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
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
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.
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.
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
After selling his farm-equipment business in 1972, Dale W. Brady sought the counsel of his three sons to determine what should be done with the 200-acre plot of land originally used for testing out his new products. The three resolved to turn their land into a golf course. After a test green survived the winter and they earned the blessing of the region?s lawn-mower king, son Tom devised a layout from an aerial drawing and the team set to work, sculpting the rugged earth and opening the course in August 1973. A family-run enterprise ever since, the course bobs and weaves over 6,224 yards of rolling terrain that feature sparse tree lines, water hazards in play on five holes, and scenic views of the verdant landscape.
Since its relatively humble beginnings, Toad Valley Golf Course has grown to include a full-length driving range and the Field of Greens Mini Links, an 18-hole miniature-golf course that challenges players with realistic putting surfaces, including bunkers, water hazards, and contoured greens. The range?s grass tees offer practice on an organic surface similar to course conditions, and the putting surfaces emulate the tricky slopes of real greens and even include rough, sand traps, and water features that add to the scenery and allow putters to bob for wayward golf balls.
Course at a Glance:
18-hole, par 71 course
Length of 6,224 yards from the farthest tees
Course rating of 69.1 from the farthest tees
Slope rating of 114 from the farthest tees
Four tee options
Link to scorecard