Amana Colonies Golf Course opened for play in 1989 and its tree-lined fairways within a 600-acre forest offer golfers a feeling of complete and utter golfing seclusion. Featuring wandering streams and shimmering ponds, the course offers five sets of tees, allowing a round to be played at any length between 5,228 and 6,824 yards.
Feature holes include the 522-yard 2nd, rated stroke index 1, which doglegs left then right from tee to green. Both the par threes on the front nine – the 179-yard 4th and 191-yard 8th – are rather spectacular holes, with sand-protected greens positioned behind water hazards.
On the back nine, the short par four 14th is a really interesting hole as the narrow fairway falls away steeply on the left, mandating most players to place their tee shot on the shelf to the right, allowing a straightforward approach to the green with the second shot.
I played this course on two instances separated by a few years. Conditioning was particularly good in 2020... tight bentgrass fairways, true rolling greens etc. This second time it wasn't as tight as I remembered. The big miss goes into the woods but there is a bit of room if you flare your drives.
The land is also very good- quite dramatic. A quick view from google earth reveals just how much land was used to make this golf course. It is rare to see one hole from another, and real estate is only visible on part of the front nine.
Where this golf course falls a bit flat is on strategic interest. You either hit within the corridors or end up in the woods. Bunkers surround green sites to penalize imprecise approaches rather than to dictate where to borrow for a miss. Greens are sloping, but other than keeping the ball below the hole, there isn't much to consider. Fairways have been graded to eliminate of the natural rippling which can be seen in the woods. All of this may help ease a first time visitor into the experience, but comes at the cost of uniqueness.
One hole that needs to be experienced is the 16th. From the tee you have this entire amazing ravine and valley to your left, while the fairway climbs straight up ahead of you such that you are driving away from the valley. The approach shot to the green plays back towards the wetland which has opened up into a natural pond. One wonders why more golf wasn't incorporated into this parcel but this is an awesome hole.
I played Amana a few weeks after the big storm. Most of the storm damage was cleaned up and the course was is really good shape. Each hole is like a private experience. Only saw other golfers a couple of times during my round.
Yes there are hills in Iowa and yes there is wonderful golf to be played. Amana is an annual stop for me to take in one of the best in the state.
Take your "A" game out for a test as the trees are tall and the transitions from rough to trees may not always seem fair. You will need to be able to manipulate your shots a bit to make it to the best landing area whether it be in the fairway or on the green.
The greens are large, undulating and just getting on the surface does not mean you will be walking off with no more than a two putt. A few 50+ foot lags will let you know that you need to step up your game. The par 3's can be especially troublesome if the flat stick isn't working that well. While all are relatively downhill and wonderful to look at, a bad leave with the tee ball will make you more 4's than 3's.
The clubhouse staff is terrific and ultimately courteous to ensure your day starts and ends with a smile and thanks for coming.