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Breezy Point

Travel Club
August 22, 2017

Prairie Links Golf & Event Center - Based On A True Story
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Prairie Links Golf Course #3 and #6 greens
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Prairie Links Golf Course #3 and #6 greens
By E. Nolan

Believe it or not, I played my very first golf ever in Waverly, Iowa - home of Prairie Links Golf Club. (True story.) The year was 1987, and Scott Simpson (not related to Bart or Homer) had just won his only Major title (the U.S. Open) and claimed his whopping $150,000 first-place check. I turned to my Great Uncle Bob (the man who also introduced me to Arnold Palmer) and told him, "That's a lot of money for such an easy game." Uncle Bob laughed, "Golf, son? You think it's easy? Oh, we're going out to play now."

That was 30 years ago, and I still haven't won $150,000 playing golf (closer to $150), but I'm deeply in love with the game, will gladly laugh at anyone who calls golf "easy," and know firsthand that the golf scene in Waverly is FAR better now than it was in 1987, and better than it was when I was back in town as a college freshman (seven years later) at Wartburg.

Prairie Links Golf Club is relatively new, born in 1999 with a different name (Centennial Oaks) and introduced to the world as (literally) "half the course it is today." After expanding to 18 holes in 2002, PLGC spent a decade figuring out exactly what it wanted to be and then started focusing on the components that have made it so madly successful of late. PLGC, while semi-private is now, "for all intents and purposes," the furthest thing from a country club. Anyone can play the course, and do so dressed pretty much however they want (even denim on denim), as long as they wear a semi-modest top and bottom.

As Head Professional Nate Haaland tells it, "We decided to make golf as unrestrictive and fun as it can be (see "GolfBoards" below), and to make the course as unique to Iowa and playable as it can be. The results have been spectacular. We dare you not to have your best round ever here." (Reverse psychology... I like it.)

Located close to the mini-metro of Waterloo/Cedar Falls, and not far from anywhere else in the state, local golfers have remained attentive to the progress made by management the past few years. Take it from Chuck, an "almost-20, over-50, handicapper" from nearby Denver (not the Colorado one) - "I've played it with my brother, grandson and wife, and we all love it. It's tough, but pretty, fast but fair, and you can often play it in three hours or so." (I've played it in less.)

It has intentionally been fashioned as a "British-style links course" with five sets of tee boxes on each hole opening up to massive, manicured fairways and impressively large elevated greens. Stretching to over 6,600 yards, it is both forgiving to amateurs and rewarding to professionals. All 18 holes are named after a golfing Legend, with Arnold "Palmer" (appropriately) at #1 - my favorite hole on the front. Holes 3 and 6, both fun, share a MASSIVE double-green complex, with water guarding two sides. I don't normally do hole-by-holes, but I seriously want you to go golf in Waverly (check out the Flyover Tour on their website) and to know that you'll really enjoy doing so. (Just don't ask me about #13.)

The back is as playable and even MORE beautiful than the front (hardly looks or feels like it's in central-Iowa). #12 - Sarazen - is awesome, divided by a large pond, making it a fun two-shot hole that can easily have you scrawling out a 10 if you (play by real golf rules instead of handicaps and) overestimate your prowess off the tee! No offense to Arnold Palmer, but my favorite hole on the entire course (personal results excluded) is the Par 3, 13th - "Stewart" - with its gorgeous peninsula green. Triple bogey is never a good score on that hole, but you can still have fun in such a tragic instance. (Since when do I fade my hook shots?) My second favorite hole on the course is #17 - Vardon - a VERY unique Par 3, with a very unique water hazard. It's a short hole so that water shouldn't be in your way, but...

This is such a great course for tournaments and (NOTE) Prairie Links is the ONLY course to offer GolfBoards in the region, the hottest new trend in the sport. If you haven't yet experienced a round of surf-golf, this is a great place for that maiden voyage! And... don't overlook Gusto Wine Lounge & Restaurant - not only a fantastic post round hangout for golfers, but very in demand among local dining savants.

It's been a few years since I've been to Waverly now, and seeing my pictures of Prairie Links is all it takes for me to want to go back. Go check it out!

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