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

Tiffany Greens – Beautiful AND More Playable Then Ever

Tiffany Greens has been one of Kansas City’s most compelling and beautiful golf courses since it opened in the Northland in 1999. Designed by Robert Trent Jones II, Tiffany Greens gives golfers a new look on every hole over rolling terrain, zoysia fairways, and large greens.

Built as a championship course that hosted the TD Waterhouse Championship, a Senior PGA Tour event during the first four years, Tiffany Greens is becoming more playable for a wider range of golfers. The course this year has moved up the forward tees so more golfers, such as juniors, seniors and women, can reach greens in regulation.

Research showed that the forward (red) tees at Tiffany Greens were too far back, said General Manager Kyle Hurst. Reaching the green in regulation was difficult for golfers who played from these tees, he said.

tiffany greens opening

“The complaint we have heard most often is that the course is too hard and there are too many forced carries,” Hurst said. “This is a game after all. We are supposed to be having fun.  We are putting the forward tees in places to make the experience more enjoyable and fair so golfers with a wide spectrum of swing speeds and driving distances can reach greens in regulation and putt for pars and even birdies.”

The course has moved the forward tees to temporary fairway positions. After some period of evaluation, tee boxes will be built to accommodate the tees, Hurst said.

“The better players can still play back, and the course will give them all the challenge they could want,” Hurst said.

Ground crews at the course, under the guidance of Superintendent Randy Cox, have also made the course more playable by mowing rough shorter, Hurst said. The biggest change has been to cut formerly high native grasses back so that balls hit there can be found and played more easily. Changes in the tees and the rough are already starting to bring more players to Tiffany Greens, Hurst said. “Play is trending up,” he said.

tiffany hole 04

The course was already known for its wide fairways, giving long hitters some freedom to swing away and have leeway if tee shots wander left or right. “That’s one thing that sets us apart, when you stand on the tee, you feel confident that you can swing away due to our wide mowed areas,” Hurst said.

Approach shots to the greens, often guarded by bunkers and water and with elevation changes, still make pars and birdies a challenge. Another change being made on the course this year involves the bunkers. Most of the 42 sand traps are being resized and redesigned to help prevent washouts during heavy rains.

“When it rains hard, the sand comes down and the mud comes down with it,” Hurst said. “Having the bunkers more clean and consistent is what golfers want.”

tiffany hole 14

Tiffany Greens, near Kansas City International Airport at 5900 NW Tiffany Springs Parkway, is a par-72 layout that measures 6,977 yards from the furthest-back tees.  It has five sets of tees in all. Few courses have a more dramatic opening hole, a par-5 that measures 510 yards from the back. The tee shot will be short of a small lake that the fairway bends around in a dogleg right. Players have a choice of laying up left of the water or going for the green or a landing area just in front of the green.

The first hole sets the tone for the rest of the course, which never gets tiresome because of the variety of layouts and often-present water hazards. The front nine traverses the quite countryside and does not take golfers back to the clubhouses like most front nine configurations, but food and drink are usually available from beverage carts.

Most of the back 9 winds through an upscale neighborhood of homes and six of the holes do not border any other back 9 holes. Tiffany Greens’ large clubhouse and deck overlook the golf course and make a popular 19th hole for players.  The clubhouse has a bar and dining area surrounded by windows fronting the course.

tiffany hole 16

Tiffany Greens has ballroom space that can host receptions and other events for up to 200 people, under the supervision of Food & Beverage Manager Krissy Power. The club also has a side room that can accommodate up to 50 guests and a pub that holds up to 90 people.

Guests interested in holding an event at the clubhouse are encouraged to contact Power at 816-880-9600, ext. 224, or write kpower@tiffanygreensgolf.com.

The course has a new PGA Head Golf Professional this year, Doyle Harris, who oversees the golf side at Tiffany Greens, including merchandise, tournament and league play.  Harris comes to   Tiffany Greens from Elgin Country Club near Chicago, where he was also the club pro.

Tiffany Greens has various levels of memberships, green fee rates and league competition that are detailed on its website, www.tiffanygreensgolf.com. Tee times are available online or by calling 816-880-9600. For more information about memberships, tournaments and leagues, contact Harris at 816-880-9600, ext. 206, or via email at dharris@tiffanygreensgolf.com or Hurst at 816-880-9600, ext. 223, or via email at khurst@tiffanygreensgolf.com

Driver Tech for Your Game

When did golf become so darn… techy?

Sure, golf has always feigned the appearance of a sophisticated, erudite game, but check out the diction being used by some of golf’s most trusted names: “titanium Exo-Cage,” “ultralight triaxial carbon crown,” “acoustic engineering,” “turbulators,” “Vortect technology.”
The list goes on, all the way to biomimicry and “geocoustics.”

Most in your Sunday morning crew didn’t study astrophysics in college, so after parsing through that mumbo jumbo technological jargon, here’s what you need to know: The innovations Callaway, Titleist, Srixon, Ping, and Taylormade, among others, are introducing to golf technology are working immensely in your favor.

From 1980 to 1993, the average driving distance on the PGA Tour increased a whopping three yards, from 257 to 260. By 2017? That number was just 10 yards shy of the coveted 300-yard threshold – and that’s an average. As of the beginning of Masters week 2017, there were 35 players on the PGA Tour averaging better than 300 yards off the tee.

This can be attributed to a wide variety of factors – balls, player improvement, course maintenance, weather – but club technology is inarguably chief among them. So whether you’re a layman or one of the aerospace experts working with Callaway, all you really need to know is this: It’s easier to make a little white ball go a long, long way.

big bertha fusion
Callaway Big Bertha Fusion

Perhaps the most reliable name in golf when it comes to the big stick, Callaway’s Big Bertha, is back and easier to hit than ever. How this is done is actually fairly rudimentary. Callaway simply restructured where the weight of the club would lie, moving the heavier materials to the perimeter of the club and the lighter aspects to the face.

What this allows is a driver that still maintains force – or that signature “pop” off impact – while being maneuverable along the face of the club, making for a bigger hitting window for the user. Essentially, it’s a mid- to high-handicapper’s dream, as the Big Bertha has always touted itself to be. What’s different is that the crown is made of a material – Callaway calls it a “titanium Exo-Cage and ultralight triaxial carbon crown” – that is 65 percent lighter than standard titanium, portending higher swing speeds yet also increased forgiveness.

The shape and look of the club is a bit wonky, far from the typical half-moon you would find on most drivers. It’s sharper, more of an egg-like look. Callaway claims this increases aerodynamics and a more efficient and faster movement through the swing.

big bertha epic
Callaway Great Big Bertha Epic

This isn’t just the Big Bertha. Nor is it the Great Big Bertha. It’s the Great Big Bertha Epic. A name can be just that – a name – but when adding a descriptor like “epic” onto one of the most successful club lines in golf, well, Callaway must mean business with its latest version of Big Bertha.

The Epic features what Callaway calls “Jailbreak technology.” There is a fair amount of scientific jargon in terms of what this technology does and how, exactly it does it, but what the average golfer needs to know is this: It “changes how the head and face behave at impact to promote more speed across a larger area of the face for increased average distance,” per Callaway’s website.

The Epic isn’t so much trying to differentiate itself from previous lines of the Big Bertha as it is from the XR 16, of which it is 64 percent lighter, a cut-down due to a carbon crown as opposed to titanium.

The end result is higher ball speed and a slightly higher launch, but with less spin – all of which promote more carry and more distance off the tee. Not bad, huh?

titleist 917 D3
Titleist 917 D3

Similar to Callaway, Titleist is touting a lighter club face for increased forgiveness without sacrificing power. But what Titleist seems to have focused on in regards to the D3 is reducing spin off of impact – which results in more distance – and a lower launch angle. With less spin, the ball will be more likely to cut through the air, and a lower launch angle will reduce the amount of drives that seem to balloon off impact.

Where Titleist differentiates itself is in its movable weight. Virtually every manufacturer offers a driver with customizable features, but the D3 has a neutral and a top-heavy setting that golfers can toggle between, depending on their preference, as opposed to the standard “draw, neutral, fade” options offered on most other drivers.

The neutral setting is designed for forgiveness, as the weight will be lower on the club. The top-heavy option is exactly as it sounds, keeping the weight back so the golfer can maximize control of the ball flight.

srixon z565 driver
Srixon Z565

Where Titleist zigged, Srixon zagged. Titleist sought a lower launch angle with its D3, and Srixon, in the Z565, aimed for a higher launch with a draw bias. Now, is the draw bias going to fix that massive slice that keeps calling out of bounds home? No. It’s simply a club with a heel-favored sweet spot, which encourages a nice, right-to-left (for righties) ball flight.

What appears to be the main objective of the Z565, however, is forgiveness. Srixon expanded the face of the club, creating almost a wrap-around effect, which provides better performance on off-center impacts. Four grams of weight, in fact, were removed from the crown and restructured throughout the club, lowering the center of gravity and thereby creating a more forgiving club face.

An appeal for the Srixon, for some, is that it went back to basics when it comes to club aesthetics. It has become vogue for drivers to be decorated with logos or designs, shapes, “speed tracks,” or any other visually pleasing appeal (we’re looking at you, Ping and TaylorMade). Srixon reversed course, going with the standard black top with a chrome face.
No frills. Just hit the ball and watch it fly.

ping g driver
Ping G

Dragonflies and drivers. They don’t seem to be the most likely of duos, and yet that’s exactly what Ping has done with the G. PING claims that its engineers “analyzed the dragonfly’s intricate wing pattern to design ultra-thin crown sections for extreme CG and maximized MOI.”
To translate: Engineers took a look at how a dragonfly’s wings work and mimicked that movement with its driver to optimize its center of gravity and forgiveness.

As you might expect, a club that was loosely based off of an insect has a unique look to it, with curves and ridges on the crown that make the club more aerodynamic. As has been PING’s modus operandi, however, the latest model is one based on forgiveness, as its massive clubface suggests.

The G is light and large, with an emphasis on reducing spin and the launch angle, which should appeal to golfers of all handicaps.

taylor m2
TaylorMade M2
It is no coincidence that the man leading the PGA Tour in driving distance, Dustin Johnson, plays TaylorMade. TaylorMade has long been synonymous with woods, and Johnson’s 316.2 yards per drive – four yards longer than No. 2 Luke List – are a testament to that.

Johnson, however, is bombing away with an M1, though it’s only a matter of time until he makes the upgrade to the M2, which offer a similar look with slightly different features. The M2 boasts what TaylorMade is calling “Geocoustic sole shaping,” in which the club’s “sunken sole shape enables a larger clubface,” and a larger clubface invariably leads to increased forgiveness. But where many drivers might sacrifice distance for forgiveness, the M2 kept power at the forefront.

The M2 has a lighter crown with a sturdy base, making for a low center of gravity and thereby increasing distance. Similar to the Srixon, the M2 also features a draw bias with its heel-based weight, another aspect designed to maximize distance off the tee.

Wedges

wedges featured

You drive for show. You putt for dough. But what about those tricky shots around the green that, more times than not, we fail to get up and down? Why has this become such an overlooked portion of our game? The pros put in an incredible amount of time on their short game and greenside shots – some estimate well over 50% of their practice time – perhaps it should be a focus for you too. The next time you are left with a dicey pitch shot to salvage the round of a lifetime, you’ll be thankful you put in your time. Of course, a great short game requires the right tools and the information below provides a snapshot of the hottest new wedges available.

Titleist Vokey SM6

Titleist Vokey SM6
Folks, Titleist did it again. There’s a reason their Vokey SM6 wedge is the preferred choice among PGA Tour professionals. The game of golf continues evolving, driven, in part, by equipment innovation. Titleist keeps pushing the envelope with their wedge technology and the SM6 wedges offer an array of benefits, which we can narrow down to three specific components: center of gravity (COG), groove design, and grind. The center of gravity is determined by a specific loft-to-weight ratio. There’s the lower-lofted wedges (PW, GW), mid-loft (SW), and high-loft (LW). This COG technology combats loft variations by realigning the club face’s center of gravity to promote consistent, predictable shot-making.
When it comes to delicate pitch shots, spin is king. The Vokey SM6 wedges feature TX4 groove technology. The low-loft wedges (46°-54°) are designed with narrower, deeper grooves. Whereas, the high-loft wedges (56°-62°) have wider, shallower grooves to help stick it close from anywhere around the green.
Furthermore, the SM6 wedges are offered with 5 different grind options: F grind, M grind, S grind, K grind, and L grind. Each one is designed to work with a golfer’s particular style of play and from various turf conditions. Consult with a golf professional to identify the best choice for your particular style of play.

callaway md3 milled 1

Callaway MD3
The newly designed MD3 wedges have three different grinds (W, S, C) as well as Callaway’s Progressive Groove Optimization. The W-Grind offers a wider sole, ideal for bunker play, soft course conditions, and players with steep swing planes. The S-grind is the most versatile of the three, created with just about every course condition in mind and recommended for both steep and shallow swingers alike. Finally, we have the C-Grind, meant for firm course conditions and players with shallow, around-the-body swing planes. The Progressive Groove Optimization is engineered with a 3-groove design to make spin consistency between irons and wedges more reliable. The Pitching and Gap Wedges include 30V grooves, which cater to steeper angles of attack; the 20V grooves are ideal for bunker play; the 5V grooves in the lob wedge caters to those delicate, short-sided greenside shots, when stopping the ball on a dime is imperative.

Cleveland_RTX_2r

Cleveland RTX2.0/CB
When Cleveland began designing the RTX 2.0 wedges, they aimed to solve a common pain point: Shots from 125 yards and in. With the likes of Graeme McDowell, Keegan Bradley, and Hideki Matsuyama providing expert intel, the Cleveland RTX 2.0 wedges are considered the perfect antidote to a struggling mid-range game for golfers of all skill levels. Cleveland’s Rotex Face Technology continues to expand shot making possibilities to boot. With 15% sharper grooves compared to last year’s model, and the roughest face pattern permissible within USGA guidelines, you can rely on predictable spin, shot after shot. The grind design is engineered to provide a perfect combination of versatility and dependability, though I can’t say I would recommend this particular model for players with significantly steep or shallow swing paths. It is much better suited for players with neutral swing paths.

Taylor Made EF

TaylorMade Tour Preferred EF
Like all other wedge manufacturers on this list, TaylorMade emphasizes the significant effects of groove design on shot-making. In fact, this is where TaylorMade differentiates its wedges from the competition’s. By taking a different approach to the traditional groove design, TaylorMade has effectively created a niche in the wedge manufacturing market. For the most part, grooves are created on a clubface by milling (or cutting) them into the face or they have been cast with the grooves as part of the die, or mold. TaylorMade has gone against tradition and developed an electroforming process to create grooves. For non-chemists out there, this innovative “milling” technique translates into sharper grooves and increased club longevity. If you’re looking to improve your spin around the greens and want a long-lasting wedge, consider TaylorMade’s Tour Preferred EF model, the juggernaut of wedges.

Ping Glide Wedger

Ping Glide
Ping took a similar approach to TaylorMade when designing their Glide wedge, but instead of focusing on groove design, Ping created a fully custom club. From the grip, down to the club face, these wedges are a fully integrated “system” designed for greater consistency. In addition, Ping’s proprietary Gorge Groove Technology promotes consistent shot trajectory and spin for every loft. The Ping Glide wedges are available with four different soles: Thin, Wide, Standard, and EYE2. The thin sole caters to firm conditions and shallow swing paths; the wide sole was made for softer conditions and steeper swing paths; the standard sole provides the best of both worlds (soft/firm conditions, as well as a variety of swing paths); the EYE2, with its throwback name, also provides the best of both worlds and promises to improve bunker play.

Mizuno S5

Mizuno S5
Mizuno took a craftsman’s approach when designing their S5 wedges, which feature a unique Silhouette profile. With PGA professional Luke Donald providing expert input, these wedges offer two sole grinds to get up and down from all angles and lies. Mizuno’s technology offers Quad Cut CNC milled grooves to promote spin. S5 wedges come in 25 different loft and bounce options, ensuring all distance possibilities are accounted for. Furthermore, the S5 wedges offer grinds complimentary to their high and low bounce options: High bounce (15% sole grind) and low bounce (25% sole grind). The grind compliments the bounce by allowing the high bounce version to play higher and the low bounce to play lower.

The wedge technology is out there, no doubt about it. Now, it’s a matter of finding the right option for your game. Consult with your local golf professional to weigh the pros and cons for all wedge models. Once you find your wedge, practice, practice, and practice some more. Then, stick it close, tap it in, and repeat.

Prairie Highlands Eyes Return to Prominence

Prairie golf course

Regularly recognized over the years as one of Kansas’ best, Prairie Highlands is hoping to return to its place among top-tier courses. To accomplish that, General Manager Shawn McGuire was recently brought over from Hillcrest to help spruce up a course which consistently ranks among the top five Kansas courses.

“Our main focus has been getting Prairie Highlands back to the prominence of when it opened,” he said. “I remember when I first came to Kansas City, this was one of the places to play. It was a brand-new golf course; it was in pristine condition.”

Restoring some of the brand new feel is one of McGuire’s primary tasks.
“That’s our goal,” he said. “We’re trying to get back to people thinking that about Prairie Highlands, but we want people, when they come out here, to have a good time.”

prairie highlands

A complete course makeover was not needed, though. The basic structure was still sound.

“I felt like the bones were there,” McGuire said. “It needed the fine touches. Really, there’s nothing wrong with the layout. There’s nothing wrong with the fairway, or the rough, or the tee boxes. The bones are there. Our goal is to make sure of the small details, the little things that add up.”
He and new superintendent Jeff Clark set to work with a detailed plan to upgrade the course.

“Part of what we focused on, initially, was the greens,” McGuire said. “My stance has been if you get the greens slick and fast, people talk. Part of what we did was invested in two new greens rollers and two new greens mowers. We needed some upgrades to make sure that we could have some consistent green speed and to do some things that really made our patrons happy and anybody else that decided to play here. It really was just a concerted effort to say, hey, we want our greens to be a little firmer, a little fast, and consistent.”

Prairie Highlands

The new greens rollers lack hydraulic fluid, which eliminates the risk of damage to greens from leaks. This kind of attention to detail shows, too, in their approach to watering the greens.

“We focused on watering a little bit less,” McGuire explained. “Making sure that we dry them out a little bit; they’re a little firmer, a little faster. I’d seen and heard in the past where maybe a little bit of overwatering had happened. When I first came on I really noticed. It really didn’t hold ball marks very well. It tore up the greens because they were so soft.”

Prairie Highlands goes to great lengths to preserve consistent green speeds and overall high-quality status of the greens.

“At times, when you dry them out and on days like this when it’s hot, we’ve got two or three guys out at all times hand-watering,” he said. “They work hard and do a really good job keeping them that way. It’s a tough challenge, but it’s one that we’re willing to meet. We’ve really tackled our greens this year. That was our goal that we focused on this year: green speed, green consistency.”

Prairie Highlands

Another challenge McGuire and his staff are currently tackling is to upgrade the bunkers.
“What we’ll continue to do to add to (our) product is upgrading the majority of our bunkers,” he said. “That’s our next goal. It’s a slower process, a long-term process, especially when you’ve got 58 of them.”

In addition to fine-tuning the course itself, they have upgraded their customer service.
“Not only did we change our staff here a lot at Prairie Highlands with our maintenance crew,” McGuire said, “but here at the pro shop we really freshened up what I would consider the soul and kind of aura when you come in and who you deal with and how they are.”

They also added a new fleet of carts featuring a new GPS system.
“It gives you full-on distances to bunkers, which our people that play here are accustomed to having,” he said. “We had an older system a couple of years back. We brought this one on and it’s done really, really well for us. It’s a little sleeker design. It’s just an added perk.”

Prairie Highlands

To make it easier to use for both customers and staff, Prairie Highlands has introduced a more comprehensive pricing system. Instead of having separate pricing for golf, for a cart, for a range pass, etc., the course offers it all in a set of membership packages ranging from $89.99/month to $149.99/month.
“We’ve tried to combine some of those things to make one price so that we’re not necessarily nickel-and-diming people,” McGuire explained. “It’s more of an all-inclusive approach. There’s some difficulties in that, but I also think it kind of changed the attitude of what we are providing for our customers, so, for me, it’s just kind of added value and seems to be a positive sentiment.”

The par 72, links-style course with zoysia fairways and bent grass greens remains a terrific golf destination. At 7,100 yards from the back tees and with four sets of tee boxes, it accommodates every kind of player. There are several interesting holes and McGuire has his own favorites.
“I really, really like number nine,” he said of the 570-yard, par five. “It’s a full risk/reward. I think it’s easier playing it when you hit a good drive and you’re in an area where you can go for the green in two, but normally you’ve got to carry a lot of water and there’s some bunkers up there as well. So, it brings not only the intelligent target golfer into play but also the guy that wants to grip it and rip it.”

Prairie Highlands

Number 15, another par five, at 537 yards, is similar to number 9, but with water on the other side.
“Ultimately, I’m a kind of par-five guy,” McGuire said. “Number 15 requires a decent tee shot then it’s a little bit different because the water’s on the left, not like number nine where the water’s on the right. You can go for it, but there’s bunkers all up along the right. Both are huge risk/rewards if you want to get on in two, and if not you’ve got to really kind of be smart about your layup shot. Both of those holes would be my favorites.”

Number 6, a 377-yard par four, is also on his list of favorites.
“You can hit an iron off the tee box and still have a short iron into the green,” McGuire said. “You’re hitting over a smaller, kind of an elongated green, to a wide green with a lot of pitch in it. I really think it’s a lot of fun.”

The spacious layout gives players a lot of options.
“Because of the space we have, we can kind of move the tee boxes,” he said. “They can play as easy or as hard as you want. But they also have a decent amount of slope in them that make them challenging. If you’re playing the right tee boxes, I see this course being a lot of fun for all ages and all types of people because you’re going to be in the same general vicinity and you’re going to have the same problem: do I go for it or do I lay back.”

Prairie Highlands

Overall, McGuire hopes Prairie Highlands customers will enjoy their visit and want to make it a regular stop.
“When I came in, what I thought we really need to focus on was making sure that not only do [golfers] have a good time, but they feel they’ve gotten good value,” he said. “They leave here thinking, ‘man, I’d love to play here again’. Not just because of the golf course, but because of the way people treated them.”

For more information about Prairie Highlands, visit www.prairiehighlands.com

Leavenworth Golf Club

Leavenworth Golf Club

Imagine a place that offers a beautiful tree-lined golf course, complete fitness center, expansive locker rooms, swimming pool, and an on-site bar and grill for as little as $49.99 per month.

No, it’s not a belated April Fool’s gag. Leavenworth Golf Club is a package of golf, fitness and fun that really isn’t too good to be true.

Located in Lansing just outside Leavenworth, the golf club is operated by GreatLife KC, which also runs The Oaks Golf Club in Leavenworth and nine other courses in the Kansas City and St. Joseph areas. Members at Leavenworth also have playing and fitness privileges at The Oaks and certain privileges at other GreatLife locations as well.

Leavenworth

GreatLife took over Leavenworth Golf Club in 2010. The course was founded in 1920 and was previously Leavenworth Country Club, a private venue. Players have seen dramatic improvement in the condition of the course in recent years.

Credit for that goes to course superintendent Shane Dorsey, who had previously worked at Falcon Lakes, according to Chris Herrig, general manager at Leavenworth and The Oaks.

“He has come in here and really taken care of the course,” Herrig said. “People play the course once, and they want to come back. The biggest selling point is probably the greens. They are really good right now.”

Leavenworth

Leavenworth is available for daily green fee play, but it doesn’t take many rounds to make a membership a much better deal. Singles can play, without a cart, for $49.99 monthly, families for just $69.99. Adding unlimited cart usage brings the rate up to $99.99 for singles and $149.99 for families. With that rate, comes the fitness center and outdoor pool.

“Membership has really taken off,” Herrig said. “We have gotten a lot of new members starting this year.”

GreatLife has other prices and packages at The Oaks and its other courses: Drumm Farm, Falcon Ridge, Liberty Hills, Painted Hills, River Oaks, Royal Meadows, Canyon Farms, Staley Farms and the St. Joseph Country Club. Information is available at greatlifekc.com or by calling 816-305-6242.

Leavenworth

Leavenworth Golf Club, at 455 W. Eisenhower in Lansing, is a rolling, tree-guarded course that plays to 5,925 yards from the back tees, 5,580 from the middle and 4,916 from the women’s tees.

While not considered a long course, the par 70 layout puts a premium on accuracy and placement, especially on several dogleg holes. Lake Oliver, named after 1948 club president J.V. Oliver, poses a threat on the 9th and 10th holes. Another pond is on the 5th hole and a creek traverses the 8th fairway. The course also has 23 traps.

Leavenworth

“Most people hit driver on most holes, but there a couple of doglegs where an iron is advisable off the tee,” Herrig said.

After the round, golfers can retreat to Jake’s Bar & Grill overlooking Lake Oliver. Burgers, chicken strips and other food and snacks are served inside or on a shaded deck.

The golf course hosts a number of leagues, including a Wednesday morning women’s league, a Wednesday evening 2-man best ball league, a Thursday 2-man scramble, and Friday couples league. There is also some tournament play. The golf professional is Josh Fisher.

Leavenworth

The fitness center is equipped for beginner or advanced workouts and has a personal trainer. The bright, cheerful facility is surrounded by windows that look over the course and grounds. On the lower level, members can make use of modern, fully carpeted locker rooms with shower facilities and spacious wooden lockers.

To learn more or to inquire about membership, the clubhouse phone number is 913-727-6600 and their website is www.leavenworthgc.com

Deer Creek and Falcon Ridge Join GreatLife

GreatLife

The GreatLife golf family just got bigger.

The regional golf and fitness group has added Deer Creek, Falcon Ridge and Wichita’s Tallgrass to its group of fourteen (14) GreatLifeKC courses.

During a July 29 open house, GreatLife owner Doug Albers explained why the addition of these courses made sense.

“It’s a great addition to the courses we already have in our family,” he said. “Now we’re somewhat on the Johnson County side. We’ve had a heavy presence on the Missouri side of the state line, until we got Canyon Farms recently. Now we get to kind of round out this side of town. In the big 435 loop of life in Kansas City there’s a whole lot of access to our golf courses for all of our members.”

Deer Creek and Falcon Ridge join Drumm Farm in the ‘Classic’ tier of courses, while Tallgrass becomes part of the ‘Legend’ tier, along with Canyon Farms, St. Joseph Country Club, and Staley Farms. The ‘Champion’ tier remains the same, including Leavenworth, Liberty Hills, Painted Hills, River Oaks, Royal Meadows, and The Oaks.
GreatLife CEO Doug Farrant was pleased to add these courses to their offerings, even though 2016 has been a hectic time for all involved with Painted Hills, Royals Meadows and Tallgrass all coming into the GreatLife family at about the same time.

“We’re having a lot of fun doing what we’re doing,” he said. “We’re really excited about these because these are two really great properties, and Drumm Farm we would really put in that category, too.”

GreatLife

Both Deer Creek and Falcon Ridge are currently public, daily-fee courses. GreatLife has plans to take them to a private membership level which helps increase the value of the course and the surrounding properties.

“(Local homeowners) would rather have it become a more of a prestige-type of course than a public-type course because they feel that it adds to the value of their homes,” Albers said. “And it probably does, especially if they have a home on the golf course.”

Farrant explained that the process has worked well at their ‘Legend’ level courses and expects the same results for Deer Creek and Falcon Ridge.

“We’re really comfortable with the membership model,” he said. “We’ve got some history on this and we’re officially full at Staley Farms. Canyon Farms is probably under 80 from being (full). Once again, I think more is better. The more we add – courses, fitness, activities, all of the above – is all good.”

As always with GreatLife, the focus is not just on golf. Plans are afoot to enhance the existing golf offerings at Deer Creek and Falcon Ridge with access to fitness facilities and additional family-oriented activities.

“It’s an evolving process,” Farrant said. “It is what we do. We’ll eventually have fitness options and we have definite ideas on what we’re going to do over here, but we’re not quite ready to announce that yet.”

“They’re working on that,” said Deer Creek General Manager Chris Fink. “There’s a possibility of adding on to this building and adding a fitness facility in the future, or joining up with some of the local fitness clubs. Joining here, our members would become a part of that fitness center, doing a partnership. There are a lot of things going on behind the scenes to try to get fitness here at Deer Creek.”

GreatLife

Primarily, GreatLife wants to provide activities for the entire family, including fitness, plus FootGolf and FlingGolf, which are golf-oriented variants of soccer and lacrosse, respectively.
“It’s one more thing to get families here,” Albers said. “We can have a dad on a weekend playing golf and mom goes shopping and he’s got the kids. Well, now he can go out and play nine holes at Drumm and his kids can play right next to him, playing FootGolf or FlingGolf. Or we can have a group that tees off that’s playing regular golf and right behind them is a group that’s playing FootGolf and behind them is a group playing FlingGolf.”

“Any family activity is good for us,” Farrant added.

GreatLife is also the first organization to offer another fun item with the introduction to all of their courses of the Golf Skate Caddy, which Albers expects will improve speed of play.
“If a foursome goes out – all four players are on a Golf Skate Caddy – they’re all going to their own ball individually at the same time,” he said.

“We just put those in last week,” Fink said. “It’s different. It’s something that’s going to change golf a little bit. They are fun to ride. We’re the first courses in Kansas City to have them, all the GreatLife properties.”

The offering from Sprocket Golf is like a golf cart built for one person who rides it in a manner similar to a Segway, quickly allowing individuals to move directly to their own ball.
“All the millennials are excited,” Albers said. “I’m excited and I’m not a millennial. Being on one of those things would be super fun to get out there and just go to your own ball and play.”
Of course, the golf at Deer Creek is always good.

GreatLife

“It’s the golf course itself (which makes it unique),” Fink said. “The golf course conditions are really good. The greens are really good here. I don’t want to say it’s a hidden gem because it’s been around for a while, but the golf course is a good golf course. Deer Creek’s been around a long time. I’m just excited to get it back on the map, being a place that people want to be at, just a fun place.”

Deer Creek is also a good place for community and corporate gatherings.

“We have two and a half banquet rooms,” Fink said. “We have a multi-boardroom style that fits 20 to 30 people and then we have an upstairs one that holds 150 and then another one that holds about 300. Last year, we did about 70 weddings. This year we’ll do 60 and next year we’re on track to do 80. Plus, we do another 300 or 400 events, whether it’s corporate or bar mitzvahs or retirement dinners, birthday parties, meetings. We do a lot of corporate meetings.”

At Deer Creek and Falcon Ridge, and at Drumm Farm, the goal is to increase membership to about 400 with a collective membership level of at least a thousand for the three courses. The annual membership at Deer Creek, Falcon Ridge or Drumm Farm allows members to play at any of those three courses or any of the ‘Champion’ tier courses, while play at the ‘Legend’ tier courses would be available for a small additional fee. Membership at any level also provides discounted rates at Osage National for the golf course or their “Stay & Play” packages.

Members have access to 58 regional clubs. The reciprocal play opportunities at 14 clubs in the Kansas City, Wichita and Southern Missouri area means there will always be somewhere for members to play, even when your home club is closed for a tournament or other private event.

“There’s going to be a lot of availability for people to play,” Fink said. “Even if we have a tournament or Falcon Ridge has a tournament, there’s still other golf courses these guys can go play. From a market standpoint, it’s going to be fun to watch. Everybody’s a part of the GreatLife family.”

GreatLife

“Somebody may have an outside tournament on (one course),” Albers explained, “so it gives them somewhere else to play instead of saying ‘we’re out of luck, our course is shut down’.”
Reciprocal club access also helps members in other ways.

“You may have a guy who lives here and works in Independence, so he can go out and work out at that facility out there and he plays golf here,” Albers explained. “There are always those tradeoffs. Maybe it’s absolutely the reverse. He plays golf there and works out this way. So, I think with the 435 loop, this gives everybody so much access to all of these properties.”
“Everybody’s still going to have a home course,” Farrant said. “We wanted to have that member feel, but we’ve got a few people that just play them all regularly. I think that’s a real added benefit. If you’re a GreatLife member, there are 58 courses you can play for basically a cart fee. As that continues to expand we just hope that continues to get better and better.”

Another positive aspect of being a GreatLife member is that it benefits the community. Fifteen percent of Drumm Farm’s revenue goes to the GreatLife Cares Foundation, a charitable organization which assists foster care children and families.

“When you play golf there you’re technically helping the Drumm Farm Children’s Institute,” Farrant explained. “They’re a fabulous thing. They do some really great work. It’s something that really makes you feel good to get behind and support.”

There are a lot of good reasons to become part of the GreatLife family.

“It’s just a good day to be a GreatLife member,” Albers said. “A lot of times we’ll see a family come out and to be a part of that quality time – you can tell they’re enjoying themselves, even if it’s not playing golf – is something we take a lot of pride in.”

For more information about Deer Creek or Falcon Ridge, visit www.deercreekgc.com or www.falconridgegolf.com

For more information about GreatLife, visit www.greatlifegolf.com