The Takeaway: A course I had an instant love affair with given the vibe of the club and the top shelf front nine. While the back features some great holes, including the course’s signature, if the back was as good as the front Cedar Rapids would comfortably be a top 50 course in America. Grade A-
Designer: Donald Ross in 1915 and Restoration by Ron Prichard in 2015
Phone Number: (319) 363-9673
Course Website: Official Website - Visit The Cedar Rapids Country Club's official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - 550 27th St Dr SE, Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52403 – UNITED STATES
What to Expect: The only course that Donald Ross ever built in Iowa, Cedar Rapids is an absolute gem that somehow stays out of the national spotlight. Much of that incognito existence can be rooted in the suffocating overgrowth of trees that the course has been freed from with the brilliant restoration work Ron Prichard performed in 2018. The result is a course that highlights the Golden Age architecture of its roots and is one of the finest tracks in the Midwest. Of particular note are the quality of the par fours throughout the routing. They are unique, engaging, and varied two-shotters that consistently keep your attention and test your game. With the renovation work performed at Cedar Rapids, Davenport, and Harvester, Iowa has suddenly become a must-play destination and can stand proudly among its bordering states as offering top shelf golf to experience. The elevated opening tee box that hugs the clubhouse offers a commanding view of the 1st hole that is an inspiring way to start the round before embarking on the all-world par four 2nd. In fact, the front nine is without question one of the finest outward nines in the game and a set of holes I could never possibly tire of playing. While the back nine features some solid holes to enjoy, it is the front nine where Cedar Rapids really shines and would easily be a top 50 course in America if the back nine were its equal.
By the Numbers
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 14th Hole – 376 Yard Par 4 – Known as the "Burial Mound", the 14th features one of the most unique greens and approach shots in the Midwest. Tipping out at just 376 yards, you still need to bust a drive far enough down the fairway to leave yourself with a short approach that you can still swing a full club on. A drive of 290 yards will get you into the fairway bunker on the left, while a drive of at least 245 yards is needed to cover the horseshoe bunker on the right. The putting surface is shaped like a shield and sits nearly 20 feet above the fairway with the green sloping from front to back, so you have to hit a shot that can land like a butterfly with sore feet. It is by far the most memorable hole on the back nine and a unique offering that is satisfying to play.
Best Par 3: 8th Hole – 200 Yards – The downhill 8th boasts a large green to hit which can be helpful in catching balls hanging in the air as long as they do here. While typically you would see bunkers on the right and water flush with the putting surface on the left, Cedar Rapids instead features an open field on the right and a swell on the left that gives golfers a false sense of security and perhaps will encourage them to be more bold with their approaches. The inviting slope in front of the green brings the ground game into play from the forward tees if players want to chase one back to the day's pin position. Bear in mind that what goes down must come up, and the following hole ascends back up the hill and boasts one of the more intriguing approach shots of a day which gives CRCC a killer 8-9 finish to the front loop.
Best Par 4: 3rd Hole – 414 Yards – A classic dogleg right and shotmaker's delight, the 3rd hole ascends back to the clubhouse to conclude one of the most enjoyable open three hole stretches you'll ever come across. The tee shot features a pair of bunkers 260 yards out on the inside of the dogleg while a lone bunker sits 330 yards away on the far side of the fairway. From the tee the bunkers look closer than they are so you have to trust your line and distance when you pull the trigger. The ideal tee shot travels 290 yards to the elbow of the dogleg and sets up an uphill approach to a green fronted by a pot bunker. The two-tiered putting surface is brilliant as it slopes from back to front and creates a scenario where you want to hit your approach beyond the pot bunker, but not too far as to create a ticklish downhill putt that could result in a dreaded 3-jack.
Best Par 5: 9th Hole – 585 Yards – One of the Gurus' favorite holes in the Hawkeye State, the 9th is a brilliant finish to the front nine and an excellent way to cover the uphill terrain ascending back to the clubhouse. The fairway slopes mercifully toward the center so that players can grip it and rip it with less fear than they may typically feel, and you'll need to rip it to begin the journey up this hole. Playing into the prevailing wind, players deal with the mental challenge that accompanies the physical one here but the end is rewarded with a wonderful punchbowl green that is extra accepting to the blind approach shots that come into the complex. The only bunkers that come into play on the hole are positioned to mess with players setting up their third shot with the sand sitting on either side of the fairway 125 - 150 yards out. Since the approach shot is blind, hopefully you took note of the pin placement when you teed off #1 because you'll need that knowledge on the way in. Getting to the top of the hill and seeing where your ball finished in relation to the pin is a great reward to the trek up this hole and an exceptional use of terrain.
Birdie Time: 10th Hole – 397 Yard Par 4 – Carding a birdie here is all about the drive. Playing well down hill, your drive will carry a couple of clubs longer than usual so take care to avoid the fairway bunker on the left 275 yards out or the greenside bunker 330 yards away on the right. Successfully finding the fairway with a baby fade will leave players in prime position to attack the flag with a scoring club in hand. The green is plenty receptive so don't hold back on being aggressive with your line as you look to hit your approach close. This is a great opportunity to start the back nine with a stroke under par, just make sure you find the fairway with your tee shot to increase your chances of making that happen.
Bogey Beware: 2nd Hole – 430 Yard Par 4 – This is an absolutely brilliant hole, fantastic use of terrain, and a bear to take on early in the routing. My favorite hole on the course, the 2nd features a blind tee shot over a steep hill that crests and then dives down to the left to a green flanked by two bunkers on the left and a J shaped bunker on the right. The intimidation of the tee shot is the first obstacle to overcome, especially if players misjudge the bend in the fairway and blast a shot straight into the trees. Successfully finding the fairway will result in a long downhill shot that will be difficult to judge the distance, or if your tee shot carries far enough you'll have a downhill lie to contend with that will be a challenge to hold the green from. Half of the putting surface is blocked by sand so you'll likely have to fly your ball into your target for any chance of putting a good score on the card. Ultimately, this hole is a tough challenge but extremely satisfying to take on.