By Max Godwin
South Kansas City is home to an abundance of courses to get out and play on, no matter your skill level. Here’s a guide for this summer to the public golf courses in the southland.
Minor Park Golf Course
Most residents of south Kansas City pass Minor Park Golf Course regularly as it sits in such a visible location at Red Bridge Road and Holmes Road. It is one of the shorter 18-hole courses in the area. The tree-lined fairways are typically well-maintained. Minor Park is a great course for a wide range of skill levels and is a good value for a tee time.
Most holes at Minor Park feature spacious fairways with big open greens to target. It’s a walkable course and fun for the improving player without having to play through too many hazards.
Creekmoor Golf Club
The only course in Kansas City that hosts a PGA sanctioned event each year is Blue Hills Country Club for the AdventHealth Championship, and that course will require an extremely expensive membership cost in order to play. But the Monday qualifiers for the AdventHealth Championship are held at, the only course that is playable to the public that hosts a PGA sanctioned tournament.
So, if you want a PGA level course to test your skills on, Creekmore is probably the place. Creekmoor is located in Raymore and features bentgrass tee boxes and putting greens with zoysia fairways.
Hillcrest Golf Course
Hillcrest is an old-school country club golf course that sits deep in Swope Park for a peaceful round of golf surrounded by woods.
The course was designed back in 1916 by famed Scottish golf course architect Donald Ross, who was an apprentice to Old Tom Morris at St. Andrews, the birthplace of golf, in 1899. Ross designed many of the traditionally top-ranked courses in the United States including Oak Hill which will host the 2023 PGA Championship. Hillcrest is a great course to get a sense of the natural designs Ross preferred. The holes are still laid out the way he drew them up over a century ago.
The sloped zoysia fairways and slanted greens challenge the lie of each shot and the course layout forces you to make decisions between clubs. The course is well maintained and the white sand bunkers are some of the nicest in Kansas City.
The new fleet of carts is lithium battery-powered at Hillcrest and each cart comes with an installed screen that shows the layout of each hole on the course with the distance to the hole and the direction of the wind on the green.
Heart of America
There’s no better place to practice than Heart of America in Swope Park. With a great driving range, practice greens, and a nine-hole course with rolling fairways it is a welcoming and unintimidating place to learn the game. Heart of America is home to the Tom Watson Academy which has some of the best junior golf programs in the city.
There is a par-3 course for the kids and if footgolf is more your thing, that is kicking a soccer ball through a golf course, you can do that at Heart of America also. If you don’t feel like playing a full 18 holes or want an easier course to play or learn on then Heart of America’s nine-hole course is the perfect option.
The picturesque view of downtown Kansas City from the fairway of the 17th hole is enough of a reason to play the Swope Memorial Golf Course by itself. The history of the course is another worthy reason to venture into Swope Park for a round. Swope was designed in 1934 by A.W Tillinghast and in 1949 it hosted the PGA’s Kansas City Open. In fact, it’s the only public course in the Kansas City area to ever host a PGA event.
Not far from the Kansas City Zoo, Swope is a hidden gem that not enough people seem to know about. The local high school golf teams can often be found playing Swope on weekdays in the fall. Like Hillcrest Country Club, the setting of Swope Park gives the course a secluded feel carved out of the woods.
Swope Memorial does not have a driving range, so if you need to get some swings in before hitting the course you will need to do that just down the road at Heart of America.
Fred Arbanas Golf Course
Fred Arbanas sits right next to Longview Lake with an affordable 18-hole course and a par 3 course that is nine holes. It is known to be one of the better courses in the area. The par 3 course is the best short nine holes course around and can still challenge your game. The course has a beautiful view of Longview Lake along the 12th hole.
In 1999, the golf course was named after former tight end Fred Arbanas, who played on the first Chiefs team to win the Super Bowl and later went on to a long career in politics as Jackson County Legislator.
Eagles’ Landing is a solid course further south, in Belton. The course offers discounted tee times for Belton residents. It is in a more rural area and has an open layout overall, but watch out for the 69 sand bunkers that dot the fairways and guard the greens.
The golf course surrounds an apartment complex in Grandview. It is not that well maintained, but it might be the cheapest place to play 18 holes with a cart. Other than some drainage and erosion problems on a course, Grand Summit is an enjoyable course with lots of elevation changes, water hazards, and hidden greens.
There’s a good practice area with chipping and putting greens and a large driving range. The course offers various memberships that are an affordable way to play consistent golf. Tee times are usually easily available at Grand Summit, so if other courses are booked it’s worth checking out.