Flint Hills National - Kansas - USA

Flint Hills National Golf Club,
1 Flint Hills National Drive,
Andover,
Kansas (KS) 67002,
USA


  • +1 316 733 7272


Flint Hills National is situated fifteen miles east of Witchita in a hilly location covering around 240 acres. This private course was designed by Tom Fazio at a reputed cost of $18m and opened in 1997. Within four years Flint Hills had hosted the US Women’s Amateur Championship. The club also hosted the 2007 US Senior Men’s Amateur and the 2017 US Junior Amateur championships.

Golfers do not only have hilly terrain and uneven stances to contend with at Flint Hills National, they also have to navigate around 24 acres of water hazards at eight holes on the course. Tees and fairways are constructed of Zoysia grass. The average size of greens at Flint Hills National is 7,000 square feet with bentgrass putting surfaces. More than five and a half thousand trees of some thirty-two varieties were planted, some over fifty feet tall. Unsurprisingly, an arborist is on the golf club payroll.

Tom Devlin, the man behind Flint Hills National and the founder of the Rent-A-Center chain of stores, decided to build Flint Hills National within a 640-acre tract of land and then separated the golf course from the “gated community” residents by constructing an earth dyke so neither disturbs the other. Now that’s what we call attention to detail.

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Reviews for Flint Hills National

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Description: Flint Hills National Golf Club is situated fifteen miles east of Witchita in a hilly location covering around 240 acres. This private course was designed by Tom Fazio at a reputed cost of $18m... Rating: 7.5 out of 10 Reviews: 4
TaylorMade
Michael Davis

I had the pleasure of playing Flint Hills National about 2 weeks ago. Weather was near perfect, with just a light wind and moderate temperature. The course condition was immaculate (lush), with fast (yet fair) green speed and well-manicured fairways & bunkers. The bluegrass rough was dense, yet short enough to find my golf ball.

After reading the previous reviews (below) of this course, I felt compelled to write this review, in order to clarify a few points.

I'm 57 years old. But in 3 hours 15 minutes, I easily walked the course as a single with caddie. I wasn't trying to "grind" over every shot like the U.S. Open, but instead wanted to simply enjoy the beautiful day. So I was satisfied with a score of 84, even though it's higher than my 6.0 handicap.

At Flint Hills (par 71), I played the Green tees (6585 yards, 72.3 rating, 139 slope). Usually, I hit my drives about 230-240 yards. A couple of par-4 holes (#7 at 430 yards, #15 at 440 yards) required my "longest" drive followed by my "longest" fairway shot, but they were still fairly reachable, and it's good to be challenged at least a couple of times per round. On the day I played, the only "unreachable" par-4 was hole #9 (430 yards), because my long straight drive was slightly too far right (yet still in fairway), so a large tree's overhang (at the dogleg) partially blocked my 2nd shot.

As others have written, long accurate drives are helpful on this course. But that's true for almost every championship level course (such as Flint Hills) with ample forest, water, sand etc. So long as I hit the fairway with my normal drive, I felt like every par-4 had a reasonable length, without requiring my absolute longest "perfect" 2nd shot (except for the 2 or 3 holes I mentioned above). Overall, I felt the course's length was very fair, with a nice mix of short, medium and long approach shots. Also, I felt the green sizes were appropriate for their respective holes, and the putts were challenging (yet fair) and readable.

I've played hundreds of rounds on two Fazio courses at my home club in Austin, and played other top Fazio courses such as Butler National, Shadow Creek, Bighorn, Dallas National, Forest Creek, and Wynn. People might reasonable disagree about whether Flint Hills is the "best" Fazio course, but it easily deserves ranking "among" the best Fazio courses.

Unlike some of the other reviewers, I think Flint Hills has several "memorable" holes, and I think it has good hole variety. For example, I think holes #1, #4, #5, #9, #10, #11, #13, #14, #17 and #18 are especially memorable visually.

I have enormous respect for one of the earlier reviewers (I've read several of his other reviews), but I respectfully disagree with his characterization of Flint Hills as having "average" and "unbalanced" routing. Also, that reviewer mistakenly wrote that Flint Hills has 11 total doglegs (including 8 left doglegs), but I count only 9 total doglegs (including 6 left doglegs).

In theory, 6 left doglegs versus 3 right doglegs might sound unbalanced, but it didn't actually seem unbalanced to me as a player on the course, for reasons described below. By comparison, Prairie Dunes (1-hour from Flint Hills) likewise has 6 left doglegs versus 3 right doglegs, yet ranks among the Top 25 USA courses.

As examples of Flint Hills variety & balance on front 9, it features hole #1 (dogleg right par-5 with water) balanced by hole #5 (dogleg left par-5 without water). Hole #2 (long dogleg left par-4) is balanced by hole #6 (short dogleg right par-4). Hole #3 (short straight par-4) is balanced by hole #7 (long straight par-4). On paper, hole #4 (185-yard par-3) might seem comparable to hole #8 (172-yard par-3), but they are clearly distinct, because hole #4 has water in front and large bunkers on both left & right sides, while hole #8 doesn't have water and has a single (smaller) "carry" bunker in front of green's left half. Seems like good balance to me.

On front 9, the final hole (#9) is a fantastic "world class" challenge, because it requires precise driving to a relatively narrow landing area. The drive must be long enough to enable a realistic approach shot, but without going "overly" long into water/rough that lies beyond the 1st half of fairway. Even if your drive satisfies that criteria, the approach shot remains challenging, because water lurks along the approach shot's entire left side, a carry bunker sits in front of green, trees exist behind & right of green, and the overall approach is relatively narrow. This hole is especially scenic & tranquil, yet danger lurks almost everywhere. I decided to lay-up my 2nd shot to the relatively narrow slice of fairway short of green. But even with lay-up, the remaining 80-yard pitch had "tricky" wind that was partially masked by trees around green, I was happy to escape with bogie. In my opinion, hole #9 is such a great hole, I don't care whether it happens to be an extra "dogleg left" on front 9.

The back 9 starts with a beautiful "shorter" par-3 (150 yards) #10, which requires "all carry" over a scenic tranquil pond, to a green where the previous wealthy owner (William Graham) decided to build his one-of-a-kind estate house using airplane parts from Beech Aircraft Corporation after World War II. After Graham died in 1991, his family donated the house to Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. Volunteers spent six weeks disassembling the house, and the museum needed more than six years to reassemble in Dearborn. I didn't know that story when I originally played the hole. But while standing on tee box, and staring across pond to green, I sensed a "special" feeling about that particular "secluded" area of property.

Hole #11 is a memorable dogleg left par-5 with water. It is distinct (balanced) from hole #1 (dogleg right par-5 with water) and hole #18 (dogleg left par-5 with water), especially because: (a) hole #11 has water on inside edge of dogleg left, while hole #1 has water on outside edge of dogleg right; and (b) hole #11 and hole #1 allow tee shot straight down fairway, while hole #18 requires tee shot across water.

Hole #12 (long dogleg right par-4) is balanced by hole #13 (short dogleg left par-4). Therefore, Fazio gave Flint Hills all four (4) possible combinations of dogleg par-4 holes, which are long dogleg right (hole #12), short dogleg right (hole #6), long dogleg left (hole #2), and short dogleg left (hole #13). Seems like good balance to me.

Hole #14 is a well-designed long par-3, with a front center "carry" bunker, a bunker short left, and a bunker long right. On scorecard, it's the longest par-3, at 190 yards. When I played, the pin was front left, so I drew my tee shot into a narrow opening between the front center "carry" bunker and the bunker short left. The 2-putt par was satisfying.

As described above, hole #15 (straight par-4) required my "longest" drive followed by my "longest" fairway shot to uphill green, but I still reached it, and was happy with another 2-putt par. On scorecard, it's the longest par-4, at 440 yards.

Hole #16 is another relatively straight par-4, but plays shorter than #15.

Hole #17 is a memorable par-3, beautifully framed by a front center "carry" bunker, water short left, water directly left, and water long. I hit slightly long, 2-putted from off-the-green, and quickly escaped to the nearby 18th tee.

Hole #18 (dogleg left par-5) is a great finishing hole, worthy of deciding the winner in a tight match play contest. The drive requires a carry over water ("bite as much as you can chew"). The hole isn't especially long, so I was trying to play safe. But ironically, I played too safe (didn't bite enough), so my ball flew into woods on right, and I didn't recover well. Hole #18 is the sort of hole where a player wants to keep experimenting, hoping to discover the right shot combination, because "local knowledge" could provide significant advantage. For example, at many par-5 holes, the 2nd shot is relatively boring. But at Flint Hills #18, the 2nd shot benefits from precise shotmaking, because the 3rd shot (which requires a carry over water) feels like it has almost 90-degree left turn from the 2nd shot.

In my opinion, hole #18 is such a great hole, I don't care whether it happens to be an extra "dogleg left" on back 9. And when playing hole #18, it's nice to see the clubhouse alongside the green, easily welcoming the player to relax inside after a satisfying round.

I hope this description helps people appreciate the full balance & diversity of Fazio's design at Flint Hills. I was impressed. It's a special place.

May 27, 2022
8 / 10
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Mark White
June 13, 2022

That is a very good and thorough review.

We likely disagree that holes seven and sixteen are doglegs left as I felt the location of the fairway bunkers forces the average length hitter to go left off the tee. In addition, the angle and false front of the seventh's green results in the safer play being to the left to avoid challenging the right third of the green. The holes are definitely straight for the longer hitters.

What is puzzling to me is that designs by Tom Fazio have fallen out of favor by some raters, particularly Golf Magazine. Certainly the many new courses by Tom Doak, Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner, David Mclay Kidd, and a few others have something to do with that. Recent ratings by Golfweek and Golf Digest have seen courses designed by Mr. Fazio drop several places or fall off altogether. Certainly the many new courses by Tom Doak, Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner, David Mclay Kidd, and a few others have something to do with that. Many raters love the "eye candy" from their designs particularly of the wide rolling fairways, tremendous land movement, the blow-out and irregular bunkers, and the contoured greens with sharp roll-offs.

I've played nearly all of Tom Fazio's top rated rated designs (Gozzer Ranch is missing), so probably 49 of his top 50. I have Flint Hills National in my top 15 of his work. If others rate it more highly I can certainly see the merits. After all the "competition" he created against himself is a high bar when one considers Wade Hampton, Congaree, Victoria National, Trump Bedminster Old, Shadow Creek, Butler National, Black Diamond Ranch, Estancia, The Preserve, The Quarry at La Quinta, Galloway National, McArthur, The Preserve, World Woods Pine Barrens (hopefully restored), Dallas National, Fallen Oak, Aldarra, Querencia, Hudson National, Caves Valley, Jupiter Hills Hills, Eagle Point, Whisper Rock Upper, The Madison Club.....I could go on and on. As Keith Baxter once said to me, "we are judging a beauty contest." For me, while for me Flint Hills National was an easy walk, I do think it tilts a bit too much towards difficulty/punitive and less towards recovery. I find it to have fewer options and therefore less decision making than several of his courses that I place slightly higher.

As you have written, Flint HIlls National is one of Mr. Fazio's better designs and anyone who plays it, particularly the members, will have a special day.

Zach Williams

Difficult course the first time. Played on a wet day so it played quite long. Course was in incredible shape. Length of hole variety was a little lacking except for 18 the short par 5. Lots of mid length par 4s and mid length par 3s. Generally straight holes with some movement to the left or to the right. Very interesting greens in general. You have to hit your ball in the right section of the green. The greens are somewhat reminiscent of Augusta in that respect. Rough is penalizing but fair. Overall it feels like a standard Fazio course. I’m surprised it’s been ranked in the top 100 as it lacking anything incredibly memorable or unique. It’s just 18 incredibly good and well maintained holes of golf.

August 01, 2020
7 / 10
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Adam Lindstrom

First off, this place is super private. I had the rare opportunity to play this course and I really enjoyed it. The course was very well manicured and tucked away in the Flint Hills of Kansas. Clubhouse was superb and driving range looked amazing. This course is a decently tough track as well. The fescue grass is sometimes almost 5 feet tall so it is key to keep your ball in the nice carpet zoysia fairways. Water comes into play on some holes and it looks beautiful. If there is a chance to play, I recommend that you play it as it is the 2nd best in Kansas (could make a run at 1st). I give it a 5.

May 21, 2020
8 / 10
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Mark White

The two best courses in Kansas, Prairie Dunes and Flint Hills National, could not be more different even though they are located approximately 75 minutes apart. Prairie Dunes feels very natural built on natural dunes. Flint Hills National, designed by Tom Fazio, is a course where a fair amount of land was moved, lakes and ponds were created and thousands of trees were planted.

Flint Hills National can play very difficult and get “into one’s head” whereas the flow of Prairie Dunes makes one look forward to the next hole.

Flint Hills is a destination club with several wonderful attributes such as very nice guest accommodations, an exceptional driving range and a very nice clubhouse. The course is beautiful with over 5500 transplanted trees of all types including maples, oaks, pines, redbuds, cedars, willows, etc. I was informed by the member that the club has a full-time arborist so there are likely many more varieties.

I do not think it has one outstanding hole but nearly all of the holes are good. The ninth hole is a hole that requires a lot of thought to try to earn a par. The tenth hole, a short par 3 over water is gorgeous. The thirteenth hole, a short dogleg left par 4 is a lot of fun. Eighteen is a lovely risk-reward par 5. The finishing three holes will likely decide any match.

The greens are all large affording numerous pin locations. They are well done. One green, the third, is silly reminding me of the silly green on the 16th hole at Old Memorial in Florida. This third green at Flint Hills should be re-thought and re-done.

The routing is average. It is unbalanced as the back nine is significantly more difficult than the front nine. There are a lot of sharp doglegs on the course with most of them to the left (8) while only a few go to the right (3). Think about that, eleven of the fourteen holes are doglegs. While there is water on the course I did not notice many wetland areas which the routing had to consider. The routing forces many to take a cart given the distance between some greens and tees. I however, walked the course once after heavy rain the previous day and then returning a year later on May 6-7, 2017 in perfect weather prior to the U.S. Junior Amateur. The course is about a six hour drive from Ballyneal although others will likely fly in to Kansas City or Oklahoma City.

The conditioning is excellent.

The Bluegrass rough is thick and generally kept fairly high. Going into the rough likely means one cannot get to the green or faces a somewhat unknown shot near the green.

The course is difficult but mainly fair. The key shot on the course is the tee shot which sets up everything to follow. If one has a bad day with the driver, one will have a bad day, period. The back tees are at 7080 and I played the 6684 tees. The par is 71 with a championship rating of 75.2/144 and the tees I played are rated at 72.9/141. The combo tees have recently been shortened just a bit. It is a serious golf course but one where I feel there are not many decisions to make as to how to play the golf course.

The staff is extremely friendly and welcoming. On my first visit, I was a single and I felt like I was a member. On my second visit I was with a group of guys including two members. You are always made to feel “at home” here.

The course begins by kicking you in the teeth with an opening par 5 of 585/545/526. This sharp dogleg right allows the bigger hitters to hit through the turn from the 545 tee as it plays downhill. Then they can have a go at reaching the green in two. For us mortals, being able to reach the turn is the goal then laying up successfully avoiding the lake on the left while staying as right as possible as the fairway is tilted slightly towards the water on the left. A heavy tree line goes down either side of the fairway to the turn so the first tee shot of the day is stressful. Missing one’s second into the rough on the right will likely make it hard to find the green with one’s third. The green is placed away from the water and is a relatively easy green other than just over the right bunker. There is a bunker on either side of the green.

The second hole goes in the opposite direction and is the first dogleg left, and a sharp one. The longer hitters can cut the corner on this 422/400 par 4. The hole has lower ground before the green which is above you. Two fairway bunkers guard the left corner of the turn with one on the right. The fairway slopes left to right. The green is long but narrower and is very tilted back to front. A long putt uphill is very slow. Missing the green is a problem due to the high rough around the green and its slope.

The third hole is a par 4 of 373 and is straightforward. For a shorter par 4 it is well defended by tall grass on the left and a single bunker, tall grass and a fairway bunker on the right. A single bunker is front right with two on the left at the green which has a shelf and I consider it to be overly unfair.

Four is the first par 3 at 227/184 with a pond fronting the green and a bunker to either side. The bunkers are a bit deeper on this hole. There is some room to be short front of the green after clearing the water. The green slopes back to front and collects towards the middle of the green but with a roll-off down the front towards the false front. It is a nice hole.

Five is a par 5 of 599/514. Only the best players should play the back tee as it is a 240 yard carry over the rough tall grass. This dogleg left hole with bunkers on either side of the turn as well as trees with the two bunkers on the right up on a small mound. The fairway is sloped like a saddle and then rises as you get to the green. Another bunker awaits farther up the right side. The green is shaped like a lima bean with a very deep bunker cutting into the right side. It is two tiered and the lower tier will definitely send a ball back towards the front unless the green is wet.

Six is the shortest par 4 at 336 yards and the second dogleg right. You hit out from between trees to a relatively wide fairway with two bunkers right at the turn and one left. The green has a false front and a left to right tilt. A front bunker on the right can lead to a semi-blind shot due to its depth. I found this green site to have chipping options if the green and bunker are missed.

You go past the clubhouse and first tee to get to seven, a par 4 of 439/430 rated the number one index. This is a straightforward hole with the most undulating green on the golf course. This has some of the higher, thicker rough on the course. The green is two-tiered with the lower tier near the single bunker front right and is a few feet lower than the left side. The green is wide but narrow. I did not think it should be rated number one as nearly everyone struggles here.

Eight is a par 3 of 184/172 playing to a green with another bunker cutting into it from the left. The green slopes right to left. The trees are really thick on either side here and I felt there were too many.

Nine is a par 4 of 488/430. I felt it to be the most memorable hole on the course. It is a sharp dogleg left playing over water which continues to the left side of the green. If one is not brave enough or careless with the tee shot, they can end up in the trees on the right or left before they take on the shot over the water. The green slopes towards the water with a single bunker front left. Trees come hard at the back of the green. The decision on this hole is whether one has confidence to reach the green or to play short and to the right.

The back nine kicks off with a par 3 of 169/150 and it is a lovely hole. The green has two bunkers, one supported by rock at the back of the green. The green slopes left to right with a ridge one-third into it. This hole is so pretty after walking through the trees on the trail and wooden bridge that one wants to linger here for awhile.

Eleven is a par 5 of 555/541 dogleg left with water down the entire left side from the tee shot to the green. If you can stay to the right this is a straightforward hole. The longer hitter will hit to the left side of the fairway but has to carry more of the water. The trees on the left between the water and the green add a significant complication to coming in from the left side. There is a hidden bunker on the back left and the green slopes towards the water with a few humps.

Twelve is a par 4 of 465/429 and is the final dogleg right. I felt this to be the hardest hole on the golf course for medium length hitters. Long hitters have a big advantage. A pond is on the right but should not be in play. The green sits off to the right and is angled left to right. It is a long green and it is two tiered.

Thirteen is a shorter par 4 of 377 playing sharply to the left. You must find the fairway as the grass and trees on either side are a problem. The bunker on the right side of the fairway needs to be avoided as it is deep. This is the most fun hole on the course as it can be the most maddening. Bunkers are both short and surrounding an odd shaped, undulating green. Miss the green and its 50-50 you will have a double bogey. I like the hole even though I thought the green site to not offer any real chance of recovery.

Fourteen is a par 3 of 216/190. This green has a deep bunker fronting the middle of the thin, undulating green. I feel the green is both too thin and too heavily contoured for the length of the tee shot.

Fifteen is a par 4 of 474/440 and is the hardest hole for all players. It plays straight but is a tighter driving corridor with trees on either side. It is not least attractive hole on the back nine.

Sixteen is another par 4 of 450/407 playing straight. This hole has a wide fairway where one should play away from the single bunker on the right. There are two bunkers at the green with is small with a false front. After playing so many difficult holes, I was thankful for this one.

The final par 3 is 201/180 with a pond eating into half of the green from the left side. Hit it short, left, or long and you are in the water. Miss it to the right and you have a delicate pitch to a green going away from you. There is a bunker on the front left between the water and green that I think detracts from the visual beauty of the hole although those who land in it are likely thankful to have a chance at recovery.

Eighteen is another beautiful golf hole, a short par 5 of 520/486 where it tempts you to go for the green in two. Water goes down the entire left side until you have to pass over it. Heavy trees guard the right side. This dogleg left requires a second shot to avoid a large tree on the left side of the fairway where shorter hitters need to play to the right of it and a longer hitter plays left or over it. The green sits elevated a bit on the other side of the pond sitting well off to the left. The clubhouse beautifully frames the undulating green with various spines and tiers in it. This is a nice risk-reward hole for the better players and one that average players need to hit three good shots to get on. The hole is not quite as pretty as ten, but it is a lovely finish.

Given there is not many exceptional courses in the state of Kansas, having Flint Hills National as an alternative to Prairie Dunes is certainly good for those who desire a top-quality golf course. Karsten Creek, Oak Tree National and Southern Hills are two and a half to three hours away from Witchita. Kansas City has a handful of nice country clubs but is also three hours and I have a good friend who lives there and says there is nothing as good there as Flint Hills National. So, in likely a six-hour circle, it is certainly one of the top four golf courses as I think it is better than The Patriot Club.

I do wish the course was a bit more forgiving off the tee and around the greens. I wish there was a bit more strategy involved in more of the holes. Too often there is only “ideal line” to take. Perhaps that is different for better players as this is a course built for better players. A member likely will have an index here that will travel well to other clubs given the precision required off the tee as well as having a good putting stroke. If one takes everything into consideration, as a member one will want to make the journey to spend as much time at this club as they can.

April 20, 2020
7 / 10
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