River Valley is a short drive west of the Des Moines metro on the northern edge of Adel. This 18 hole course provides tree-lined fairways, water on several holes and a few big elevation changes which includes the memorable 18th.
22927 Valley View Trail, Adel
Par 72, 6620 yards, 72.0 rating, 124 slope
My first piece of advice is that if you are going to River Valley for the first time, go with somebody who has played there before. There are a number of dog leg holes that can be tricky to decide what to hit off the tee and the best place to land the ball. Also there are a few holes with greens that are on split levels or have a large ridge in the middle that can’t be seen on your approach. #12, a short Par 3 has a lot of potential to be a good hole as it is almost completely surrounded by water. However that water/marshy area is full of tall grass that blocks the green from view, leaving only the top of the flag stick as your guide. As a first time player you have no idea where the green ends and what it looks like, you hit the shot and hope for something good.
There are two "signature" holes at River Valley. The one that gets mentioned the most is #18. A short Par 4 with a slight dog leg right, the second shot will be up a 100 foot hill. Personally I enjoyed the hole, and trying to figure out what yardage to hit with the extreme elevation change. One person I talked with before my round told me they hated the hole and it was gimmicky with such an abnormal elevation change on one hole.
The second is hole #5, a mid-length Par 5 with a 60 yard wide water hazard between the fairway and the green. The green is actually to the left of the fairway creating a sharp dog-leg at the end of the hole. I good drive puts you in position to decide between cutting over the pond or laying up. I had a great drive and decided to bring out the 3W despite hitting into a strong wind. The wind won. And just to make sure you are on your game before getting to the water, there is OB along the entire right side of the fairway.
The course provides a lot of open fairways, if you find yourself in the rough you will probably be around plenty of mature trees that can complicate things. Also there are plenty of water hazards and OB awaiting errant shots.
The course has a driving range/practice area that isn’t too far from the clubhouse if you have a cart, walking there from the clubhouse would be a hassle though. The putting green is decent size and located near the 1st tee. The log cabin clubhouse is nice and comes with standard food, beverage and snack options.
Pace of play seemed decent, it was a Tuesday but there was a good amount of people on the course. We had some waiting throughout the back nine, but that was mostly because we were a group of 3 following a group of 4.
I had minimal interaction with staff but they were friendly and quickly got me checked in and on my way.
River Valley provides a good value and a number of unique holes that make it worth trying it once. If you are heading to the course it is a good idea to bring a GPS device to help navigate the course. The on course markings are minimal and you would waste plenty of time if you are looking for markers on most shots. The River Valley website does provide a good hole by hole overview that includes a number of different yardage distances for each hole, not a bad idea to have this up on your phone for reference at the course if you don't have GPS available.
Post round eats
After playing River Valley I made a quick stop at Subway, but that isn't very exciting. A better option would be to swing by Brickyard Burgers & Brews near downtown Adel for a burger and cold beverage. Brickyard is a newer restaurant to Adel but provides the perfect setting for celebrating a solid round.