Kalona Golf Club

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Article courtesy of Marc Morehouse -The Cedar Rapids Gazette

I’ve unearthed the best golf value in our area.

The Kalona Golf Club isn’t massive, measuring 6,256 yards from the blue tees, so the price-per-yard ratio might not calculate the same for everyone. But the weekday rate is $22 for 18 and a cart. I repeat, the weekday rate is $22 for 18 and a cart.Kalona Golf Club

For that price, the drive from Cedar Rapids (30 minutes or so) is worth it. Price isn’t the main attraction, though. Kalona is a sweet nine-holer with tons of rolling hills and more pine trees than, well, Twin Pines Golf Course in Cedar Rapids.

Kalona is negotiable. It won’t dent a handicap, but it will throw some action at you.
The tee on No. 3, a 308-yard par 4, overlooks a pond. The green scales a hill and has a severe back-to-front slope. Is it reachable, uphill at 308 yards? Not for me.

Mark Jensen, of Cedar Rapids, tees off on No. 2 at the Kalona Golf Club in July 2. Kalona offers a beautiful course at a great price. (Marc Morehouse/The Gazette)


Mark Jensen, of Cedar Rapids, tees off on No. 2 at the Kalona Golf Club in July 2. Kalona offers a beautiful course at a great price. (Marc Morehouse/The Gazette)

You fade or slice here and there’s a grove of decent-sized trees waiting on the right. This is exactly where I went, but I lucked out and was able to sky a sand wedge to the green for a two-putt par.

The same pond comes into play on No. 4, a 325-yard par 4. There’s a sign that reads “200 yards to clear the water.” The water isn’t the hazard as much as the narrow fairway and the landing area if you miss right. Go too far up the hill and right, you’re in tall pines.

If you fall short of the pines, you hope your ball finds a home on a severe decline that leads to gunch and, eventually, the pond. There’s also some sand involved.

I got lucky and held the hill. I wedged just off the green and chipped within 2 feet for par.

Then there’s the second shot on No. 6, a 541-yard par 5. The is elevated and you’re staring at a hill. A good drive will get you out there, but 99 percent of the second shots are going to be blind.

I took out a 3-wood and hoped for the best. I thought it was a good shot, straight and far. Looking, looking and, oh, it was into the group that was putting on the green.

The top of this hill flattens and then drops toward the green and, eventually, No. 7 tee box and water. Finding my ball just in the fringe was pure luck, but I’ll take it.

Have to mention the greens. We’ve been doing The Gazette golf tour for about 10 years now. Mike Koolbeck used to have this assignment. He wrote about Kalona in 2000:

“Kalona’s greens were in a league of their own — the Indy Racing League.”

That’s a great line. I played that day with Koolbeck and they were fast. This time, it wasn’t so bad.

Well, the three-putts on Nos. 8 and 9 were sort of frustrating and did put a dent into a decent round of 39, but that might have been, you know, bad putting.

If you play

  • For tee times or to obtain other information about the Kalona Golf Club, give the folks in the clubhouse a call (319) 656-3844.

The lowdown on Kalona Golf Club

Toughest hole — I’m going to say the par 5 No. 6 and not because I birdied it. Well, maybe because I birdied it. It is Kalona’s longest hole at 541 yards. There are trees on both sides of the fairway, but it’s so open and wide they don’t really come into play. Your drive is into a hill and will leave you with a semi-tricky lie. Your second shot is blind, and this is probably why No. 6 is listed as Kalona’s No. 1 handicap. You need to find the landing area at the top of that hill. From there, it’s an easy wedge down into a fairly unassuming green. I got lucky with my second shot, landing just on the fringe of the green. After a horrible chip, I made a 25-footer for birdie.

Easiest hole — The card says No. 9, a 340-yard par 4. It’s an elevated tee box with trees right and left of the fairway. I pulled my drive a little left and ended up in the trees between the course and the road. I clipped some trees but still ended up on the green, where the fun began. Pin placement can get you. Any downhill putt is probably a two-putt, at minimum. For good measure, this took me three putts and I got lucky to keep it at three.

Overall impression — Kalona Golf Course is beautiful. It’s a hilly, piney oasis just south of Kalona. It’s also perhaps the best deal for golf we have going in the area, with $22 for 18 and a cart on weekdays, $28 on weekends. With those prices, this is a place that wants you on the course.


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