The Takeaway: One of the better public courses in Iowa, though the competition in the Hawkeye state for that accolade isn’t strong. The back nine is significantly better than the front and is noted for having the longest hole in Iowa. Grade C
Designer: Rees Jones in 2009
Cost: $45 - $85 (includes range and GPS cart) Click for current rates
Phone Number: (319) 648-0044
Course Website: Official Website - Visit Blue Top Ridge at Riverside's official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - 3184 IA-22, Riverside, Iowa 52327 – UNITED STATES
What to Expect: Blue Top Ridge at Riverside Casino enjoys more character in the architecture than many of the other courses Rees Jones has designed and delivers a stout test; especially for a casino course. The course is kept in very good condition and the terrain has quite a bit of movement in it; especially on the back nine. Speaking of the back nine, it is easily the more compelling of the two sides and raises the level of the course quite a bit after a fairly average front nine. With two rivers and a handful of lakes on the property, water comes into play on most of the holes on the front while the back uses the terrain to deliver the challenge. Throughout the course there is plenty of trouble to get into and if you aren't straight off the tee you are going to flirt with a score in the triple digits. As difficult as the course is, the biggest challenge of the day can be finding the pro shop which is tucked back behind the large hotel and casino with poor signage to guide you to the check-in location. Most players will elect to play in the GPS, but if you are in shape and want to walk it then you are in for a calorie burner. In the end, Blue Top Ridge is among the best public courses in Iowa, though none of those courses garner national attention. While the top private clubs in the Hawkeye State are substantially superior, Blue Ridge is a nice course to play when in the area.
By the Numbers
|$5 (Red - Women)||72||5208||71.8||126|
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 16th Hole – 665 Yard Par 5 – Heralded as the longest hole in Iowa, the 665 yard 16th offers some reprieve initially by playing well downhill, but it then bottoms out and ascends back uphill to the green. The view down the fairway and up to the green is inspiring as the drop from the tee to the bottom of the fairway is 60 feet before climbing back uphill 50 feet to the green. One large bunker is found on the right side of the fairway but bailing left is trouble as the terrain kicks balls further left and down towards a set of trees and a creek that bisects the fairway. From a downhill lie you then have to hit a rising shot that will successfully ascend up the climbing fairway. Once you get to the green you discover one of the most undulated putting surfaces on the course; par here is a monumental feat.
Best Par 3: 6th Hole – 219 Yards – The 6th descends 25 feet from tee to green with a trio of bunkers surrounding the putting surface. The front left corner has the least amount of protection so if you can start your tee shot on the left edge of the green with a fade you'll find the sweet spot of the putting surface. With water behind the green, the back portion of the putting surface can be the most difficult to be aggressive attacking.
Best Par 4: 13th Hole – 437 Yards – The 13th is one of Blue Top's best holes and is a classic dogleg left offering. In classic Rees Jones fashion, a pair of bunkers protect each side of the driving zone and are more reachable than may meet the eye considering the descent to the fairway. In fact, there is a 45 foot drop from tee to green; a green that is raised from the fairway and features a full length arching bunker on the left and another spacious bunker on the right. Rees always demands accuracy from you, and the 13th is a good example of it.
Best Par 5: 12th Hole – 552 Yards – Don't go right, don't go right, don't go right. With five bunkers peppering the right side of a fairway that slopes left to right, you need to do everything you can to keep your ball up the left side. Players going for the green in two need to be aware of how narrow the green is in front where it measures only a third as wide as the back of the green does, so the smart play is to take more club and give yourself a much larger target to land on.
Birdie Time: 17th Hole – 360 Yard Par 4 – A short dogleg left that is ripe for the taking, the 17th yields a great birdie opportunity late in the round. It takes serious juice to go directly at the green and carry the greenside bunker, but doing so will knock 40 yards off the hole. In any scenario, favoring the left side with a drive that carries the bunker on the inside of the dogleg will yield an excellent spot to go pinseeking from on the next shot. This is a fun hole to get aggressive on because it is often rewarded.
Bogey Beware: 7th Hole – 615 Yard Par 5 – Playing dead east, the lengthy 7th plays over a pond of the tee to a fairway guarded by a trio of fairway bunkers ready to catch balls that sail away from their intended target. Three more bunkers sit on the sides of the layup zone since most players won't have the juice to reach the green in two. A final bunker awaits on the right side of the green which stands as the largest end of the putting surface while moving to the left it tightens up. There is so much length and trouble to cover here that bogies are more common than losing tickets from the sportsbook.