A hidden gem at Hidden Springs Golf Course in Overbook
Editor's Note: Part 2 in our 9-part series highlighting some of the signature golf holes from courses around the area.
Standing on the tee box at the ninth hole at Hidden Springs Golf Course in Overbrook does nothing to prepare you for the fun and challenge that lies ahead.
From the tee, this 516-yard par 5 looks pretty easy — long and straight and wide open the whole way.
But that’s hardly the way it plays when you get down the fairway.
Quick tip on the drive: The fairway is pretty wide open and it definitely feels like you can hit it anywhere and be OK. There are trees lining the left side and a few trees dotting the right side, but none of those should come into play. There’s a pine tree just in the right rough where the fairway starts to bend. That’s a pretty good aiming point. If you stay tight to that and just hug it to the left, you’ll end up in a perfect spot in the center of the fairway.
After hitting a pretty typical drive to the left rough and advancing the ball to the 130-yard mark on my second shot, I approached my ball for my third shot and that’s when I saw it — one of the most intimidating and cool-looking trees I’ve seen on a golf course, towering over the front of a small pond protecting the ninth green and begging you to test it.
Knowing that I wanted to keep my score respectable for this blog, I had a decision to make. But, really, there was not much to decide. The distance was perfect for my 8 iron and laying up a second time was not an option. I had to go for the green. And, what’s more, I had to hit it.
With nothing but trouble to the left, a pond protecting all three sides of the front and a small bailout area to the back right, it was either hit the green or card a big number. Even if you land it in that bailout area, there’s no guaranteeing that your next shot will land on the turtle shell green.
Although the putting surface is fair and easy to read when you’re up there, most of it slopes down toward the pond in all directions, which would have made it hard to keep a chip on the green from the bailout area.
Luckily, I stayed down, followed through and hit what I could only describe as one of the 20 best shots of my life. Flying just over the right side of the tree and drawing back toward the flag, I stuck my third shot to within eight feet and gave myself a good look at birdie.
Still overjoyed by the shot — not to mention feeling great about the calibration of my clubs — I drove up to the green on the right side of the pond, feeling like Gary Woodland after his chip on 17 at the U.S. Open. This shot might not have won me millions, and nobody else even saw it, but it was a championship shot and all but guaranteed me at least a par.
The putt was makable and I should have drained it. But I just burned the lip on the left side and had a tap-in for par.
I never would have guessed when I teed my ball up back on the box for my first shot that such a memorable hole would have followed.
I didn’t get to see the rest of Hidden Springs that day, but if any of the rest of the holes out there set up like No. 9, I can see where the course got its name.
It truly is a hidden gem in the middle of the most rural setting. A mile stretch of gravel road off of Highway 56 (18 miles east of Highway 59, south of Lawrence) leads you in and the course winds its way over several acres of farmland.
While that might only be available to play when the weather’s good, Hidden Springs offers you another option even when it’s not.
Their brand new, virtual golf system in an out building next to the clubhouse is locked and loaded just about 365 days a year, allowing you to pick from 100 different courses in a real-life, video game set-up.
Forget Golden Tee. This is the real thing. You use real clubs, take full swings and watch your shots as if you were actually playing. The only thing missing is hopping on and off the cart or the exercise you get from walking 18.
There was a young kid in the virtual room while I was out there and watching him swing away and then following his ball flight on the screen with the red line tracing his ball almost made it feel like I was watching on TV. If not for the loud sound of contact and the thump when the ball hit the screen, I might have thought I was.
I hope to get back out for a full round on the actual course sometime soon. But I can guarantee you this much: Hidden Springs will be the first place I think of during the winter months when I get that itch to tee it up and play a round in the dead of winter.
Book your tee time today to try your luck on No. 9, the virtual golf or anything else Hidden Springs has to offer. And tell ’em Tait sent ya.
Be sure to enter this week to win a round of golf for four, with carts, or one hour of virtual golf at Hidden Springs.
Last week's winner of one round of golf for two including cart at Lake Shawnee Golf Course in Topeka was Rick Glover. Congratulations!