Otter Creek Golf Course – The Less Things Change

By E. Nolan





The less good things change, the more good things stay the same. “We really haven’t made many changes lately,” Head Golf Professional Curt Ingham acknowledges, (not since the massive, multi-million dollar 2009 Paul Miller renovation) and I know that, but that fact is saying something on its own. They really don’t need to change anything at Otter Creek, the Iowa Golf Association’s “Course of the Year” in 2016. It’s not just the awards and accolades the keep people coming back. It’s the summary of my experience that others agree with – the more frequently people play it, the more they seem to enjoy it.

Theirs isn’t a “leave well enough alone” mantra, because no course that thrives in this business does so by being complacent. The best golf operations improve every year, and Otter Creek does its part annually to maintain progress. “We keep the conditions at peak throughout the season.” Curt adds, “The fairways are wide and welcoming, greens smooth, firm and fast. By emphasizing playability for everyone we allow the best players to move back for their challenge and everyone else to find their perfect distance and tees from there.”

Owned and operated by the City of Ankeny Parks and Recreation (wedged perfectly between Ames and Des Moines), Otter Creek can best be described as a fescue-lined, links-style, championship course with trees, flat but with plenty of subtle elevation changes throughout. The 6,895-yard, Par-71 design is a community course, but houses don’t interfere with any views on the front or any play on the back, something every golfer appreciates. There are plenty of water hazards scattered about the course, making the player take note off many tees, and when it comes to 3-pars, well, their collection is a superb one. Matt Evans, a frequent guest from nearby Des Moines (not even 15 miles south) says of the 3-pars, “Each presents unique drama, with three definite standouts. The fourth requires a water and bunker carry. The 13th is a steep downhill all-carry shot over a marsh-like river basin – many a player’s favorite hole. And the 15th beside the clubhouse is both crazy beautiful and crazy daunting, even with the massive landing area… all because of the pond off the tee.”

My personal favorite hole is the Par 4, 14th, with a tight landing area, and a fantastic approach shot over wetlands to a fun green below the clubhouse, but there are many others that promote creative play… many photogenic moments to be found. I particularly enjoy that the course caters to every golfer’s individual playing preferences. If you’re a bomber, you can hit driver all day. The risk taker can be rewarded. The rough is never too thick and, if putting saves your scores, these greens are across-the-board consistent. The carts are all equipped with Visage GPS units, keeping pace of play quick and erasing the doubts on distance. Put all of that together and it’s a people-pleasing playground, as every golf course should aspire to be.

Otter Creek is a favorite for corporate events and even tournament play, as the official host course for the Iowa Girls High School State Tournament. Given their popularity among outing coordinators for their flexibility in event operations, Otter Creek fills its tournament schedule fast and can take care of all your group needs from beginning to end.

Their Pinnacle Club Banquet Facility is perfectly suited to accommodate up to 250 guests with three private rooms and a full catering menu. Speaking of full menus – the Tin Cup Bar & Grille isn’t just famous for their Otter Burger and Homemade Pizzas, but they have appetizers and a full bar of mixed drinks, beer and wine. With a patio overlooking the stunning 14th hole, and plenty of space for you and all of your golf friends to socialize, it’s no wonder Tin Cup is such a popular hangout not just post-round but for nights-out for folks all over town.

You can now book tee times online and set up lessons with Tom Tays at his Golf Performance Studio. Looking for other practice opportunities? Otter Creek has a double-ended practice range, large practice green and a fully equipped Professional Golf Shop offering everything you need for a round of golf from the latest and most in-demand brands. Can’t get enough of Otter Creek in one round? Take advantage of replay and twilight rates; and purchase the Links Card to save seven days a week. “We’re all about growing the game here,” Curt says, “and the true beauty of Otter Creek is that literally every golfer can find a fair and fun round here.” Every golfer. Me… and you.

Otter Creek #5

Otter Creek #15