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Just because you find yourself in the upper Midwest state of Iowa doesn’t mean you can’t find some really great golf while you’re there. A lot of people consider Iowa a “fly-over” state and think there’s nothing there to offer, but if you ever do decide to “touch-down” there, be sure to bring your golf clubs because there are a lot of great courses that you’ll want to check out. With a relatively flat topography, most people wouldn’t think Iowa would have a lot of diversity in its golf courses, but they’d be wrong. You can find a quality course of any kind in the state.
Whether you live in Iowa or are just passing through, it can provide some incredibly high-quality golf that is often overlooked because of its location. Not only is it of high-quality, but the price to play is almost unmatched in the rest of the country. Make no mistake about it, Iowans love their golf, and they demand some fantastic golf courses to feed their addiction. Iowa boasts the third most golf courses per capita in the United States, so there’s plenty to choose from. Check out the list below of the best golf courses in Iowa and rest assured that every one of these will satisfy your golf itch.
Best Golf Courses in Iowa
Located just south of Burlington on the Mississippi River, Spirit Hollow is Iowa’s premier public golf course. Built in 1991 by Rick Jacobson, who’s approach was to create an exciting course that would intrigue the imagination and challenge players everywhere. The goal was to design a course that would force golfers to use every club in their bag to get around the track and that’s definitely a goal that was accomplished with Spirit Hollow. The greens here are, in my opinion, the absolute best in the state; really well kept and always roll true. All these reasons are why Spirit Hollow is the best golf course in Iowa. All this comes at a cost $80 on weekdays and $89 on weekends and holidays.
Blue Top Ridge is a part of Riverside Casino & Golf Resort in Riverside, about 20 minutes south of Iowa City. Designed by Rees Jones, designer of more than 100 golf courses. This course overlooks two rivers, lakes, and a diverse terrain, giving the golfer a great mix of geography to navigate. The golf and resort combination provides golfers a great weekend getaway that won’t break the bank. One of my favorite parts of this course is the well-manicured fairways, where you’ll never be surprised by a poor lie in the short grass. The price of a round on the weekday runs $75 and $85 on weekends during the main season.
When we talk about the best golf courses in Iowa, you’ve got to mention The Preserve on Rathbun Lake in Moravia on Honey Creek Resort State Park. It’s about 90 minutes southeast of Des Moines. Another great weekend getaway because it’s located on a resort where there are a lot of other great things to do. The course is fairly open, but filled with plenty of high grass where you can lose your golf ball. Be sure to tee it low because the wind often picks up and plays like a links-style course. The Preserve will cost you $42 (including cart) on weekdays and $48.50 on weekends. If you feel like playing 36 holes in a day, you’ll get a great deal of $20 to replay this fun course.
This Arnold Palmer designed course is located in Polk City, which is about 30 minutes north of Des Moines near Saylorville Lake. From the moment you step on the first tee, you’re almost completely surrounded by woods and open fields; making it a great escape from the city. It uniquely features back-to-back par 3’s on 15 and 16, but they are nothing alike. One has a sharp drop-off directly in front of the green that will punish anyone who comes up short. The other, is surrounded by water and will require a little bit longer shot into the green. Playing a round at TCI in season will set you back $58 on weekdays and $68 on weekends.
Amana Colonies Golf Club is located in Amana, which is about 30 minutes west from both Iowa City and Cedar Rapids. It opened for play in 1989 on a piece of property almost completely covered with trees. It winds its way along streams, ponds, and great scenery that any golfer will enjoy while they play. You’ll be forced to keep your shots straight or you risk losing a lot of golf balls in the trees or high grass. It will cost $49 to play on weekdays and $59 on weekends.
The Falls is an often-overlooked as one of the top golf courses in because of where its located, just minutes east of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, but it is technically in the state of Iowa. It’s the second Rees Jones designed golf course on the list, joining Blue Top Ridge on his résumé. This course offers wide views of the countryside and a 30-foot waterfall that flows into a lake. During the week, you’ll pay $55 to play here and $65 on weekends.
Bos Landen is located in Pella, which is about an hour southeast of the Des Moines area. Its location means it’s often overlooked too, but it provides a fun and unique golfing experience. It’s an incredibly fun course with a lot of unique holes you won’t see many other places. There are wooded areas, open fields, elevation changes, and water hazards that tie together to form a complete golf course. An 18-hole round at Bos Landen will only cost $39 (including a cart) on weekdays and $45 on weekends. It’s probably the best value on this entire list.
The Legacy located in Norwalk, which is just south of Des Moines. It’s a really well-kept course from tee to green that will challenge golfers of all skill levels. It’s always a great place to play if you’re looking for some quality golf at a great price. It’s a fairly open course, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s easy; far from it. The rolling hills force players to frequently hit shots on uneven lies. The price of a round is $45 with a cart on weekdays and $54 on weekends.
“The Wave” Des Moines’ most classic golf course and cannot be left out of the conversation on best Iowa golf courses. Built in 1901, it’s known as the oldest golf course west of the Mississippi River. It also, absolutely, lives up to its name, as the topography resembles violent ocean waves. Unless you’re up for a challenging walk, be sure to grab a cart on this course. The design is really great for a municipal course, but the maintenance can be hit or miss. If you check out Waveland, enjoy the track, but ignore the occasional burn out or dead grass. It’ll cost you $39 to ride 18 on a weekday, $47 on a weekend before noon, or $39 after noon.
Not to be confused with The Preserve, which is located on Honey Creek Resort in Moravia, Honey Creek Golf Club is located in Boone, which is about 20 minutes west of Ames. In my opinion, Honey Creek is the hidden gem of golf courses in central Iowa. It’s often forgotten about, but it’s worth a trip if you’re in the area. Specifically, the back nine is a collection of the most unique holes you’ll find in Iowa. You will feel like you stepped onto a brand new course that’s definitely not located in Iowa. A round here is pretty inexpensive too; only $26 for 18 with a cart on weekdays an $32 on weekends.
Jester Park is located about 30 minutes northwest of Des Moines, though it’s a short 30 minutes, in Granger. If you’re playing the back tees, you’ll quickly be staring down a 625 yard par 5 on the second tee box. The course will, no doubt, feel a lot longer than its 6900 total yards. I wouldn’t call it an incredibly unique design, but it will test your long irons and the tree lined holes will force you to hit the ball straight time and time again. A round here with a cart on the weekday will cost $41 and the weekend will be $48.
Otter Creek is located in Ankeny, about 15 minutes north of downtown Des Moines. This is the second Otter Creek Golf Course in this location. Originally opened in 1982, Paul Miller redesigned the entire golf course and they re-opened in June of 2009 with a completely different look; definitely an improvement from the old course, which is why it’s now considered one of the best golf courses in the state of Iowa. It’s a fairly open course with few trees, meaning it tends to get pretty windy. Also, many of the fairways are surrounded by hills which will help kick your ball back into the fairway. To play a round here with a cart you’ll pay $45 on weekdays and $55 on weekends.
No matter where you find yourself in the state of Iowa, you’re sure to find a great golf course nearby to enjoy. Be sure to put these twelve courses on your “Iowa golf course bucket list” and see what makes these twelve the best golf courses in Iowa. If nothing else, make sure you hit the eastern half of the state where the top two courses can be found. In general, you can play golf in pretty nice weather in Iowa from April to October, so book your tee time at one of these great Iowa golf courses today.