Louw Stables? 50 acres of rolling hills, dotted with trees and lined by fences, paint a picturesque backdrop for warm-weather riding lessons. But it?s the way owners Louis and Jennifer Louw have prepared for the winter months?when snow generally blankets these pastures?that sets their facility apart from the rest. To accommodate riding year-round, they built an expansive indoor arena that, along with a 30-stall stable, is heated so that lessons and trainings can go on through winter without interruption.
Jennifer draws upon 22 years of experience as she teaches children and adults the art of horsemanship along with equine care. Her 15 trained lesson horses are all steady-tempered and work with novice riders and advanced equestrians alike. She also oversees an open barn each Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon, during which students can help with chores around the stable, including brushing horses and tacking and untacking them.
When golfers step onto River Valley Golf Course?s newly renovated facility, they can expect to see an emerald sweep of the Raccoon River Valley, as it unfurls before them. Taking cues from that tranquility, they gracefully arc their balls over the gently doglegging fairway, avoiding the creek hugging the hole to the left. Careful second shots pop up into the sky before landing on the wide green and setting up eagle putts. With the shots sunk, golfers continue on across the remaining 17 fairways, dodging ponds on 3 holes and skirting 25 bunkers speckled throughout.
This incorporation of the landscape takes center stage on the par 3 12th. There, a partial-island green formed by a pond that almost envelops a peninsula tests accuracy. Players can take the risk overshooting the drive, play it safe by chipping on in two, or let the strategic decision overwhelm them until they?re curled up on the ground. But to help prepare for all situations, the River Valley practice facility presents golfers with a greenside practice bunker and a 300-yard range.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 72 course * Total length of 6,684 yards from the back tees * Course rating of 72 from the back tees * Course slope of 124 from the back tees * Three sets of tees per hole * Scorecard
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: * 18-hole course * Bent grass fairways and greens * Length of 6,366 yards from the farthest tees * Three tee options * Link to scorecard
As the 2005 champions of the Premier Development League, the Des Moines Menace open their 18th season by taming their Heartland Division rivals, the St. Louis Lions. Throughout the 90 minutes of fierce competition, players chase and foot-pummel the soccer ball down the field in an effort to score goals and show off their designer shin guards to the crowd. The Menace's roster contains some of the country's top amateur players, with more than 10 of the team's alumni having graduated to Major League Soccer.
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.
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: * 18-hole, par 72 course * Total length of 7,199 yards from the back tees * Course rating of 74.7 from the back tees * Course slope of 137 from the back tees * Four sets of tees per hole * Scorecard