Ironhorse golf club celebrating 20 years

Ironhorse-Golf

JUNE 2015 – In 1995, the Internet entered mainstream public consciousness. That year, the United States government stopped funding it with public money. America Online and Prodigy released browsers to offer easy access to the World Wide Web for the general public.

More significantly, on July 1, 1995, Ironhorse Golf Course opened.

Both entities are still going strong. The Internet has nearly three billion users worldwide, almost the same number of people who have played — or want to play — Ironhorse Golf Course, which is just south of 151st Street off Mission Road in Leawood.

Okay, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch. But after 20 years, Ironhorse is going strong, setting a picturesque standard for public courses in the metro area.

“It’s a great layout, especially when you play it from the back tees,” said Ironhorse general manager Jamie West. “Even if you don’t play from the back tees, as you’re playing the 18 holes, you might want to step back and admire the views.”

The 20th anniversary celebration is an all-year party, but on July 1 there will be a great opportunity to join in the fun. Ironhorse Golf Course will open the course to anyone who wants to play 18 holes for just $20. Normal greens fees are $48 weekdays and $58 weekends for Leawood residents with non-resident fees of $58 and $72.

“We’ll have a lot of 20th anniversary merchandise available,” West said. “I’m sure we’ll have a lot of the original founders of the golf course hanging out. We’ll try to make it feel like a party.”

Sponsor-GolfIronhorse is in its second incarnation after a major 2007 overhaul.

“We closed the course for the year,” West said. “The greens were dying and they wanted to get that taken care of. When they opened back up, they decided they wanted to move to a new management company. That’s when Troon Golf came in and took over the management of the course.”

The move to Troon has brought a new commitment to the esthetics of the course.

“Troon focuses on the playing surfaces, West said. “We hire the best golf course superintendents there are. We make sure the fairways, greens and tee boxes are in pristine shape.”

If you want to improve your game before trying Ironhorse, you can get instruction from Skip Maiwald, one of the top 400 teachers in North America, according to Golf Magazine. West also gives individual lessons. He has worked at Ironhorse since August 2013 and for Troon Golf for 15 years.

Ironhorse has the look of a course in the Southeast, with plenty of rolling hills and lots of trees to create obstacles.

“You have to be precise,” West said. “It’s more of a target course. Number 11, for example, has a split fairway. There’s a creek that goes down the middle. You can choose either to go up top on the left of the fairway or go over the creek and get a shorter path to the green.

“There are about 50 bunkers on the course. Many of them are around the greens, but there are some holes where you have to avoid hitting your drive into the fairway bunkers. There are a lot of trees, even though we cut down approximately 20 trees in the past year that were dead. You have to be a little more precise with your shots. It’s one of those courses where you can come out and play every day and feel like it’s a different course every time.”

West notes it is much more difficult from the back tees, something fairly common in golf. But he also says that it plays like an almost entirely different course from the back than it does from the front tees.

“It’s still very challenging, because there are creeks, ponds and bunkers all over the course,” he said. “There’s plenty of undulation, especially on the greens.”

Ironhorse is not yet old enough to vote, and it’s still not done maturing. West said there are plans for more renovations, including clubhouse expansion to accommodate larger groups. Bunker makeovers are also in the plans.

The Kansas City area gets a lot of spring and summer rain, and that tends to wash the sand to the bottom of the bunkers. The bunker revamps will help with drainage.

“We will install a new liner that is being used to save courses a lot of money,” West said. “It’s expensive to put in, but it’s saving a lot of money in the long run, because you don’t have to do regular renovations. You just get out regularly and rake it. You save a lot on labor.”

West and Troon Golf are committed to keeping Ironhorse at the top of its game. Ranked in the top 10 golf courses in the metro by GolfAdvisor.com, Ironhorse is a destination spot for Kansas City metro golfers. Don’t believe it? You can look it up on the 20-year-old Internet.

Article by David Smale

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