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Standing on the green tee box, looking at the first hole, you might get the idea that Friend Country Club is a pretty wonderful place.

Standing on that first hole, you can see a lot of the course. Trees on the right beckon your ball, and the green is right there, 470 yards away.

A great way to start the day.

"I've played this course forever, and No. 1 is my favorite hole because there is so much promise – from a possible eagle three to a blowup eight," said Logan Betka, superintendent at the Friend CC.

"You can try and blast away and set up getting on the green in two with two really good shots," he said. "And you have those trees, very mature trees on the left, some on the right, and the water right in front of the green." And don't forget the bunkers.

"Feeling lucky? Go for it," he said.

Actually, the first of the gorgeous nine-hole dream of a course just 50 minutes south and west of Lincoln is just a primer.

Friend Country Club has been a community project of sorts since 1968. Designed by Richard Watson, who was involved in rebuilding Pioneers Golf Course in Lincoln in the 1990s, tended by the members, volunteers, and now full-time superintendent and Friend-native Betka, Friend CC is always listed among the best nine-hole courses in the state.

The reason is simple.

The membership cares and the golfers benefit.

From the No. 3 tee box, a crafty par 4, you can see the whole course, including the eighth and ninth holes, where the water comes into play again.

Betka, who worked at Tulsa's famous Southern Hills, the Beatrice Country Club, Southern Michigan and other courses, fell in love with the Friend Country Club. His predecessor at FCC, Andy Hamilton, is superintendent at the Beatrice Country Club.

"We still share a lot of information about the Friend Country Club, because it's a place that you never forget," said Betka.

The par 3, seventh hole is 195 yards from the tip and has the requisite bunkers on the right and left of the front of the green.

No. 2 looks simple enough from an elevated tee.

But boundaries to the left, trees on both sides of the fairway and the bunkers in front and back of the green make the 365-yarder a Rubik's Cube of a hole.

Former state amateur champion Dave Clouse, who grew up on the Friend CC course and still plays there, offered, "If you give it a try, you'll fall in love with the course."

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L Magazine editor

Mark Schwaninger is L magazine and Neighborhood Extra editor.

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