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

Paducah AQS Quilt Show

Getting Ready for Paducah

Jo has been busy packing ARVY (our Rialta Motor Home) for her first trip of the 2013 season – which will be to Paducah, Kentucky for the annual Quilt Show & Quilters Convention.

We’ve had a very cold and wet early spring here in Wisconsin so we are especially looking forward to going south to catch some warmer weather. For Quilt Week the forecast is for temps in the low 60s to low 70s, a little below average for Paducah but to us here in Wisconsin it sounds quite balmy!

Dogwood Trail
One of the many flowering dogwoods along Paducah's Dogwood Celebration Trail

One bonus of the below average temperatures we’ve had (not only Wisconsin but the entire midwest and midsouth) is that the dogwoods should be blooming later this year, which means the peak of flowering might be during the show days. So if you are going to the Paducah Show this year you might want to plan to take in a Dogwood Trail Tour. If you are not in a private vehicle there are tour buses operating along the trail. There are many other Paducah Attractions to fill any extra moments you have between show events. A few I like are the Floodwall Murals, the Lowertown Arts District, and touring the historic downtown area+ dining and pub crawling!

The quilt show opens on Wednesday, April 24th with classes, lectures, workshops, and special events (in the evening). The Quilting Vendor areas are also open as well as the contest Show Quilt exhibits. The show runs through Saturday, April 27th. An event not officially connected to the show but one Jo always likes to catch is Eleanor Burn’s Tent Show and Fabric Sale held at Carson Park. The shows run 3 times a day from April 24 – April 27th. The Fabric Sale opens earlier on April 19th. If you’ve never been to one of Eleanor’s Stage Shows, you can see a  video clip of her 2011 show here. Lots of fun.

Golfing, Hiking, RV Camping

Other things we like to do when we travel to Paducah is hike and camp at the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area and while Jo is attending some events I try to get some golfing in. Paducah’s Paxton Park course is enjoyable and reasonably priced. A more challenging golf course is the Drake Creek Golf Club in nearby Ledbetter, KY. Another nice course is the one at Kentucky Dam Village near Grand Rivers. A little further away from Paducah but I think worth the drive is the Murray State University course (Miller Memorial) near Murray, Kentucky.

Well gotta go and finish packing. Maybe we’ll see you in Paducah?

Ross

Links

AQS Paducah Quilt Show Website

Paducah Visitors Bureau Website

Quilting Pathways Reports from earlier Paducah Quilt Shows

Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Park

2012 Paducah Quilt Show

Paducah is Ready for the 2012 AQS Quilt Show

Paducah's Convention Center, site of the annual AQS Quilt Show & Convention

On the way home from our spring trip Jo and I decided to stop by Paducah to see how preparations were going for the big 2012 Paducah Quilt Show & Quilters Convention. Last year tornadoes, severe storms, and floods almost cancelled the show. The main show site, the Convention Center, couldn’t be used because it was surrounded by water. Eleanor Burn’s Quilt for a Day tent show and fabric sale, always a big satellite event to the show, was hurt badly. A storm just before opening day tore up one of the tents and rain and flooding waters ruined tens of thousands of dollars of merchandise. Even though Mother Nature threw floods and tornadoes, show organizers did an excellent job of scrambling to find several alternate locations for show events and the show did go on.

This year based on our March 29th visit, all is in place to host a terrific show. Lack of snow in the upper midwest has left rivers lower than normal. Just in case reservoirs are also running lower than normal spring levels. So the chance of another flood changing the show are impossibly small. The slightly remodeled convention center is all set and since the removal of the debris from the demolished hotel adjacent to the convention center there is a good deal more parking space close to the center of Quilt Show activities. The inflatable Dome is already in place and all systems are go.

Go to our regular web pages to find out more the Paducah Show and links to the AQS website for the 2012 show.

Dining at Whaler's Catch outdoor deck

While we were in town we stopped at Whaler’s Catch for lunch. Whalers is a favorite during the Quilt Show because of its location, decent food and their spacious two story outdoor dining deck. It was a perfect spring day in the 70s so we dined outdoors on the deck. We had sandwich baskets and beverages for less than $20. Very large portion size with nice trimmings – leaf lettuce, onions, and tomato slices + fries. Free refills on the beverages and good wait service.

Jo shopping at Eleanor Burn's quilt shop in Paducah

Also while we in town we couldn’t escape without a visit to Eleanor Burn’s Quilt in a Day shop. Jo found some fabric she needed to complete a project.

On the way home to Wisconsin we stopped at the Rend Lake Corps Gun Creek Campground near Benton, IL. About 90 miles north of Paducah this is a good stop over for our last day at the Paducah Quilt Show. In addition to very well designed and maintained RV sites, it offers an additional attraction to Ross and other golfing spouses who indulge their wives’ passion for the Quilt Show. This attraction is an excellent 27 hole golf course essentially adjacent to the camp ground. The course is quite scenic, well-maintained with paved cart paths, electric golf carts, and a nice variety of tee boxes. At the end of March, the fairways and greens were in very good spring condition. The three mens tees range from about 6000 yards for 18 holes from the senior tees to over 6800 yards from the blue tees. Rend Lake Golf Course website.

Rend Lake Golf Course, Benton, Illinois

Rend Lake Golf Course, Benton, Illinois

Ross and Jo

Tyler Quilt Show

Tyler Quilt Show and interesting things to see and do during the Azalea Festival

Azalea Quilt Show, Tyler Texas

Jo and I traveled to Tyler Texas to attend the 31st annual Azalea Quilt Show sponsored by the Quilters’ Guild of East Texas. (The 37th annual event will be held March 23-24, 2018) The event is held on the third or fourth weekend of March to coincide with Tyler’s Annual Azalea & Spring Flower Festival. The event is held at the Harvey Convention Center in the center of Tyler. This location was excellent. Although located in the center of Tyler it was easy to find, had plenty of free parking adjacent to the convention center, and the auditorium exhibit room was well-lighted and comfortable. For a regional show Jo felt they had a number of well-crafted quilts in the competition.

quilt at tyler quilt show
Stars and Tumblers – A little bit of Blue” submitted by Rebecca Yarbrough

Here’s one of many quilts we liked. This one is “Stars and Tumblers – A little bit of Blue” submitted by Rebecca Yarbrough.

One of the attractions of attending this show, driving all the way from Wisconsin, was also being able to tour the Azalea & Spring Flower Trail in Tyler. The Convention & Visitors Bureau and various civic groups and garden clubs have joined together to create a network of tour trails throughout a portion of Tyler. Most can be toured by automobile but some homeowners have opened up their yards for walking tours as well. A number of the homes on the tour are listed as historic homes; others while not historic are quite distinctive. It is evident that many homeowners in Tyler take great pride in creating extensive azalea and spring flowering gardens. During the two week tour festival, there are also scheduled tours of historic homes, an arts & crafts festival, the annual Rotary Chili Cook Off competition, and tours of the historic Roseland Plantation as well as a number of other events.

Along the Azalea Spring Flower Trail, Tyler Texas

Jo at one of the extensive gardens along Tyler's Azalea Spring Flower Trail
Jo at one of the extensive gardens along Tyler’s Azalea Spring Flower Trail

But that’s not all that brought us to Tyler for the Quilt Show. In nearby Rusk Texas the Texas State Railroad runs its annual spring Steam Train excursions through the piney woods between Rusk and Palestine. Having enjoyed similar old time railroad excursions along Duluth’s North Shore and along the Mississippi River, we thought it would be fun to sample the experience in Texas. We were not disappointed. The Texas State Railroad attends to all the details to make sure your ride is a step back in time to the grand old days of railroad travel. Steam Engine 300 is a 83 ton 1917 Baldwin 2-8-0 and its cars date back to the 1920s.

Steam Engine 300
Steam Engine 300 at the Rusk Railroad Station

Crossing the Neches River Engine 300 blows off excess steam

The final element of attraction (and a major one for Ross) for the Tyler Quilt Show was golfing. Although there are several courses in the area, we were only able to work in one outing on this trip to the Peachtree-Oakhurst golf course about 10 miles south of Tyler near the town of Bullard.

Golfing at Oakhurst Golf Course, Bullard, Texas

The Oakhurst Golf course is an attractive course with a choice of 5 tee boxes. Rolling terrain with groves of trees helping to divide the fairways from one another as well as ad visual interest to the overall layout. Water on ten holes added to the scenic attraction as well as the challenge. I found the course challenging, but fair and enjoyable. The fairways and greens were in good condition. I particularly liked the fact that the fairways use a mixture of grass other than Bermuda which you sometimes find at other mid-south golf courses. Bermuda is great for tolerating summer heat but it is worthless for a spring golfing experience in the mid-south where winter temperatures have killed the grass and it won’t green up until overnight temperatures are in the 70s. I’ll post more pictures from Oakhurst and other golfing details in our regular pages.

Coincidentally when packing up after golfing we struck up a conversation with another couple who just finished the course, Illeice and Al Baker. Turned out that Illeice is a member of the East Texas Quilter’s Guild and was on the committee planning the quilt show! At the quilt show her term begins as President-elect so a year from now she’ll be the incoming Guild President. So if I am down here next year when Jo attends the show I can go golfing with Al.

Well that’s it for our report on the Azalea Quilt Show. Summary. The Azalea Quilt Show is a well organized good quality regional show and there are lots of other good reasons to travel some distance to attend the show.

Ross and Jo

Traveling to Dubuque Iowa

In mid-August Jo and I decided to take a trip to the Dubuque Iowa area to see a few sights and visit a quilt shop in nearby Bellevue. I also had a few golf courses I wanted to play 🙂

National Farm Toy MuseumWe arrived on a Tuesday afternoon and decided to drive west of Dubuque, about 20 miles, to Dyersville, Iowa whose major attraction is the National Farm Toy Museum. And for baseball and movie fans Dyersville is home to the Field of Dreams movie set – which time didn’t permit us to visit. We also discovered that they have an annual fall quilt show – another reason to return.

The Farm Toy Museum is an interesting piece. The exhibits serve as an educational tour of the progression of  two centuries of US agriculture and its implements. If you weren’t aware of this factoid, in the US the Industrial Revolution was most evident in its agricultural machinery and inventions. So anyone interested in US industrial history or the history of farming in the US will find the Toy Museum’s exhibits fascinating. A number of the exhibits were antique toys, the kind you’d see brought onto the PBS TV show Antiques Roadshow. So collectors or appreciators of antique toys will find lots to satisfy this interest. I discovered there is a lively group of hobbyists and collectors who specialize in farm toys. They even have a magazine called Toy Farmers. Of course farmers or former farmers will have lots of fun walking down memory lane looking at models of tractors and implements. While I was there a group of three retired farmers where wandering through the exhibits seeing models of tractors and implements from their earlier days. Every once in a while one would say “Hey do you remember . . . ”

Breitbach Country Tavern
Breitbach's Country Tavern, Iowa's oldest, has been run by the Breitbach family since 1852

On the way back to Dubuque we stopped in Balltown Iowa to dine at Breitbach’s Country Tavern. We hadn’t been there since the second of two devastating fires destroyed this Iowa landmark. We missed the original because it had been there for ages and was filled with a gazzilion antiques (see here for a few shots of the “old” Breitbach’s). While the building is new looking local craftsmen have done a decent job in finishing off the interior with fine dark hardwoods giving it the atmosphere of an old time German or Swiss pub. Although the fire destroyed almost all of the Breitbach family’s several generations of antique collections, they have a few newly acquired antiques to lend character to the atmosphere. But the most pleasant experience of all has not changed. Breitbach’s food and service is terrific. We stuffed ourselves with the all-you-can-eat buffet. The service kept our tables clean and water glasses refreshed. The Breitbach family has been at this spot offering hospitality since 1852 and they have done a great job of it.

The next day, Wednesday, I had a chance to play the Blue Course at Lacoma Golf Club, which is across the river from Dubuque in East Dubuque, IL. It is a mature, scenic tree lined course with some degree of elevation change. The rough under the trees was mowed so balls hit outside of the fairway were fairly easy to find. Only a few holes had woods so thick and tight to fairway that an errant ball was “goodbye.” The greens were in good condition and easy to read. Overall the course was quite playable and a decent value for your golfing dollar. Reminded me of the Portage Lake Golf Course in Houghton, Michigan.

JoQuilter FabricsAfter golfing we traveled south of Dubuque, about 20 miles, along the Iowa side of the Great River Road to the town of Bellevue along the Mississippi River. There  is a quilt shop there Jo wanted to visit and we wanted to see the town as we had previously always traveled the Illinois side of the Great River Road along this stretch. Unfortunately the shop, JoQuilter Fabrics, was closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays so all we could do was look in the window. Jo says she is planning a Great River Road Quilt Shop tour to this part of the Great River next summer so she’ll make sure to be in Bellevue when the shop is open. The town itself is aligned along the river with an attractive river walk on the river side of the street and small gift shops, antique stores, craft shops, and restaurants on the other side of the street. A person could spend an hour or two wandering through the shops. There is also a lock and dam adjacent to downtown so one can get a good look at the river boat traffic as it comes through the locks. Another disappointment in our visit to Bellevue was the fact that the paved road to nearby Bellevue State Park was closed and we weren’t up for traveling a few miles down the alternate gravel road entrance.

The Meadows Golf Course
The Meadows Golf Course Dubuque Iowa

On Thursday I got in another golfing fix this time golfing The Meadows a course in the Dubuque western suburb of Asbury. Not very many trees in this course since not too many years ago it was a field of corn and grains. But the rolling hills and course landscaping presented an attractive picture. Every hole on the course had a unique visual character to it. The fairways were close cut bent grass giving you the feeling of playing on a carpet. Every time I took a divot I felt I was committing a misdemeanor. While the fairways always had elevation changes, a few water and sand trap hazards, and many with doglegs left or right or left and right, the challenge at The Meadows is the greens. All of them are elevated so a ball rolling off the edge of the frog hair would end up rolling several feet downhill into the longer grass. The greens themselves were often domed and had undulations with pin placements to challenge your ability to read the terrain. Combined with fast greens the challenge to your putting skills was enthusiastic! Result. I had many more 3 putts than I can recall having in recent outings. Despite the 3 putts and fairly good shots rolling off the green into the steep long grass I enjoyed the outing. A very good quality course with a reasonable green and cart fee structure. Thus an excellent golfing value. Oh and the club house was decent – had one of our favorite beers – Michelob Amber Bock – on tap.

After golfing we visited the Stone Cliff Winery’s Wine Bar and Pub located in the old Star Brewery building along the Dubuque Mississippi River Walk. Jo and I did their 5 wine sampler and our unanimous favorite was their Red Dawg variety. We bought a bottle to take home. In the same building down the hall is the winery’s production facility where they bottle the wine. Tours are available. I should also mention that the Wine Bar also has a number of excellent craft beers on tap. On the way home we stopped in Platteville, Wisconsin to sample the pizza at Steve’s Pizzeria a popular bar and pizza joint near the University of Wisconsin-Platteville campus. Nice atmosphere and a decent sampling of beers on tap. The pizza was OK but I think our pizza taste buds have been spoiled by the pizza places in Superior, Wisconsin – Shamrock, Thirsty Pagan, and Gronks.

–Till next time  — Roscoe

Dubuque Golf

Dubuque Iowa
View from Diamond Jo Casino looking towards entrance to the river walk

Our plans were to check out a few golf courses in the Dubuque area, visit JoQuilter’s Fabric Shop in Bellevue, Iowa, and enjoy the fourth of July fireworks along the river at Dubuque’s Lock & Dam. We arrived early on Thursday morning at the Grant River Recreation Area by Potosi figuring we’d be able to get one of the 26 non-reserveable campsites. That’s when our plans first started going south! All 26 non-reserveable campsites were occupied and all of the rest of the sites reserved for the upcoming holiday weekend. So plan B was to boondock somewhere or perhaps camp at the Mississippi Palisades park near Savannah. Having postponed lodging decisions we proceeded to our next item on our itinerary – golfing.

We found the Bunker Hill Golf Course off Grandview Avenue up on the hill. It is a municipal golf course with good maintenance and quite reasonable prices, including a senior rate. It cost me $27.25 to play 18 holes with a cart (weekday rate). It’s a scenic course, largely open except for a few more heavily wooded holes, and quite playable. Low handicap golfers will find the course too short and thus not challenging enough, but I enjoyed the opportunity to reach the greens in regulation more often!

After golfing we had an opportunity to sample the Dubuque Star Restaurant and its outdoor cafe on the second floor of the restored Star Brewery building along Dubuque’s riverfront. It was a beautiful early evening and the view from the cafe idyllic. A bonus was the food was quite tasty and the wait service excellent. Jo overheard another couple commenting that this was the fifth time they’ve eaten at the Star and that every time they come to Dubuque they always include a visit to the restaurant.

Lacoma Golf Course Red Nine

The next day, Friday July 2nd, we traveled across the river to East Dubuque to play the Lacoma Golf Course. A huge golfing facility. One 18 hole course, two 9 holes courses, and a 9 hole Par 3 course. We played the 9 hole Red Course and the 9 hole Gold Course. The Red was Lacoma’s first course. It is similar to Bunker Hill’s layout. Open fairways, semi-wooded, and shorter than average length even from the back tees. However the greens were a little trickier; I had a few three putts. The Gold Course was a quite different experience. It was longer by 250 yards, but the more significant differences are narrower fairways, more heavily wooded, and dramatic terrain changes. Several scenic vistas. Some of the holes reminded me of Marquette’s Greywalls Course – teeing off a hundred feet above the fairway with woods below and on both sides, then once in the fairway the green is a hundred feet above you. No flat greens either and the pin placement wasn’t kind to a putt that went wide. But for all the challenges I’d say the Gold Course was fair and playable (if you don’t mind losing a few golf balls :-)). The only downside of my Lacoma experience was I strained or pulled something in my pelvis. I popped 4 Ibuprofen’s and another pain pill I had with me so I was able to finish the round. Later it was evident the pain and discomfort were getting worse and we decided better pack up and head for home.

So we missed the fireworks and the air show on Saturday and were unable to take that side trip to Bellevue. I hope to return to Lacoma to play their other courses and work in that visit to Bellevue and its quilt shop.

Arriving at Paducah

Whenever Jo goes to the Paducah AQS Quilt Show, we like to arrive a few days earlier to have some extra time to enjoy the area and get a better choice of an RV campsite. Touring the Dogwood Trail and golfing are among these pre-show pursuits.

dogwood trail paducah, kentucky
Dogwood Trail Festival Paducah Kentucky

Last year (2009) there wasn’t an official Dogwood Trail Celebration because a winter ice storm had damaged so many trees. We followed the route outlined for the 2008 trail and although storm damage was evident, we still found a number of attractive displays of dogwoods and azaleas. In 2010 we followed the trail markers and did our own tour in our RV motor home. The photo shows the trees in the lawn of one of Paducah’s oldest historical landmarks: Grace Episcopal Church (1874) on Broadway Avenue. Most trees were in full bloom, but here and there some trees still show evidence of having lost their tops or major branches. On Saturday evening we attended the official festival celebration Saturday night which included a narrated evening tour of the trail.

Murray State Golf Course

When Jo goes to the Quilt Show, golf usually occupies my time and is a favorite of other spouses of quilters who accompany their wives to the annual event. The Paxton Park course in Paducah is a popular course and the green fees are reasonable. Another popular area golf  course is the Kentucky Dam Resort course near Grand Rivers, KY. On the way to our campsite to attend the 2010 show I discovered a new course: the Murray State University Golf Course (Miller Memorial) near Murray, Kentucky. About 40 miles from Paducah, I think the extra travel is well worth the effort. The course is 18 holes with excellent maintenance, nicely detailed signage at each hole, and easy-to-read greens and fair hole locations. These factors help golfers new to the course enjoy the play. On Tuesday I hope to play the Drake Creek Golf Club in Ledbetter, KY (about 10 miles from downtown Paducah). They have a senior special on Tuesdays – $20 for green fees and cart. I’ll report on that later.

Despite a warm spring, the fairway grass on several of the courses I’ve played this spring (in Mississippi, Arkansas, and Kentucky) has been somewhat marginal. Apparently the variety of turf grass they use tolerates heat well but doesn’t green up nicely until May. One of my favorite Lake Superior golf courses – Nemadji Golf Course in Superior Wisconsin – opened this spring on March 30th, 10 days earlier than they had ever opened in the last 50 years. I wonder if their fairways are in as good a shape as what I am finding in the mid-south?

–Ross