Ruining Golf’s Best Kept Secret
I must admit that I don’t really want to write this. After spending time at Spirit Hollow, I want to keep it for myself. I imagine that everyone who has been there feels the same way. Nonetheless, here I go, letting you all in on one of the best golf destinations I’ve ever been to.
UPDATE: Learn about Spirit Hollow’s latest additions HERE.
Golf is central to Spirit Hollow. It boasts the #2 rated golf course in Iowa, a well-deserved honor. My full-length review of the course can be found HERE.
My favorite thing about the course is the high replay value. Each of the four sets of tees offers unique angles and sight lines, not just different yardages. We played the course four times in three days and were still hungry for more.
I’ve been to my fair share of golf resorts, but I can’t recall one that can compete with Spirit Hollow when it comes to food. From the moment you wake up until you stuff down the last bite of dinner, everything you eat will be delicious.
When you Stay & Play at Spirit Hollow, opt for the full meal plan. Your day will start with a private breakfast in The Claret Jug restaurant. Whether you go for the homemade cinnamon rolls or the enormous custom omelettes (don’t choose, get both), you’ll be fueled up for your morning round.
After your first 18, sit down for lunch at Lambo’s. Along with a full bar and a nice selection of craft beer, they serve your standard clubhouse grill fare – burgers, salads, sandwiches – done a little better. You might not expect to find good barbecue in Iowa, but they have it, and their home made potato chips are the truth.
For dinner, you’ll return to the Claret Jug. It’s tempting to go in for more barbecue, but I’d strongly recommend the steak. Our filets and rib eyes were so tender that we cut them with butter knives. If you can, save room for dessert. Each slice of chocolate cake is big enough to share, but you won’t want to.
The Lodge and The Cabins
Spirit Hollow has two options for your overnight accommodations, The Lodge and The Cabins.
The Lodge opened in 2015 and is in the same building as the pro shop, Lambo’s, and the Claret Jug. There are eight rooms in the lodge, four upstairs and 4 downstairs. Each room has a king size bed, a queen size sleeper sofa, and access to a shared balcony. Each balcony has a set of boards for bags (aka cornhole). In addition to the balconies, guests at The Lodge share a private lobby complete with TVs, a fireplace, poker table, chess board, and lounge chairs.
The Cabins are just over a year old and are the perfect option for larger groups. There are two cabins, each with four rooms. Each room has two double beds and a bathroom for a maximum occupancy of eight. The bedrooms share a giant common room with TV, sofa, dining area, and kitchenette (refrigerator, sink microwave). The best part, however, is outside: between the two cabins is the Competition Court. Bocce board, shuffle board, and horse shoes stand ready to settle lingering bets, and there’s a fire pit. The minute I saw this set up, I started making mental lists of who to bring on my next trip.
More than the amenities, what makes staying at Spirit Hollow so great is the intimacy. Even with double occupancy in every room at The Lodge, no more than 32 people can be staying on the property. Within a few hours of being there, the staff will know you and you’ll feel like this is your own private getaway. If you’re lucky enough to be there when it’s at less than capacity, it feels like you rented a cabin and got a golf course and restaurants thrown into the deal. With high capacity mega-resorts being the norm in golf travel, Spirit Hollow’s private feel sets it apart.
Off the Charts Value
When people start talking about value, it’s often assumed that it comes at the expense of quality. I almost skipped this section entirely to avoid the impression that anything at Spirit Hollow is less than first class. However, the prices are so comically low, the value so extraordinarily high, that I can’t not mention it.
Let’s start with the fact that all of Spirit Hollow’s packages include unlimited golf from the day you arrive through the day you leave. There’s no nickel-and-diming about replay rates, range balls, twilight, etc. Play all the golf you can, hit range balls until your knuckles bleed, all for the same price.
Now onto the prices. For a single player staying in The Lodge, it’s as little as $185 a night. Two days of unlimited golf plus a great hotel room for $185. For $240 you also get breakfast and dinner in the private dining room. As I said earlier, get the full package, you will regret any other decision.
If you bring a group, the prices are even better. A group of 16 can rent both cabins, have unlimited golf, and private dining for about $130/person. Add another night and another day of golf and dining for a total of $240/person. As I said, the value is beyond belief.
You can find all the packages and rate information HERE.
If you’re wondering how to get to Burlington, you can fly direct from Chicago’s O’Hare airport, often for under $100 round trip.
“Pure Golf. Warm Hospitality.”
That’s the slogan of Spirit Hollow, but anyone who has been there knows that it’s more than words on a flier. All of the measurable things that have been discussed are as good as I’ve described, but the people are what put this place on another level. From the GM Jim Wyffels and the Head Pro Greg Mason to the servers in the restaurants and the people working the bag drop, everyone is friendly, helpful, and committed to making sure you have a great time.
If you’re planning a golf trip, Spirit Hollow needs to be at the top of your list. Just don’t be surprised if reservations become hard to get.