Paducah Golf Course Reviews

Golf Courses – Paducah Kentucky

During Paducah’s Quilt Week husbands of quilters frequently busy themselves with  golfing. The following reviews are from three courses I managed to play during the 2014 AQS Quilt Show.

Review – Paxton Park Golf Course
Paducah, KY
www.paxtonpark.com

Paducah’s only public golf course is less than 10 minutes from downtown and very convenient for rendezvous with your quilting spouse who is going to the show.

Paxton Park Golf Course

The fairways at Paxton Park were only partially green due to the harsh winter and cooler than normal spring.

In late April, the fairways were still brown from the severe winter and there were lots of wet spots that were not draining well (earlier in April it had rained quite a bit). Since grass was not yet greened up I suppose that helps keep the ground wetter than usual. It looked like drainage tile was being installed on some fairways. But the greens and tee boxes were in good condition . . . with the greens faster than they looked.

The course is a mature, tree lined course with good definition of the fairways. Many of the holes feature rolling terrain and are either predominately uphill or downhill. Sometimes trees are fairway hazards. There is water on several holes. There are a few ponds adjacent to some fairways but most of the water hazard comes in the form of a creek than runs across many of the fairways. The cart paths are paved and each hole has an attractive monument with a detailed graphic of the hole layout.

Paxton Park

The nicely detailed hole layout on the tee box monument is particularly helpful to visiting golfers.

There are four sets of tees – Gold, Blue, Yellow, and Red. While the Blue Tees would seem to be equivalent to the White Tees on many courses, at 6262 yards it was a little longer than most White Tees of my experience. Most of this extra yardage was allotted to three very long Par 3s and one long Par 4.

Once the fairways are greened up and the wet spots dried out, I’d consider this an attractive course. The course has variety and the challenges are fair ones – no trickery or gimmics. Beginning golfers will find it easy to play; more advanced golfers should be sufficiently challenged by the Gold tees as some of the holes will require a long and well-placed drive to reach the green in regulation. Moderate terrain change lends variety and challenge to the holes but not so hilly to make walking the course an issue.

The Pro Shop is reasonably well-equipped and the seasoned staff friendly and helpful. There are two putting greens, with one of them set up with a sand trap for bunker play and adequate space around it for pitching practice. The driving range is fairly level with several flags of various distances, but no defined tees boxes. Paved parking lot with adequate space. Price is competitive; I’d say fair for the quality of the facility. Spring walking price for 18 holes was $17.00 and that was an all-day price.

Review – Kentucky Dam Village Golf Course
Gilbertsville/ Grand Rivers, KY
www.parks.ky.gov/golf/18_hole/kentucky-dam/

Kentucky Dam Village Golf Course

A pretty course but with some rough spots, due perhaps to a tough winter.

Located about 25 miles east of Paducah along highway 62, Kentucky Dam Village is a convenient drive. Of course if you are staying in the Grand Rivers area as we were it is very convenient. It is a state-owned golf course and is part of the Kentucky Dam Village State Resort. If you like a brew on the course or after play, forget it as the course is in a dry county. Also if you like to hit some range balls prior to play or practice some chips shots, be aware there is no driving range and only one putting green. The hills and more significant terrain change that adds challenge and attractiveness to the course equates to a negative for walking the course. So unless you are a fitness buff, plan to use a cart.

What I liked about the course

Kentucky Dam Village Golf Course

The #7 hole is one of the prettiest holes on the course, just don't hit it short!

It is has an attractive course layout, with mature trees defining the fairways and woods surrounding the entire course. Flower plantings are at most every tee box. The golf course has good variety of terrain with nice elevation changes on many holes. Water is a hazard on some holes but with one exception generally not significant. The Tee boxes were in good condition as were the Greens – except the greens were in serious need of rolling and cutting. Overall the course offers a good but fair challenge for advanced golfers, yet is manageable for higher handicap golfers.

What I didn’t like about the course
There were some serious rough spots immediately adjacent to the fairway so some balls at the edges of the fairway could land in bare dirt and gravel. There were also some rough spots adjacent to the greens. #18 for example had no fringe at all in places. My ball landed two inches off the green on bare dirt. While it could be argued that the harsh winter was the cause of these defects, they appeared to me from more than a season’s neglect. The greens, though lush, were extremely slow – slow as Molasses in fact – and seriously needed cutting and rolling. Architecturally Kentucky Dam is an attractive course, but I wonder if the maintenance budget is too sparse. Maintenance as an issue also showed up on the golf carts. They were well-used with many miles on them.

Like Paxton Park, the fairways were brown, with little evidence of green grass. Had to negotiate around mud flats as well as wet spots. Again the harsh winter is a factor, but another is due to the choice of fairway grass seed blend. Seems to me that the Bermuda grass mix used in southern courses for its heat tolerance should not be as much of an issue in Paducah as it isn’t that far south. But both Paxton Park and Kentucky Dam courses use this blend. In my opinion, a more appropriate would be a blend with other grass types or a hybrid that greens up faster. The lack of actively growing grass also adds to the mud and drainage problems from spring rains.

The tee monuments, while attractive and set in flower beds, contained no graphics of the layout of each hole, which meant constant checking of the scorecard. My final knock against the course goes to the price. Although conditions were poor, the facility charged full, regular season price.

Overall I liked the course but didn’t like the conditions and maintenance . . . and the lack of a spring price that took into account the poorer conditions. In a future occasion, unless the course was fully greened up, I would only play here on a day or time where they offer a discount.

Review – Drake Creek Golf Club
Ledbetter, KY
www.drakecreek.com

Drake Creek Golf Course

Greener fairways and much more water at Drake Creek

Drake Creek is located less than 10 miles east of Paducah in the rural community of Ledbetter. It almost could be called a suburb of Paducah and is almost as convenient to downtown as the Paxton Park course. Much of the golf course is laid out along a finger-like inlet to the Ohio River that has creek tributaries. It is primarily a links style course with few trees defining the fairways. Part of the front nine is on higher ground and surrounded by woods (but few trees close to the fairways). The back nine is on lower ground and is  surrounded by a housing development. The front 9 has paved cart paths; the back nine paths are gravel. The fairways are rolling and some holes have more dramatic terrain changes. Water comes into play on many holes adding both attractiveness to the course as well as hazard. Frequent use of fairway sand bunkers and bunkers guarding the greens add challenge. Drake Creek is set within a newer housing development so it is apparent it was constructed as part of this overall housing community development.

What I liked about the course

Drake Creek Golf Course

A shot from the White Tees tee box. Can't see it from here but the fairway had a double hour-glass shape to it so it was important to land your ball in the fat part to miss the water on the right and the rough on the left.

The fairways are Zoysia grass blends, which green up much faster than the Bermuda blends used at the Kentucky Dam and Paxton Park courses. It was more enjoyable to play off of green grass vs. mud, dirt, and dead grass that I encountered on the other courses. The Zoysia also meant the the areas around the greens were in much better shape than the the other two courses. Perhaps because of the growing grass and also the rolling terrain and mounds there were few wet spots in the fairway. I think the soil may have been more sandy which also helps the drainage. The greens were in excellent condition, better condition and more true than either Paxton or Kentucky Dam. The green fees were a good deal – $30 for green fee and cart if you reserved online. They also have a very attractive $20 Senior Tuesday (cart and green fee).

There is a restaurant and grill next to the pro shop and they offered a menu of sandwiches you could order by phone and have ready for you at the turn before you start the 10th hole. The prices seemed quite reasonable, but I didn’t get a chance to try out the fare.

What I didn’t like about the course

Drake Creek Golf Course

One of the "gotcha" fairway bunkers - green is in the center top of the photo.

The course designers built in several challenges that I found artificial or as my brother-in-law would say “unfair” or gimmicky. Too many “gotchas” with particular placement of fairway sand bunkers and greenside bunkers. Too many mounds and trenches in the fairways. The fairways were generally narrow. The lack of trees defining the fairways and the mounds and rolling fairways made it difficult to see the general layout of a hole and determine a landing spot for your drives. A good drive down the middle of the fairway sometimes resulted in a ball in a sand bunker, in the water, or in a ditch. It was easy to get in trouble with a less than good drive. I felt like on many holes it was “target golf” in that you had to know the hazards in advance and aim for a safe spot.

In fairness to the course layout, people who have played this course several times would know the character of each hole and not have the issues I had with the course. They would know the “targets” on each hole and when to go long, short, or layup. But being that this is otherwise a very average golf course with average amenities, the hazards seemed to me an attempt to “puff it up” to something more than it is.

But as I mentioned above under “likes” I sure liked playing on real grass and having decent conditions on the green and around the green. And the prices were fair.

Other Recommended Paducah Area Public Golf Courses

Mineral Mound Golf Course
Eddyville, KY
www.parks.ky.gov/golf/18_hole/mineral-mound/

This is another Kentucky State Resort Park golf course located on Lake Barkley.
Didn’t have a chance to play Mineral Mound but did do a drive-by and talked to one of the course employees. It is located about 15 miles east of the Kentucky Dam Course so if you are coming from Paducah, it might be a 35 to 40 minute drive from Paducah. From Grand Rivers it was about a 20 minute drive.

The greens looked in good shape and my local source indicated they were moderately fast. The area around the greens I saw looked in better condition than I encountered at the Kentucky Dam course and it seemed to be a little more green in the fairways. The front nine is set in the hills on the high ground with woods lining the fairways on both sides. The back nine is located on lower ground along Lake Barkley with views of the lake from several of the holes. I think this would be a scenic course and could be fun to play. I hope to play this course on my next trip to Paducah.

Miller Memorial Golf Course
Murray KY
www.murraystate.edu/millergolf/

Miller Memorial Golf Course

Miller Memorial Golf Course - April 2010

Miller is about 35 miles south east of Paducah, a few miles east of the town Murray, Kentucky on Potterstown Road. It is owned and managed by Murray State University. This is my favorite course in the Paducah area but I didn’t get a chance to play there this trip nor since 2010 or 11, so can’t say how their conditions stacked up against the other three courses I did play.

Miller is an attractive mature course with moderately high elevation changes and trees defining the fairways. There is some water on the course and comes into play in a serious way on a few holes. Because it is a university course and headquarters for the golf team, I think the maintenance might be better than some other area courses.

Miller offers a Monday – Friday senior discount – helps defer the extra cost of driving more miles to get there. I’d be playing this course more often if it was closer to Paducah or Grand Rivers (where we stay when we attend the Quilt Show).

Lake Barkley Golf Course
Cadiz, KY
www.parks.ky.gov/golf/18_hole/lake-barkley/

This is yet another Kentucky State Resort Park golf course. It is even further away from Paducah than the Miller Murray course and may be too distant for most golfers whose spouses are attending the Quilt Show. It is a Boots Randolph designed course and I have a friend who played it and liked it a lot so I am listing it for those willing to drive a longer distance to play a quality course.

Other Golf Courses near Paducah Kentucky

The Calvert City Golf Course is a semi-private country club course. One year during Quilt Week I drove over to the course with an interest in playing it. No one was staffing the modest pro shop. I waited around for someone to show up and eventually gave up. From what I could see of the course it didn’t appear that special so I’ve crossed it off my list of golfing options.

Benton Golf & Country Club is a semi-private country club and located on the way to Murray Kentucky but would be about 10 minutes shorter drive. Couldn’t find that much information about the course on their modest website. If you are going to drive this far to get to Benton, I’d suggest investing another 10 minutes or so to go to Miller Memorial as I am sure that is a better golf course and if you are a senior golfer it offers a very attractive green fee.

Rend Lake Golf Course
This is not a Paducah area course as it is about 80 miles north of Paducah near Benton, Illinois. But it is just off I-57 which is the route people from Wisconsin and Northern Illinois would take to come to the quilt show. So if you are a golfer and travel this route, this 27 hole course is worth a stop as it is a pretty course whose fairways will be in better condition than what you find in the Paducah area. See our Rend Lake Golf Course pictures and comments here.

–Ross

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