The North Bend Eagle


Dave Marxsen played 'em all
Dave Marxsen used a map and pins to show all 252 Nebraska golf courses he has played. He finished his final course in September.

Marxsen conquers state course by course

by Nathan Arneal
Published 10/12/16

There are approximately 233 golf courses in Nebraska.

Dave Marxsen has played 252 of them.

There’s been a few courses close since Marxsen has started keeping track – hence the number discrepancy – but as of Sept. 17, Marxsen has played every golf course in Nebraska.

He’s played courses that require shooting over a street (Omaha Field Club). He’s played courses with artificial turf for greens (Petersburg, Nelson, Sargent). He’s played courses with sand greens (about 13 of them). He’s played courses with cattle tracks on those sand greens. He’s played courses in actual cow pastures. (Morse Bluff– yes, he counts the temporary one set up for the Q125 among his total.)

Marxsen, 57, began his quest to play ‘em all about 20 years ago. He picked up the game when North Bend built its golf course in 1995. After a while, he decided to look for a new golfing goal after discarding the goal of having low scores.

“I’d come in and I’d practice and I’d practice and it seemed like I was still shooting the same score all the time,” Marxsen said. “I just thought if I’m going to shoot the same score, I just as well start playing a different course once in a while. At least there I have an excuse to not shoot really well.”

He heard about another person who had played every course in the state. Someone gave him a book that listed and described all the Nebraska courses. So he began checking them off, one by one, penciling in new courses in the margins that opened up since the book’s 1998 publication. He also kept track by sticking pins into a map of Nebraska marking the courses he’s played.

“There are some times where I played really lousy,” Marxsen said, “and I’d tell myself, ‘At least I can stick a pin in the map.’”

His first serious step toward his goal involved a trip to the northeast where he hit up Wakefield and Pender. After spending the night at Ponca State Park, he played Ponca, Hartington and Laurel the next day, some of it in the rain.

“Then when I really stared pushing it, I might hit five courses in a day,” Marxsen said. “Usually, nine-hole courses.”

His work schedule at ADM in Columbus gave him random days off, which helped him hit courses that were relatively empty in the middle of the week. That also meant he usually went alone.

“I might get in my Jeep late after work some night and take off and get out west and sleep, then in the morning figure out what courses I’m going to play from there,” Marxsen said. “It’s kind of hard to get somebody in the middle of the week to take off and go play 10 different courses out west.”

At first he was only doing the courses listed in his book. Then he saw a listing of sand green courses in the Omaha World-Herald that weren’t in his book.

“I thought, well, if I’m going to play all the courses, I got to play the sand green courses, too,” he said.

He had already hit up most of the courses in the far western part of the state. But now he had to return to hit the sand green courses he had previously skipped.

“I call that my tour of hell,” Marxsen said. “You drive all the way out to western Nebraska to play sand green courses. You get done with one and you know you have to go to another one. Most of them were all right. You know the town really wants a golf course if they’re going to mess with a sand green course.”

Sometime he’d show up at a bad time, maybe while the course was closed for a tournament or scramble. His story would help open doors.

“I’d show up and say, ‘Hey, I just drove 200 miles to play your course. I’m trying to play them all.’ They’d say, ‘Why don’t you stick around and we’ll get you on.’”

Some of the big and exclusive courses toward the end required connections and months of planning to get a tee time.

“You knew you better be ready to play in the rain because you’re not going to spend another two months trying to get lined up to play again,” Marxsen said.

He entered 2016 with just a handful of courses left. A five-hole sand-green course near Valparaiso. Lincoln Country Club. Dismal River. Tatanka Golf Club.
By this time family and friends wanted to tag along and help him finish up. Sometimes strangers he met at the course would come cheer him on as he teed off.

“When I go to a course and tell them what I’m doing,” Marxsen said, “I always say, ‘Keep in mind I love to play. That’s why I’m doing this. Not because I’m good at golf.’”

He planned to finish his journey Sept. 17 at Tatanka near Niobrara, a relatively new course. A party of eight friends and family accompanied him.

A week before the big day, Marxsen heard about a course he had missed in Petersburg, a four-hole course in the city park there. So the group swung by Petersburg and played four holes on its way up to Tatanka.

He’s driven through a lot of beautiful land as he visited all corners of Nebraska. He’s met a lot of friendly people along the way. He even hit two holes-in-one. His game has gotten better with all the practice, he said, but some of that has been canceled out by the 20 years of age he’s added during his adventure.

“I’m glad it’s over,” Marxsen said. “I look forward playing a lot of the courses again, but not having to.”

However, he also admits it’s not really over. There’s a new course being built up near Valentine.

“We’re already making plans to go up there next year,” Marxsen said.



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