The Best Gets Better
In 2017, the Plugged In Golf team discovered Spirit Hollow in Burlington, Iowa. We fell in love, not only with the course, but with the hospitality and the brilliance of the whole operation (check out our original feature HERE).
Since our first trip, the team at Spirit Hollow has been hard at work making everything about the place even better. In this feature, I’ll discuss the upgrades and why I hope the rest of the golf industry follows Spirit Hollow’s lead.
For those that want to hear about Spirit Hollow from those that make it great, check out our podcast with them HERE
The Headliner: Top Tracer Range
The biggest upgrade that Spirit Hollow has made is adding Top Tracer Range to their Shankapotamus Golf Academy. For those that haven’t seen a Top Tracer Range yet, imagine Top Golf plus a golf simulator plus a launch monitor, all in a covered, temperature controlled bay that allows you to see full ball flight.
Each of the seven hitting bays has a touchscreen that allows you to choose your game. You can use Top Tracer for individual practice, getting full data on each shot to dial in your bag. If you’re with friends, you can play Top Golf games like Long Drive or attack the lighted targets for points. Finally, you can play full rounds of golf on courses like Pebble Beach and St. Andrews.
To say that the addition of Top Tracer Range is a game changer is to state the obvious. For our golf-mad contingent, it meant that we didn’t have to stop at 36 holes a day. After playing two rounds and taking a shower, we went right to a bay to play famous courses while having food and drinks brought to us.
Top Tracer Range also means that Spirit Hollow is a weatherproof, 12-months-a-year golf destination. At any other golf course, a thunderstorm means no golf. At Spirit Hollow, you just move to the bays. And while most of the Midwest is shoveling snow in the winter, Spirit Hollow guests are teeing it up at a virtual Harbor Town.
Upgrades Big & Small
The Top Tracer Range is the most noticeable change at Spirit Hollow, but it’s far from the only one. Two impactful changes relate to the way golfers get food on the course. First, Spirit Hollow built a drive-thru turn stand. I don’t know if this is the first of its kind, but I do hope that it becomes the standard. This speeds up play by eliminating the cart pile up in front of the pro shop and by getting snacks to golfers faster. With pace of play such a major concern among golfers, this is something every golf course should be looking into.
Additionally, Spirit Hollow ditched the standard beverage cart in favor of a delivery service. Each golf cart has the delivery number on the windshield and a menu on the cart. Simply place a call and your snacks are brought to you in minutes. Not only can you get whatever you want whenever you want it, you’re able to get piping hot food at any point in your round.
Another small change is the upgrade to the on-cart GPS. Before your round, the screen informs you of the day’s pin location, green speed, temperature, and wind. This is emblematic of how Spirit Hollow makes optimal use of every amenity they have.
Finally, there has been a huge expansion to Lambo’s, the restaurant at Spirit Hollow. What used to be a small bar with three tables is now a full scale sports bar with loads of tables and enough screens to watch every game at once. They’ve also added bags and shuffle board for those with bets that still need to be settled.
The Golf Course
While there haven’t been any major changes to the course at Spirit Hollow, playing another 63 holes there has made me appreciate it even more. The shot variety on this course is hard to find anywhere else. Whether you’re playing from the tips or the forward tees, Spirit Hollow makes you think on every shot. I particularly enjoy the fact that driver is always an option but not always the best option.
Even when the course is getting the better of you (as #9 did, repeatedly), the beautiful, quiet setting drives home the feeling of getting away.
You can find my original review of Spirit Hollow Golf Course HERE.
Whether you’re a Midwesterner that can make it there with a short drive or someone who needs to fly, the vibe at Spirit Hollow is worth the trip. I’ve found no other place that makes having a good time so easy.
Visit the Spirit Hollow website HERE.