Liberty Hills – Golf At The Peak

The grand dame of Northland golf, Liberty Hills resides in a comfortable countryside setting five miles north of Liberty. At 6530 yards and playing at par 70, it is one of the shorter courses in the Kansas City area, making it an especially easy course to walk. But don’t mistake the distance for a lack of challenge.

Opened in 1967 as the first country club north of the river, the course features unusually narrow fairways and, resting at the highest point in Clay County, is subjected to more than its fair share of crosswinds. The beautiful greens are protected by numerous pot bunkers with water hazard through the middle of the course.

The combination of challenge and accessibility gives Liberty Hills its charm, while the friendly, community feel of the club brings loyalty from its members.LibertyHillsAerial

“The experience my children had in junior golf and swimming was the best,” said Lyle Kraft, a member for over 30 years. “I’m now seeing the same experience with my grandchildren. There’s no question (it’s a family and community experience). It’s a small, niche family setting and it’s still a great course. My kids always loved to come here and roam the whole complex. The staff is willing and excited to have the kids and now I’m watching my grandkids come out and do it.”

“I have played on over 100 golf courses in my life and Liberty is a course that grows on you,” said Carol Travaglione, a member since 2007. “It’s a challenging course and one that many of the members can enjoy being able to walk the course. ”

Members often cite the easy walk-ability of the course as contributing to the tight-knit community experience.

“It’s a very walkable course,” said David Eide, a 15-year member. “Most of the groups walk. I think the pace of play is still pretty quick.”

“It’s a great walking course,” agreed Kraft. “You don’t have to have a cart. You can still get exercise.”


“Number three is an interesting hole,” said Manager Sam Klos. “Our members will play it differently sometimes. People will take chances on it.”While strolling at Liberty Hills, players will find plenty of challenges to suit every type of game, particularly at par 4 number three, a short (342 yards) dogleg right which entices newer players to go for broke. But danger awaits with a slightly misplayed shot in more than a dozen pot bunkers and a sparse fairway.

“I’m not a long hitter, but I come with some people and they’ll take the risk and go for it,” Kraft said. “You can get in trouble pretty quick there.”

The rest of the course presents it’s own challenges.

“There are a lot of people who come out and see that it’s not that long, and they are big hitters, but they find out it’s got pretty tight fairways and small greens,” Kraft said. “Most of the holes, you run out of bounds pretty quick.”

“Hole number six (a par 5 and, at 537 yards, the longest on the course), I think every year it gets narrower and narrower,” laughed Eide. “And more challenging, and that makes it more fun. The whole course is fairly narrow and the rough is tough.”

Number nine (par 4, 392 yards) hooks around to the left over water to the green, requiring an exacting approach shot for a chance at birdie.

The challenges of Liberty Hills has helped produce a number of fine golfers, including Kearney’s Ryan Zech, who won All-State honors in Missouri for three years and was named the 2011 Kansas City Metro Player of the Year before becoming one of the Missouri Tigers best performers.

“Don’t miss this unique opportunity to play one of the most prestigious semi-private courses in Kansas City,” invites General Manager Megan Marshall. “The course offers multiple tee-box options as well as a golf course that presents tree-lined fairways and expansive greens that provide a true roll. Come experience an enjoyable round of golf that does not take five hours to play.”

“It’s a beautiful layout with sand traps, lakes and greens that compare to some of the five-star country clubs in the metropolitan area,” Travaglione said. “It’s a great place to unwind and relax.”

While some golfers come for the beautiful course and unique challenges of play, many simply enjoy the unhurried countryside atmosphere.

“I’m primarily at the club for golf and to socialize,” Eide said. “It’s a very sociable atmosphere and a friendly staff. I’ve actually met more people from other clubs at Liberty Hills, intermingling and socializing.”


“It’s a neighborhood course and I have made a lot of really great friends playing golf at Liberty,” Travaglione said.

Liberty Hills has just put the finishing touches on re-sodding the back nine with Zoysia grass, to match the front nine and replacing the old blue grass. While it will take time for it to come completely into full growth, it is already becoming lush and beautiful.

Re-sodding is the primary improvement made since Great Life purchased the course in April, 2013, and Marshall believes their efforts have been well received.

“I think (members’ response has been) good,” she said. “I think they’re pleased with the price and care of the course. The initial reaction (when we bought it) was ‘oh, great, here’s somebody else coming in’, but I think we’re showing we care about the members, about moving forward and taking steps to bettering the course. I think we’ve had good reactions.”

“The new owners have made a genuine effort,” agreed Travaglione, “to involve the members in creating a fun golfing experience for everyone.”

The course became available to Great Life after it sat mostly dormant for part of two years following a January, 2012, fire which destroyed the clubhouse. The club has since struggled to restore its membership ranks to a level needed to rebuild the clubhouse. It had reached a nadir when Great Life’s Rick Farrant and Doug Albers became co-owners, but they have already begun to turn it around.

“We thought that it was close to Staley (Farms) and a nice perk to have and be able to play, that’s where the intention was (behind the purchase),” Marshall said. “The price and location were good and it would help build the Great Life brand in Kansas City.”

However, Marshall cautions that they are still trying to recover some of the original Liberty Hills glory.

“We’ve only owned the course for a year and we’re still trying to get it out of bankruptcy,” she said. “The fire was a big deal to overcome. These things don’t happen over night.”

With approximately 350 current members, Liberty Hills hopes to continue adding to their rolls before taking on the next challenge. New members joining now would have an opportunity to help restore the club and get in on the ground floor of a newly rebuilt clubhouse experience.

“We’d like to get to the 400 number,” Marshall said. “That’s the sweet spot before we can move forward (with a new clubhouse). We already have renderings and ideas about what we want to do. Pretty much everything is set in place.”


Once they reach the magic number, the clubhouse can be constructed in “eight to 12 months,” according to Marshall, but even then ownership will remain committed to the Great Life ideal of affordable family-style memberships.

“That’s the Great Life model,” she said. “Affordable costs for every family type. We don’t plan on doing outrageous memberships. We’re not going to go really high. We hope to keep the same exact price. And a nice thing about Great Life membership is the opportunity to play other courses.”

In the meantime, the golf course, the driving range and the swimming pool (which opens Memorial Day weekend) are all available to members, and as part of the Great Life association, members can also take advantage of amenities at other area courses, such as the workout facility at Staley Farms. Liberty Hills’ pavilion is also available for outdoor events, such as graduations and wedding. The club will continue to host popular men’s and women’s leagues, and a variety of entertaining events for members.

The total package at Liberty Hills makes for a great value.

You don’t have to convince the members, who Marshall says “are our best advocates.”

“Liberty Hills was recommended by many of our close friends,” said Kathy Steward of their relocation three years ago, when they were looking for a residential and golfing community with a championship course to match their previous lifestyle in Wichita. “We found that Liberty Hills met all our golfing needs, such as ease of accessibility for tee times, friendly staff and practice facilities. We have played many courses in and around the Kansas City area. Liberty Hills rates up there as one of our top picks of courses in and around Kansas City.

“We would recommend golf on ‘The Hill’ to anyone wishing to enjoy a nice round of golf in the country air.”

Golfers Do, Learn, Buy, and Get Ready at the Kansas City Golf Show

Golfers filled the Overland Park Convention Center on February 21st through the 23rd and experienced just about all golf has to offer at the Kansas City Golf Show.  There was something for everyone from trying out and hitting all the latest golf equipment to instruction for adults and kids alike.

“This is always a great show for us.  A chance to share with the golfing public what our golf course has to offer,” said Brandon Marshall, Head Golf Professional at Ironhorse Golf Club.  That sentiment was shared by other exhibitors at the show, but they weren’t the only ones singing the event’s praises.

“We come just about every year and every year this show gets better,” said KC area golfer, Carl Stevens.  “I’ve been trying out the new Big Bertha driver on the range and then spent some time watching the Match Play tournament over at the 19th Hole [by Michelob Ultra].”  He went on to indicate that he had enjoyed a few beers as well.

Throughout the show, the range was one of the more popular places, as major manufacturers were letting golfers have a go on the indoor driving range.  The newest offerings from Ping, Callaway, Nike, Titleist, TaylorMade, and more were on display with experts on hand to offer advice and help golfers find, and try, the latest equipment.

Meanwhile, fun of a different sort was occurring at an entire practice area dedicated to getting kids started in golf.  The SNAG (Starting New at Golf) program brings a new approach to learning golf to area schools, and they had their program on display at the Kansas City Golf Show.  It uses oversized balls closely resembling tennis balls and oversized clubs designed to make it easy for youngsters to make contact and send a ball flying.  Young golfers were getting basic, fun instruction while they hit, chipped, and putted using the special equipment.  Hosted by the Midwest Section PGA, they are offering a set of summer camps this year to complement the highly successful school program.

“We’ll have four levels of camps this summer, with something for all levels of junior golfers at local green grass golf facilities,” said Julie Roberts, PGA Professional and General Manager at Minor Park Golf Course.  She included, “The camps are 2-day schools running 3 hours each day.  We’ll have a Level 1 program which is our SNAG iNtroduction camp for kids as young as the second grade.  Depending on a golfer’s level and age, we’ll also have what we call our Level 2 and Level 3 programs, as well as an Elite camp for older, advanced golfers in 8th through 12th grades.”  For more information on any Midwest PGA program for kids, visit their website.

For folks planning a golf trip or just planning their local golfing for the year, the choices were endless.  Local courses were on hand to share their programs, pricing, and new information, while numerous golf resorts and destinations including those from the Lake of the Ozarks area and other destinations. Brent Deems, Assistant Golf Professional at The Preserve at Rathbun Lake, had traveled from his popular destination to share what his golf course had to offer in conjunction with the Honey Creek Resort.  “We get a lot of golfers from the Kansas City area, mostly through our association with the golf show here,” he said, indicating they have been an exhibitor since 2009.  Their resort, and the rest of Rathbun Lake and all it has to offer, is a mere 185 miles away from Kansas City in south-central Iowa.  Some of the local golfers hanging around the booth shared that its a great course that has something for everyone and no difficult forced carries.  With multiple tees, it stretches from 5254 yards for shorter hitters, all the way to 6987 yards for long hitters.

Speaking of long hitters, many of the area’s self-described big hitters were huddled around the Robertson Entertainment booth and their TruGolf Simulator.  Throughout the day, they were hosting long drive contests and closest-to-the-pin competitions, with winners taking away bragging rights and free rounds of golf.  When we were there, 336 yards was what it took to win one such contest, with several other contestants reaching the 300 yard mark.  The closest-to-the-pin offered appeal as well.  Playing to 153 yards, it took a shot to 5 foot range to expect a chance at winning.  There were multiple contests each day and golfers could enter as many times as they liked to hand over the cost of entry, so even if you didn’t get your best swing on the ball during one contest, you could try again.

Kim Robertson ran the competitions and shared a bit about her company.  They sell and rent indoor golf simulators to individuals wanting the ultimate man cave or for corporate events and golf course sponsored winter competitions.  “Before getting into this business, we tried all the simulators on the market looking to find which offered the best combination of accuracy and fun, ” she said, “and we landed on TruGolf.”  Golfers interested in a simulator for personal use or for rental for an event, can contact them through their website,  Besides the competition at the Robertson Entertainment Booth, golfers were competing at a long putt contest and other fun, but very competitive, competitions.

Finally, the golf show had a lot of options to buy new golf equipment, games, training aids, and more — even a new golf cart!  Edwin Watts had an expansive on site golf shop with show discounts and deals on everything from clubs to apparel.  Some discounters and re-sellers were on hand and apparently, any offers were welcome.



5 Big Storylines For The 2014 PGA Tour  

With 2014 underway, golf fans are excited for another year of PGA Tour play. The Tour has become very different in the past few years, with Tiger Woods’ absence atop major leaderboards allowing more players to generate buzz and snatch titles. But now that Woods is once again holding the #1 spot in the Official World Golf Ranking, this year figures to be an absolutely fascinating one on Tour. Will Woods regain dominant status? Will players who have been winning in the past few years continue to challenge him? And which newcomers will rise to the top on the big stages?

All of these make for intriguing questions and topics heading into 2014. And to take them a step further, here are the top five storylines for the year in pro golf.

1. Will Tiger Woods Win A Major In 2014?
Really, this is the question of the year. And if the early betting odds are to be believed, the likely answer is yes. Taking a look at the Betfair online betting numbers for PGA Tour events in 2014, Tiger is listed with the best odds to win all 4 major events. The Masters is, according to that site, his most likely win at odds of 11/2. TigerWoods_1But because no predictions site can truly nail down what will happen, the real question may be how many majors Tiger can win and not whether he can win one.
2. Can Rory McIlroy Bounce Back?
There’s no way around it for Rory McIlroy: his 2013 campaign was a serious disappointment. He had no wins, missed the cut at The Open Championship, and failed to finish in the top-20 at The Masters or U.S. Open. Still, most seem to expect a strong bounce back for McIlroy. And just as Tiger has the best odds to win each major, the oddsmakers are putting McIlroy at second best in each event. It will be interesting seeing what effect a dominant Tiger might have on McIlroy.  So far, Rory seems to be on the right path.

3. Are New Champions Here To Stay? 
The two names that come to mind are Adam Scott and Justin Rose, both of whom won their first majors in 2013 and look poised to stick around. Henrick Stenson is another heavyweight who broke through (though not with a major) last season. Keeping an eye on the staying power of these players should be fascinating. Also, looking at the betting odds, each should have a strong 2014.

4. Can Phil Mickelson Finally Win A U.S. Open?
This doesn’t require a whole lot of analysis, but until Mickelson completes his career Grand Slam, it should be on the list every year. With so many runner-ups to his credit, the feeling is that it’s bound to happen eventually.  This year’s US Open at Pinehurst is a poetic place for him to breakthrough considering his playoff loss to Payne Stewart the last time it was played there

5. Who Will Burst Onto A Grand Stage?
Most years, we are treated to a few new names breaking through on big stages. But, really, it’s impossible to predict them. However, one popular pick to break through is Matteo Manassero. The young Italian is No. 43 in the world, and certainly seems capable of some big-time wins.  Other young guns come to mind and a few veterans can always have a breakthrough year.

One thing is for certain, it will be a fun and exciting year of golf…and its already getting interesting.

The Importance of Aim and Alignment

Poor aim and alignment is easily one of the most common mistakes in the set up. Watch any elite player and notice how they pay attention to little details such as the direction they are aimed. Rarely do you see a PGA or LPGA player line their body to the right or left of their target, unless they are trying to shape the shot. If you watch them practice, they routinely place a club, umbrella or stick parallel to their target line. This reinforces little details such as the correct alignment. Over ninety percent of the golfing population routinely slices the golf ball. Yet many aim their body to the right of the target. This forces them to hit the shot to the right of their target or manipulate the swing path so they hit the ball toward the target. aim-1

Aim is known as the direction you are attempting to hit the golf ball. A golfer will aim at their target. Therefore, if a player is attempting to hit the ball straight the club face is square to the target line. Note the golfer pictured on the left has placed a stick on the ground to help reinforce proper alignment. A club will work just as well.

Alignment is the direction the body is lined up in relation to the target. If a player is attempting to hit the ball straight their feet, knees, hips and shoulders should all be lined up parallel to the target line. In addition, the club face should point toward the target. Think of the target line as an imaginary line that runs through the golf ball toward the target.
Altering alignment is an easy way to promote a draw, hook, fade or slice. Produce a draw by aiming the clubface down the target line. Position the feet, knees, hips and shoulders to point slightly to the right of the target line. This is called a closed stance and can be seen at right. From this set up position, make a normal swing. The clubface will be slightly closed at impact causing the ball to curve from right to left. If the club face is significantly closed at impact the result will be a hook. A hook turns much more severe with a right to left ball flight.

A fade is produced by setting up opposite of a draw. Aim the club face down the target line. However, the feet, knees, hips and shoulders will be lined up slightly to the left of the target line. This is called an open stance and can be seen below. You will make your normal swing and impact should result with a slightly open clubface. The ball should start left and curve back to the right. A slice will have a much more severe left to right ball flight.
Observe any elite player and notice their pre-shot routine. Typically they pick their target and proceed to line up from behind the ball. Your vision can also alter your set up and alignment. Everyone is either left eye or right eye dominant. If you line up from the side of the golf ball, it is easy to line up incorrectly right or left of the target. Therefore, in your pre-shot routine, it is extremely important to pick a target and line up from behind the golf ball. Approaching from behind improves your vision and success rate of lining up correctly.

Matt Keller is a PGA Golf Professional with over 15 years of experience. Matt is a graduate of the Penn State PGM Program. Throughout his career he has worked at courses in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Florida and Delaware. Matt has conducted thousands of golf lessons to players of all ages and ability levels. Currently, he is a PGA Professional at Cripple Creek Golf and Country Club located near Bethany Beach, DE.

A Short Trip for A Great Round at Hoot’s

The Fourth of July back in 2002 probably arrived with its own celebrations and excitement, but for the folks at Country Creek and the golfers that frequent their golf complex, that day held intense interest for other reasons. Hoot’s Hollow, the newest eighteen hole creation of Jeff McKee’s opened and began hosting golfers willing to take on its many challenges. The Rock and The Quarry, the other courses at the Country Creek complex, have long been known as the “Best Value” in Kansas City Golf by many metro golfers. However, Hoot’s added new features and a different kind of layout to create a unique and challenging golf experience. The course features a unique Scottish links-style double green (shared by number 9 and 18, an unforgettable island green, a number of blind shots, and several doglegs that, unless properly negotiated, could lead a ball directly to water. club_house_sm

Designed by Jeff McKee, the course features rolling Zoysia fairways, fescue rough, and Dominant Plus bent grass greens. Set near Pleasant Hill, Missouri, the course sprawls across what was once cornfields and farmland. That meant the architect had plenty of natural terrain to work with, resulting in wide-open fairways, deep roughs, and most importantly, some wonderful views of the surrounding countryside. A short drive south on either 71 highway or 291 Highway (depending on your origin) will land you in the middle of the Country Creek golf complex and put you on the path to Hoot’s Hollow. Contrary to what some metro-area golfers may believe, the trip to Pleasant Hill is a quick one and nowhere near the images of a long trek halfway to Oklahoma.

Perhaps a favorite part of the course is the overall design and layout, with something unique in store for golfers on each hole. There are no overly long forced water carries or a lot of sand to worry about and most trouble can be negotiated safely. During the summer months, tall prairie grass will swallow up a wayward ball, but most holes provide a good shot at an open fairway. The open layout also brings the wind into play on many holes and, as typical in summer months, the prevailing southerly winds need to be heeded when selecting a club or start line.

Hoot’s Hollow’s signature hole is the par 4 sixteenth. From the tips, the hole is 409 yards, but a strong south wind can add a good 50 yards to an already difficult hole. Two fingers of a lake come into play on both the drive and second shot. Three mounds along the left side of the fairway can make for some uneven lies and difficulty reaching the green. A drive that goes right leaves a long second shot into a green that is perched above a rock wall with a lake in front and a peninsula landing area. An over-sized green punishes those golfers who bring a shaky putting game and find themselves with a lengthy lag to get close. The hole is certainly challenging, but also picturesque. Enjoy the view as you make your way past the sixteenth’s trouble.

To provide a little more detail as to what you can expect at Hoot’s Hollow, here is a bit of a hole-by-hole summary:

#1 – The first hole is a 393-yard Par 4 downhill that allows the golfer to get some confidence early in the round. The hole plays completely downhill and the golfer is not punished for an errant drive. A bunker in the front right provides some protection, but it didn’t come into play on our trip as the hole was cut back left. Chances of making par or better are very good regardless of position of the tee.

#2 – The 420-yard Par 4 second comes back uphill towards the clubhouse, which makes it play a bit longer than the yardage indicates. Mounds on both the left and right come into play on a drive off the fairway. As the golfers approach the hole, they are greeted by a deep undulating green with a pot bunker on the right. Chances of making par or better are increased with a drive on the left side of the fairway.hhmap

#3 – The 415-yard Par 4 third plays back down the hill and is fairly similar to hole #1. However, a lake surrounded by tall prairie grass on the left will punish a drive that strays too far off the left fairway. A bowl on the right side of the green will punish an approach shot that drifts too far off course leaving a tough chip. Two bunkers in front of the green protect the putting surface. Best chance for par or better is a drive right down the middle of the fairway.

#4 – The first par 5 of the course comes in the form of the 559-yard Par 5 fourth and this is the hole where the character of Hoot’s Hollow comes out. Water is in play off the tee, but with the south wind it is rarely an issue. Three mounds on the right take going for the green in two out of the question for a drive that is off the right side of the fairway. A pot bunker on the left is the least of a golfer’s problem as the most difficult green of the course awaits with a menacing gathering area punishing an approach shot that is far from the hole. Best chance for par or better is a drive on the left side of the fairway. The south wind helps those golfers daring enough to go for the green in two.

#5 – The 355-yard Par 4 fifth is a tricky dogleg featuring water all along the right side, mounds on the left and a peninsula green. A drive that is errant on the right will find the water as the fairway slopes towards the lake. Best chance for par or better is a drive in the right middle of the fairway.

#6- The sixth hole is a 207-yard Par 3, and is the first Par 3 of Hoot’s Hollow. The South wind makes the hole longer by a few yards and a bunker on the right protects the green that slopes to the left.

#7 – The 446-yard Par 4 seventh features a blind tee shot that lands in a fairway that slopes towards the water on the right side. Golfers are greeted with a two-tiered green after doglegging around the lake. Best chance for par or better is a drive that is on the left side of the fairway.

#8 – The eighth hole is a 152-yard Par 3 seventh playing about 20 to 30 yards longer than the scorecard indicates depending on the ever-present South wind. Nestled along a lake and hitting into a huge green with several undulations, a golfer could get into trouble if the proper club is not selected.

#9- The 485-yard Par 5 ninth is reachable in two with a good drive off the tee. OB is in play if a golfer is trying to cut the corner and three mounds attempt to pursued a golfer to take the safe route. A rocky ditch on the right can cost strokes if the approach sails right. Also, a golfer could find their ball on the wrong side of this huge double green that serves as the green for both 9 and 18. Par or better is attainable on this hole, but the drive must be on the left side of the fairway. A drive that sails right will increase the distance of the hole.

#10 – The backside starts off with a 588-yard Par 5 that forces heavy hitters to leave the driver in the bag off the tee because of a small pond waiting 300 yards off the tee. The second shot goes back up the hill towards a green that is sloped front to back. The whole is wide open, so the only trouble would be to put a tee shot into the water. Best chance for par or better is the middle of the fairway.

#11 – The 440-yard Par 4 eleventh features mounds on the left and 2 traps on the front left of the green. The elevated tee box allows the hole to play shorter than the yardage dictates, but the south wind can push tee shot into a bit of trouble. Trees hinder an approach shot that follows an errant tee shot that sailed right. Best chance for Par or better is a drive on the left side of the fairway.

#12 – The 369-yard Par 4 twelfth is a dogleg left that features mounds on the left side and two traps that surround the green. A slightly elevated tee shot is counteracted by an uphill approach leaving a partially blind shot into the green. Best chance for par or better is middle of the fairway off the tee.

#13 –The 397-yard Par 4 thirteenth forces the golfer to hit a straight tee shot. Mounds on both sides and two trees in front of the green reward precision and punish inaccurate tee and approach shots. The undulating green sits in a valley. Best chance for par or better is in the middle of the fairway off the tee.

#14 – The 510-yard Par 5 fourteenth is a gentle dogleg right with trees pinching both sides of the fairway. The green is narrow and deep and surrounded by OB in back and a pot bunker on the right. With the help of the South wind, the putting surface is reachable in two. Best chance for par or better is a tee shot to the left side of the fairway.

#15 – The 192-yard Par 3 fifteenth features a lake behind a green that slopes back to front. The southerly wind pushes the tee shot to the left of the hole.

#16 – The 409-yard Par 4 sixteenth is the signature hole of Hoot’s Hollow. It is a difficult hole when the south wind is blowing. The second finger of the lake fronts the large green. Best chance for par is a drive to the right side of the fairway and avoiding both fingers of the lake on either the drive or the approach.golf_water_sm

#17 – The 172-yard Par 3 seventeenth is an island green ringed with huge rocks. A long approach to the huge two-tiered green can make for a big score unless a golfer confidently sends a ball to the proper tier.

#18 – The 379-yard Par 4 eighteenth features a rocky ditch along the left side and mounds on the right. The green is a familiar site as it shares the surface with the ninth hole, but has more undulations for the golfer finishing up their round.

The nineteenth hole features a deck to sit out and watch other golfers finish up their front nine or their round while enjoying a beverage of their choice and a delicious sandwich from the snack bar located inside the Beautiful Clubhouse of Hoot’s Hollow.

Start Lines and Curves

In the world of playing golf with any consistency you have to consider two points:

1. The start line of the ball at impact…and
2. the amount of curve that occurs during the ball’s flight

If you are starting the ball in a different direction with every swing then how can you aim? Two way misses don’t give us very much consistency. But once you have a consistent start line then you can work on the amount of curve.

The start line, where the golf ball is starting its flight, is controlled by where the clubface is pointing at impact. So if you want the ball to start right then you had better have the clubface pointed right at impact.

But a clubface pointed right, or left, won’t get the ball back to target…it needs a little help from the clubhead path. If the face/path relationship are square to each other than the shot would be straight. Or, the clubhead face and path could be sending the ball straight to the left of target or straight to the right of target depending on the start line.

A point to remember is that if the ball is curving it is always away from the path. So, for right-handers, this means that if the ball is drawing right to left then the path the ball started on is to the right of where the ball finishes. Alternatively, the same is true if the ball is fading left to right then the path is to the left and the ball is curving away from that path and finishing at a spot right of where the path started.

A lot of players get confused however when talking about clubhead path. Their “vision” of it is that the clubhead needs to be moving in whatever direction coming into the ball. However, the reality is the path of clubhead is where it is moving from after impact as it moves forward.

The past couple of days I have had players focus on start lines by placing an alignment stick, vertically, in the ground directly between their golf ball and their target. From a square stance, I then ask them to start the ball either right or left of the alignment stick.Educating the Hands drill

We don’t talk about swing mechanics when using this exercise, but simply focus on what the hands need to do to effect the clubface for the shot I call out. Once they are controlling the ball start line I will then tell them to make the same swing, but I won’t tell them where to start the ball until they have started their downswing!

Now this gets their attention!

I am constantly amazed, and so are they, that within a couple of shots they are making the adjustment in swing to control the clubface.

I call this exercise, “Educating the Hands.”

Very recently, I had a player that kept telling me he didn’t know where his hands were or what they needed to do. After doing the above exercise, and successfully hitting his start lines, a big smile came across both of our faces.

“So, I asked, if you don’t know what your hands are doing how are you controlling them and the clubface?” He replied, “Now I know what they’re doing because you made me focus on them.”


If you don’t know what YOUR hands are doing then try this exercise and I guarantee you will soon!

If you would like to improve your golf game and spend time with Chuck call 816.880.9600 ext. 226 or email him
Chuck Evans is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher, Golf Digest Top Teachers in America,
Instructor for PGA, LPGA, Champions Tour, Nationwide Tour & Top Amateurs
Author of several national golf articles for Golf Magazine, Golf Digest, Golf Tips, etc.
Author of the book “How To Build Your Golf Swing“
Honorary Doctorate Degree in 1992 for contributions to Golf Research & Development

Tiffany Greens – An Opening Challenge

Missouri has been kind to golf enthusiasts by sprinkling charming courses throughout the state. One of the more scenic golf clubs in the Kansas City area is Tiffany Greens, which has been voted as the No. 1 course in the Northland. Located on NW Tiffany Springs Parkway, this course is a gem right near the airport.

Tiffany Greens earned its stripes as the former home to the Champions Tour and the TD Waterhouse Championship, which the club hosted until 2003. This par 72 course features lush zoysia fairways and tees, as well as manicured bent grass greens.

Natural Landscape
The soothing landscape offers quiet moments of reflection and gratitude. Indeed, Tiffany Greens contrasts the busy and palpably urgent office chatter which animate the business hours of many of the course’s players.

Golfers, like many outdoor enthusiasts, often seek wide open spaces to escape the suffocation of their urban realities. Workplace competition and stresses in America foster adrenaline, anger, and cut-throat actions. But it is often on the first tee that solace, or camaraderie, can be found

In the Northland area, the surrounding greens serve as a reminder of the beauty of the old Midwest. “Architects cannot teach nature anything,” Mark Twain reminded us. Twain, who was born in Florida, Missouri in 1835, added: “Nature knows no indecencies; man invents them.”

Tiffany Greens was designed by Robert Trent Jones II and has hosted the PGA section championships, college regional finals, high school championships, celebrity tournaments, hall of fame tournaments, and dozens of fundraisers featuring some of the top companies in the Midwest.

Recently, the Northland club added one of Golf Magazine’s top 100 instructors: Chuck Evans relocated his Medicus Golf School onsite.

“[Tiffany Greens] has a great mix of tough holes, easy holes, and everything in between,” says Mike Zadalis, who serves as general manager. “With 4 to 5 tee complexes per hole, there is a proper tee box and yardage for every caliber of player to enjoy our fun filled layour.”

Hole Number 1
Golfers visiting Tiffany Greens have the opportunity to experience the signature challenge right from the outset.

Hole number 1 is regarded as among the top starting holes in the Kansas City area, according to Zadalis. “It is a reachable par 5 if you choose to challenge the water-lined fairway and green. It is the ultimate risk versus reward hole.”

The waterway separates the fairway from the green, presenting an idyllic scene. Ironically, this beauty is contrasted with danger. A player must artfully navigate through this difficult stumbling block from the very first hole. With a well-placed tee shot, players can bail out to a stretch of fairway on the opposite side of the water or go for the green. If reached in two, a routine two putt will deliver an opening birdie. Of course, a wet ball will likely deliver a bogey or something even worse.

Hole Number 10
If you can make it through that first hole, there are other challenges that await, but perhaps the most memorable will come as you start the back nine. The Tenth hole is a longish par 3, measuring 188 from the tips, but the green is surrounded on three sides with water. More than one shot has landed on the firm green and rolled off into the water. Try to play it safe away from the water and bunkers await. Land in there and then you face a scary sand shot with water lying inches off the putting surface behind the flag.

Players at Tiffany Greens can book their tee times online which, as of 2013, typically ranges from between $40 to $55

per player depending on date and time. Try booking online where Tiffany Greens offers up to a 24 percent discount for players. While online you can review weather and climate forecasts, an important feature for those traveling into the city from out of town or for planners coordinating special events such as golfing lessons, weddings, or corporate outings.

“Our clubhouse features a fully stocked golf shop, full service restaurant & pub, banquet facilities to host weddings & parties of any size, corporate golf outings any day of the week, locker rooms, and club storage,” says Zadalis.
The clubhouse is a 26,000 square foot building. Additionally, Tiffany Greens offers state-of-the-art golf carts that feature GPS Prolink computerized yardage/scoring systems.

Master the Takeaway for Better Shots

The Takeaway

Watch any elite player and notice how effortlessly they swing the club. This results from an efficient swing and smooth tempo. The takeaway is considered the beginning of the backswing. Therefore, the swing starts with the correct set up and every movement that follows.

Start the club head back “low and slow.” Low and slow is a very common phrase used to describe the takeaway. Jack Nicklaus is famous for stating the takeaway is the most important 18 inches of the golf swing while Bobby Jones said, “It is not possible to take the club back too slow.” Begin the takeaway by keeping the club head as low as possible for as long as possible. Many amateurs severely complicate their swing through excessive movements before the club reaches waist high. A common mistake occurs by picking the club up too quickly.

Allow the swing to begin with the left shoulder and arm pushing the club back while avoiding any movements with the hands and wrists to start the backswing. Also, keep the lower body, specifically the left leg and foot, stationary until the hands and club reach waist high. There should be very little movement at the beginning of the swing. The body will create rotational movements once the club extends past waist high.

Start the swing “low and slow” by keeping the club head as low as possible for as long as possible.

Tempo is also a major concern for a repeatable swing. A slow and smooth start helps keep the correct sequence of movements. A quick takeaway can potentially pull the club and entire body out of position. Since you never hit the ball going back maintain a slow start and promote setting the club in a good position at the top of the backswing. This increases the likelihood of the club head returning to impact in a good position.

Several drills allow you to practice the correct takeaway either at the golf course or in the comfort of your own home. Without a club, begin by taking a normal set up position and allow your arms to hang down. Extend your left arm and hand back as if you are about to shake hands. The left thumb should point up toward the sky while the outside of the left hand points in front of you. The lower body should remain stable and not move throughout the drill. The drill positions the left arm and hand in the correct position approximately waist high and parallel to the ground.

Practice the “low and slow” takeaway by a tee approximately 20 inches behind a ball. Set up in a normal position to the golf ball and swing the club back, focusing on striking the tee by extending the club head back low and slow. The goal is to swing the club back as low as possible for as long as possible. The club head should hit the tee to assure you are starting the backswing correctly. In addition, if the club head misses the tee to the right or left then the swing path is incorrect. If the club head swings over the tee then you picked the club head up too quickly. Focus on swinging the club head straight back the target line low enough to hit the tee.

Matt Keller is a PGA Golf Professional with over 15 years of experience. Matt is a graduate of the Penn State PGM Program. Throughout his career he has worked at courses in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Florida and Delaware. Matt has conducted thousands of golf lessons to players of all ages and ability levels. Currently, he is a PGA Professional at Cripple Creek Golf and Country Club located near Bethany Beach, DE.

Shoal Creek Golf Course – Play One of the Finest

Shoal Creek Golf Course

In the twelve years it has been on the Kansas City metro golf scene, Shoal Creek Golf Course has established a reputation as one of the finest public courses not only in the area but in the state. The 6,950-yard, par-71 layout was designed by Steve Wolford and rolls over and around a picturesque landscape just west of Liberty.

In July, Shoal Creek will play host to the Kansas City Amateur for a fourth-straight year (sixth overall), and it also has hosted the PGA Midwest Section championships. The course has won numerous accolades, among them is recognition as the top public course in Missouri by Golf Card Traveler and the No. 2 public course in the state by Golf Week’s America’s Best.

General Manager Brett Plymell first became a club professional when Shoal Creek opened in 2001, then came back as general manager in 2008 after three years at Adams Pointe – not that he didn’t enjoy his stint at the latter course, he said. “I’m partial to this facility,” Plymell said of Shoal Creek. “I really like it here, like the clubhouse, like the people.

The chance to start at a new course is what drew Plymell to Shoal Creek initially. “The layout was very good, and the company I worked for, it was my first head pro job.” Obviously such a highly rated course has its share of challenges, but Shoal Creek won’t frustrate the average player into taking a links hiatus. The fairways often provide plenty of landing area, but several holes have tall trees on either side that can make testy follow-ups from wayward tee shots.

“The back is a little more treed than the front, and Shoal Creek runs throughout the course,” Plymell said.

While the front nine is devoid of notable water hazards, four holes require golfers to navigate doglegs with bunkers at the bend. Two of the final three holes are par 5s. No. 7 is the longest on the course, with a wide but shallow green. No. 9 can produce some long-rolling drives with its downhill slope on the fairway, but has a sharp dogleg to be dealt with on the second shot, as well as a large tree in the right side of the fairway as you near the green.

The back nine begins much like the front, with a straightaway par 4. After a downhill par 3, water must be carried with your tee shots on No. 12 and the par 3 17th, while a pond hugs the fairway on the par 4 15th and can make the tee shot on 16 seem more intimidating than it should feel. The finishing hole is the longest par 4 on the course and can dogleg right into the wind.

“When we first opened, instead of having a signature hole, we liked to say we have a signature par 3, par 4 and par 5,” Plymell said.

“The signature 3 is 17 – it is downhill and carries over Shoal Creek with a rock wall in front. No. 18 is a par 4 with a dogleg right, usually into the prevailing wind. The Par 5 is No. 9, with the tree in front. Lots of people will try to go for it in two, but the tree can block your shot.”

Shoal Creek is managed by Chicago-based KemperSports and owned by Kansas City Parks and Recreation. The two-tier practice tee has 25 stations, while the putting clock is 6,000-square feet – plenty of room to tune up for your round. The pro shop, with two PGA professionals on site, is part of an 11,000-square foot clubhouse that’s available for casual dining, corporate and charity events and receptions.

Throughout the summer, the club hosts a series of junior golf clinics and camps. With options for kids ranging from age 6 to 18, there is an opportunity to learn the game and have fun. The clinics run about 90 minutes each day of the session while camps are either half day or full day. Full day camps provide the added benefit of a 9-hole round after a morning of instruction.

Plymell added the club recently installed new touch screen GPS screens on the carts and tries to keep the pace of play moving by limiting groups to four players and staggering tee times. “The layout and the conditions and service we provide – we try to make it feel like a private club,” Plymell said.

–Michael Genet, KC Golfer Magazine freelance writer

The Path to More Made Putts – 2013 Putters

Find the Right Putter for Your Game

The putter is the most used club in any golfer’s bag and the art and practice of putting is a critical part of the golf game. It stands to reason, then, that a golfer’s putter is such a critical tool and one that most either love or hate (and sometimes both). Like all golf equipment, putters continue to use new technology and new materials. While a putter can only be as good as the golfer wielding it, some of the new offerings from the major manufacturers are worth a look if you have to be falling out of love with your flat stick.

Odyssey is certainly a top manufacturer of putters if not THE top manufacturer. Their new Odyssey Metal-X series come in about a dozen different head designs and all feature a new special insert on the face that provides a crisp metallic contact with the soft feel of a urethane insert seen on a lot of their popular putters. That’s because the Metal-X insert features two layers: a urethane inner layer to provide the soft feel with a 6061 aluminum outer layer that contacts the ball. But that might be understating it a bit. That aluminum layer is riddled with oval depressions that supposedly grip the ball (they say it’s a “mechanical lock”) and its dimples to promote a smoother, more pure roll with less skidding. Less skidding means a more consistent roll, which of course, is something all golfers desire.

Odyssey’s other new line of putters is their Odyssey Versa. The Versa’s main attribute is its color scheme. Each of the head styles in this series feature their Visionary High Contrast Alignment, which is an impressive way to say they have bold white and black contrasting finishes. Those color schemes are designed with the head shape in mind to help golfers perceive the face angle at address and throughout the stroke to improve alignment and get the ball rolling on line. All Versa putters include their newly improved, and always popular White Hot insert.

A final option from this manufacturer is their Odyssey Tank putter. If that sounds like a heavy name for a putter, you’re right. The Tank is aptly named due to a 30 to 40 gram counterbalance weight in the shaft (weight is determined by the overall putter length) and a heavier 400 gram putter head. This additional weight throughout the club is designed to quiet the hands and engage the bigger muscles to promote a smoother stroke. Another benefit is that a putter with additional weight has a much higher Moment of Inertia (MOI), meaning it resists twisting on strikes with the toe or heel. The putter literally is like a tank, powering through the ball and providing consistent distance regardless of where the ball is struck on the putter’s face.

The Nike Method Midnight includes the Polymetal Groove technology on the face that has made the original Method putters so effective and popular. This technology uses urethane and a grooved face to also provide crisp contact with a soft and responsive feel. The grooves improve roll too, by imparting overspin that reduces the amount of skidding – and skidding, as noted earlier is not what a golfer wants on any putt. Tungsten heel and toe weights improve the putter’s overall forgiveness and it comes in a variety of head shapes in varying lengths. The most notable and visible feature is the dark nickel/chrome finish that just looks cool and distinctive.

Another great putter series is the Ping Scottsdale TR. They come in twelve different head designs and the “TR” stands for “true roll.” According to Ping, true roll is what happens when a ball is struck due to the variable depth grooves found on the face of these putters. Deeper in the center and gradually shallower as they move outward, they are designed to provide better and more consistent distance on miss-hit putts. They even went so far as to test it – hitting putts on nine points across all parts of the putter face. That testing revealed a 50% increase in the consistency of the speed that balls left the putter. The insert on the face of the putter is made of lightweight aerospace grade aluminum that feels like a solid milled steel putter but distributes more weight to the heel and toe to improve MOI.

The Ping Anser series of putters have been around for at least a couple of years but are still great performing, beautiful clubs. They are completely machine milled from 303 stainless steel with a traditional and stylish satin nickel finish. The putter has some slight milling markings on the heel and toe to eliminate glare. The Anser, like other Ping putters comes in a variety of heads and styles each designed specifically for different putting strokes. Whether you putt along a strong arc, a slight arc, or putt straight back and through, there is a putter style to match. Just figure out which you are (or get a professional fitter to help) and then look for the color code that matches.

Titleist and their Scotty Cameron series of putters are popular and recognized as fantastically crafted, great performing putters.

The Titleist Scotty Cameron Select series comes in five different head styles that are precision milled with a beautiful “Black Mist” finish. Scotty Cameron putters typically have come in a bright steel finish, so this new look is a welcome variation some will find appealing. The face is deep milled, meaning it has milling grooves and marks that soften the feel of the all steel face. The putter head features heel and toe weights that vary based on the head design and shaft length to provide the right amount of stability, or they can be swapped out with heavier or lighter weights to match a player’s preference.

The new Yes! i4-TECH series of putters look a lot like the Yes! putters most golfers are familiar with, but with one noticeable difference, the finish. The new antique finish is copper-colored and lends a certain elegance and richness to its appearance.

Another new feature that is less noticeable is the “through slot” that has been seen in other clubs, including drivers, fairway woods and hybrids, and now irons. In a putter, that slot and its thermoplastic polyurethane insert are designed to improve feel by dampening vibration. Of course, being a Yes! putter, it features the C-Grooves that has been found in all Yes! putters since their introduction. Those grooves are designed to impart overspin on the ball and reduce the skidding we noted throughout this article as a bad thing for putting. Run your finger along those grooves and you’ll feel that they are angled upward and a bit sharper than you would think. That design is all part of their signature style and why those putters are so effective.

Next time you are on the golf shop’s practice green, grab a few of these putters and check out their features described above. All of them have certain designs to help make you a better putter and make more putts. Whatever appeals to you, find a professional to help get the right fit and start pouring more into the center of the cup.

–Tim Carrigan, KC Golfer Magazine and Golf Writers Association of America