Eagles Landing in Belton is designed for golfers to enjoy their rounds

Eagles Landing Golf Course

“Call it the Tiger Woods effect,” said Jay Kennedy, head PGA professional at Eagles Landing Golf Course.

A couple of decades ago, the movement in golf was to make courses as challenging as possible. Many courses around the country were either being built or being renovated at that time, and the goal was to make them as difficult as possible.  “People started hitting the ball farther, and course designers wanted to make the courses longer. You started seeing 7,000-, 7,200-, 7,400-, 7,600-yard golf courses,” said Kennedy.

“There were still all the challenges out there, with bunkers, water and sloped greens. Course designers were asked to make courses super hard. It was a badge of honor if you were considered one of the toughest courses to play. That drove people to come and play your course.”

For a period of time.

“Then the landscape changed as the economy changed,” Kennedy continued. “People got busier and didn’t want to beat themselves up for four or five hours and feel like they just went 15 rounds with Mike Tyson. So the PGA encouraged club professionals to shorten their courses to let people experience the great game of golf, build their confidence and find a course that fits their skill level. It’s much more fun to play a course that fits your skill level and enjoy the scenery from a distance where you can enjoy yourself.”

The result, which the PGA dubbed “Play It Forward,” is courses like Eagles Landing. The beautiful 6,348-yard from the middle tees course in Belton is one of the nicest courses in the area with enough challenges to make you feel like you accomplished something, but with enough forgiveness to let you leave the course with a smile on your face.

“Every golf course is a challenge to some extent, depending on your skill level,” Kennedy said. “The challenge of playing a difficult game is a negative for golf as a hole. It takes a long time to play a round of golf. How do you bring people in who aren’t good golfers? So we worked to make it more enjoyable.

“I haven’t found anybody who normally shoots 90 who comes here and shoots 80 who is upset. They don’t complain that the golf course is too easy. They remember that they shot 80 and had a really good time doing it. That’s ultimately what we’re striving for. We want you to walk away saying, ‘That was fun. That was worth my entertainment dollar.’”

The staff at Eagles Landing strives to keep the course in good shape. The course has some of the best greens in the area. It has good tee boxes and good fairways. Three or four years ago they shortened the rough. Like many courses, they used to keep their rough at around 2½ inches.

With fescue, which is what most courses, springtime in Kansas City makes the rough pretty gnarly at that length. It’s the equivalent of a professional playing the U.S. Open at 3½. So the rough at Eagles Landing is 2. They also keep the grass around the greens at 1¾ to give you the best lie possible. Golfers are playing in much more forgiving conditions, which helps you to play better and play faster.

One Eagles Landing challenge is the wind. Kansas City tends to be windy, but many courses are built in housing developments, which tend to work as a wind-block. While upper-level winds may still be there, golfers don’t feel the wind as much at ground level. With no housing developments near Eagles’ Landing and there is not much undulation either.

“The design of the course has most of the holes going north or south,” Kennedy notes. “For the most part, you’re either playing into the wind or with the wind at your back. This golf course, on average, will play three or four shots more difficult when the wind is out of the north than when it’s out of the south. That’s because some of the more challenging holes that normally play downwind, are significantly harder when the wind shifts to out of the north.”

If it’s a calm day when you leave your home, it’s likely to be a little windier when you get on the course at Eagle’s Landing. If it’s a windy day hold onto anything not bolted down.

But if you can tailor your game to use the wind, you have a really good chance for a great round at Eagles Landing. I can’t tell you what I shot, because the wind blew away my scorecard (wink, wink). But it was a great day on a nice course. It felt like the course was designed for the average golfer like me.

“That’s true to a point,” Kennedy said. “We’ve had plenty of scratch golfers come here for various events, and they seem to enjoy it. Depending on how we set up the course, and the length of the course, it can be a challenge. It could also be an easy course. The design is to actually play much longer that the way we play it on an everyday basis.

“We have just found that our customers prefer the way we do it now. We are embracing the average, everyday customer, the person who is here on a regular basis, versus the player who wants to play one time on a beast of a course.”

Eagles Landing is part of the club membership program with six golf courses around the KC metro. A $35/month membership allows you to play any time for just $20, seven days a week, at any of the courses. The program gives you different options. If you like variety, you can play a different course each time. If your local course is not available because of a tournament, you have the opportunity to play another course.

The greens fees also are very accommodating. The weekday rates are $37 with cart. It’s $45 on the weekend. Senior rates, for golfers 55 and over, is $28 during the week and the senior rate kicks in at noon on the weekends.

“We stay busy,” Kennedy said. “We’ve got great customers who keep coming back. So we must being doing something right. We’re a really good golf course, but we’re not claiming to be the best. Our goal is for each person to feel like we’re the best course for them, the best value for their entertainment dollar.”

For more coverage of golf in Kansas City visit http://kcsportspaper.com/category/golf/

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