I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t know much about golf in Iowa. While I’ve heard lots of good things about hunting and fishing in the Hawkeye State, I really don’t know that much about its golf.
So, I turned to you guys for help once again. As always, your feedback was plentiful and allowed me to create a list of the ten best public courses you can play. Suffice it to say, Iowa is on my radar.
Blue Top Ridge Golf Course
Iowans say Blue Top Ridge is one of the best tracks in the state.
This modern design stretches more than 7,400 from all the way back, but provides a fun and fair test for players of all abilities.
Unlike a lot of courses in Iowa, you’ll find generous fairways and significant elevation changes here.
Always in tip-top condition, this intriguing round affords vistas of the surrounding countryside and two rivers.
This is a perfect spot to come for a few days. The rooms at the hotel are aptly appointed and the casino floor is only a few steps away. Chances are you’ll find me at the blackjack table after my round.
Spirit Hollow Golf Course
Locals say it’s with good reason that Golfweek named Spirit Hollow the “#1 Best Course You Can Play in Iowa.”
Designed by Rick Jacobsen, Spirit Hollow is an undulating design with ample opportunity for risk and reward.
The greens are said to be some of the fastest in the state so staying on the right side of the hole is a must.
There’s a lot more than just great golf at Spirit Hollow. Lodging is available in the form of top-notch hotel rooms and spacious cabins that can sleep up to eight people. Perfect for a buddies’ getaway.
When the sun has set, be sure to check out the fare at Lambo’s. While you’re at it, squeeze in another 18 in the indoor simulator.
With no shortage of things to do, Spirit Hollow sounds like a fantastic time.
The Preserve on Rathbun Lake
Perhaps no course in Iowa melds with the natural surroundings like Rathbun Lake. In fact, it’s been certified by Audubon International.
Even though this course has a heathland feel to it with wide fairways and expansive vistas, it’s target golf through and through.
Forced carries and plenty of trouble mean you’ll have to be on your game from tee to green.
While this is considered one of the more difficult courses in the state from all the way back, five sets of tees make it an enjoyable experience for anyone.
Part of the Greater Honey Creek Resort, you can be sure there’s something to keep everyone busy while you’re out on the course.
Otter Creek Golf Course
If you find yourself in Ankeny for any reason, you won’t want to miss out on a round at Otter Creek.
A Paul Miller design, Otter Creek was named “18-Hole Course of the Year” by the Iowa Golf Association in 2016.
Built into natural prairie and wetlands, strategy is the name of the game. Locals say this is one of the truest shot making tests you’ll find. Some 17 ponds and 44 bunkers are waiting to cause big numbers if you start hitting it crooked.
The practice facilities also receive rave reviews. The double-ended driving range has some of the best turf in the state and the short game area is second to none.
Stone Creek Golf Club
Five-time PGA Tour winner, D.A. Weibring designed Stone Creek Golf Club in Williamsburg.
Even though this is only a nine-hole track, it’s nothing to sneeze at. As a matter of fact, it’s been named the “Best Nine-Hole Course in Iowa” by the Iowa Golf Association, and a “Top 25 Best Nine-Hole Course in America” by Golf Digest.
The design is a parkland layout that meanders over rolling hills and features slick greens that will prove a challenge for even the best putters.
It’s all about the golf at Stone Creek and in that regard, no detail is overlooked.
Lake Panorama National Golf Course
Iowans continually boast about the superb playing conditions at Lake Panorama.
Designed by Richard Watson and opened in 1971, Lake Panorama is an old school parkland layout with narrow, oak-lined fairways, and small undulating greens.
While the front nine is somewhat flat, the back nine features rolling terrain. The two nines complement each other to produce a most enjoyable round of golf.
If you’re looking for something more casual, you won’t want to miss out on the West par three course. This nine-hole track is the perfect spot for beginners or anyone looking for a casual round.
Hunters Ridge Golf Course
Conveniently located between the communities of Cedar Rapids and Marion, Hunters Ridge is the flagship course of the area.
Spanning some 400 acres, this course is spread out. No two holes are alike, and each presents its own set of challenges.
Even though the front nine is fairly open, numerous ponds and well-placed bunkers will keep you on your toes.
The back nine is much narrower and also features plenty of hazards making for some fun risk and reward opportunities.
A fun round of golf at a great price.
Waveland Golf Course
Waveland Golf Course is one of the oldest golf courses in Iowa. It dates all the way back to 1901.
This classic design features narrow fairways that wander over hills of hardwood-dotted forest. Accuracy before length out here.
Even though the course only measures 6,500 yards, regulars say it’s one of the demanding from tee to green in the state.
The small, pushup greens require precision on approach shots and can be lightning fast in the summer.
If you’re a fan of old-school architecture and appreciate a unique challenge, Waveland is sure to deliver.
Finkbine Golf Course
Finkbine Golf Course is home to both men’s and women’s golf teams at the University of Iowa.
Built on over 200 acres, this daily fee facility works its way over rolling terrain and boasts a wide variety of holes that are both challenging and fun.
The signature hole is the par three 13th. The tee shot plays over water to a double green. With no good spot to miss, this is a big boy hole that demands you hit a good shot.
A treat to play at a great value.
The Legacy Golf Club
Located just a short drive south of Des Moines, Legacy offers golfers of all levels a round they won’t forget.
Generous fairways allow bombers to swing away and afford beginners plenty of room.
Bentgrass turf throughout is a dream to play off and golfers champion this course’s condition.
If you’re looking for a tune up, Legacy is it. Rob Randall was named “Best Teacher in Iowa” in 2018 by Golf Digest.
Friendly staff, a playable course, and award-winning instruction. It doesn’t get much better than that.
I’ll be honest, prior to writing this article, I didn’t know much about golf in Iowa. However, our readers and native Iowans came through in a big way. It’s clear this bunch of folks take their golf seriously, and with good reason.
It’s not hard to find great golf in Iowa. What’s even more is the gentility of Midwest hospitality is everywhere you look.
For great golf, outstanding value, and friendly faces, Iowa has it all.