Randy Winegard spent his youth doing what most boys do – exploring every nook and cranny of his hometown, Burlington Iowa. There was one piece of land, a 400-acre cattle ranch, which caught his eye. To this young man, the land held a compelling and mystic quality.

In his avid golfer’s mind, the rolling hills and natural streams provided the perfect setting for a golf course. So in 1991, when this special place became available, he acquired it and began the implementation of his dream.

Having walked the land for years, he had his own vision for the routing and layout. “I interviewed three architects to design Spirit Hollow,” commented Winegard. “Rick Jacobson got the job because he was the only one bold enough to tell me my design was bad.”

“Randy’s passion resonated with me,” commented Jacobson. “When we walked the property, the topography, elevation changes and mature specimen oak trees were striking. Rock outcroppings, valleys and streams flowed throughout. When you arrived, you got a panoramic view. Then, as you traversed the property and got into the valleys, you peaked around the corner to see what was next, it just got better and better.”

Rick’s design philosophy is to create an excitement in the layout that intrigues the imagination and challenges the competitive spirit of the player. And at Spirit Hollow, his canvas was the majestic Mississippi River Valley.

Jacobson shared that when it comes to golf course architecture sometimes you have to try and replicate beauty. At Spirit Hollow, it was preserving the dramatic features already there. The result of Randy and Rick’s collaboration is a course now ranked #2 Best in Iowa by Golf Digest and Golf World.

Spirit Hollow offers four distinct tee boxes, and each provides a fair challenge with an exhilarating experience. The courses stretches to 7,550 yards with a 74.8 rating and 134 slope from the Gold tees. For players not up to that challenge, the Black (6,580 yards), White (6,010 yards) and Rust (5,053 yards) tee markers will certainly provide a pure and rewarding golf experience.

“We created Spirit Hollow to allow golfers the opportunity to use every club in the bag,” said Jacobson. “Throughout the course, you have options to execute different shots. It’s about Risk/Reward; after a bogey hole, you want the option to make par and get back on track.”

The terrain at Spirit Hollow is varied and elevation changes abound. Over 15,000 trees line the ample fairways, a tribute to Randy’s dad, and his love of forestry. Natural streams meandering throughout the course provide water on eleven holes. Course conditioning is top notch with bent grass tees, fairways and greens. The greens are smooth, firm and fast, but very playable.

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Photography by crewsphotography.com