This column runs in the Saturday Golf Guide. We’d love to hear what some of your favorite holes are from area courses.
The best responses will be used on an upcoming edition of our Sunday Game Plan section.
You may not realize it, especially if you only play at your home course, but we’re pretty lucky around these parts.
If you’re willing to drive a little bit, you’ll find there are a number of quality courses in the area. The courses are all affordable and are pretty well-kept considering the amount of play they get each year.
As part of a group of hackers known as the PPGA — Pretty Poor Golfers Association — I’ve been fortunate enough to take in what the area has to offer.
Here’s a look at my favorite nine holes near Quincy. There are a few caveats though:
— Each course on my list has just one hole listed;
— These are the courses I’ve played the most since coming to the area in 1997, as a result you won’t see Harry Mussato in Macomb (which I’ve played just once) or Spirit Hollow in Burlington, Iowa (which I’ve been dying to get to);
— All distances listed below are from the middle set of tees;
— Unlike Schuckman, my courses are open to all. No private clubs allowed (sorry, Augusta National.)
No. 16 — Par 4, 406 yards
This is part of a great stretch of finishing holes at the Quincy Park District-run facility on the south side of town. It’s a dogleg left. There are trees to the left and right that can come into play. The hole features a nice, wide fairway, which is rarely hit by my group. There’s a bunker on the right side of the fairway about 220 yards out that can catch some tee shots.
Hit a good tee shot here and you have a shot at the green. However, a bunker protects the left front and there’s a swale on the right side. When you’re lucky enough to get the ball on the green, it’s a tough read, too. If you can make a 4 here, you’re fortunate.
Mosswood Meadows, Monroe City
No. 2 — Par 5, 490 yards
This is a big risk-reward hole. Your tee shot here is over water. If you’re brave enough to carry a lot of the water, you can drive the ball down the fairway and give yourself a chance at making it to the green in two.
However, most duffers will take an iron and safely play the ball to the right side of the fairway, turning it into a three-shot hole to the green.
Even if you play it safe, it’s not an easy hole. You’ll eventually hit an approach shot to an elevated green that’s protected by the bunkers on the left and right. The water from the lake is in play throughout the left side of the fairway.
It’s more of a survival hole than a scoring hole for our group, but it’s challenging nonetheless.
Arrowhead Heights, Camp Point
No. 1 — Par 4, 347 yards
Easily the toughest starting hole around. It’s part of a tough three-hole starting group that’s well protected by trees. If you’re errant to the right or left, your ball will catch some bark.
Hit it straight and you’re in business, but you’ve only won half the battle. A pond protects the front of the green and there are woods behind it. If you don’t take enough club, you could find the water. Take too much club and you could be out of bounds on the back side. It takes a steady hand to make it there in two. Pars are precious.
No. 18 — Par 5, 490 yards
Another par 5 where water comes into play throughout the hole. This time the lake guards the right side of the fairway all the way to the green.
There is plenty of green space to land the ball left of the water, but you can’t help but keep thinking “What if?” when you’re on the tee box. Even on approach shots to the green, all it takes is a little wind gust to help aid your ball into the drink.
This one is reachable in two if you make two perfect shots. The green isn’t easy with everything breaking toward the water.
Deer Run, Hamilton
No. 2 — Par 4, 263 yards
Some people may think this hole it too tricked up, but I like it because you have to think about how you’re going to attack. If you hit a high ball, you can take it over trees that guard the front of the green, but you’d better be accurate or else you could find a bunker or the woods that surround the putting surface.
The best play is to play a long iron or a hybrid about 200 yards into the landing area in front of the green on the right. Let your wedge do the work for you and a birdie could be yours with a little putting magic.
Great River Road, Nauvoo
No. 10 — Par 3, 144 yards
Talk about playing target golf. You’ll hit from an elevated tee down to the green. The hole doesn’t feel like it’s 144 yards away, but you still better use the right club to get there because there isn’t much room to land your ball anywhere else but the putting surface.
If your group allows mulligans (the PPGA allows one per nine), it’d be wise to save one for this hole.
Riverview, Canton, Mo.
No. 4 — Par 4, 350 yards
This hole is somewhat like No. 2 at Mosswood Meadows in that you have to hit a tee shot over water. The water here doesn’t come into play nearly as much as it does at Mosswood though. There’s a stream that cuts through the fairway about 100 yards from the green, so you have to be careful not to bomb it too long.
There’s a huge bank on the right hand side of the fairway that helps balls funnel down to the bottom. Using the bank is wise. Hit it correctly and you’ll have a decent shot to an elevated green.
If you’re feeling frisky you can even use the bank again to the left of the green to help you reach any pin placements on the back side of a generously sized green.
Bow Lake, Barry
No. 8 — Par 4, 333 yards
This hole is all about your approach shot to the green. With the fairway running downhill, any straight ball off the tee is going to put you in position to go for an island green.
For some reason, it always seems like the wind is blowing in Barry, so it won’t be easy to get your ball on the carpet. There is a little break as there is a small fringe area around the green the collects a few errant shots.
It’s not like the 17th at Sawgrass, but if you’re coming near the end of your round with something on the line, your legs could get a little wobbly staring down this proposition.
Cedar Crest, Quincy
No. 4 — Par 4, 341 yards
Another thinking man’s hole. About five years ago, you could have bombed away through some small trees and had a decent shot of getting close to the green.
Those trees are grown now, leaving players only one option — going straight. The hole has a dogleg to the right. You have to hit your tee shot straight — go long and right and it could bounce into a pond that sits in the middle of the fairway.
If you can hit the ball straight 200 or so yards, you’ll have about 140 or so yards to a small green. You have to carry the ball all the way to the green to get it there since there is a hard slope from the back to the front of the green all the way down to the water hazard. This isn’t a hole for bombers. You’ll need to work some magic with an iron or two to make a birdie or par here.