Hodge Park Brings Fun and Beauty to the Game

As the old adage goes: A bad day on the golf course beats a good day in the office. If you disagree, you’re either playing the wrong sport, or (much more likely) you need to revisit your course(s)-of-choice. Because, for every time this fickle game brings us to the brink of insanity, there’s a silver-lining waiting to be seen. In golf, this silver lining comes in the form of perspective. Without perspective, the beauty that this game exudes will never be realized. This is where the old adage rings true. No matter how poorly you’re playing, take a moment to enjoy the beauty of your surroundings, and let me know how the view compares to the inside of your office cubicle. If the world famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, dabbled in golf course design, I imagine his courses would resemble a stretch of land in Kansas City that so perfectly blends in with the surrounding environment, it’s as if Mother Nature laid the blueprint herself. For those in need of a little perspective, allow me to introduce Hodge Park Golf Course—the silver lining in the Midwest.

Hodge Park

Hodge Park Golf Course is more than just an 18-hole layout; it’s a scenic getaway: With three lakes, a creek, beautifully manicured zoysia fairways, bent grass greens, blue grass rough, rolling undulations, and natural wildlife to boot. The experience is a golfer’s dream come true. But don’t let the surrounding beauty lull you into serenity. The course–while playable for golfers of all skill levels—is far from a walk in the park.

Hodge Park is a par 71 and offers three tee boxes to choose from: (in descending order of distance) Blue, White, and Red (Ladies’ Tees). Golfers should play from a distance that suits their particular skill level. Here’s a quick rundown of each tee box’s distance/level of difficulty: The Blue tees play 6,181 yards; the White tees, 5,707 yards; and the Red tees, 5,293 yards. The slope (a measure of difficulty) for each: 117, 110, and 115 (respectively).

Course features to note: 10 out of the 18 holes feature some degree of “dogleg”, which forces players to keep the ball center-cut from tee to green. The rolling undulations create an added challenge for most shots—on the fairway and long grass alike. Pay close attention to your stance at address: Is the ball above your feet or below? Downhill lie or uphill? If undulations had a voice, they’d likely chant “OB” in middle of your downswing. Pace yourself on the first four holes, because the fifth is the #1 handicap for all three tee boxes. To say this hole is a challenging par 4 would be a huge understatement. From the Blue tees, it plays 446 yards—lengthy by a majority of golfers’ standards. Though this is one of the straighter holes on the course, you’re forced to keep the ball on the fairway, or risk finding yourself in an unplayable position to go at the green. Leave this hole with a par, and you can call it a successful round before you even approach the 6th hole.

Hodge Park

Aside from a great golfing experience, the course offers a variety of special deals to provide a bigger bang for your buck, though their regular rates hardly break the bank. For reference, playing Monday-Friday will cost $24 to walk, $40 to ride. Aside from their standard rates, Hodge Park offers three specific “specials” to aid in providing the best golfing experience for players of all skill levels (they even offer a special rate for non-golfers). The below information can be found by visiting Hodge Park’s RATES page on their site:

Parent Junior Special after 6:30 Monday – Thursday, after 5pm Fri-Sun. $13 for parent and $13 for Junior ages 17 and under

Player Development Special after 6pm Monday – Sunday after 5pm Friday – Sunday. $19 per player (Special rate for new players and their friends, includes the cart. New players are defined as anyone who can’t break 100 for 18 holes or 50 for nine holes)

​Spectators rider fee $15 for eighteen holes, $ 9 for 9 holes can putt or chip, Juniors 10-12 junior fee of $15, ride for free. All players are expected to keep a four hour pace for 18 holes, or 2 hour pace for nine holes. Onesomes have no privileges to play through, twosomes, threesomes and foursomes do. Food and beverages must be bought at the clubhouse.

Hodge Park

The course offers added value by providing a plethora of services and amenities, offering more of a private country club feel than that of your run-of-the-mill public golf course. Added services and amenities include: Individual and group lessons by their dedicated PGA Professional, junior programs, a driving range, two putting and one chipping green, club fitting, club rentals, handicap trackers, a fully stocked pro shop, snack shop, and lockers. Stay in the know on upcoming events for the 2017 season by checking in on their special events page.

As is the case with any notable course, it’s all about the experience. Hodge Park offers an experience that every golfer should witness. Beauty aside, the course has clearly made an effort to provide a country club “feel”, and, in my humble opinion, they did just that. If I haven’t made you a believer, the course certainly will. Your day job isn’t going anywhere, and neither is your cubicle. Step out for a day, and experience golf the way it was meant to be played. Experience Hodge Park Golf Course.

Deer Creek: Premier Golf in Overland Park

Long considered one of the premier golf courses in Kansas City, Deer Creek Golf Club at 133rd and Metcalf in Overland Park can now be joined for $179.99 a month as part of the GreatLIFE Golf & Fitness group.

“There isn’t a better time to join GreatLife at Deer Creek,” said General Manager, Chris Fink. “To play Kansas City’s top tier courses, at that price, you just can’t beat it!”

Deer Creek and three other Kansas City area courses are in the GreatLIFE Classic Plus tier – Falcon Ridge, Hillcrest and Prairie Highlands. Membership also includes fitness and social privileges, and the ability to play 12 additional courses in Kansas City.

deer creek course

“We remain popular as a public play course, but green fees have risen slightly since last year, creating greater incentive to join the GreatLIFE membership,” Fink said.

Since it joined GreatLIFE a little more than a year ago, Deer Creek has picked up a steady membership and is shooting for 400 members, after which it could go private. Deer Creek also continues to hold tournaments and other special golf outings, but they will taper off it as goes private.

deer creek course

Fink credits course Superintendent Brien Agler and his crew for the shape of the course. “We have some of the best golf course conditions anywhere,” Fink said. “The conditions are consistent, from hole to hole and every day of the week. That is something we are proud of.” Agler came to Deer Creek this year from Indian Hills Country Club in Mission Hills. Miles Tucker is the Assistant General Manager and Club Professional who oversees golf operations.

Deer Creek, designed by famed architect Robert Trent Jones Jr., has ranked as one of the most varied and challenging layouts in Kansas City since it opened in 1989. “It’s one of the better locations in town, no doubt about that.” Fink said.

deer creek course

Many of the holes are lined with trees or creeks. Bunkers guard most of the greens. The course undulates but not severely, and the layout is pleasing to the eye, with visible landing areas from tees and fairways. It can play tight in places and allow big hitters to swing away on other holes. That variety is what makes it a top choice among golfers across Kansas City.

And the fun starts right away on the first hole, a sharp dogleg left that plays along the backside of the clubhouse before turning up the hill to an elevated green. Big hitters can cut the corner, although the typical play is straight away from the tee box to set up an approach shot from the corner. The second is pretty wide open, but a long tee shot can reach the pond that lies to the right of the green, setting up another risk-reward decision from the tee box. And so the rest of the round goes, with no single way to play each hole and decisions dictated by the conditions and your confidence.

deer creek course

The course is 6,800 yards from the back tees, but other tees make each hole playable for all skill levels. Deer Creek is a well-populated area with mature trees and a lot of homes around the course, although most are well out of play (for most) and positioned out of the typical line of fire.

The greens are usually set at 9.5 to 10 on the stimpmeter, which is relatively fast. “We could go to 12 or 13 but we want to be fair,” Fink said. “Each course has its own standards; our greens are rolling great.”

Off the course, Deer Creek is known for its spacious clubhouse, and scenic views overlooking holes 9, 10, and 18. When it’s not being used by golfers, the clubhouse is busy hosting more than 300 special events, most notably weddings and receptions.

deer creek course

For more information about Deer Creek and the GreatLIFE membership program, or to book a tee time, call 913-681-3100 or visit www.deercreekgc.com.

By the way, the folks at Deer Creek asked us to pass this along: Mention this article and receive your first month for free!

Tallgrass – Worth the Trip to Wichita

For those who haven’t visited the Tallgrass County Club in Wichita in a while, general manager Aaron Calderon has just one message: Take a fresh look at the club and course.

Changes are occurring at Tallgrass following GreatLife KC’s acquisition of the course last year, when Tallgrass was placed in the Legend Collection tier of the GreatLife KC courses. (GreatLife KC is based in Overland Park.) Tallgrass members now can play other Legend Collection courses – Canyon Farms, Staley Farms, and St. Joseph CC – with membership privileges. Tallgrass members receive playing privileges and special pricing at other GreatLife KC courses too.

“Tallgrass is in the top tier of Great Life courses,” Calderon says. “Members have privileges at all of the top tier of courses.”

Additionally, Tallgrass CC will undergo a significant upgrade at its clubhouse beginning in late 2017, as the clubhouse will add a fitness center. This will bring Tallgrass into line with other GreatLife KC properties. GreatLife KC’s mission includes golf, fitness, and wellness for its members, and fitness centers at other GreatLife KC courses are a common thing.

The Tallgrass CC renovation will add about 3,600 square feet to the clubhouse, most of which will be a fitness center, Calderon says.

“Great Life is all about golf and fitness,” Calderon says.

He says GreatLife KC consists of 18 golf courses now, but it may increase to triple that number or more soon.

“It’s definitely a company that’s growing,” Calderon says. “We’re merging all of the GreatLife divisions together in Wichita, Sioux Falls, Kansas City, et cetera.”

The Tallgrass course in Wichita was constructed and opened in the early 1980s. It’s a par-71 course.

tallgrass course

“It was one of the premier courses in the area,” Calderon says. “However, to be honest, in the last five or six years, it hasn’t been kept under the best of shape. In July of last year, GreatLife KC took it over and it became part of Great Life KC.”

Under the new ownership, players can expect an overall improvement in the course conditions going forward. However, the basic layout of the course, which includes many beautiful homes along the course, along with plenty of water and trees, will not change.

“The course goes through the neighborhoods here,” Calderon says. “It’s a very fun course. All of our courses have their own kind of uniqueness to them. We have members who’ve been here 30-plus years, and they don’t get bored playing here. It’s not a traditional country club course that’s up and back.”

Tallgrass CC is a private course, but the country club does hold preview rounds on occasion to give non-members a chance to try the course.

“We’re a country club where people can come and enjoy the people who are here and have fun and play great golf,” Calderon says.

The 18-hole Tallgrass Country Club measures 6,758 yards from the tips, 6,195 yards from the middle tees and 5,215 yards from the front tees. The course is a par-35 on the front nine and par-36 on the back nine.

Nearly half of the holes at Tallgrass feature some sort of water hazard, highlighted by the par-3 11th, where you’ll tee over a long water hazard to a horizontally shaped green with little to no landing area in front of it. Hole number 11 measures just 130 yards from the back tees, yet it can be an intimidating hole for those who struggle with consistent length on their iron shots.

tallgrass course

The toughest handicap hole on the front nine is the 420-yard sixth hole, which is a par-4 with a slight dogleg left. It’s followed by another difficult hole, the 202-yard par-3 seventh hole, which has a large water hazard hugging the left side of the green to catch any errant shots from the tee.

On the back nine, the toughest handicap hole is the par-4 16th, which measures 454 yards from the back tees and 406 from the middle tees. This is a long par-4 with a slight dogleg to the left.

The closing hole is a 403-yard par-4 that is one of the larger risk/reward holes on the course. To increase birdie chances, golfers will be cutting the corner and making a second shot over water to a green protected by water on the right side. Or golfers can play it safer and go the longer route by hugging the left side of the fairway, reducing the impact of the water on the second shot.

The long-term plan for GreatLife KC at Tallgrass is to continue improving the course to where it’ll again be a premier course in Kansas that often will host special events and tournaments. A Kansas Golf Association Senior Series event was played at Tallgrass this year. The course is hoping to host more events in the near future, including USGA events and collegiate golf events.

Hosting the senior golf event “was exciting, and that’s the direction we’re kind of moving in,” Calderon says. “We’re trying to get the clubhouse and the course up to the place where we can hold tournaments, hold conferences, et cetera.”

Tallgrass CC offers a driving range and a fully stocked pro shop. The course hosts about 25,000 rounds of golf per year, Calderon says.

“We don’t try and bunch the course up,” he says. “We want to have a nice pace and a comfortable round.”

tallgrass course

Tallgrass offers a social membership option at the club that costs $39.99 per month for individuals and $49.99 per month for families. The social membership gives members access to all of the club’s non-golf facilities, including a pool as well as the soon-to-be-built fitness center. Social members have the option of playing golf on Mondays.

Lindsay Jones, Director of Sales for Memberships and Tournaments, says Tallgrass CC offers many different golf memberships too, including a junior membership for ages 35 and younger; a senior membership for ages 62 and older; a membership for members of the military and first responders; and corporate memberships. Each of these types of golf memberships is offered as a single person or a family membership, Jones says.

The basic golf membership starts at $225 monthly with no cart and $325 with a cart for singles and $295 and $395 for families. The special golf memberships mentioned earlier are discounted from there.

Those living at least 55 miles from Tallgrass qualify for non-resident memberships at the country club.

You can add a monthly cart rate to any golf membership you choose. Additionally, Jones says Tallgrass runs other membership specials throughout the year, such as half price guest days.

“We also are the only private course on the east side of Wichita that allows the public to have access to the driving range,” Jones says. “We also offer memberships for the driving range” for both families and individuals.

The changes at Tallgrass are well worth checking out in person, Calderon says.

“We want to get people to come out and look at us again,” he says. “We want to show them it can be affordable. It’s a great place for families.”

Tallgrass has an on-site restaurant, and it hosts weddings and business conferences in its banquet rooms. It can accommodate up to 250 people for an event. People don’t have to be members to rent the facilities, Calderon says.

Paradise Pointe: Beautiful Scenery, Challenging Golf and Maybe a Bit of History

When naming its two championship golf courses – The Outlaw and The Posse – Paradise Pointe paid homage to Clay County’s famous James brothers: Frank and Jesse.
While it’s possible the James boys may have once roamed the rolling hillsides which now surround Smithville Lake, they wouldn’t recognize the terrain today as the manmade lake was created in the 1970s with the damming of the Little Platte River.

Today the area is home to a wide variety of wildlife.

“That’s one of the beauties of our operation,” said General Manager Eddie Hall. “You’ll see deer, you’ll see wild turkeys, you’ll see eagles, you’ll see all types of wildlife up here. When we get visitors to come in, that’s one of the things they’ll always mention: ‘gosh, we didn’t know there was that much wildlife up here’. It’s beautiful.”

Enhancing the beauty is that the courses reside on land owned by the Corps of Engineers, so they aren’t lined by housing developments like many area courses, lending a bucolic feel to the open terrain. The courses are owned by Clay County and run by Midwest Golf Management.

The open landscape and proximity to the lake also bring the prevailing winds into play, which can provide contrasting play from one day to the next, and will give golfers pause before deciding their next shot.

“Both courses play heavily into the wind or play with the wind,” he said. “So, depending on wind direction the golfer has to think. You have to think what your shots are going to do because day to day the wind is going to be from a different location and that’s going to make it tricky. Even my regulars have to pay attention. You have to think about the wind and what’s going on. It can play differently every day.”

paradise pointe course

The other important feature of Paradise Pointe is the lake. Several holes, especially on The Posse, play alongside or across parts of the lake, imposing a severe penalty on imprecise shots.

“Many of (The Posse) holes have the lake, which demands shot accuracy,” Hall explained. “You have to pay attention to detail on the shots. For example, number 5 is a par 3 that you actually have to hit over the lake itself, a little inlet with a beautiful view. The green itself could be as much as a four-club green, as far as depth. In the middle of summer, when you’ve got the southern winds and you’re right in the teeth of the wind, it’s a challenging hole. If you miss left, the lake is actually just adjacent to the fringe. There’s not much room for error to the left.”

In general, The Posse plays closer than the Outlaw.

“The Posse is a little more tree-lined,” he said. “The back nine has a little more trees. The fairways are more undulating that the Outlaw and a little bit tighter.”

Designed by Craig Schreiner, The Posse opened in 1982. The par-72 course with blue grass fairways plays 6,768 yards from the back tees. The course is rated at 71.8 with a slope of 125.

“The Posse was the original golf course,” Hall said. “It is more of a traditional golf course. It goes out for the front nine and comes back to the clubhouse then goes back out for the back nine. It has a great deal of lake view, a lot of undulation.”

For a different feel, golfers can try The Outlaw.

paradise pointe course

“Outlaw has zoysia grass fairways and a little wider fairways for tee shots,” Hall explained. “It’s more of a links-style golf course. It goes out and does not come back until 18.”

The newer Outlaw plays 7,016 yards from the back tees with a rating of 74.3 and a slope of 138.

“It’s a little bit more spread out,” he said. “A little bit more room for error and the zoysia fairways are always real nice because the ball’s always sitting up as long as you’re in the fairway. There are some tricks and turns to the holes, some doglegs. We do have some undulation over there, but not as much as the Posse.”

While the Posse is a shorter course, it can be more challenging because of the possibility of irregular lies.

“The trick there is you’re a little bit more narrow and your lie is uneven more times than not,” Hall said. “There’s still undulation to the fairways on the Outlaw, but your lies are a little bit more straightforward.”

The Outlaw features a couple of signature holes, including par 3 number 10.

“It’s directly toward the lake with the lake bordering the hole to the right, the left and behind the green,” he said. “So, accuracy is a premium there. We also have (par 5) number 17, which is not on the lake but it goes down through the tree-lined fairway on both sides. Your tee is elevated and you have trees guarding the green as you approach the green, so shot accuracy there also is at a premium.”

paradise pointe course

A source of pride for Paradise Pointe is their four-hole Academy course.

“When we built the Outlaw, we actually took four holes from the original Posse golf course,” Hall explained. “We added four holes on the lake to the Posse and we took the first four original holes of The Posse. Those holes actually go around the driving range: two par fives, a par four and a par three. It’s not a pitch and putt; they’re regulation golf holes.

The Academy – for which Paradise Pointe does not accept tee times – is an ideal place to learn the game.

“It is a great facility for youth, for beginners, for couples, for seniors,” he said. “We have people that just want to come and try to get a round in and don’t want to worry too much about the crowd. They can get right around the Academy and really enjoy it. It’s a good secret we have. You get a nice variety. They are challenging golf holes. We utilize that in a number of different ways. We have some instruction out there. We have a nice large driving range, so we do some instruction there and we also have a nice putting green where we can give instruction.”

A recently completed Junior Golf Camp held at the Academy was so well attended that a second four-day Camp is being planned for later in the summer.

“We had over 40 young golfers in that,” Hall said. “We utilized our range, our putting green, as well as the Academy; it’s a great facility for us, the Academy.

Youth golfers aged 6 to 14 came from all over the Northland.

paradise pointe course

“This is beginner’s golf,” he said. “We’re very pleased with it. We had a great session. We had so much interest in this one that we’re going to likely run another one in the latter part of July.”

Paradise Pointe, which participates in the Kansas City Cup, is also home to several popular leagues – men’s, women’s and senior’s – and is proud to host a large number of tournaments with over 125 events planned each year.

The success of the tournaments is shown by how many return to the facility. The Midwest ATBI tourney has been at Paradise Pointe for 20 years and September’s Chip In For Charity Tournament, which benefits North Kansas City Hospital, will enjoy its 25th year there.

“We have a good time,” Hall said. “(The tournaments) don’t like to leave, as evidenced by Chip In. We have a number of tournaments that are 15- and 20-year tournaments that we’ve been very fortunate to partner with.”

The popularity of the tournaments and leagues speak to Paradise Pointe’s overall approach.

“I like our philosophy,” said Hall who is in his 16th year at the facility. “Our philosophy is that we want to create a nice experience for our clients to come out. We believe wholeheartedly if we do that and they have a good time, they’ll come back. That’s what we try to focus on. We love dealing with people, as evidenced by very active leagues. We have very active returning golfers every week and also just as important, we have tournaments that return.

paradise pointe course

“We try to instill the philosophy throughout all of our staff that we want to create an enjoyable, pleasurable experience when they come out.”

Those who have been to Paradise Pointe know how enjoyable the experience can be, and those who haven’t should give it a try.

“It would be a great opportunity to come out and enjoy the scenery, enjoy the wildlife, enjoy the pleasurable experience that people would have on two championship golf courses,” Hall said.

For more information about Paradise Pointe, visit their website: http://paradisepointegolf.com/

Off the Beaten Path – Golf Day Trips

Some people enjoy the familiarity of playing their favorite golf course each week, allowing them to understand every undulation of the greens, even to know every blade of grass.

Others though appreciate the challenge and excitement of visiting new courses. The Kansas City area has dozens of courses that are within a relatively short drive. These hidden gems are reasonably priced and provide a nice change of pace.

We’re going to highlight five golf courses in the Kansas City area that you may not have visited recently, three of which fit under the Great Life KC membership package (the first three below). And to make the most of your trip, we’ll highlight some can’t miss attractions and restaurants you can visit along the way.

Who knows? Perhaps you’ll find a new favorite course by taking one of these day trips!

joseph country club

St. Joseph Country Club

  • Location: St. Joseph, Mo.
  • Phone: (816) 233-0241
  • Web Site: stjoecc.com
  • Directions from KCI: Take I-29 north to Exit 50 (US-169/Rochester Road); west on US-169 to N Village Drive; west to I-29BL, north to US-59, west to Ridgeland Road, northwest to St. Joseph Country Club
  • Drive Time from KCI: 42 minutes
  • The Course: The country club, established in 1898, features an 18-hole course that underwent a renovation in 2003. The course offers tree-lined fairways with bent grass greens. The par-71 course measures 6,582 yards from the back tees and 5,992 from the white tees. The toughest holes include the par-4 443-yard sixth and the par-5 529-yard 10th.
  • Day Trip Attraction: If you’re a fan of the Old West, St. Joseph is home to the Jesse James Home Museum, which is the home in which a member of the gang shot and killed James (but has been moved to its current location), and the Pony Express Museum, which includes historical artifacts related to the Pony Express.
  • Eats: Consistently ranked as one of St. Joseph’s top restaurants is JC Wyatt House. Located downtown, JC Wyatt House is a little pricier than average, but the great food and the look of this restaurant, located in a historic Victorian 1891 home, is a lot different than most restaurants.

tallgrass club

Tallgrass Country Club

  • Location: Wichita, Kan.
  • Phone: (316) 684-4110
  • Web Site: tallgrasscc.com
  • Directions from KCI: Take I-29 south to Exit 9B to Mo-152 west; Take MO-152 to I-435 south; take Exit 12 to I-70 west; take I-70 to I-470 west; take I-470 to I-335 south; take I-335 south to I-35 south; take Exit 53 to KS-96 west; take 21st Street Exit to Tallgrass Country Club (some toll roads on this route)
  • Drive Time from KCI: 2 hours, 54 minutes
  • The Course: The 18-hole country club course features water on several holes, adding to the challenge of playing at Tallgrass. The par-71 course measures 6,758 yards from the back tees and 6,195 from the white tees. The toughest hole on the front nine is the straight-away par-4 sixth, measuring 420 yards from the back tees. On the back nine, the 454-yard par-4 16th challenges long hitters.
  • Day Trip Attraction: Wichita has been associated with aviation for many years, thanks in part to Boeing being a significant employer and to a large U.S. Air Force presence. The Kansas Aviation Museum in Wichita is located in Wichita’s former airport and in a former U.S. Air Force building.
  • Eats: The Newport Grill specializes in steak and seafood, offering a series of entrees that aren’t duplicated elsewhere in Wichita. The restaurant is well known for an outstanding Sunday brunch offering as well that you could eat before heading to Tallgrass.

Leavenworth

Leavenworth Golf Club

  • Location: Leavenworth, Kan.
  • Phone: (913) 727-6600
  • Web Site: leavenworthgc.com
  • Directions from KCI: Take I-29 south to Exit 9B to Mo-152 west; Take MO-152 to I-435 south; take Exit 18 to KS-5 north; take KS-5 to Eisenhower Road to Leavenworth Golf Club
  • Drive Time from KCI: 32 minutes
  • The Course: The Leavenworth Golf Club is an 18-hole par-70 course measuring 5,925 yards from the back tees and 5,580 yards from the white tees. The most challenging hole on the front nine is the 360-yard par-4 fifth, which requires an approach shot over water, while the back nine’s toughest hole is the 372-yard par-4 10th, also involving an approach shot over water. It originally opened in 1920 as a private course, but now is open to the public. The site includes a full fitness center, as well as a swimming pool.
  • Day Trip Attraction: The Fort Leavenworth Army Installation was one of the first posts established west of the Missouri River. The grounds include the impressive Buffalo Soldier Monument. Understand that this is an active military base, so security measures are enforced. You may want to research what’s involved before visiting, because passing through security can be time-consuming.
  • Eats: Leavenworth is well-known for being home to a U.S. penitentiary, and the Metropolitan Steak House is known as, “The Little Steak House Across from the Big House.” It’s a traditional steak house with excellent food, including steaks, burgers, sandwiches, appetizers, and sides. It’s a perfect stop after a day of golf!

Clinton Country Club

Clinton Country Club

  • Location: Clinton, Mo.
  • Phone: (660) 885-2521
  • Web Site: clinton-country-club.com
  • Directions from KCI: Take I-29 south, merging with US-71 and I-49 to Harrisonville; Take exit 157 to MO Hwy 7 south; once in Clinton, turn onto MO-52 E / Price Lane; turn south onto Vansant Rd, then left onto NE 100 Rd and continue 1.8mi. to Clinton Country Club
  • Drive Time from KCI: 1 hour, 41 minutes
  • The Course: Clinton Country Club was founded over 100 years ago, making it a historic stop, as well as a fun day of golf. In 1992, it was extended to an 18-hole course with a clubhouse, driving range, pool and tennis courts for its members. The course is a par-72 layout that measures over 6500 yards from the back tees. The front nine is headlined by opening and closing par-5s – both at a moderate length just under 500 yards. The back nine plays longer, with a challenging par-4 13th that plays as along as 424 yards from the tips. Before, during, or after the round, the casual dining “Sweet Spot” features breakfast and lunch options.
  • Day Trip Attraction: Clinton sits near Truman Lake, known as a fantastic fishery for bass and crappie anglers. The lake covers 56,000 acres and includes several public use areas and two marinas. Fishing guides are available to take you out to find what’s biting. In addition, the Katy Trail State Park starts in Clinton and is a 240 mile long developed rail-trail that stretches all the way to Machens with 26 trailheads and 4 fully restored railroad depots. Katy Trail is open to hiking, bicycling, and horseback riding and offers scenic views as it wanders along through historic small towns.
  • Eats: Mallard’s Roadhouse is easily accessible right on Hwy 7 and is known for big burgers, hearty steaks, and “home cooking” like fried chicken, catfish, and BBQ. El Camino Real is a favorite for authentic Mexican food and Square 109 is where to get a hearty breakfast before hitting the links or the lake. Square 109, like the name suggests, is right on the historic downtown square.

The Club at MariMack

The Club at MariMack 

  • Location: Kearney, Mo.
  • Phone: (816) 628-4800
  • Web Site: clubatmarimack.com
  • Directions from KCI: Take I-435 east to Exit 41B to US-169 north; take US-169 to MO-92 east to The Club at MariMack
  • Drive Time from KCI: 31 minutes
  • The Course: The 18-hole public executive course opened in the late 1980s. The Club at MariMack opened a new clubhouse and swimming pool in 2015, as well as a sports bar and restaurant in the clubhouse. It’s a par-54 executive course measuring 2,417 yards that’s great for a day trip, because you can play the entire 18 par-3 holes in just a few hours. The 209-yard first and 183-yard 18th are the two longest holes on the course.
  • Day Trip Attraction: If you appreciated the Old West attractions at St. Joseph we mentioned earlier, you’ll want to visit the Jesse James Birthplace Museum in Kearney. Guided tours are available as well as numerous attractions and historical artifacts for viewing throughout the grounds.
  • Eats: The Slivinskis Bakery offers freshly made pastries and donuts daily, making this a great place to stop before heading to the golf course. Just make sure you stop here early, because the local residents love this place and may buy out the donut selection before lunch time!

The Top Utility (Hybrid) Clubs of 2017

Utility Clubs.  That’s what “hybrids” were once dubbed, in their infancy, when they seemed like more of a novelty than required equipment. The most memorable of the early versions was Cobra’s perfectly named “Baffler,” both for its looks and its wide range of uses.

Was it a wood or an iron? Could you really hit it out of the rough?

The answer to both was a resounding yes. Utility clubs could be used out of seemingly any length of grass, as a wood or as an iron. Heck, you could putt with one if you so desired.
These clubs are no longer known as “utility clubs” but as hybrids, and they are no longer novelties, but must-haves in the bag, regardless of handicap.

No brand, it seems, is passing on the trend to expand their lines of clubs to include at least one featured hybrid, if not more. Callaway leads the pack with three models while Cobra, Ping, and TaylorMade (all featured here) are among the dozens of hybrid manufacturers.

Callaway Apex

Callaway Apex
The first, alphabetically, of three Callaway hybrids, is the Apex. It is the most iron-like of the bunch – and that’s exactly what Callaway was going for. It looks like an iron, and it performs like one, adding a bit of distance and height to the ball flight, thanks to its Forged Face Cup, which aims for a faster response on contact – a pop off the face.

This hybrid is one of the few on the market that is tailored specifically to the lower-handicappers and pros. It boasts a center of gravity very similar to an iron, which results in the workability of one as well. Contrary to a number of hybrids, a controlled ball flight – as opposed to forgiveness and distance – was the focus of the Apex. If an iron-like, workable hybrid is on your wish-list, the Apex is the one for you.

Callaway Big Bertha OS

Callaway Big Bertha OS
Yes, Big Berthas come in smaller packages than the flagship driver…like the OS hybrid. The Big Bertha OS hybrid seems targeted to the exact opposite market of the Apex. Where the Apex is smaller, with a more iron-like feel, the OS looks and acts like a 5-wood. It has a massive face that wraps around the sole of the club, making for a forgiving surface, though with that forgiveness comes a higher price tag – $250 as compared to the Apex’s $210.

Distance, as it always has been, is one of the primary focuses of Big Bertha. The OS features what Callaway is dubbing a “next-generation” Hyper Speed Face Cup, which translates to higher ball speeds and a little extra pop off impact.

The overall forgiveness of the club, too, generally caters to added distance, as with a bigger club face comes an increased percentage of hitting the club flush. If the Apex seemed too focused for the low-handicappers, the Big Bertha OS may be the stick to add to the bag.

Callaway Steelhead XR

Callaway Steelhead XR
It’s almost as if Callaway had the classic tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears in mind when designing the line of 2017 hybrids. One is catered for crisp shots and feel, with the caveat that it is tougher to hit and has a more iron-like look; another is massive, forgiving, and made for distance; while the last, the Steelhead XR, is right smack in the middle.

Like the Big Bertha, it is big and massively forgiving, though unlike the Bertha, it has a pear-like shape to it, making it look less like a wood and more like a traditional utility. It has a low leading edge, which makes it easy to navigate through the rough, should you find yourself in it, but the head is also deeper, which produces a higher ball flight and a more forgiving face. Simply put: No matter the terrain, the Steelhead XR will find a way to make good contact.

Cobra King F7

Cobra King F7
Cobra was originally known for its fantastically named utility, the Baffler. The Baffler ushered in the era of hybrids and utility clubs, and Cobra has only improved its products since, with the latest in excellent hybrids being the King F7.

Here’s how: Cobra went back in time and used the best elements of the Baffler, and upgraded them into what we see in the King F7. On the sole of the club are the traditional silver baffler rails, orange weight, and orange accenting. The point of the rails was the original use for hybrids: to be able to navigate thick turf and catch flush contact on a longer shot. The King F7 does exactly that. It may be the easiest hybrid to hit out of the rough, as it is the most effective at fighting through thicker grass.

The appearance is fairly basic: black, matte face, with a black, glossy head. No frills. Just a club, some grass to get through, and a ball to hit on the green.

Ping G

Ping G
Lighter seems to be the theme with the Ping G. The head is made from Carpenter 455 Steel that is both stronger and thinner, which cut off 8 grams of weight on the face from the prior model, the G30. The lighter face moved the center of gravity towards the back, which makes the club overall more forgiving to hit, which is, at the end of the day, the goal for the vast majority of hybrids on the market.

Like the Big Bertha and the Steelhead XR, it’s a bigger club, more 5-wood like than iron, so it’s appeal will reside mostly with mid- to high-handicappers, though low handicaps can certainly use a little forgiveness as well.

Like a good number of Ping products, the G hybrid was designed ultimately for forgiveness and consistent ball flight – even on misses, don’t expect the G to allow a ball to stray too far off the desired path. Where it might lag in distance, it atones for in consistency.

TaylorMade M2

TaylorMade M2
Given that this is a piece of TaylorMade equipment, one thing should be patently clear: This club’s goal is distance first, everything else second. As such, the M2 has a draw bias, so if a little movement on the ball flight is what you seek, the M2 is a good place to start.

In promoting distance, the clubhead is made of exclusively steel, and is more of a miniature wood than glorified iron. Because of that size, it may appear to some to be a tad bulky, but that’s also a product of the taller face, which produces forgiveness, which, you guessed it, improves distance – the more flush hits a player has, the more distance they’ll have.

On the bottom of the club is what TaylorMade is calling a Speed Pocket, which has a similar effect to the Cobra King 7 rails, which make it easier to maintain club speed through thicker rough.

TaylorMade M1

TaylorMade M1
Like with other manufacturers with more than one offering in the hybrid market, TaylorMade has an option with maximum forgiveness and one with more playability better golfers. The latter for TaylorMade is the M1.

It also features the Speed Pocket behind the face, but looks far sleeker and more iron-like at address. It is also adjustable, allowing for changes of 1/- 1.5 degrees across its twelve different settings. Add to that a moveable weight along a track and you have a very customizable tool in your hands, allowing you to adjust loft and draw/fade bias with a few quick adjustments.

The Best of the Northland and One of Kansas City’s Best

There’s a good reason everyone raves about Shoal Creek.

The beautifully-designed Northland course has been ranked by Golfweek in the top five in Missouri each year since 2006 and ranks among the top 25 courses in the U.S. as rated by layout on GolfAdvisor.com. On top of that, it’s always been one of our favorites here at KC Golfer and KCmetroGolf.com, too.

Besides the great layout and wonderful design, Shoal Creek is a local favorite also because of their superior service.

“I always tell my staff, when people are here it’s their vacation day,” said Brett Plymell, PGA General Manager, who began as the Head Professional at Shoal Creek in 2001 and later returned as General Manager in 2009.  “Even if it’s just four hours with us, treat them like they’re on vacation.  They’re trying to get away and get some recreation.”

“Besides the course accolades, we’ve also been ranked in the top five in the country based upon our customer satisfaction by the National Golf Foundation, which is pretty impressive for us,” Plymell said. “It kind of shows our dedication to customer service.”

falcon ridge golf course

The par 71 zoysia course with bent grass greens was designed by Steve Wolfard and opened in August, 2001. It plays 6,950 yards from the back tees and features challenging elevation changes in an idyllic setting designed to enhance a feeling of relaxation.

“The layout is really good,” said Plymell, who likened Shoal Creek to an Ozark-style course. “The way they used the land is really good. It’s unique; each hole is more individual. You don’t see everybody on the other holes.”

Development in the area continues to increase. “There’s nowhere in the city that’s developing as fast as the Northland,” he said. “There are more developments going in on the east and south sides of the course, but even when the house are in, they won’t be up and down each hole like you’d see on some other courses.

With a course rating of 73.9 and slope rating of 136, there’s plenty to challenge good golfers and plenty for average golfers to enjoy. The front nine features wide landing areas on wooded holes, with the longest hole on the course, the straightaway par five Number 7 playing 579 yards from the gold tees. The first nine finishes with the par five Number 9 measuring out at 536 yards with a sharp dogleg right.

falcon ridge golf course

“We kind of think that we’ve got three signature holes here,” Plymell explained. “A signature par 3, par 4, and par 5. Number nine’s kind of our signature par 5. It’s reachable in two, but there’s a big tree in front of the green that blocks any shots coming in.”

All of the water is on the back nine, which features fewer trees but somewhat tighter fairways, and is where Shoal Creek’s one-two punch puts a finishing touch on an enjoyable round.
“Number 17’s our signature par 3; it’s downhill over Shoal Creek, pretty much all carry,” he said. “A pretty, scenic hole.”

Number 18 follows as the course’s signature par 4. “It’s 460 from the back tees and usually plays into the wind,” Plymell said. “17 and 18 put together, I think, are two of the best finishing holes in the city.”

A fairly long carry over water on 18 with a slight dogleg right makes for a challenging finishing hole. “It can be tough, especially when the wind’s blowing,” he said. “The south wind makes it a pretty long hole for sure. It’s a tough finish, but it’s a good one.”

falcon ridge golf course

Owned by the city of Kansas City and managed by KemperSports, and offers a variety of other amenities, in addition to the terrific golf. Those amenities include a well-designed, modern clubhouse which can house banquets, parties and wedding receptions of up to 250 guests. The spaces inside the clubhouse include the ballroom as well as the Fireplace Lounge – a more intimate setting for groups up to thirty. Add in the Players Grill, seating 50 and with a full bar, as well as the Pro Shop, and Shoal Creek has everything you would expect of a top-tier clubhouse experience.

“We do a lot of weddings, banquets, and parties,” Plymell said. “Pretty much every Saturday this year is booked with a wedding or reception or other food and beverage event.”

The two-tier, 12,000-square foot practice area features 25 hitting stations and six target greens.
Shoal Creek has been a past site for the Kansas City Amateur tournament and will be hosting the U.S. Amateur qualifier this year. “We have a lot of corporate charity outings during the year,” Plymell said, estimating that 7,000 of their 30,000-to-32,000 annual rounds are in those events.

falcon ridge golf course

Staff are equipped to handle tournament events with up to 160 players. One of the most important tournaments will take place July 30 with a memorial tournament honoring Colonel Rod Yeager, a retired Air Force Colonel and PGA Professional who passed away in February. Shoal Creek hopes to raise $30,000 for PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere); they are asking for sponsors and silent auction items, and have hole sponsorships available.

In addition to the popular St. Paddy’s Day and Halloween tournaments, there are daily leagues. “We do offer memberships as well, so we’ve got daily play and membership play pretty much every day,” Plymell said.

Annual passes range from $215 to $439 per month, and daily play is affordably priced from $30 (twilight rate) to $69 for prime-time weekend play.
falcon ridge golf course
Shoal Creek is working to attract golfers of all kinds. “We do a lot of junior programming,” Plymell explained. “Our parent company (KemperSports) is going to have a player development month in June, so we have a lot of promotions going on, a couple of free clinics that we do.”

The ‘Get Golf Ready’ programming is popular, especially for women golfers. “We’ve seen about 90 percent women in the ‘Get Golf Ready’ programs,” he said. “It’s $99 for group lessons, introducing them to the game. And with all the homes up here we’re seeing a lot of kids, so we take part in ‘Youth on Course’, too.”

Begun in 2006 in Northern California, “Youth on Course” encourages youth participation in golf by allowing them to play for $5. “To be able to play here for only five dollars, that’s a pretty good deal,” Plymell said. “We get a lot of really good junior players here, a lot of high school kids.”

falcon ridge golf course

Shoal Creek is also the home course for Liberty High School. “We try to encourage kids to come out here as much as we can,” he said. “We don’t want to be exclusionary. I like having them around. We try to start them around here at five or six. I see two- and three-year olds out here hitting balls around all the time. It’s a fun environment. We try to make it kind of a relaxed, non-stuffy environment.”

A wide variety of programs and excellent customer service are a winning combination. “We pride ourselves on treating our customers like a country club,” Plymell said. “We try to emphasize the customer service aspect.”
And with some of the best golf in the region, Shoal Creek is a truly inviting place to play.
“The course is good,” Plymell said. “It’s getting better and better. We’re pretty happy with what’s going on right now.”
For more information about Shoal Creek, call 816-407-7242, or visit their website: shoalcreekgolf.com

Falcon Ridge Only Gets Better With GreatLife

Falcon Ridge Golf

It’s not hard to come up with three reasons golfers are drawn to Falcon Ridge Golf Club in Lenexa: Location, design and service.

That’s the way Regional Director and General Manager Steve Price sees it. Those attributes, along with Falcon Ridge now being part of the family of GreatLIFE golf courses, help explain why more balls are flying off the tee there.

“This place is as busy as I have ever seen it,” Price said. “It’s a very positive experience.” Price has been with Falcon Ridge for four years and is a PGA professional.

Falcon Ridge is among four courses in the Great Life Classic Plus category, along with Deer Creek, Prairie Highlands and Hillcrest. For $179.99 plus tax, including cart, members can play the other three courses plus nine others in two lower tiers. Falcon Ridge joined the GreatLIFE Golf & Fitness group in March of 2016.

Falcon Ridge is just a couple minutes north of Kansas Highway 10 at the Woodland Road exit and very close to the I-35 and I-435 interchange. Few courses in the area are so easily accessible.

falcon ridge golf course

The course has long been appreciated for its championship-caliber design, with no two holes alike as golfers navigate undulations, bunkers and water hazards over the par 72 layout.

“It presents a variety of shots and a variety of holes,” Price said. “The key is probably making sure you understand the distance to the greens because the greens are pretty good size. Clubbing yourself correctly is the secret.”

The course offers generally wide fairways. The first hole is a confidence-building par 4 that is relatively short and flat. The second hole par 4 is similarly manageable, but water on the right can gobble up a too-long drive or poor second shot.

The course gets tougher in a hurry as a tee shot on 3 that is slightly left can bound into the rough and creek that line the fairway on the Par 4 hole.

The course continues to mix challenging holes with relative breathers while always giving players a good view of landing areas off the tee and few blind shots from the fairway.

falcon ridge golf course

Falcon Ridge is unusual in that it has five par 5s and five par 3s. There is a stretch of seven holes on the back with only one par 4.

“It’s a very friendly course from all the different tees,” Price said. “From the back tees, it is a solid challenge for the low handicapper.”

Falcon Ridge does not have an abundance of trees, which gives the fairways and greens plenty of sun and air conducive to healthy grass, Price said. “It’s always been well-maintained,” he added.

Falcon Ridge has leagues and tournaments, detailed on its website, falconridgegolf.com. Its green fees are very competitive, including senior rates of just $36 plus tax during the week for players 55 and older.

Lessons at Falcon Ridge are overseen by Courtney Mahon, the new director of instruction. She returned to her home state of Kansas this year after serving as lead instructor for the Tour Striker Golf Academy in Phoenix. She is an LPGA professional.

Falcon Ridge has a full bar and grill menu and a popular Taco Tuesday night. Its banquet room hosts golf events, parties and receptions.

falcon ridge golf course

Falcon Ridge remains a public club but may become private before long. The course has signed up about 300 members and plans to go private when it reaches 400, Price said. Weekend golf tourneys are being phased out and events will be confined to Monday through Thursday, once the course has 400 members he said.

Memberships run from April 1 to March 31. GreatLIFE has also set 400 as the private membership threshold at its other three Classic Plus clubs, Price said. Members can play all four courses any time and can play the 13 courses at the Classic and Champion levels anytime except before noon on Saturday and Sunday.

“It’s a great business model,” Price said. “There is the potential for 1,600 members total at the four Classic Plus courses.”

When the clubs go private, members will be allowed to bring guests.

falcon ridge golf course

Membership at a GreatLIFE course also provides access to fitness centers at five of the 13 clubs, something that is especially attractive to families, Price said.

“The whole idea behind GreatLIFE is to enrich the lives of families and individuals through golf, fitness and healthy lifestyles – for individuals, couples or the whole family.” Price said. GreatLIFE also has its own citywide junior golf program to stimulate more interest in the game, he said.

Besides a winning design and favorable location, Falcon Ridge strives to bring golfers back through positive interaction at the front counter, in the pro shop, on the practice tee and in the dining area.

“We back everything up with the best service we can give,” Price said.

Tee times and more information about Falcon Ridge can be found on its website or by calling the pro shop at 913-393-GOLF (4653).

Player’s Irons for 2017

Irons golf

Now that the 2017 golf season is upon us, the time has come to kick your game into high-gear. Before doing so, consider revisiting a few fundamentals to give yourself the best chance of success on the course this year. A typical golf bag is comprised of somewhere around 75% irons. On any given hole, the average golfer is nearly guaranteed to hit at least one iron shot.
The caliber of irons you put in your bag are, therefore, worth considering. Your ball-striking ability is a crucial component to your overall craft as a golfer, and like any craftsman knows, you are nothing without your tools. The article below outlines six new iron sets introduced this year in what many call the “Players” category – meaning single-digit handicaps would be the typical target audience for this lineup. Learn why the best of the best put their trust in these irons and why you should too.

Callaway Apex Pro

Callaway Apex Pro
Whether you’re a scratch golfer or a 20+ handicapper, your irons should provide an aesthetic that’s pleasing to the eye. Callaway built their Apex Pro irons with an artist’s touch, ensuring eye-catching appeal for golfers of all skill levels. More importantly, Callaway addressed the playability of their new irons by focusing on three specific components: feel, precision, and customization.
The Apex Pros are made from 1025 mild carbon steel and advanced quadruple net forging, which creates the soft feel off the face that players prefer.
The multi-material design optimizes each club’s center of gravity (CG). The longer irons (3-5) are more offset, with a tungsten insert that lowers CG for higher launch. The shorter irons (6-wedges) have a higher CG for a controlled, penetrating trajectory, further optimizing their playability.
For added customization, these irons are offered with a wide selection of steel shaft options at no upcharge. Speak with your local pro to decide on a shaft best suited for your style of play.

Cobra King Forged Tour

Cobra King Forged Tour
The Cobra King Forged Tour Irons offer superior feel, accuracy, and consistency for the better player. Cobra also focused their attention on club-face center of gravity to ensure consistent shot-making. Strategically placed tungsten inserts in the heel and toe position put the center of gravity directly behind the impact zone on the club face for consistent distance and trajectory control. Consistency is key when it comes to improving your game.
Cobra also understands that feel, like club aesthetics, is a lesser known component that most players deem important. A Thermoplastic Polyurethane insert located behind the hitting zone on the club head medallion damps vibrations and improves feel like a muscle-back iron.
Consistent shot-making is half the battle. Getting your ball to stop on a dime, or release into an uphill hole-location is also crucial. CNC milling on the club face improves groove & face structures to deliver maximum spin control.

TaylorMade P770

TaylorMade P770
The critique on TaylorMade irons in recent years has been the lack of Tour-caliber technology being introduced. TaylorMade answered their critics with their P770 irons, which received nearly 5 stars in the innovation/performance category. This innovative technology utilized an advanced forging process, which not only improves performance, but (like the Callaway Apex irons) offers more of an eye-catching aesthetic. The precision-milled faces and grooves offer that solid feeling off the club face that instantly turns a terrible round into something of beauty. Get used to the “sweet spot” feeling, because the club face offers phenomenal forgiveness.
When creating the P770 irons, TaylorMade wanted to offer a club fit for Tour players and amateurs alike. They specifically focused on two components: technology to optimize ball speed consistency (thus enhancing forgiveness) and a lower center of gravity (which creates a higher launch angle compared to older TaylorMade models). The result is a high-performance iron with improved ball-striking forgiveness and a memorable feel for players of varying skill levels.

Mizuno MP-25

Mizuno MP-25
The Mizuno MP-25 Irons are my top pick in the category of Innovation for 2017. These irons are made from boron-infused carbon steel, which is more durable than traditional steel. Furthermore, the boron allows for a thinner clubface and a slot behind the face that provides additional ball speed. In order to activate the boron, Mizuno designers added a micro-slot to the club face, which gives the club added flex for improved distance. I’ve seen these referred to as a suped-up version of traditional blades. What does this mean for you? Improved shot-shaping abilities and distance without compromising forgiveness.
If transitioning from an outdated set to new irons scares you, the Mizuno MP-25 irons may be the first set you consider. The clubs use traditional lofts, which regulates the distance gap between clubs. You’ll therefore be able to gauge shot distances much more easily/efficiently.
As someone who grew up playing Mizuno Irons, I’m the first to recommend this brand. Mizuno consistently pushes the envelope in terms of innovation without compromising playability.

Ping i200

Ping i200
Ping irons have been gaining more and more traction in recent years. Ping’s desire to offer forgiving irons at a great price is shown once again in their i200 irons. This new model has a smaller clubface compared to models from years prior. The weight saved from the smaller club face was redistributed to the hosel and toe areas of the club, which, amazingly, offers even better forgiveness compared to previous models.
The i200 irons are crafted from stainless steel for optimum strength and durability. While some clubs focus on one or two factors, like distance and spin (for example), the Ping i200 irons aim to offer a happy medium among power, precision, and feel.
Not only does the weight distribution (from the club face to the hosel/toe) offer better ball-striking, if you find yourself in the deep rough, you will have an easier time keeping the club square through impact.
Ping also utilized a hydropearl chrome finish on the club faces to repel moisture for improved surface interaction and crisper shot-making abilities.
Additionally, the irons are manufactured with a concealed soft elastomer insert that activates at impact, providing instant vibration damping for unprecedented feel off the club face.

GreatLife Promises Face Lift to Venerable Blue Springs CC

GreatLifeKC has added Blue Springs Country Club to its roster of area golf courses, with the anticipation of restoring the club while also bringing their philosophy of combining golf and fitness to the Blue Springs area.
While the quality course itself is unchanged, the GreatLife acquisition has re-invigorated management of the club, which is now under the direction of former Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles defensive back Larry Marshall.
Marshall, who relocated to the Kansas City area after his NFL playing days, describes himself first as a businessman, but also as someone who enjoys the game.
“I’m an avid golfer,” he said. “I love to play.”
Marshall’s business acumen will be put to the test as the club has recently fallen onto hard times.
“I honestly don’t know anything about behind the scenes (at a country club),” he said. “But, I’ve owned my own business. It’s just like running any other business. I’m sure that’s why (GreatLife) put me here.”

blue spring course

Built in 1969 by Colonel John Davis, the 6,590-yard course was one of the best courses to play in eastern Jackson County. As new courses came into the area and the golf business hit a snag, the club changed ownership several times.
“The last couple of owners, the last three to four years, they really let it go,” he said. “But GreatLife’s thing is, we want to move on from day one.”
This makes for some busy days for Marshall, who took over management of the course April 1.
Among the plans for GreatLife will be adding a fitness club.
“We have a separate, free-standing building,” Marshall explained of the building which current serves as the pro shop. “Eventually, what they will do is put the fitness center over there and the pro shop will be moved into the middle of the dining room. The fitness center be open 24-by-7. Everybody will have a key and you can come in there any time and work out.”
As part of the GreatLife experience, access to the fitness center will be included with memberships at Blue Springs CC.
In Marshall’s previous life as a professional athlete, he had a lot of experience with workout facilities, but he was pleasantly surprised by the variety and quality of equipment anticipated for the fitness center.
“We saw new treadmills that are motorless,” he said. “It works just like a regular treadmill, it goes as fast as you want, as slow as you want, and there’s no maintenance. I was kind of dumbfounded. (GreatLife) are into the fitness side of it.”

blue spring course

While a firm date has not yet been set for opening the fitness center, Marshall expects it to happen soon.
In the meantime, he is also working to renovate the 19th Hole, a popular place for food and beverages.
“It’s something that I found out everybody likes about this club,” he said. “You can drive your cart right up to the door and get yourself sandwiches, beer, juice, anything you want, and it doesn’t eat up a lot of time.”
It has already received a new paint job and updates to its equipment. Marshall is in the process of getting health department approval and expects it to re-open this spring, and he is also working to upgrade the façade of the building.
“That’s the little things to get the course back to being ready,” he said. “Structurally, first impressions go a long way. We’ve had contractors out; all that will be addressed shortly. People will look at the club and go ‘wow’. And not only the golfers, but the whole neighborhood will see what improvements we’ve made to the club.”

blue spring course

GreatLife is also investing in a new fleet of golf carts.
Marshall doesn’t expect to see any changes to the course layout and praises the overall condition of the course.
“Of all the things I’ve heard (since) I’ve been here, everybody loves the condition of the course,” he said. The superintendent is doing a great job there. Every day I hear people say the course looks great. We’ve had great feedback. The greens themselves came back extremely quick; everybody likes how they roll, and I’m talking about the members who play here all the time. They’re the guys I’ve got to impress.”
Marshall wants to continue to impress the existing members by maintaining the course at a high level and bringing back some of the club’s original beauty, but he also has the task of growing membership and he welcomes the challenge to improve the club while attracting new faces.
“The thing is they have to see some improvements,” he said. “Like I tell my members, it’s like any other business. Memberships bring in business revenue, revenue brings in improvements to the club. We can build on that. I tell them ‘this is your club, not anybody who works here’.”

blue spring course

The club had 81 members when GreatLife took over and has increased to 130; Marshall hopes to increase that number further.
“I have a goal of 200 by the end of the year,” he said. “That’s what I would like to do. We have our everyday members that come out and play all the time, but we need new blood. With the club being 50 years old, we need to get to those millennials, those 25-to-40 year olds that love to play golf.”
Marshall and GreatLife believe they can attract those new members by combining fitness with quality golf at an affordable price.
“At a relatively inexpensive price, they can come out and play this course as much as they want,” Marshall said. “And they have the opportunity to go to Hillcrest, Drumm Farm, Prairie Highlands, all these other quality courses, for a very inexpensive price.”
As part of a GreatLife, members have access to 15 Kansas City area courses, plus Tallgrass in Wichita and Osage National in the Ozarks.

blue spring course

Along with Drumm Farm and Liberty Hills, Blue Springs is a GreatLife Classic membership, with individual rates starting at $59.99 per month. They also offer memberships for couples and families, each of which provide full access to the fitness center as well as membership privileges at the three Classic courses and all five GreatLife Champion courses.

Blue Springs has men’s, women’s and senior leagues and a full slate of tournaments scheduled for this summer. There is also a strong social environment, including about 20 members who have been around since the club was first founded.
“Great Life’s doing a great job getting the club ready,” Marshall said. “It’s not going to be today or this week or this month, but give us a year or two, and we should be off and running. That’s my goal.”
For more information about Blue Springs Country Club, visit bluespringscc.com
For more information about GreatLifeKC, visit greatlifekc.net