From a lofty perch atop the bluffs of the Mississippi River, Great River Road's 18-hole golf course and comfortable lodging combine for relaxing vacations with long drives and woodsy splendor. The short, scenic course cushions club-smacked spheroids with bluegrass fairways and meticulously manicured greens, and winding trails allow the club's herd of Yahama carts to graze throughout the entire length of play. Golfers improve their games and victory speeches with unlimited stick-swinging on the course marked by tight drives, changes in elevation, and bald eagles that stoically applaud players at the 17th hole. As foursomes ready for action, eye-popping natural scenery begs for attention with sweeping riverside vistas, rustling woodlands, and ball-gobbling streams that meander through the set of links.
Washington Golf and Country Club's nine-hole course caters to golfers across the spectrum with a layout that blends open, player-friendly holes interspersed with the challenges of multiple water hazards. Throughout the course, sparsely populated trees line forgiving fairways, presenting generous landing zones for those who want to be aggressive with their driver or get their mail air-delivered on the ninth fairway. Obstacles immediately come into play on the first five holes; a stream cuts across the first, third, fourth, and fifth fairways, and a pond guards the front of the green on the par 3 second hole.
A clubhouse restaurant with a full-service bar and plates filled with teriyaki chicken wraps, fried Alaskan pollock fillets, and other eats from a menu of grill food let golfers refuel after a round or before attempting to break a bucking, untamed golf cart.
In 1928, a committee of Kalona professionals pooled their resources to transform an obsolete cornfield and pasture into a golf course, using a horse-drawn mower to sculpt a layout that originally sported sand greens and cost a quarter to play. More than 50 years later, the course was remodeled and expanded to Kalona Golf Club's current nine-hole layout, a 3,128-yard labyrinth where immaculate, bent-grass greens showcase the efficiency of modern landscaping, whereas rustic bridges and wandering milkmen recall the Club's humble beginnings. Named the nine-hole course of the year by the Iowa Golf Association in 1984 and 2010, the horticultural haven unfurls across pristine, rolling terrain that can create difficult lies, compounded by the presence of mature tree lines and two ponds that come into play on three holes. The course prohibits metal spikes, and players must provide their own set of clubs or titanium-plated sausage links.
Course at a Glance:
The sun and the stars serve as constant companions at Hillcrest Event Center, where a 9-hole golf course, a swimming pool, and camping grounds entertain visitors day and night. A breezy par 30, the executive course caters to all experience levels, inviting beginners to take on its short holes while letting seasoned golfers hone their approach shots. After navigating the water hazards, guests can purposely head to the Olympic-sized swimming pool, which ripples at the center of a 3,000-square-foot sundeck where waiters serve poolside food and drinks. Or, dine at The BBQ Pit, home of the Illinois BBQ Fest.
As the sun sets, the crackling glow of fires peppers the campgrounds, illuminating the nylon sides of tents or canvas hulls of mobile RVs. Tent sites include access to the resort's hot showers and restrooms, while the RV facilities' hookups pump water and electricity into mobile homes so residents can bathe in private and use electric carving knives for whittling. When the sun rises, residents can begin their day with a hike on the resort's nature trails.