ValhallaValhalla Golf Club in Louisville
If the words “birdie” and “eagle” don’t automatically have you assuming the latter is one of the former, you are undoubtedly one of Kentucky’s many golf enthusiasts. And if getting past that bunker (not Archie) so you won’t score a bogey (not Humphrey) is high on your priority list, read on for some of the best golf our state has to offer as Kentucky Monthly celebrates our 15th anniversary by presenting 15 great ways to tee off. From world-class private facilities to excellent public venues to quirky putt-putt courses and more, aces and duffers alike can enjoy hitting the Kentucky links.
Do you run in exclusive social circles, or are you unsure where to direct your financial bounty? Then you might want to consider one of the Bluegrass’ superb private golf clubs. Their commitment to quality, level of competition and place in Kentucky history make these venues the best in their category.
Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville is a Jack Nicklaus-designed private facility and host to two PGA Championships—including Tiger Woods’ three-hole playoff defeat of Bob May in 2000—as well as two Senior PGA Championships and the 2008 Ryder Cup. It retains Golf Digest’s top ranking for “Best Golf in Kentucky.” In 2014, the PGA Championship will return to Valhalla, where attire is dignified, the greens are immaculate and play is of the highest caliber.
Nestled among the gently rolling hills of Warren County is The Club at Olde Stone. Here, famed architect Arthur Hills created Zeon Zoysia fairways and bentgrass greens, with distances ranging from 5,400 to 7,200 yards off several tee options. Elevation changes add to the beauty and challenge of this stunning course, which earned Golf Digest’s No. 2 spot for best golf courses in Kentucky for 2013-14 and made Golfweek’s 2010 top 100 list for Best Modern Courses. A state-of-the-art practice facility, complete with climate-controlled indoor hitting bays with computer swing analysis, and a 12-acre outdoor practice field make this course one of the best golf experiences in the state.
Established in 1889, Middlesboro Country Club in the beautiful Cumberland Gap area is the oldest continuously played course in the United States. It offers players a challenging and unique nine holes that reflect the rich history of the club. Its membership packages are geared toward families and individuals interested in excellent golf and a delightful social setting that includes a clubhouse and swimming pool. Open year-round, the club also accommodates non-members with varied daily and weekend rates.
Need a little resort with your golf? Then gather the brood and hit the Kentucky State Park Golf Trail for a combo of outstanding golf and outdoor fun for all ages. This collection of courses celebrates our state’s natural beauty and offers activities for the whole family. So grab your clubs (not to mention your water skis, hiking shoes and horse sense) and check out one of these top picks.
Named for the Shawnee word for “Valley of Deer,” Wasioto Winds at Pine Mountain State Resort Park in Pineville was ranked fourth among “Best New Affordable Public Golf Courses” by Golf Digest in 2003, and received a four-star rating as the Digest’s “Best Places to Play” in 2008-09. Mountains surround this 18-hole course, and water from nearby streams and lakes keeps the play at Kentucky’s first state park challenging and beautiful.
Perched on the border of Land Between the Lakes in Cadiz is Lake Barkley State Resort Park’s “Boots Randolph” Golf Course. Tree-lined fairways and a gently flowing stream fed by the Big Blue Spring make this 18-hole course an aesthetic delight, while a 90-degree dogleg keeps hole number six a par-5 challenge. Complete with a putting green and driving range, this course offers something for golfers at all skill levels.
Hidden Cove Golf Course at Grayson Lake State Park in Olive Hill was ranked No. 4 nationally in Golf Digest’s “Best New Affordable Golf Courses” in 2004 and earned the No. 6 spot in Kentucky in 2005. Appropriate attire is required as you play your way through the woodsy, lakeside course and navigate its formidable white sand bunkers.
The course at Dale Hollow Lake State Resort Park in Burkesville is a stunning, 18-hole romp through rolling fairways, lush greens and bunkers flanked by rock formations, caves, ponds and streams, and picturesque views of the surrounding mountains and gorges. Ranked seventh on Golf Digest’s “Best in State of Kentucky” list for 2013-14, Dale Hollow boasts a nearly new clubhouse and practice range, which complete the golf experience at one of Kentucky’s loveliest sites.
Looking for a more weekend/hit-the-links-after-work venue? No worries, as Kentucky boasts several top-rated public courses with impeccable design and the highest league standards. Check out these four courses for an easy-access, exceptional round of play.
Lassing Pointe Golf Course, designed by Dr. Michael Hurdzan and located in Union, is minutes from downtown Cincinnati and the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. Making Golfweek’s 2013 list of the top municipal courses in the U.S., Lassing Pointe has retained a top-five position on the magazine’s state-by-state “Best Courses to Play” list for the past five years, and earned a four-star rating from Golf Digest.
Designed by Pete and P.B. Dye, Kearney Hill Golf Links in Fayette County is a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary that boasts a traditional Scottish links-style course. Its open, windswept terrain gives shot control a whole new meaning while providing a challenging but manageable 18 holes for both the novice and experienced golfer. A 10-acre practice field and 23,000-square-foot clubhouse are just two of this venue’s many amenities. Host of the Senior PGA Tour, Celebrity Players Tour and the PGA Junior Series, Kearney Hill is a top-notch course with a commitment to environmental preservation.
Voted No. 1 public golf venue in Kentucky by PGA.com’s Facebook fans, Old Silo Golf Course in Mt. Sterling offers players 18 holes of Graham Marsh-designed rolling fairways, four sets of tees and numerous white-sand bunkers. The 6,000-square-foot clubhouse is home to a full-service restaurant where visitors can enjoy Kentucky-themed homemade delicacies, with seating indoors or on the deck overlooking the golf course. Whatever your vantage point, Old Silo delivers an exceptional sporting experience.
Kenny Perry’s Country Creek Golf Course in Franklin was designed by Perry to appeal to golfers of all skill levels. Named by his daughter Lesslye, Country Creek allows both carts and walking, offers a challenging and enjoyable 18 holes, and provides players a putting green and driving range for honing their skills. Attention to detail and professional service make this course an excellent choice for golfers at all handicap levels.
Thinking more quirky-fun for your golf outing? Check out these alternative tee-it-up options that run the gamut from family-friendly to who needs a club? Whether you’re looking for a fun afternoon with the kids; a Frisbee-style workout in the park; or practice, practice, practice, these four options have got you covered.
Maggie’s Jungle Golf and Jungle Run in Gilbertsville is a putt-putt course and animal sanctuary all in one. Guests can view dozens of animals and birds as they walk or ride through the Jungle Run and can shoot for that hole-in-one on the woodsy, nature-infused miniature golf course. Family owned and in business for nearly 25 years, Maggie’s offers one of the best recreational values in the region—a 12-ounce shaved ice is a frosty steal at $1—and group events are happily accommodated.
Could your putting skills use a little help from above? Lexington Ice Center Miniature Golf has all the inspiration you need as you work your way through 54 holes of biblical verse. Named one of the Travel Channel’s “Top Ten Most Unique Miniature Golf Courses” and recognized by the Billy Graham Foundation, this heavenly venue gives patrons three 18-hole, Bible-themed courses from which to choose: Old Testament, New Testament and Miracles. Whether it’s practice for your putt or a brush-up on your Bible knowledge, the Lexington Ice Center offers a divine retreat that covers both.
Think golf would be a great game if it weren’t for that pesky club and tiny little ball? Then stretch your muscles and gather a few friends for an afternoon of aiming and throwing your way down the fairway on one of Kentucky’s many disc golf courses. Players tee off by throwing a flying disc toward the first “hole,” which is most often an elevated metal basket called a Pole Hole. Just as in traditional golf, the object is to sink each hole in as few plays as possible.
If a full round of golf is not possible, but you still want to work on your stroke or simply work off some steam, Kentucky has several driving ranges and practice facilities at your disposal. Ranked a “Top Ten Favorite Driving Range” by Golf Digest, Man O’ War Golf in Lexington is one of the state’s finest facilities and offers golf instruction, private lessons, junior golf camps, tour-level club fitting and more. If Lexington is too far a drive for your driving range needs, no problem. Kentucky offers a variety of driving ranges and amenities to fit every skill level and budget.
If you go …
Valhalla Golf Club
15503 Shelbyville Road, Louisville
(502) 245-4475, valhalla.pgalinks.com
The Club at Olde Stone
950 Village Way, Bowling Green
(270) 393-4653, olde-stone.com
Middlesboro Country Club
295 Country Club Drive, Middlesboro
(606) 248-3831, middlesborocountryclub.com
Wasioto Winds at Pine Mountain State Resort Park
1050 State Park Road, Pineville
Lake Barkley State Resort Park
3500 State Park Road Highway 68, Cadiz
Hidden Cove Golf Course at Grayson Lake State Park
314 Grayson Lake Park Road, Olive Hill
Dale Hollow Lake State Resort Park
5970 State Park Road, Burkesville
Lassing Pointe Golf Course
2266 Double Eagle Drive, Union
(859) 384-2266, boonecountygolf.com/lassingpointe/lassing-pointe.html
Kearney Hill Golf Links
3403 Kearney Road, Lexington
(859) 253-1981, golflink.com/golf-courses/course.aspx?course=1303656
Old Silo Golf Course and Restaurant
350 Silver Lake Drive, Mt. Sterling
(859) 498-4697, oldsilo.com
Kenny Perry’s Country Creek Golf Course
1075 Kenny Perry Dr., Franklin
(270) 586-9373, kpcountrycreek.com
Maggie’s Jungle Run and Jungle Golf
7301 US Highway 641 North, Gilbertsville
(270) 362-8933 or (270) 703-2278, maggiesjunglegolf.com
Lexington Ice Center Miniature Golf
560 Eureka Springs Drive, Lexington
(859) 269-5686 or (859) 268-6046, lexingtonicecenter.com
Kentucky Disc Golf Courses (listed by city)
1201 Man-O-War Blvd., Lexington
(859) 259-4653, manowargolf.com
Kentucky Driving Ranges