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Craguns 2017

Travel Club
June 22, 2017

Briggs Woods Golf Course - Merry Go Round
Briggs Woods #11
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Briggs Woods #11
Briggs Woods #13
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Briggs Woods #13
By E. Nolan


I first heard about Briggs Woods Golf Course five years ago, at the Minnesota Golf Show. I met the General Manager, Russ Appel, Jr., and asked him a few questions about the course. Briggs Woods is kind of an unassuming name for a golf course (though quite appropriate for the 8,500 courteous and unassuming residents of Webster City, Iowa) so I coyly inquired about the quantity of trees. (Less is generally "more better" in my book.) Russ smiled, nodded casually and said, "We have some, but they're only in the way if you hit them." I instantly liked the guy.

Webster City, if you don't know, used to be called Newcastle. I know that part of Iowa pretty well, and innocuously asked Russ why he thought they changed the name. He simply shrugged and said, "We don't have any castles." Without saying anything more about trees, I knew for sure where Briggs Woods got its name. There are plenty of woods around Webster City.

Webster City is almost exactly an hour and a half south of Albert Lea, not too far off Interstate 35. If you're ever heading down to Clear Lake, Mason City or even Diamond Jo Casino, you're not all that far from a course that is well worth the time to play. I took my son along last year (his first time at the course) and he shot his best round ever (a 76) from the White Tees, without hitting a tree or losing a ball. (I tell his story because mine is much different!) I also tell it because (at 13) he very honestly told me, "I just tried not to hit them, Dad." (Oh, so that's the secret!)

The course is built on a pretty, picturesque property, actually part of the County Park itself. Briggs Woods Park was the second county park established in Iowa, and runs along the beautiful banks of the Boone River Valley in Hamilton County with 81 campsites, cabins, trails and direct lake access. The course provides Stay & Play packages on-site with their three cabins (the Legacy Cabin holds up to 15 and overlooks Briggs Woods Lake) and in town with a number of local hotels. The course website claims Briggs Woods as "Iowa's Greatest Golf Value." There's no question (with their popular "Unlimited Golf Packages" taken into consideration) that they are definitely in the conversation.

Their former Conference Center, a very trendy spot for hosting weddings, reunions, conferences and other events, will be supplanted by a NEW $2.5 million Event Center, breaking ground this summer. With the "Par For The Course" catering department providing for all occasions, including the many golf groups that roll in, the staff and facilities at Briggs Woods can easily take care of your every visit's need. There is even a full-service bar, with patios overlooking the river valley, perfect for hanging out after a round.

One of the many reasons Briggs Woods is so popular for tournaments is the routing of the course. The challenge level varies greatly between the front and the back. I call the front the "Play Nine" for the great start it lets you get off to. Every single hole on the front nine is extremely playable - providing at least eight reasonable shots at birdie, almost as easy for individuals (if you're my son) as Best Ball partnerships. Everything is right there in front of you, with wide fairways and few tricks off the tee. Holes 5 and 9 are my favorites on the front, with nine being the only tricky hole, as it crosses water in taking you to the turn.

I call the back the "Pray Nine" because a little divine intervention goes a long way in posting a good score. Don't worry too much about #10 - a great little downhill Par 3. That tee shot is many a golfer's favorite swing on the entire course, as it steeply drops from the clubhouse to a green even I couldn't miss. It's the six-hole stretch on the other side of Highway 17 where the docile drops out, and the course shows its teeth. It's those six holes that give Briggs Woods its name. Holes 11 and 12 make a beautiful but daunting loop around a lake, and then you find Webster City's only castle (holes 13-16) a quartet of towering, wooden-wall corridors that duplicate as golf holes. (You should be knighted if you make it through those four holes with the same ball!)

As much as I love holes 10-12, I have to give 18 major props for being a great closer. And the fact that it ends right next to the first tee, is really all the incentive I need to go around again.






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