Public golf courses don’t get much better than Sunflower Hills. The Bonner Springs course just north of Interstate 70 and east of Highway 7 offers secluded beauty, rolling fairways and a laid-back feel at a reasonable price.
This year’s early rainfall and relatively cool summer weather have put the course in top form.
“It’s still pretty lush right now and the greens are in excellent condition,” said Jeff Johnson, the manager and PGA pro at Sunflower since 1981. “The greens are rolling pretty true. We spend most of the money here on the course to keep it in decent shape.”
Few holes have changed since the course opened 37 years ago, but zoysia fairways, new cart paths and a new irrigation system were added in 2003. Designed by Roger Packard, the course has six dogleg holes, fairways guarded by trees and many elevated greens.
“You have to hit every club in your bag,” Johnson said. “There’s a wide variety of shots from a wide variety of hillside lies.” Around the greens, the key is keeping the ball below the hole, he said.
The course has five sets of tees, the longest measuring a total of just over 7,000 yards. No two holes resemble each other and players won’t find a single home on the wooded Sunflower layout, surrounded by publicly-owned land. Johnson said the lack of houses draws many players to Sunflower Hills.
Sunflower is a course that can get progressively challenging, especially after the first five holes. Players encounter narrow fairways, longer and hillier holes as the round unfolds. The 12th through 17th holes are particularly daunting. But the course gives players good views of landing areas off the tee and provides fun and variety over its 18 holes. Hardy players walk the course but a power cart is relied upon by many players to get around the hilly, scenic course.
Sunflower also has a six-hole par 3 course for practice and for children and people just learning the game. It is only a few minutes’ drive from the main course clubhouse, where check-in is required.
Owned by the Unified Government of Wyandotte County, Sunflower has made a point of keeping green fees reasonable, Johnson said. The course also sells patron cards and season passes and offers senior, junior and twilight rates.
“We are a very good value, especially compared to shorter, easier courses that charge more,” Johnson said. Green fees and other information about the course are on the website www.sunflowerhillsgolfcourse.com
Sunflower Hills has among the area’s most popular senior golf leagues, one on Monday and another on Wednesday. It also has a Monday nine-hole league and Thursday ladies league.
After a round of golf, players can tip a drink or dine at the friendly clubhouse, overlooking the putting green and ninth hole. The snack bar at the club features hamburgers, hot dogs and deli sandwiches.
Sunflower Hills hosts charity and corporate golf events and tournaments, including this year’s 38th annual Wyandotte County Championship, the longest running event of its kind in the Kansas City area. The club prepares score sheet and rules and can put playing groups together. The clubhouse has seating for up to 100 people for lunch, dinner or post-tournament events. Larger groups can use the George Meyn Community Center next to the golf course, with seating for up to 350 people.
Johnson and two of his professional assistants, Mike Shatto and Rich Laing, give golf lessons at Sunflower Hills, either as a single session or a series. Their mantra is to “make the swing as simple as possible and your thoughts and concepts clear.” Not a bad tactic to take for any level of player.
A handy practice range at Sunflower can help players hone their games. The pro shop offers golf clothes, equipment and supplies, along with club repairs.
Tee times can be made online or by calling the pro shop at 913-573-8570. The address of the course is 12200 Riverview Avenue, Bonner Springs, KS 66012.