TCI has been one of the best public golf courses in Central Iowa since it opened in 2003. The course has the designation of being the only Arnold Palmer Signature Course in Iowa. TCI is located on the far northwest side of the Des Moines metro
1000 Tradition Drive, Polk City
Par 71, 7041 yards, 73.5 rating, 139 slope
TCI provides a high end golf course feel but at a rate not much higher than most courses in the area. The course is almost always in great playing condition and offers all of the challenges you can expect from a top ranked course.
While the fairways aren't too narrow, if you miss them by much you will usually be in a heavily wooded area or in some tall fescue. If you are spraying shots around this course the penalty strokes will start adding up.
The course layout provides a nice mix of different angles and elevations from tee to fairway to green. The course requires smart play and strategy, not just grabbing the driver on every Par 4 and swinging away. I also like that the scorecard includes blended tees to offer more opportunities for playing the course best suited for each person.
There are two negatives for me. First is the Par 3's feel the same. If you play from the Palmer tees the distances on Par 3s are 170, 164, 170, 182 & 188. While several offer a variety of elevation changes and different challenges around the green, I prefer having a wide variety of yardages. The other being the 9th green is not located near the clubhouse. There are bathrooms and food usually available between the 9th and 10th hole, but if you are only playing 9 holes you need to walk/drive back up the 1st fairway to reach the clubhouse.
TCI offers a fantastic practice area to get you ready for the round. The driving range is expansive and offers great views of the course while the putting green provides conditions that will match what you see on the course. Both are also located right between the clubhouse and the first hole, which is a huge plus.
The clubhouse at TCI offers a look and feel that would more resemble a private club. A well stocked pro shop, banquet facility, outdoor patio and a restaurant that stands out on its own help to make this a complete facility that goes well beyond just golf.
Des Moines Golf & Country Club is the premier golf facility in Iowa. Having two of the best golf courses, Golf Digest ranked the courses #2 & #3 on their most recent Iowa course list, on the same property sets it apart from the other top golf courses in the state. Expansive practice facilities and and multiple putting greens are just added bonuses. Des Moines Golf is an all around elite Country Club and comes with a matching price tag to experience all the amenities and social activities the club offers.
Homewood Golf Course in Ames is a pretty standard short muni course, offering very affordable golf on a easy to manage layout. The mostly flat and open terrain is very welcoming for kids and golfers new to the game. While the course is a Par 34, the yardage is well below a "standard" course.
Willow Creek is located near the Des Moines Airport, just into West Des Moines. It is one of the few courses in the Des Moines metro with more than 18 holes, allowing you to mix it up each time you visit. The course location is one of the best if coming from downtown Des Moines.
Blank is one of the three Des Moines municipal courses sitting on the south side of Des Moines. Built in the 1970s, and expanded to 18 holes in the 1980s, Blank is far and away the baby of the bunch. But the youthful (relatively) course packs a punch in a variety of ways to put it over Waveland and Bright Grandview in Golf DSM's book.