Being the new kid on the block here at KC Kingdom I noticed there has been very little if anything written about possibly the most maddening of all sports and that is Golf. I will spare you the comical drudgery of my own “game” if one could call it that but rather highlight some of the places in the KC area to ruin a perfectly good nature walk. I have not had the opportunity to play on anywhere near all of the better courses in Kansas City so I will only list a few I have left divot marks on. As I list some of my favorites keep in mind there are many factors that make a course fun. While beautifully manicured courses with perfect views are idyllic they also can come with stuffy weekend warriors or uptight retirees who have delusions that they are Kansas City’s own Tom Watson. Many times less expensive courses offer a greater entertainment value and overall experience than their higher priced country club counterparts. With that in mind here are a mix of courses from the higher end to the cheaper alternatives that I have enjoyed playing on.
SMILEY’S GOLF COMPLEX (OLATHE/LENEXA, KANSAS)
I can already hear the groans of many of you thinking Executive or Par 3 courses should not count. This 18 hole course offers intimidating water hazards, hidden bunkers, elevated greens, and even a couple of relatively long holes. Everybody loves hitting the driver but this course forces a golfer to use all of their irons from both the tee boxes and the fairways. It is also a terrific course for the experienced golfer to tune up their game and plays as fast or leisurely as a person would like. Smiley’s also offers the opportunity for an experienced golfer to introduce a new player to the game. Both seasoned and novice players can have a great time playing together without the frustration and embarrassment of being pushed by those impatient and unforgiving duffers who have forgotten what it is like to be new to the game. Smiley’s also offers a very nice driving range, chipping green, and putting green for practicing and a miniature golf course for the kids. For the price and all it offers this is a fantastic little executive course that should not be overlooked.
ALVAMAR GOLF COURSE (LAWRENCE, KANSAS)
My hometown course is Alvamar and it offers two courses one private and the other public. The Championship Course which is open to the public is also home to the University of Kansas Golf Team. Non members can play up to four times a year on the private course if accompanied by a non member. I have not had the opportunity to play on the members side but if any readers are members and would like a good laugh I am not too proud for a charity invitation! Hole number 17 is my favorite and plays 496 yards from the white tees and 562 from the black tees for those of you who consider yourselves big hitters. There is also a heavily wooded nine hole par three course called Alvamar Orchard, and is good place to take younger golfers or to tune up your game.
SHOAL CREEK (KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI)
Shoal Creek is my absolute favorite course in Kansas City. It is a public course with all of the bells and whistles of many of the pricier country clubs in the area and is meticulously maintained. Shoal Creek has consistently been rated highly by Golf Digest and Golf Week America as not only one of the regions best but one of America’s best public courses. My favorite hole is number 12. It is a relatively short Par 4 at 360 yards from the Gold Tees and 268 yards from the White tees. A creek runs through the middle of the fairway forcing a water shot and a decision to either layup or go for the green for players who feel confident with their long irons. For players on the Kansas side this course may seem like a bit out of the way but it is well worth the drive!
TOMAHAWK HILLS (SHAWNEE MISSION, KANSAS)
Many people do not care for Tomahawk and describe it as “Gimmicky” but I find it to be a very challenging and fun course. It is the oldest course in the KC Metro area built in 1910 and of course my favorite two holes on Tomahawk are the two that put this short course of only 6003 yards on the map and those are the Par 3 holes, #9 and #18. They play at only 162 and 178 yards respectively but shooting off of the cliff’s onto greens that look very small from those cliffs not only is a lot of fun but offers two of the more unique holes in the city on one course. One note about Tomahawk and that is don’t let the overall short distance fool you. Tomahawk has some serious up and down holes and can become a grind by the time a person hits the back nine when walking.
SYCAMORE RIDGE GOLF COURSE (SPRING HILL, KANSAS)
Sycamore Ridge has been rated as Kansas City’s #1 public course by Golf Digest multiple times and until I played Shoal Creek was my favorite course in the Metro. Sycamore Ridge is another course offering a combination of creeks and lakes as part of the layout with many large bunkers protecting the greens on multiple holes. At 7055 yards it can play long for those of us who find ourselves “driver challenged” but the water and numerous wooded areas have a way of leveling the playing field. My favorite hole on this course is the 215 yard Par 3 that is protected by more bunkers and has more sand around it than some oceans. This hole demands and accurate iron shot from the tee box and is great revenge for strong iron players who can enjoy watching the long hitters dig their way out of the unforgiving layout. With all of the bunkers protecting this green it is incredibly easy for those lacking touch to shoot a seven or possibly the dreaded snowman.
There are many more beautiful courses in Kansas City that could and should be listed but these five standout for me because I have either played on them often or just had great experiences while playing them. Kansas City Golf Guide lists many of the areas top courses and I encourage you take advantage of as many of them as you can!
And remember, always yell “Fore” because it is just good golf etiquette to warn others of what for many of us are frequent errant shots!