Archive for Thursday, August 7, 2003

Opinion: Falcon Lakes a hidden gem

August 7, 2003

A few weeks ago, I made a trip south to Miami, Fla., for some vacationing and my best friend's wedding. Don't think for a second my golf clubs didn't make the trip with me.

In my attempt to avoid anything even resembling a keyboard, notepad or newspaper, I filled several of my days at some of Florida's golf courses. One round, I was paired with a transplanted New Yorker, a guy that looked like Chazz Palimenteri in "A Bronx Tale."

"Where you from?" he asked abruptly.

"Kansas," I replied carefully.

"What in the hell are you doing in Miami?" he asked in more of an interrogating tone than inquisitive one before switching gears.

"Hey, they got any good courses in Kansas?"

And the floodgates opened. I couldn't and wouldn't shut up about our golf courses.

I rattled on and on for 14 holes about how nice our courses are. I also took a couple of shots at the Florida links, including the one we were playing, which had more sandtraps, alligators, a homeless man peddling used Titleists and some kind of freakish breed of attack ducks than grass.

"I'd pick the course in my hometown (Basehor) seven days a week and twice on Sunday over this one," I said casually. Mob or no mob, this guy's getting it straight from this hombre.

"I'm a member here," he answered back coldly.

As quickly as the game of golf can change, so did my tone. Nevertheless, my conviction over the quality of Kansas golf courses remains the same -- Kansas courses stack up.

In my conversation with Gotti's boy, I referred to the golf course in my hometown, Falcon Lakes, an exquisite 18-hole public course located on Kansas Highway 7, north of Leavenworth Road, in Basehor.

For me, courses don't get much nicer or more challenging than Falcon Lakes. Depending on what tees you play from, Falcon Lakes ranges in yardage from 5,100 to 7,036. While the distance is challenging, the greens, while immaculate and well kept, are even more so.

I'd say I play Falcon Lakes about twice a month. And twice a month, it brings my game back to reality.

Although the course is set in a beautiful landscape, a links style course built to match the surrounding area, it's trickier than a three-card Monte dealer. A wayward tee shot here or too much meat on a putt there, and strokes start piling up faster than an Eminem record gets pulled from store shelves.

On Saturday afternoon, I played Falcon Lakes with a friend, and we both remarked at how few people were playing that day. The course was wide open, and we both found it a pity that such a nice course seems overlooked by the zillions of hackers and duffers out there.

Like I told my playing partner in Florida, there are a ton of quality course in Kansas and many locally (my favorites also include Painted Hills, Dub's Dread, Sunflower Hills and Eagle Bend) but few, if any, meet the splendor and challenge Falcon Lakes offers.

I hope more people start to notice that.

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