For the last 25 years, Ben Frotscher has made it his personal goal to visit every public and private golf course in the state. This was no easy feat since Iowa is home to an abundance of courses (nearly 400 between the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers) and ranked among the top 10 states with the most golf courses per capita. Learn more about his journey here or keep reading to learn his insight on the top-rated public courses.
Spirit Hollow continues to live up to its billing as a top public golf course in Iowa, according to Golf Digest. What was once a 400-acre cattle ranch located just south of Burlington is now a tremendous test of golf skills set in the rolling hills and meandering streams of Southeast Iowa.
Designed by legendary golfer Arnold Palmer and his golf course design company, Tournament Club of Iowa in Polk City winds its way through the forest adjacent to Big Creek State Park. With countless elevation changes throughout the layout, it’s no surprise that the Tournament Club of Iowa is one of the most picturesque public courses in the state.
Arguably the toughest test of golf in the state of Iowa, Amana Colonies Golf Club requires precise shot-making as the course winds through 500 acres of towering timber. With breathtaking vistas and wildlife all around, you’ll certainly need your "A game" on any visit to Amana.
Located at Riverside Casino and Golf Resort, Blue Top Ridge is a uniquely playable course for golfers of all levels—in part because of its wide-open landscape. Sweeping, rolling terrain coupled with dramatic elevation changes—especially on the back nine—make for great scenery and an even better round of golf.
The course features the longest golf hole in the state, the 665-yard par-5 16th.
The second of three Des Moines area golf courses in this list, The Legacy Golf Club is a well-maintained and challenging layout just south of the metro area. The front nine winds through a newer residential neighborhood while the back nine routes through Norwalk's countryside, making it a favorite of many.
One of the newer kids on the block to the Iowa golf scene, The Ridge Golf Club is a hidden gem in Northwest Iowa. Opened for play in 2009, The Ridge is more of a links-style course with firm and fast greens that can pose a significant challenge when the wind is howling (which is quite frequently).
Honey Creek Golf Club—located near Ledges State Park south of Boone—combines picturesque golf at an extremely affordable price. While the fairly flat front nine gives you plenty of opportunities to get a good round going, the back nine—mostly played within view of a scenic river valley—will test every facet of your golf game.
Known as the oldest municipal golf course west of the Mississippi River, Waveland Golf Course is a parkland-style course built in the heart of Des Moines by Warren Dickenson and Tom Bendelow—who has designed more golf courses in Iowa than anyone else. Accuracy is a necessity at Waveland because of the mature, tree-lined fairways.
Situated within Western Iowa’s Loess Hills region, Bent Tree Golf Course near Council Bluffs is a links-style course featuring gently rolling terrain and expansive greens. One unique aspect of Bent Tree is its finishing hole—a downhill, 185-yard par-3 with both water and sand in play.
With more than 250 nine-hole golf courses around the state of Iowa, it’d be a mistake not to mention one of the better tracks in the state: Stone Creek Golf Club. Designed by five-time PGA Tour champion D.A. Weibring, the Williamsburg course's nine-hole layout features well-manicured fairways, nearly 20 bunkers, and gently sloping—yet challenging—greens.