If you’re looking for an enjoyable round of golf at a family-friendly golf course that caters to players of all ages and every skill level, you don’t have to go any farther than Rolling Knolls.
Located just east of Dyersville on Old Highway Road, the nine-hole course was opened in the late 1960s by Walter and Virginia Link. Dick and Jean Mescher purchased the course in 1980 and operated the facility until 2001. Current owners Bobby and Carrie Fangman took control at that time and have made numerous improvements, including a bigger shop, 18 cart sheds, four new sand traps, several rebuilt tee boxes, and a full irrigation system. A clubhouse addition was built in 2004.
Rolling Knolls is a park-like setting and while it is not long, playing only 2,555 yards from the back tees and 2,313 from the front, even the best players will find it a challenge.
“It’s a well-kept course that is enjoyable for walking or riding,” said Carrie Fangman. “It is a great course for families as well as the more competitive golfer.”
“I’ve played there a long time, and it’s still a fun course to play,” said Mark Breitbach, of Dyersville. “There are some easier holes and there are some tougher holes, but it’s just a nice course to play. I can walk it or I can ride it. I enjoy the course. It’s always in good shape.”
Scoring well at Rolling Knolls requires patience on the mounded and speedy greens, while water comes into play on the par-4 sixth and the par-5 seventh.
Talk to regular players at Rolling Knolls, and that seventh hole enters the conversation frequently. At 530 yards with out-of-bounds to the right, the length of the hole itself offers a challenge. But add a tee shot over a pond that requires a long carry to reach the dry side of the fairway into the mix, and you’ll have your hands full.
Frequent visitor Lee Bules, who resides in Colorado’s High Desert when not in Dyersville, sums up the seventh’s difficulty.
“There’s water in front and OB to the right, and depending on how the wind is blowing I have to decide whether to hit an iron and lay up, or hit the driver.”
Fangman agreed on the seventh’s difficulty.
“With the pond to cross as well as the out-of-bounds on the right with the fairway narrowing the first 200 yards, it’s a tough tee shot.”
With a trio of par-3 holes, Rolling Knolls plays to a par-34 on the card, but each of those par-3 holes can pack a punch.
The second hole plays 208 yards downhill from the back tee, and a pair of traps guard the front of the green. Go long, and you’ll likely have a difficult pitch back to the green.
“That’s a tough hole for me,” said Breitbach. “It’s long enough that I have to hit a driver sometimes.”
While the second par-3 — the 160 yard fifth — is considered by some to be one of the easier holes on the course, the tee shot is all carry to a green that slopes from back to front.
It’s not all that often the final hole is a par-3, but that’s what you’ll see at Rolling Knolls. Playing 183 yards from an elevated set of tees, there is plenty of room on either side and in front of the large green, but go long and you’re asking for trouble.
The fourth is the longest of the par-4 holes at 354 yards, but it’s not the length that has left many players shaking their heads.
After a tee shot to a generous fairway, players will have a short iron shot to a small mounded green. Many a fine shot will find the green temporarily, only to role off to the fringe. Walk away from four with a par and you’ll feel good about things.
“Four, six and seven are the toughest holes, “ said Breitbach. “But four is the toughest one for me.
“The green is part of it, but you have to get there first,” he said. “You have the dogleg to the right and if you go too far right you are in the trees. You go too far left and you’re in the trees. Then the green makes it a lot harder.
“Those trees to the right are a problem because I slice once in a while and then the green is hard to hit. It’s a tough hole.”
The sixth might be the most interesting par-4 on the course, with players having the option of playing left or right of a grove of trees in the fairway. It takes a big tee shot to clear the water down the left. Either way, you’ll be hitting an approach to a two-tiered green.
Rolling Knolls is a busy place during the week, hosting three couples leagues, three men’s leagues, a women’s league and TOMY League.
“We really appreciate our league players, as they consist of many of our long-time customers,” said Fangman. “They have been very supportive over the years. We do have tee times available for other golfers before and after league play.”
Rolling Knolls is known for hosting numerous tournaments throughout the year, with its September 8-inch Big Cup Tournament one of the most popular.
“My dad started that tournament in the early 1980s as a one-day tournament, but it has grown to six-separate tournaments over four days with waiting lists to enter,” said Fangman.
Rolling Knolls is looking to the future of golf and had good participation in its youth program last year.
“Golf has seen a bit of a decline since our first years as owners, but has held steady when the weather cooperates,” Fangman said. “On a positive note, we had over 40 kids involved in our youth clinic last year. It’s great to see new interest in a sport that can be played at any age.”
Rolling Knolls is open for business with restrictions. Tee times are recommended.