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.”
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.
“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.”
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.
“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.
“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/