Des Moines Driving Range stretches out 5,000 square feet of grass tee area for golfers to tinker with drivers, irons, and wedges. Marked flags protrude from the elevated greens and shake with each passing wind gust to offer a realistic target for aiming golfers. In addition to an expansive driving range, the training spot accommodates short games with three chipping greens and three putting greens. The range opens its doors all week from 8:30 a.m. until dark.
Mature trees dot the emerald expanse that makes up Willow Creek Golf Course’s 36-hole layout complex, which invites clubbers of all stripes with player-friendly fairways and greens. The long fairways at the 18-hole Red Course tunnel through imposing tree lines on their way to large, contoured greens, which demand solid hits from a driver, putter, and cheese wedge. The nine-hole White Course presents a relatively open layout, and the Blue Course plots a winding path past treacherous water hazards. Willow Creek’s driving range enables golfers to warm up for rounds, and an indoor golf simulator facilitates safe practice during inclement weather and picketing protests from unemployed caddies.
West Grand Golf houses a golf-practice center, an accolade-garnering mini-golf course, and a traditional driving range where Groupon-holders can use their buckets of balls during multiple visits. The well-designed practice center helps golfers tweak their short games on large putting and chipping greens surrounded by sand bunkers that devour misfired dimpled balls and rogue cacti. Thanks to the laser-measured target greens, clubheads can test how far and accurately they can tee off on a variety of even and uneven tees nestled in fairway- and sand-based conditions. West Grand Golf also illuminates the expansive range with stadium lighting, perfect for those who enjoy practicing before bedtime or members of the PGA tour's vampire league.
Sleepy Hollow Sports Park sprawls over 80 acres of fields and slopes buzzing with a variety of year-round activities, from go-karts and bumper boats to downhill sledding. The team puts together two 5K races throughout the year: the Mud Run and Beer Run. During these meticulously constructed events, Sleepy Hollow will pit runners against manmade obstacles and natural obstacles.
Being an Iowa-based company, Sleepy Hollow supports more than 300 groups annually, providing funding for causes ranging from local schools to cancer research. The park also serves as the permanent residence of the annual Des Moines Renaissance Faire and Haunted Scream Park.
Since opening in 2002, the course at Legacy Golf Club has collected a litany of regional and national awards thanks to an ingenious layout envisioned by Jeffrey D. Brauer, who claims a ranking in Golf Inc.’s 2010 list of the world’s highest-value course architects. Each player that tees up on the first hole peers into the abyss of Mr. Brauer’s delicate design, relying on precise control to avoid the Kentucky bluegrass roughs and water hazards that come into play on 14 holes¬—including all 9 on the back side. Those who succeed enjoy luxuriant lies on the bentgrass fairways, and earn the best chance of shooting the par of 72, not counting the illegal practice of using the club as a baseball bat. En route, they must slay the par 4 2nd hole, a downhill screamer with a dramatic approach over a 5-acre lake, as well as the par 3 14th and 17th holes, where matters are complicated by swirling winds. Before hanging up their golf gloves for the day, players must clear a final high hurdle in the 611-yard par 5 18th hole, where a large amphitheater-style green funnels well-placed approaches and echoes shouts of “Fore!”
Class A PGA Professional Rob Randall heads up Legacy Golf Club’s golf school, having claimed much recognition for his instructional prowess. He brings expertise earned over more than 20 years and some 20,000 golf lessons to his lessons at the practice facility, where bentgrass tees, six target greens, and TaylorMade practice balls lend veracity to practicing swings and juggling-based intimidation tactics.
Course at a Glance:
Countryside Golf Course's 18-hole layout rolls across 6,366 yards of the Iowa countryside, but it's the first 574 yards that immediately catch golfers' attention. The course challenges players from the moment they stake their tree slivers into the soil of the first tee box, where they look out onto the course's hardest-rated hole: a 574-yard par 5 that doglegs to the right towards a green guarded by sand and water on either side. The difficult opener sets the tone for the rest of the course, where water comes into play on seven holes—six on the front nine—and all but one hole features at least one greenside bunker.
After their round, players who have not spoiled their appetite by grazing on the course's lush bent grass can head toward the clubhouse for a post-round meal or drink. At the wooden u-shaped bar, guests can crack open a beer and refuel with hot dogs and sandwiches.
Course at a Glance: