Host to the US Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship in 1984, Meadowbrook Golf Course is a 1970s David Gill design that brings the waters of Rapid Creek into play at a handful of holes. Holes are routed in two returning nines, with fairways weaving through stands of cottonwood, spruce and pine trees in a beautiful parkland environment.
The course is owned and operated by the Parks and Recreation Department of Rapid City, extending to 6,935 yards from the back markers and playing to a par of 72. It first opened for play in 1977, designed by David Gill, a Midwest member of the ASGCA who started his career with Robert Bruce Harris in Chicago before branching out on his own.
Incidentally, Heather Farr, the winner of the 1984 USGA tournament at Meadowbrook (who had also won the national Girls’ Junior championship at Greeley Country Club in Colorado two years earlier) turned professional in 1985 but was unfortunately diagnosed with breast cancer four years later, succumbing to this terrible disease at the very young age of 28 in 1993.
Meadowbrook is a conflicting track for me. I appreciate the idea and strategy behind the design, but I am just personally not a fan of some of the quirks. There are overhanging trees that provide more of a hindrance than a fair challenge, and the beautiful rapid creek that flows through the course is prone to flooding, making consistent course maintenance an issue. Despite all of these issues, Meadowbrook provides a glimpse into the potential of black hills golf. Despite being situated in the heart of Rapid City, the course manages to utilize less than ideal land for a layout that is both fun and visually appealing. If you find yourself staying in Rapid City, this course is a good way to kill an afternoon if you are not able to make it out of the city to some of the Black Hills' more scenic and exciting courses.
Meadowbrook is somewhat of a misnomer. The brook part is certainly apropos, meadow not so much. I would categorize it as parkland. Regardless, the staff was extraordinarily helpful and friendly.
The 1st is a welcoming par four. Favor the left off the tee as there is a water hazard right. The first par 5, is possible to reach. You will need to hit a high fade off the tee. For the rest of us mortals, the brook makes an S curve through the fairway anywhere from 130-160 out depending upon left or right. Think before you hit. The 3rd bends left and is well protected by two bunkers right front and two bunkers left front. The 4th is a short par 3. If you are a hooker, the cottonwood poses a problem if you are hooker. While I still pulled a par out of my posterior, a knockdown shot probably would have made more sense. The 5th is another tough hole for hookers, especially if the tees are right, this green is also well protected with front bunkers. The 6th is an interesting S par 5. The brook meanders across the fairway twice. Play it as a 3 shotter. It is easier to clear the brook right than left. If you clear it right, you will probably be blocked out and need to hit a 150 yard or so punch. On the other hand, if you favor the left off the tee, it will be much harder to clear the brook, but your 2nd shot angle will be much better. Either way the brook crosses the fairway again about 80-100 yards out. Lay up left, 2nd shot right to leave an attack iron approach. The 7th and 8th are good birdie oppties, a par 4 and par 3 respectively. On none do not be afraid to cut the corner on this right leaning hole. Actually, if you don’t you may end up in the brook left.
The back starts with a birdie oppty. Favor the left off the tee. The 11th is a dogleg left to an elevated green. Right is better off the tee and take an extra club on your approach. The 12th is a downhill par 3. Take one less club and be fearless as this green is surrounded by a half a dozen bunkers. The par 4s a3 and 14 are mediocre, but good birdie holes. The 15th is an interesting par 5. Off the tee pay attention to the yardage as there is a stream cutting across the fairway, The last hundred yards of this hole are at a 90 degree angle right with another stream between the fairway and green. Play it as a 3 shotter, if necessary, lay up off the tee and position yourself for an attack wedge on the approach. The 16th is rated harder than it is. A decent drive down the right side over the trees will leave you with an attack iron. The 17th is a mid-range par 3. However, in our group the 3 people who hit the green all ended up being long. The 18th is a good par 5 finishing hole. Possibly reachable, but the risk/reward does not make a lot of sense. Your second shot should favor the left side, as the green is protected with a water hazard right. There are also two greenside bunkers left and OB.
An interesting course, where one really needs to pay attention to yardages due to the perpetual brook crossings.