Tee Times Magazine Travel Club – Iowa
Tee Times Magazine Travel Club Iowa section brings you interesting articles from many of the areas Minnesota and Wisconsin golfers frequent. Here you will find hot topics and reviews from Iowa.
You’ve played the course. We all have. The course begging for a tweak here or flip there. We’re all experts as golfers, especially when our ball ends up in a particularly unplayable spot. It’s not our fault… it’s the architect’s, the manager’s, the superintendent’s. “This hole could be so much better if…” and “Who in their right mind puts a tree there?”
Every summer for a decade I’ve driven back and forth, from the Twin Cities to Des Moines for business, and every year I almost drive off the road when I pass through Ankeny.
HAMILTON COUNTY, IOWA: If you’re unfamiliar with the beauty of North Central Iowa, but interested in exploring it, I can think of few better origin points for your expedition than the Boone River Valley of Hamilton County.
Everyone is setting records. “2020 was the best (golf) year ever,” they say. “And 2021 was even better.” “Not necessarily,” Stephen Kahler of Kahler Golf Management tells me, noting the game itself was responsible for THIS boom (not just one individual – Tiger).
Some golf course names don’t seem to fit their property. Others, like the Tournament Club of Iowa, are boldly (but aptly) named.
The opportunity is too good to pass up, and yet hundreds to thousands of people literally do it each day. It has to just gnaw at them – the golf-loving commuters anything like me.
“We had the biggest influx of Minnesota golfers last year, of any year. You could call it overflow, given how close we are to the state line, and how packed the courses up north were, but there’s also something to be said for the ‘escape factor’ we provide.
There’s a certain excitement to playing a golf course you loved long ago but haven’t been back to since. Such an anticipatory surge had taken over the drive to Amana Colonies.
Iowa deserves some love on America’s “Top 100 PUBLIC Golf Course” lists – a fact that would likely go unchallenged among the state’s 250,000 golfers. But… which course? For my money, and I’ve said this for years, the club that most deserves inclusion is the Tournament Club of Iowa.
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.
There are 22 public recreation areas in Hamilton County, Iowa, managed by the Hamilton County Conservation Board, with tons of open, green acreage for you to explore. One of those is Briggs Woods Park and golf course with 18 greens for you to explore.
“Hidden Gem.” What else would you call it? Year after year I give it the same moniker, in local and national stories. Why? Why not? It’s true. Amana Colonies is hidden. Amana Colonies is a gem.
I miss Arnold Palmer, and how could I not. Meeting him, listening to him, watching him… each opportunity left me wanting more opportunities. I have similar feelings when I play golf courses I love.
2019 marks the 10 year anniversary of my first visit to Otter Creek – not anything for the world to celebrate, by any means, but something I marvel at, just as you might looking back on your own golf travel history.
Not all golf courses like to be considered a “hidden gem.” It implies, somehow, that you have to really dig to find the value. In that instance, Amana Colonies is NOT a hidden gem. Its value is blatantly obvious.
There’s something cool about a rustic red barn – it’s an Iowa trademark of sorts. Whispering Creek has such a signature barn as their clubhouse, positioned perfectly to take in the best of western Iowa’s golf course panoramas. It’s been the backdrop for many post-round pictures (and pitchers) with friends – the heralded home of Pooch’s Pub.
There are five Iowa public courses every Midwest golfer should play, and the Tournament Club is absolutely one of those five. Ratings themselves are subjective, doesn’t matter which publication we’re referring to, but at one time or another every single relevant golf magazine in the world has proclaimed Arnold Palmer’s suburban swingbox one of Iowa’s very best.
Wisconsin Dells is the Water Park Capital of the World. With all of its water parks, golf courses and outdoor recreation opportunities “The Dells” is simultaneously the Activity Capital of Wisconsin. The Preserve at Honey Creek Resort is the Water Park Capital of Iowa.