret Golf's Steve Elkington and new correspondent Diane Knox travel to Valentine, Nebraska and play the Prairie Club.

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NARRATOR: On this episode of Secret Golf, we travel to the heart of America and become smitten with a spectacular golf destination.

- That is absolutely gorgeous.

ANNOUNCER: Despite its fetching backdrop, there is no love lost during the secret smackdown.

- Oh, it's on! Keep going! I knew it!

ANNOUNCER: And we had a little heart to our secret golf team. All this and more as we fall in love with--

- Nebraska!

ANNOUNCER: Secret Golf is rolling your way.


- Oh, oh, oh!

THEME MUSIC: It's Secret Golf, it's what I'm looking for. It's why I get up every morning, call my good-timing friends. What keeps me coming back for more is Secret Golf. We're headed down the road--

- You point it towards their toes up there.

THEME MUSIC: --we just loaded--

- Hey, Billy! Welcome!

THEME MUSIC: --the big show--

- -- is that way.

THEME MUSIC: --for the heart and soul.

- Oh!

THEME MUSIC: -- Rolling 'til the wheels fall off, is Secret Golf.

- Shh, it's a secret.

NARRATOR: Imagine a place where golf is pure and becomes one with the terrain, where world class golf is accessible to all. No need to imagine. Welcome to The Prairie Club.

- Well, we just wanted to, to have an experience where we're not telling you where to go. We're not telling you what to do. You just have this serenity and-- and this peacefulness on the golf course that you can't get in many areas. There is nothing out there, and-- and it's just pure. It's-- it's you and a golf ball.

- The design was striking. Just looks real inviting. Looks like you just want to get out there and play golf.

NARRATOR: The heartbeat of The Prairie Club lies in its three completely unique golf courses in one breathtaking location.

- It's unbelievable that you could put these golf courses this close together and yet have them so different, and yet they're that good.

NARRATOR: In an area spanning roughly 2,500 acres, providing the avid golfer with an experience unlike any other is the driving force behind The Prairie Club.

- We started construction in May of 2008. Uh, we actually finished construction that same year. To accomplish 46 holes in six months is-- is a very, very daunting task.

But it also comes to the fact that, you know, we didn't have the dirt work to move. It's a natural landscape. It is a natural, um, piece of canvas, if you will, for the architects.

NARRATOR: At a place where out of bounds is defined by barbed wire fence on land where the course was discovered, not built, it's no wonder the Pines and the Dunes are rated in "Golf Digest's" top public courses.

- You can stay on this property, um, for two or three days and don't feel like you play the same golf course ever. The-- the Dunes and the Pines alone are completely different. And then the Horse Course on top of that is one of the most fun experiences you can have in golf, it really is. And I think that, in combination, is that unforgettable experience.

- We going with jeans today?

- Hey!

- Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!

- Good morning. Steve Elkington.

- Steve Elkington, Roger Brashear.

- Roger, Ross Buckendahl.

- Shook his hand. Roger shook his hand. And all of a sudden he--

- Oh!

- Oh, we're going! We're going! I knew it! Shirts off, Steve! We don't mess around!

- We call him 'em a bear hug.

- When you're in doubt, know 'em over.

- Ain't wrestling unless your shirt's off in Nebraska.

- Now, you're--

- I'm the grass guy. He's the GM, but he is, used to be, a grass guy.

- Got it.

- Bill, and you're a grass guy?

- Pretty much. Plenty of smack talk already here. We also have a secret smackdown, which is no more than just a match.

And we have chosen three holes of your course to show off to the world-- a par three, par four and a par five. We're going to play you two guys. You're going to tee off. We're going to take your best drive. We call that a scramble format.

They're both great. Roger, being the greenskeeper, he knows, of course, the best, probably, because he's out there every day. And he's got a line for everything. That's awesome. And he has fun.

- Smackdown? Are you kidding me? I've waited-- I've trained my whole life to beat Steve Elkington in golf.

Uh, Mr. Elkington-- Steven Elkington? PGA champion? Is that correct? I didn't see it.

NARRATOR: Nestled among the rolling sand hills of Nebraska lies a small town with a big spirit.

- Valentine's, uh, it's a great community, it-- it really is. The people are absolutely phenomenal from top to bottom. Um, it's ranching community.

There's plenty to do. There's a lot of outdoor activities. You know, you float down the Niobrara River. There's a lot of hiking trails, a lot of biking trails. Uh, but the community itself is-- is one of those that you help each other out, you know, at-- at all costs.

NARRATOR: A place where the air is pure, the people are friendly, the pace is slow, and you don't have to lock your doors. That small community of just over 2,800 people is "The Heart City."

- I think it's the attitude of the people. They're so friendly. They're so fun.

They, they've just embraced living out here. They said, you know, we like it here. You know, we don't care that the cell phones don't work, we don't get all the TV stations. They like being outside, and there's a certain peace to that.

- Number one on the Dunes course, par four, uphill, "all you can eat," as we say.

- Come on, big sexy.

- I'm not scared.

- Are those, are those steel-toed boots you got to play in? Oh, they are steel-toed. I was joking.


- Yes, look at that.

- That's pretty much perfect.

- Straighter than train smoke. All right, uh, Ross?

- I'm going to try the same thing.

- I think you should be scared.

- Oh, that's really nice.

The second shots, we were down on the right side. We had a blind shot in.

You both finished where we didn't want it.

- I may not be able to beat this team. It's only blind once. Once you've played it, then it's all here anyway.

Oh, we went for the old, the old stab right at it.

- Stabby.

- Oh, he said don't go right.

- He'll be OK.

- That's kind of vicious! I mean, you guys didn't really tell me that that--

- It was that false run.

- Fa-- yes. See, I didn't hear anything. There was no--

- I can't give everything to you.

- There was no false run talk back there.

- You got to have an advantage of some sort, right? I mean, that's-- that's all we have. We have to use everything we can at this point.

Tell you what, you handled it real good.

- Wow.

- Good putt. Very nice.

- Tell you what, that one's not bad either.

- Ooh, whoops.

- That's why he cashes checks on Sunday.

- Like honey, out of a jar.

- Jar.

- All around good putt, sir.

- Oh! Aced that.

- Too easy.

- We have a new member of our Secret Golf team, Diane Knox.

- Yes.

- Sister to Russell Knox, PGA tour player, tournament winner. One of the only few Scottish champions we have on the PGA tour.

- Yeah. World Golf champion in Shanghai last year. Won the Travelers a couple of months ago. So yeah, he's-- he's having a great time.

- You had a different life before you decided to join your family in [INAUDIBLE]. You were a radio personality.

- Yes.

- Tell us about that a little bit?

- So, I worked on the radio in Scotland for 12 years. I had my own daytime show on-- it's a station called Clyde 1 that was based in Glasgow. Then my show was moved to All of Scotland, which was amazing. And with that brought a lot of opportunities to do some fantastic things, host some events, and--

- None bigger, of course, than being on the Secret Golf team.

- This is the pinnacle of my career so far. This is it, so, um-- yeah. Moving, I'd wanted to move to Florida. I'd been apart from my family for 12 years, and just felt it was time to spend a-- a bit more quality time with them.

- We're going to introduce you to the show in a number of different ways, and we're not sure exactly which way that is yet. But I think people will agree with me that we'll-- our show will maybe gather a little bit of sex appeal and a little bit of, um, let's call it, uh, color.

- This is what the bulls do, the male elk, they--

- So we might hear this tonight?


- It's--

- Wow, that was amazing.

- We never know what's going to happen on the Secret Golf show.

- That's good. This is what I love so much about it.

- Oh my gosh! Now we're backwards!

- We're going--

- Oh my gosh!

- Predictably unpredictable.

- Yes. Spontaneous.

- Diane's freaking out!

- Yes.

Diane, as the latest member of Secret Golf team, you can't just roll up in America from Scotland and just wear anything. I've got a guy down here, Mike Young. He's got the best Western wear in the whole United States. We're going to come down here and get you some decent gear to wear.

- So wait a minute. You're going to give me fashion tips?

- Exactly.

Oh, yeah!

- Oh, yep.

- Mike!

- Elk!

- How are you, mate?

- What's going on? Good to see ya.

- I've got a new customer, Diane Knox.

- Hello.

- Oh, man.

- Nice to meet you.

- Diane, nice to meet you.

- Mate, she needs a bit of help. She's just come in from Scotland.

- Let's dress her up.

- Apparently, I don't dress properly to be living in America now.

- Oh, you're looking fine to me, but I'll show you what we got. Let's just get you started with these.

- Great! Let's go!

- Let's do it.

- Ta-da! Might be a little too-- too much?

- I think it's too much.

- Too much?

- Too much.

- Pew! Pew! You told me to be more American! I love this. I love this shirt!

- Le-- definitely our number one choice so far.

- They're getting better, I think, Mike.

- I like these boots the best!

- The boots?

- Elk, I think she's got her hat on backwards though.

- Yeah, I think you might have.

- Do I?

- Yeah, you do. There you go. That's better, yeah.

- Yeah, now that--

- I'm learning! I'm learning!

- Oh, yeah.

- Yeah.

- Yeah?

- That's the one!

- Now we're talking.

- This is better?

- What do you think about the hat, Elk?

- Hat's out.

- Really?

- Lose the hat.

- Lose the hat, let's go.

- Let's go.

- Oh, OK.

NARRATOR: When it comes to grass, turf guy Steve Elkington relishes the chance to talk shop with a couple Nebraskan agronomists.

- I'm real inquisitive when it comes to talking to guys that are real agronomists, where I can learn things about the grasses. The playable fescue, it's-- it's a combination of grasses, seeds?

- There's five types.

- So is it almost like these seeds germinate at different times of the year so you keep having a playable surface?

- It's a different type. They're thicker blade. They're thinner.

- Some's a creeping. Ones like a Johnstown, so it's--

- So it's like a little, uh, mini mutual fund?

- Exactly.

- Covers the whole show?

- Exactly.

NARRATOR: Every golf course is different. In fact, every hole on every golf course is different. So maintaining a championship caliber golf course takes a mix of arts and science.

- Actually, the grasses we have on the Pines and the Dunes are the exact same. And people don't realize that most of the time, because it's two different worlds, you know.

- And it's propagating itself. The wind's just throwing the seeds out. Throwing the seeds out.

- 100%. 100%.

- Sits in the sand. Gets stuck in the sand. Perfect, right?

- Until it blows away now.

NARRATOR: The overall goal of golf course agronomy is to maintain the property in pristine form, no matter the elements or demand.

- The sheer magnitude of the property is something that is, can be very overwhelming. The acreage is big. Uh, the elements are big. Everything's big here.

- Came into town, they had one of those big wind, wind catchers. That kind of answers the question whether it blows here.

- Oh, yeah? Yeah.

- Pretty good, huh?

- It blows pretty good.

- Yeah?

- I would say the biggest challenge is definitely the weather. Um, you know, the rain, the snow, the wind, the, you know-- yesterday it was 91 degrees. You know, it's 60 today. So it's-- it's not a typical property.

NARRATOR: And residing in the town with only 2,800 people, finding the right staff to outfit this large undertaking poses a challenge in itself.

- We're always up for help if you want to come back.

- Probably not going to-- probably--

- That's not--

- Probably not in my mood. But, uh-- unless it gets caught in my cashmere, you know.

- This is the second hole of our smackdown.

- What are we looking at here?

- Looking at a par five. Um--

- That--

- We'll be playing 550 yards from here.

- That is absolutely gorgeous. Do you have your name on your ball?

- Yeah.

- You, you sign your own ball?

- Well, in case anyone wants, you know, autographs later, I don't have to take time.

- It says "Jubby?"

- Yeah.

- Jubby.

- Jubby.

- Yeah.

- Well, yeah. That's what my third wife used to call me.

- Jubby.

- Yeah.

- Yeah, got it.

- I'm going to maybe put this into top gear.

- You kind of rip it, don't you?

- That's right.

- Fierce competition at this point. I mean, I'm, oof, I'm, oof, I am really in on this now.

- Good.

- They're called bunkers, but bor-- most are blowouts. They're blowouts. I mean, cattle started them, basically. Uh, we finished them off.

Boom goes the dynamite!

- Well, someone in our team might have killed a "bunker face?" I don't know who that was. It could-- it was probably me.

- Didn't quite get the air that I wanted. And there's, um, kind of some mushrooms, if you will, in the middle of these bunkers. And this one was fairly large, and I hit it directly about three feet off the ground and it was a large thud.

- Oh, great shot.

- Holy sod, Batman.

- It carries.

- Blowing, isn't it? Oh!

- Oh!

- Very nice.

- We'll take it.

- Very nice!

- Get that thing to get up there.

- Oh!

- That's a maybe.

- Oh--

- There it is.

- --no!

- Nice.

- Caddy, get that ball for me?

- Caddy, get that ball. Oh, you know what, he's-- he's telling you.

- No. You got to get your own ball.

- No, get your own ball.

I can skip this ball up there if I wanted to, or I could make it go-- I could fly it. As you can see from here, you know, it's-- it's-- it's up on-- on a little ridge, right?

- Uh-huh.

- That's the, that's the shot. What we're looking for here on the low ones, we've got to keep that lean on that shaft there, right? So many people-- so, you know, there's no-- that handle cannot come back. It's got to have a lot of lean on it because we got 55 degrees here. And we want to hit it low, so we're going to make it go in, I don't know what the height will be.

For example, if I, if I wanted to go lower, I'd have more lean, or I would have-- just choose a different club. But the reason I take the wedge is I wanted, I wanted to have some spin on it. So I want to pinch it.

Again, the big enigma of-- of golf here is-- is people say I'm going to play this off my right foot, and-- and the big thing that I've talked about for years is, it's not. It's always off the left foot, but the position of the right foot creates an illusion. If I cut my leg off, it's under my left foot, right? Right under my armpit here.

- Yep.

- OK. So if I put my right foot back here like a driver, I would have a lot of weight distribution. No good for the pitch, so I've got it up there close. And I-- I-- I use a lot of pivot. I mean, I pivot a lot.

I want to use my body. People say, um, you know, use your hands and arms. But I-- I want to drive that with my pivot. Get that thing to get up there.

Now, if I wanted to take all that out with this 60, 60 degree, I'm going to play it totally different. Of course, it's more risque. I'm still going to play that ball up here. I'm still pivot driven, but I'm not going to have it near hardly any lean so I can throw it up and take out all the, all the hill.

- All the hill.

- Gotcha now.

NARRATOR: Every year in the fall, Valentine becomes a place where adventures are endless, the scenery is pristine, the critters come out to play, and where Steve Elkington, along with Diane Knox, explore the great outdoors.

- Where we in right now?

- This is Fort Niobrara, National Wildlife Refuge.

- How big is this reserve?

- This is 29,000 acres.

- We were hosted yesterday afternoon by Jim over at the, at the reserve, and he was very knowledgeable.

- This is where the elk originated from in this country. They originally were a plains animal, and they roamed all this prairie. And then as man encroached, that pushed them into the mountains. A lot of people don't know that.

- So the migration started here?

- Uh-huh. Right in the middle of the country. They were a plains animal.

- Oh.

- Oh, we're getting into a little prairie dog town area.

- Are we?

- There may be some prairie dogs. Oh, it's a badger! It's a badger!

- Do you see it, Diane?

- It's a badger.

- See him right there, looking at us?

- Oh, he's on the move.

- He's beautiful.

- Yeah.

- He's just hanging out.

- Yeah. He's not worried about it, is he?

- Well, the critters are cooperating today.

- Yeah.

NARRATOR: After a playful jaunt with the critters, Elk and Diane floated their great outdoors adventure downriver.

- Whoa!

- In Australia, this is our, this is our form of transportation.

- That's right.

- I'm going to conquer the Niobrara!

- When we arrived at the kayak place, I genuinely thought we would be kitted out in wet suits and waterproof boots and life jackets. And then they were like, no, there's your kayak. You're going out with him. Go for it.

Being in a kayak with Elk, thinking I was going to be a little bit [INAUDIBLE]. He's like, trust me. I'm an expert. But he gave me a few lessons. We had a bit of rhythm going. We got stranded. We got marooned on the sand, which he blames me for.

- Diane, she ran me aground, just for the record. She ran me into a sand dune.

- Hey, Shane?

- Yeah?

- Diane got us, uh, marooned on this gravel, graveled edge here.

I'm glad it wasn't an oyster bed. In Australia we might have punched a hole in the canoe. It was very dodgy there for just a minute or two.

- But to be honest, I think he took his eye off the ball and he knows that he made a mistake.

- Hole four, number three of the smackdown.

- Oh, gorgeous, gorgeous hole.

- Yeah. It is tough though. It is a lot of, a lot of moving parts. There was a lot of stuff going on.

- It's a huge green. [INAUDIBLE] happen to me in the front, which was good. It plays a lot shorter-- I think about 140 yards, maybe, into-- into a wind.

Man, that had a nice sound to it. Get down! Holy cow.

- Oh, no!

- No, no, no! No punch trench.

- Whoa!

- Be good.

- Whoa!

- That's straight at it! Oh!

- Whoa!

- Whoa!

- Well, we had the honors. Ross knocked it a little, what, about 12 feet past up on the hill? Not the best shot, but it worked out for us since they're still looking for my ball.

- Yeah. Hit a good shot. Put the pro spin on it, which kind of psyched him out a little bit.

- The pro spin. Secret Golf.

- Secret Golf.

- Secrets of golf.

- Secrets of golf.

- A whole secret deal.

- Oh, very nice.

- Thanks very much.

- Over the hump.

- Boy, that breaks a lot worse.

- There it flattens, but OK.

- You were right, that was ugly-ish.

- There it is.

- There-- there she was.

- There's that guy, huh?

Had the match right there when we had him destroyed, right where we wanted him.

- We've done our three hole smackdown and we're tied. And we've talked about this when we started on the practicing, we want to go over to the [INAUDIBLE]-- what do you call that? It is a mini course?

- The Horse Course.

- Horse Course.

- The Horse Course?

- Yeah, it's called the Horse Course.

- And which is where-- where we you-- you get to pick a-- a shot. And we're going to settle this once and for all over there.

Wow! This is unbelievable. This is the Horse Course?

- This is the Horse Course, yes, sir.

- Look at the funk! Look at the funky bounces you can get.

- Going everywhere.

- But basically, this is just-- it's like a gambling course.

- This is the gambling course.

- Well, at this course they have the most unique experience for the players who come here. It's like a 10 hole, do whatever you want, horse course. So you can challenge your partner or your friend to, let's play from here. We're not going to go to that one, we're going to go over here. And you got to go to that pin, and we're going to go through that dipsy do, and we're going to go over that, et cetera.

I think because I have the honor from-- from winning the last deal, I want to play this hole for the-- to see who--

- To see who wins.

- See who wins the--

- Well, that makes sense, since we can't get over there.

- Nearest the pin wins the match.

- Uh-oh.

- Uh-oh.

- Uh-oh. Uh-oh. Uh-oh!

- Aw.

- OK.

- OK, big--

- Pros one.

- We're looking for a big bounce.

- Directors are grounding zero, and it sits there.

- Uh-oh. Snake River Canyon?

- She gone.

- Why am I so strong?

- I thought I was able to hit a pretty good shot in there, and the boys just kind of-- they didn't, they didn't, they weren't up for it. They might have been tired at that point, and both hadn't have eaten.

- Strong like a bull.

- Well, congratulations.

- Well, I want to thank you guys.

- Yes, thank you.

- Roger, Ross, vice versa, either way.

I'm always surprised when I go on Secret Golf outings. I very much enjoyed the prairies that I'd heard so much about. And just the-- it's the sheer size of this part of the country. And everyone we've spoken to, they all say, well, what did you like about it?

- I like the open spaces. I like the big horizon. And I love the diversity of wildlife we have. We're in that middle part of the United States where four different ecosystems are all kind of blending right here.

NARRATOR: As Elk made his way through this majestic, wind-kissed sand hill, his adventure would not have been complete without a stop at his newest Valentine.

- Anytime you can get someone here and show off this property, that's-- that's a great thing.

- Yeah, we like it here. And Secret Golf's given us, like, a five stars for Nebraska. We really, uh, enjoyed having, uh, some new blood on our show with Diane. We probably had our two best fun guys on the show. We go to speak a little agronomy. Um, and we got to do my favorite thing in the world, which is get outside and see the critters.

Look where I am right now. I'm on the river. I'm at a picnic grounds. I've got full color. I got zero humidity.

I got one of the best golf courses in the world-- 36 holes with a chipping course right on it. I mean, boom. I can do, I can do, uh, Valentine.

ANNOUNCER: On another episode of Secret Golf, Steve Elkington heads to the Wild West streets of Deadwood, South Dakota, where rules don't apply.

- I heard you're the quickest draw in town.

- That's what they say.


ANNOUNCER: On a course known for its colorful characters.

- Who's Poker Alice?

- Poker Alice is a legendary character from the Old West who was a cigar smoking, gun toting, poker player that--

- You know her?

- --Played throughout town.

- You know her?

- I haven't met her yet, but I'm looking forward to meeting one like that. Does she ride a motorcycle, too?

ANNOUNCER: And settles a score the Wild West way.

- I heard you two fellas got a grievance. You know this is Deadwood, right? And you know how we do things here? We do that stuff in the street.

ANNOUNCER: Well, partner, you'll just have to tune in to find out what unfolds in Deadwood on another episode of Secret Golf.

Secret Golf with Steve Elkington has been a presentation of Secret Golf Incorporated.

- Shh, it's a secret.