Because today looked like my only golf day in Sioux Falls, I went for another round! Willow Run is on the east side of town, in-between where I played earlier that morning and where we were staying. It was two extra right turns on my way back to our condo! The proshop got me out right away, behind another single and a twosome. The pace moved great and I got done in about 3 hours!
The setting at Willow Run is one of the course’s strengths! Lots of holes look good! Oddly, the clubhouse is attached to an apartment complex, but don’t let that scare you. I think the residents and golfers park in the same lot. No doubt, it is a bit unusual! I sure wouldn’t mind having a golf course within walking distance of my apartment here in Charlottesville!
Much of the course lies in a small valley, between a road and some homes. The homes are set back so some road noise is likely to be the only distraction! There are plenty of trees and a creek that comes into play on probably half of the holes. The perimeter holes have natural vegetation off to the side and all that leads to a very secluded setting. Off to the right of the 7th hole there’s an old train bridge, adding to the charm. From the courses that I’ve played in recent years, I’d say Willow Run is a blend between Green Valley Ranch in Colorado and Honey Run in Pennsylvania. It had a wetlands feel to it while still having plenty of elevation change.
I don’t think there is any one signature hole, just a collection of solid ones. I also don’t think there is a bad hole either. The 18th is the only hole that is quirky because the fairway has fingers, guarded by lost ball trouble to the left. You really can pick any number of lines and clubs off that tee. I fanned a drive to the right and was just fine!
I played the tips (golds), which are 72.6/135/6670. The course is a par 71 and from those tees I found it to be challenging, but also fair. It is a course where you can play to your strength, whatever that may be. If you drive the ball well, you will get some birdie looks. Or you can slash it around like me and let your iron play or chipping or putting shine here.
I found the course to be very playable, as if it was designed with the average golfer in mind. In fact, there were times I was expecting to lose my ball and I ended up surprised to find it! Mounding around the greens can yield favorable bounces too! For my Mid-Atlantic friends, Willow Run struck me as an Ed Ault creation. In case you are curious, Joel Goldstrand designed the course.
The conditions at Willow Run were good. It looks like the course gets a bit of play from the locals. The course was very green, but on the firmer side. I struggled to judge the large first bounces on the greens. The fairways were full, with just a few patchy spots. The greens were rolled well and were speedy, much quicker than they looked! Boy, the rough was thick! I couldn’t get any elevation from it and looked silly playing from it.
I’ve got two quibbles about Willow Run. First, most of the par 3’s are long irons. There are five par 3’s here and four of them are between 185 and 205 yards. Second, the course is overpriced for an out of towner. I just showed up and paid, and it was $60 riding during a weekday. Every other course I looked at was in the $40 range and for that price I would have been higher on it.
I’d call Willow Run a good Midwest course. The setting here was more in line with what I expected for a course in this area. But, for the price I paid, Grand Falls is the clear winner if comparing the two. Based on what I’ve seen online and in person while in town, I’m impressed with Sioux Falls golf!
#1 (455 yard par 4):
#2 (520 yard par 5):
#3 (370 yard par 4):
#4 (190 yard par 3):
#5 (390 yard par 4):
#6 (155 yard par 3):
#7 (500 yard par 5):
#8 (405 yard par 4):
#9 (185 yard par 3):
#10 (535 yard par 5):
#11 (205 yard par 3):
#12 (415 yard par 4):
#13 (460 yard par 4):
#14 (565 yard par 5):
#15 (385 yard par 4):
#16 (195 yard par 3):
#17 (340 yard par 4):
#18 (400 yard par 4):