Briggs Woods Golf Course – Just Right
By E. Nolan
Goldilocks would have liked this place. Yes, that Goldilocks. The one with the three bears. There aren’t any bears at Briggs Woods (that I know of), but there are comfortable chairs and beds nearby, and plenty of good food. If you don’t remember the story of G+3B, then suffice it to say… at Briggs Woods, there is not “too much” or “too little” of anything. Just a whole lot of “Just Right.”
The story of Goldilocks is actually a pretty perfect parallel to golf in general. Some golf courses would be too long for her, some would be too short. Briggs Woods would be just right. Some golf courses would be too punitive (too much rough), some too easy. Briggs Woods is just right. Some golf courses would be too expensive, some wouldn’t be worth anything at all. Briggs Woods, on this and ALL accounts, is “Just Right.”
I’ve been telling people about Briggs Woods for five years now. I bring it up in golf discussions without prompting so it doesn’t go overlooked. I mention the Stay & Play values there because I think they’re grossly underbooked. Briggs Woods is by definition a “hidden gem.” That explains why you haven’t heard about it (if you haven’t) and why you had it in your GPS (if you have been there). It’s in north central Iowa off I35 (west on 20, where east would take you to Waterloo). Briggs Woods is, accordingly, (north to south) the “Gateway to Iowa Golf.”
As a golf concierge, I send a lot of golfers and golf groups down to Branson. Many of them ask where they should stay and play on the way down (or back up) and Briggs Woods is always one of my “Top 5” recommendations. Why? It’s an easy, fun detour. Why else? Check out the value: A weekday Stay & Play at the Super 8 or AmericInn in Webster City will run you $150 for a room and two days of Unlimited Golf (both hotels just two miles from the course, with indoor heated pools). Anyone not going to Branson, but looking for a high-value weekend or extended golf Stay & Play experience (less than 200 miles from the Twin Cities) should consider renting one of the three great cabins in the county park adjacent the course: The Legacy (3 BR-hosts 15), Hickory (3 BR-hosts 13) and Oak (2 BR-hosts 8) Cabins. Combine any of those with the “Unlimited Golf” deals for the biggest group steals!
While on the subject of golf groups, I’d be remiss not to mention the Briggs Woods Conference Center opening this Fall, with space and seating for up to 350. Already a popular place for corporate events and golf outings, the new Conference Center will take their catering and service to entirely new and noteworthy levels.
Amenities and proximate lodging are great, pivotal even for setting up great golf trips, but you wouldn’t have great golf trips without GREAT GOLF, and Briggs Woods has a stage worthy of your “A Game.” A quick tour around the course reveals a front nine with plenty of ups and downs (elevation changes) and some pretty easy straight shooters. Every decent golfer who can hit reasonably straight irons has had their shot at even par here (through nine) and that’s great. We need more courses like that. That said, the real test is on the back. My favorite hole on the front is the downhill fifth, with a great approach and fun green, but it wouldn’t even be a signature hole on the back. The back is so much fun!
I mentioned the test on the back. The back is where the Goldilocks story would weave in well with the story of Little Red Riding Hood. Over the river and through the woods, and through the woods, and through the woods. (You’ll get why they call it “Briggs Woods.”) But it’s so much more than that. The 10th hole is an awesome drop-shot of a Par 3. The 11th and 12th a stellar duo over and around the water. There is literally trouble on every hole from 11 to 18. On the one hand it makes the back so much tougher than the front. On the other hand, the back has all the best elements of the Boone River Valley – so beautiful that you’ll want to play it again. And again. My favorite hole on the back is #12 – a memorably Par 5 with a wonderful approach shot to a well-protected green.
Spring is beautiful at Briggs Woods. Winter is a little too cold. Golf season here though… is always “Just Right.”