So you don’t hit the ball as far as you used to? We have a solution.
Hodge Park Golf Course, which measures just 5,707 yards from the white tees, and just 6,181 from the blue tees, offers a good place to test your short game while still being challenged to stay away from the prairie grass that borders most of the fairways.
And with water in play on almost every hole, safety is best found in the wide fairways. The nuances of the course make it a challenge for every level of golfer, including the 300-yard driver.
“This course plays longer than the yardage indicates,” says Tim Underwood who has been the course manager and club pro for the past 20 years. “There are so many doglegs that you can’t really measure it from tee to green. There are a lot of meandering fairways and slopes that make the course play much longer than the yardage on the scorecard.”
One of those holes is No. 10, which is almost a double dogleg. To play this hole well, you need to place your drive in the middle to right side of the fairway to have a good angle at the green. You still may be looking at anywhere from 130 to 170 yards to the green. That leaves a tough approach, as the fairway narrows the closer you get to the green.
The course was built in 1973, so the trees are mature. There’s a large lake in the middle of the course, so keeping the zoysia fairways green is not a problem for greens superintendent Duane Sander and his staff.
“The course is always in good condition, which makes for a fast-paced day,” Underwood says. “It’s easy to walk the course, because it’s not too hilly. And there is plenty to challenge even the best golfer.”
One of Underwood’s favorite holes is the 376-yard 13th hole. Your drive climbs about 50 feet in elevation to the ideal landing spot, where you can finally see the pin. It also doglegs to the right, meaning the opportunity is there to cut the trees and have a short chip for your second shot. But that’s not something that very many golfers challenge successfully. The trees are thick and tend to swallow golf balls.
“If you can hit it over the trees you can cut about 30 yards off the distance, but most people don’t have that in their bag,” Underwood said.
Other hole that presents a challenge, even to regulars at Hodge Park, is No. 15. Two big trees in the middle of the fairway make almost every second shot difficult. The trees sit at the bottom of a valley between two pretty steep hills, so it’s hard to drive it past them. They’re both full of leaves and they sit within 100 yards of the green—that sits back up a hill—so hitting over them is difficult. To make it even more treacherous, the lake on the right eliminates the opportunity to avoid the trees altogether.
For the most part, if you can keep your drive in the wide-open fairways, the course is pretty forgiving. There are only three sand bunkers on the whole course, so “straight” is the most important club in your bag.
Hodge Park and nearby Shoal Creek are both owned by the city of Kansas City and managed by Kemper Sports Management. Hodge Park is just west of Liberty, just north of Highway 152.
Monday-Friday walking rates are $28, with seniors just $21. Between 1-4 p.m., regular rates are $22. After 4 p.m. the regular rates drop to $17. You can opt to play just nine holes for $16.
Weekend regular walking rates are $31, from 1- 4 p.m. they are $22 and after 4 p.m. to $17. You can play nine holes for $20 prior to 1 p.m. After 1 p.m. that drops to $17. After 3 p.m., seniors pay $17.
To ride a cart for 18 holes it’s $16 per person, and for nine holes it’s $10 per person. It’s okay to ride two in a cart now.
Hodge Park also has a “Play Until Sunset Rate.” The price varies based on the time of the year (check the website for current rates), but golfers can play until about 15 to 20 minutes before dark. Great for after work.
Bring your short game and enjoy a round at Hodge Park.
By David Smale