The Takeaway: Spirit Hollow is a course with a mixture of identities. The course is highlighted with some dramatic holes but equally suffers from infringements of the residential development around the property. Still one of Iowa’s better public courses, Spirit Hollow has terrain that could have made it special if the course design were the only priority. Grade C
Designer: Rick Jacobson in 2000
Cost: $30 (twilight) - $60 (weekend) Click for current rates
Phone Number: (319) 752-0004
Course Website: Official Website - Visit Spirit Hollow Golf Course's official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - 5592 Club House Dr, Burlington, Iowa 52601 – UNITED STATES
What to Expect: Located in the southwest corner of Iowa, Spirit Hollow enjoys a very engaging piece of property with dramatic elevation changes while traversing through open areas and diving into forested patches. Heralded by many as the best public course in Iowa, Spirit Hollow has moments of greatness combated by some headscratchers. As such, I found myself going from loving the course to being totally turned off. Plenty of elevated tees are found throughout the layout which offers exhilarating tee shots and moments to pull out your camera. Those moments are often paired with the numerous risk/reward opportunities found throughout the course where you can decide how big of a hero you want to try and be that day. Holes 2 and 10 feel and play very similar as par fives with 18 being the best offering, but it is the par threes that are the highlight of the course with solid one-shotters. The holes near the highway and houses weren't near as compelling as the easterly holes away from those distractions. While I would hope it isn't common, the course conditions were really struggling during my visit which affected the way the holes played and were designed to be enjoyed. While it is a solid public course for Iowa, it isn't quite its best.
By the Numbers
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 18th Hole – 565 Yard Par 5 – The closing hole is an impressive offering that once again features an elevated tee playing to a fairway below. The right side of the short grass sees a creek meandering along it before carving across to the other side right in front of the green. The fairway tightens down to 20 yards in places which puts a premium on accuracy, especially if you have any aspirations of reaching the green in two. On the approach shot there needs to be care given to the raised putting surface that can repel balls back towards the fairway or into the water. Spirit Hollow is not short on dramatic holes, and the 18th is the final evidence of that.
Best Par 3: 15th Hole – 230 Yards – Perhaps the most photographed hole on the course, the beautiful 15th hole plays over a pond to a green protected by a trio of bunkers. The putting surface is twice as deep as it is wide, but different tee boxes produce different angles that change the hitting width. The back third of the green is the most difficult to reach given the slope that wants to push balls back toward the water.
Best Par 4: 9th Hole – 424 Yards – The 9th is a memorable conclusion to the front nine and and one of Spirit Hollow's stiffest tests. The tee shot plays over a natural grass area to a fairway that slightly crests before descending out of view. A pond runs on the right side from which a creek spills out and crosses from right to left in front of the green. The downhill approach is bunkerless with the green running away from the player with the water coming into play more the further left the flag is. The hillside on the right gives players an area to bailout to, but if your ball doesn't release from the rough then saving par isn't likely.
Best Par 5: 2nd Hole – 607 Yards – The downhill tee shot will carry longer than you are used to but if have to decide whether you want to flirt with the water on the left in an effort to shorten the hole, or do you want to bail out to the right and make it a true three-shotter. The fairway tilts towards the water so if you are going to drive it up the left side you better give yourself a little extra room and pray for good luck. The approach shot plays uphill to a bunkerless green, but there are bunkers on either side of the fairway leading up to it which lie in wait to catch layups that go off line. The putting surface has some tough undulations to navigate, so you'll need your flatstick working to come out of this hole unscathed.
Birdie Time: 7th Hole – 165 Yard Par 3 – With a perfect lie and look at the green, the 7th is ripe for the taking. The shot plays a bit uphill so an extra half club will serve you well on your approach to this tiered green. Despite the quartet of bunkers that protect the hole, the biggest concern you should have is getting on the same tier as the flag as that will yield a great opportunity to roll a birdie in.
Bogey Beware: 13th Hole – 490 Yard Par 4 – Playing dead south, the longer 13th is a bear to contend with and defends par better than any other hole at Spirit Hollow. The tee shot descends 30 feet to a fairway that is flanked by water on the right and will swallow balls that fade off their line. The fairway bunkers on the left side aren't in play for most players unless longer hitters are playing from the forward tees, but the deep bunker on the right hand side of the green is in play for everyone on the approach.