Iowa's Cedar Rapids Country Club
You know a place is unusual when—despite being landlocked in the middle of the country—it has a suspension bridge as its logo. Cedar Rapids Country Club does indeed incorporate such a bridge (more on that later), though it crosses a mere creek. It also boasts lots of features that draw golfers from near and far.
The club, which was founded in 1904, has a routing plan that has been in place since 1915. Credit for the existing layout goes to transplanted Scotsman Donald Ross, who came to the U.S. in 1899 and did the vast bulk of his 405 career projects on the east side of the Mississippi River, only rarely crossing over to the American West. One of the few times he did, on his way to Colorado, he laid out his only course in Iowa: 18 holes along the banks of Indian Creek, only three miles northeast of downtown Cedar Rapids.
With 100 feet of elevation change and mature oak trees lining the fairways, the club enjoys an ideal setting for parkland golf. Some clumsy renovation work a few decades ago has now been undone through the efforts of Ross-restoration expert Ron Prichard and his protégé, Tyler Rae. Working closely with the club’s superintendent, Tom Feller, they engineered a delightful reversal of fortune that has seen Ross’s characteristically bold, offset bunkering brought back amidst hole corridors that have been reclaimed in width and strategic flex. Greens were also rebuilt and fully upgraded—all at a fraction of the cost that the club would have spent had it gone the conventional route of hiring an outside contractor. Oh, the virtues of Midwest parsimony.
The course got stretched as well, up to 7,221 yards for this par-71 layout, though most members will find the tees from 5,065 to 6,613 enough to deal with. The long par-3 12th hole (“Plateau”), 285 yards from the way-back tees, is memorable for its raised, Biarritz-style green complex and approach zone. The putting surface occupies part of a dramatic natural rise that serves double duty from another direction as the elevated green for the 360-yard, par-4 14th hole (“Burial Mound”).
As for the suspension bridge, its 100-foot span provides access to the green of the par-4, 445-yard 17th hole, appropriately named “Last Crossing.”
Cedar Rapids is a private club that allows unaccompanied guest play on a select basis. Its spacious brick clubhouse hosts numerous charity events, business meetings, and fetes. Golf professional Dustin Toner’s shop looks like a haberdashery. Hats with that bridge logo are a popular item in the shop. The club is about to launch a national membership program that will enable folks from outside the region to partake regularly in Iowa’s only Ross course.
For more information about the course, visit cedarrapidscc.com or call (319) 362-4878.
Eastern Iowa Airport (EID), in Cedar Rapids, is 11 miles southwest of the course and has an 8,600-foot runway.