Otter Creek Golf – Come Play on the Prairie
By Jeff Wendel
Just over 3 hours from the Twin Cities, the City of Ankeny’s Otter Creek Golf Course amazes visitors with destination course qualities. The combination of links style course design, excellent conditions, friendly service, and great practice facility make Otter Creek a perfect choice for players looking for a memorable round of golf.
Otter Creek Golf Course is a marvel of course design. Architect Paul Miller chose a tremendous routing for this links-style course. “The routing of the golf course creates variety in the golf course so that depending on the wind and the golf course set up, the course can play differently from day to day. The individual golf holes are designed to provide a strong variety of playing challenges to all levels of golfers. The goal was to build enough nuance into the design so that playing angles, approach shots, wind impacts, and green character would be critical aspects that golfers need to factor in to achieve their best scores. We wanted golfers to come back knowing that next time, I’ll play it this way!”
Four sets of tees allow players of all skill levels to enjoy an exciting round. Yardage ranges from 5360 yards from forward tees to 6895 yards from the ‘tips.’ Grown in with the new generation of Kentucky Bluegrass varieties that will tolerate mowing heights as low as ½ inch, the lush fairways provide magnificent playing conditions. Greens are smooth and consistent with interesting undulations and many great hole locations.
Come early for your tee time to take advantage of the excellent practice facility, featuring an expansive double-ended driving range, two practice putting greens, and a chipping and bunker practice area.
Carts equipped with GPS provide a view of each hole, yardages to greens, specific target areas, and water hazards. The large screen system also includes access to help from the pro shop and the option of ordering food and beverage from the Tin Cup Bar and Grill. The system also restricts carts to paths around the greens providing pristine chipping conditions for those who miss greens by a few yards.
Head Professional Curt Ingham and his staff provide a friendly atmosphere and excellent service. Curt, a quarter-century PGA member, has served Otter Creek since 2001. In addition, Golf Course Superintendent Lennis Berkland and his maintenance staff consistently provide top-notch conditions.
The par 4 first hole may be the easiest hole on the course. Avoid the out-of-bounds to the left; a good drive will leave a short approach to a large green. The par 4 second has a pond on the left, a drive too far right will leave you with a blind shot over large mounds covered in prairie grasses. Par 5 third is where you will want to use the GPS map, you can see the pond on the right from the tee, but most tee shots won’t give you a view of the ponds right and left that threaten your second shot. The same is true for the par 5 fifth hole; a less-than-average drive will leave the pond hidden from your view on the right. The par 3 #4 and #6 holes have ponds, but the water isn’t a massive challenge for most players. Hole 7 is the toughest hole on the course, a long par 4 into the prevailing wind. Two more par 4’s finish the front nine. The putting surface on #8 can be fascinating with a back right hole location. The ninth is a dogleg right with a natural prairie area that confounds attempts to approach the green from a tee shot missed to the right.
The tenth hole is a straightforward par 4 with a pond and a large bunker on the right. The par 5 eleventh has a huge fairway, but the left side is preferred to stay clear of the pond down the right. Numbers 12 and 14 are the toughest par 4’s on the back nine. Par 3 #13 plays from an elevated tee and has a very interesting putting surface. The 15th is also a par 3 and is the longest carry to clear the water on the course.
The final holes consist of three par 4’s with some exciting angles. Long hitters must stay left to avoid the pond on the right of #18.
Otter Creek is conveniently located off Exit 94 from Interstate 35. From that exit, your group will cover the quarter mile to Otter Creek in just a few minutes. Ankeny has many hotels and a variety of restaurants to suit any taste.