Well, after 1300+ miles I made it to my destination, Sioux Falls! I was there for four days and helped out with some wedding items, but managed to golf two days! Thursday was one of those days and I had pretty much the whole day. I was up early and motored around The Falls in less than 3 hours.
From my research, The Falls appeared to be the premier golf course in Sioux Falls. It is a casino course and part of Grand Falls Casino and Resort, which is about 15 minutes from town and just over the state border, into Iowa. If you are having a bad day, you could easy lose a ball or two across the state line, which is just to the left of the 2nd and 3rd holes! If you do have that bad golf day, you can try your luck in the casino if that is your sort of thing.
I walked through the casino to get to the proshop out back, and it sure was nice! Everything inside is shiny and new, the restaurants looked good, and there are some small water features next to the slots. There is a spa, hotel rooms, and even RV hookups next to the driving range. I’m sure they have a stay and play package if that is your thing! I booked through Teeoff for $40, and gladly took advantage of the off season rates. Normal rates are around $60 I believe. If this course is in a major metro area, it would easily cost $100+ so it will likely be a steal, whatever you pay.
The property is located out on some rolling farmland in western Iowa. There isn’t a tree to be found and most of the holes are separated by wispy fescue. One of the biggest pluses about The Falls, is that it has an eye pleasing, linksy look to it!
I used “linksy” because all too often a course refers to itself as a links design, but doesn’t really play that way. Well, The Falls has the ability to play more like a links course than most in that category. The wind was howling at 8am when I teed off and it blew that way for much of my Midwest trip. The Falls is designed with that in mind, which made playing in the wind more of a fun challenge, instead of an impossible challenge! Don’t expect the course to play similar to Bandon Dunes or Prairie Club, but if it gets firmer then you can still be rewarded for flighting shots lower.
I played the gold tees which are 73.6/136/6760 and from there I thought the course was very playable. The fairways are inviting and if you uncork a drive then you can end up in another fairway. The biggest difficulty when driving the ball here, is going to controlling the sideways movement after the ball lands. There is quite a bit of slope in the fairways and I had multiple tee shots take a couple bounces and scamper into the rough.
Around the greens, The Falls is more modern. As I mentioned, you can chase shots through some gaps onto the greens but it is still best to try to play the air game with the irons. I found there was a good side and an impossible side to miss each green. Deep bunkers and chipping areas await if you err to the wrong side. Around the greens, I found the design flamboyant and a bit excessive, requiring plenty of perfect chips. There are some slopes which can feed the ball towards pins, but I would have liked to have seen more of that!
The layout of The Falls wasn’t as impressive as I thought it would be, considering that a well know architect (Rees Jones) designed the course. I know there is only so much that can be done with farmland, but many holes felt repetitive. The majority of the holes at The Falls run north and south and with water in play only on the 9th and 18th, everything blended together to me. The 9th and 18th are the best holes on the course if you ask me! Rees’ mounding off the fairways added some nice separation though!
I won’t spend much time describing the conditions, just take a look at my pictures! The course benefits from the casino operation, and it shows. Everything was immaculate and as good as it gets for public golf! I think the conditions make this a “must play” if you are in the area and I think The Falls is worthy of its ranking among the top public courses in Iowa.
The Falls opened in 2014 and for a course in this era, I think The Falls is very good. It seems to be designed with the wind in mind and could be walked if that is your thing. It has a killer 18th hole too, which is a mid length par 3 that plays to a volcano green complex. Don’t miss it or you are going to get a bad bounce, most likely into one of the hazards that surround it! The Falls is certainly worth a stop and I enjoyed it much more than the other Rees Jones courses that I’ve played!
#1 (340 yard par 4):
#2 (540 yard par 5):
#3 (355 yard par 4):
#4 (445 yard par 4):
#5 (415 yard par 4):
#6 (135 yard par 3):
#7 (515 yard par 5):
#8 (175 yard par 3):
#9 (420 yard par 4):
#10 (395 yard par 4):
#11 (200 yard par 3):
#12 (440 yard par 4):
#13 (505 yard par 5):
#14 (340 yard par 4):
#15 (405 yard par 4):
#16 (455 yard par 4):
#17 (530 yard par 5):
#18 (150 yard par 3):