At any of the 15 Great Life Golf and Fitness locations, guests are encouraged to invent their own triathlon of gusto, switching from swimming in the pool to getting a total body workout to playing a round of golf. Great Life has facilities scattered throughout Kansas and Missouri, including golf courses such as the National Audubon Society–certified River Oaks and the links at The Oaks, which were designed by Tom Bendelow and opened in the 1920s. Golfers looking for quick rounds can drop by the nine-hole courses at Maple Creek, Abilene, and CedarBrook. Gyms such as the 14,000-square-foot fitness center at Berkshire allow members or guests to pump iron or run on treadmills when they aren’t helping their golf balls safely reach the greens by paying golf carts to drink all of the water hazards dry. Although amenities vary at each club, all of Great Life Golf and Fitness’s venues boast a pro shop, and the courses at Berkshire and Prairie View maintain driving ranges where golfers can make golf balls practice flying without their parachutes.
Beatrice Country Club’s 18-hole course unfurls across 7,169 yards of Nebraska countryside for a par 72 course that blends elements of woodland golf and a traditional, links-style layout. The majority of the course’s fairways tunnel through tight tree lines that temper aggressive impulses at the tee box like a caddy studying to be an anger-management therapist. Encroaching timbers vanish for a stretch, during which relatively open fairways run alongside water hazards and thickets of tall grass, affecting the landscape of golf’s seminal Scottish links. With five tee options, the course caters to clubbers of all stripes. Arching drives trace the sky at the onsite driving range, where duffers prepare for their round and practice balls efficiently sign waivers before launching themselves into the stratosphere.
The nine holes of Lindsborg Municipal Golf Course sprawl over a 64-acre plot of the Smoky Valley. The course is owned and operated by the city of Lindsborg, and invites locals and out-of-towners alike to enjoy the leafy surroundings and wide-open fairways. A lake lies at the southern end of the course, twice directly entering play.
The new owners of The Oaks Golf Club renovated the nine-hole Oaks course by expanding greens and adding dimension, resulting in 2,573 rolling yards with elevation variations as high as 50 feet. Take to the par 35 course with a fellow divot devotee and launch dimpled orbs through the air in spirited re-creations of the Apollo 12 moon landing. Each green on the course is now an average of 5,000 square feet in size, with recently built mounding around the holes adding nuance and difficulty to each putt and slice. A recently installed irrigation system helps playing surfaces stay fresh for birdies and impromptu company picnics.
When it was conceived in 1975, Hesston Golf Course was designed as a public course that any and every skill level could play. The layout of the course certainly mimics that original concept, with five sets of tees at each hole and wide, lush fairways that spill over into fast-moving greens. The 5th and 18th holes may count as signature stops along the course, Hesston considers its group of par-three holes its true calling card—in fact, the course features more than 900 yards in par threes alone. In addition to its welcoming design, Hesston also features a state-of-the-art irrigation system, ensuring playing conditions remain pristine and bottles of water don’t get snatched out of carts by thirsty trees.
Links-style golf on the mainland can be hard to find, but Falcon Lakes Golf Club's 18-hole course emulates the characteristics of the game's traditional Scottish tracks. From the tips, the 7,098-yard circuit proves quite formidable, with a quartet of long par-fives?topping out at 566 yards?and a few titanic par-fours, including the 481-yard 12th hole, the course's most difficult hole. Intimidating hole length isn't the course's only links characteristic. At the end of each zoysia grass fairway, golfers must contend with slick, bent-grass greens, most of which exceed 6,000 square feet in size to make two-putts very difficult but helicopter golf-cart landings a breeze. Ankle-high native grass sways in the breeze on certain holes, and hazardous mounds deny a level stance to those who stray from the fairways or greens. Before rounds, golfers can get a feel for the putting surfaces at a multi-tiered practice green, practice their swings at a zoysia grass driving range, or dig for ancient scorecards in the bunkers that surround the chipping green.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 72 course * Length of 7,098 yards from the tips * Four tee options * Scorecard