A golf club's atmosphere can often be traced to the personality of the head golf professional. For the members and guests at the semiprivate Rolling Hills Country Club, that is a very good thing. Head Professional and PGA member Steve Nolawski infuses his great number of roles—from general manager to lesson-giver to tee-time receptionist—with a friendly smile and player-oriented approach. Steve has served in this all-encompassing capacity for the club since 2001, as well as created leagues, set up club tournaments, and coached on-course etiquette to the resident squirrels.
The 18-hole course, however, is naturally the club's focal point. Stretching 6,500 yards from the tips, it's a intermediate-length course that's manageable for beginners, a challenge to avid players, and walkable for those who enjoy golf's exercise. A driving range, practice green, and pro shop round out the club.
Course at a Glance:
Jones and Norene Gann first imagined transforming their property into a golf course 18 years ago, and constructed an 18-hole course and golf facility now managed by the Rapp family. Open seven days a week, the course challenges golfers with outstretched trees, formidable bunkers and mounds, and hazardous waters. Designated cart paths wind around and through the course, guiding drivers to the next hole on their route or through a wormhole leading to the twenty-third century. Nestled atop the sprawling property, practice facilities help golfers warm up swinging arms, and a pro shop lets athletes restock balls and read up on instructional guides to high-level golfsmanship.
In regular golf instruction, owners Bill and Philip Rapp help students fine-tune their swing and boost their game with new skills. On Tuesday evenings, young putters can hone their swinging skills in free lessons.
Since 1915, Excelsior Springs Golf Course has been challenging orb-smashing novices and professional putters alike with its championship, par 72 golf course, having hosted current PGA regulars Tom Watson, Payne Stewart, and Tom Pernice. Tee off toward 18 pins spread over 6,603 yards of rolling hills, elevation changes, and challenging obstructions, including fully grown trees, water hazards, and a seven-foot basketball center guarding the hole and ready to block any incoming shots. Cushy golf carts whisk club-carriers from zoysia-grass fairways to well-manicured greens, allowing golfers to breeze down the 475-yard tree-lined 15th hole. After playing through, ditch the cart and hone your home-run swing with a bucket of balls at the on-site driving range.
Family Golf Park brings together golfers of all stripes and sizes to enjoy its nine-hole, par-3 course, multifaceted practice facility, and two 18-hole miniature-golf courses. Soaring drives take flight from 60 hitting stations at the driving range, which boasts nine covered bays and lights for practice after the sun leaves to go challenge the North Star in a skins game. At the par-3 course, golfers can test their short-game skills on a course that features slick, bentgrass greens and runs along a lake stocked with koi fish. Patrons can roll golf balls down the emerald runways of the mini-golf courses, preparing themselves for critical putts necessary to excel in upcoming rounds of golf or Scottish decathlons.
Rockwood Golf Club’s short but challenging par 70 course once attracted the putting prowess of Harry S Truman, a former member before he became president, and still entertains club wielders today. Twosomes of all skill levels will take pleasure in Rockwood’s 18-hole haven of short-game skill, negotiating tight tree-lined fairways and avoiding liquid hazards, such as plentiful ponds and the temptation to drink nonpotable ball-washer fluid. Short approaches to each green are offset by a reliance on accurate tee shots, quality chips, and smooth putts over quick greens. With a loaner from Rockwood’s cart corral, legs can avoid the tiring trek from shot to shot and focus more energy on an aspiring music career.
Since opening its fairways in 1967, Liberty Hills Golf Club has cultivated a golf environment that challenges all players with a versatile landscape that earned it hosting rights to the 2005 Missouri Amateur tournament and several Midwest Section PGA events. Starting out from the stately white clubhouse that anchors the club’s 140 acres of rolling terrain, golfers embark on a 6,530-yard jaunt that culminates at the highest elevation in Clay County. The fairways coil around two large central ponds that bear heavily on shot-making decisions, forcing them to choose between attempting to play a hook shot or hook a fish for lunch.
Course at a Glance: