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Sibley Golf & Country Club unique 9-hole gem

SIBLEY, Iowa -- For a course that not quite a teenager, the Sibley Golf & Country Club is a attractive course tucked away in northwest Iowa.

The Sibley G&CC was remodeled in the mid 90s, and was named the Iowa Golf Association's 9-hole Course of the Year in 1999. Since the re-opening, bunkers have been added, and some of the holes have been renumbered, creating a great golf experience.

As a public course located across from the high school in Sibley, a player can usually get a tee time to play a quick nine.

During this day, a slight breeze helped cool down what would have been an otherwise scorching day.

First impressions: The landscaping on the course was impecable. Donations made during the remodeling of the course allowed the SGCC to use various flowers, shrubs and even some water to accent the tee boxes.

With a campground and a swimming pool located in the same vicinity as the course, the area is well-developed and inviting for all visitors.

Hole 1, Par 4, 413/351/328 yds

The first hole is a challenging hole to start on. The tees that you play will determine the degree of dog-leg that you will face. The blues have the most difficult dog-leg, while the whites and gold tees will have slightly less. A creek runs through the left side of this hole, and a bunker graces the left side of the fairway. So stay right on this hole, but not too far right, or you will find yourself with tree trouble. With a long shot, it could be possible to cut the dog-leg, but it's not recommended, since it would take a long shot to clear the trees. Once you are past the trees and are ready to approach the green, make sure you notice where the pin is located. The first green is rather large, creating some long putts if you aren't accurate on your approach shot.

Hole 2, Par 3, 204/185/150 yds

After crossing Golf View Drive to the second hole, a long par-3 awaits you. This hole offers a good view of the houses that are tucked away in this area of the course. The hole itself is pretty wide open, but being straight is key. The rough on this hole is very thick, so if you are off the green, it will make for a difficult chip back to the putting surface. There are small hills around the green that slope down to the hole, so even a shot that isn't right at the pin has a chance to get a nice bounce and roll down to the cup.

Hole 3, Par 5, 505/488/452 yds

The third hole is a long par-5. The first thing you should notice on this hole is the great landscape leading up to the tee box. Once you are on the tee, you are looking at a hole which you will need a good drive. Water and a bunker line the right side, but don't go too far left, because you may find the out of bounds stakes. Once you are to the green, a large green and bunkers await. There is a bunker on the left and two smaller ones on the back side, so the key to this hole is being accurate. Going for the green in two may lead to a ball in the sand, so laying up on this hole isn't necessarily a bad idea. The green is long and narrow, but hills on the right side slopes down to the green on a shot to the right side.

Hole 4, Par 4, 360/340/323 yds

If you haven't played the fourth before, the tee shot could be tricky. There are large hills and a bunker on the left side, and water on the right, creating a narrow landing area. Scoring a par or better on this hole is really dependant on the tee shot. Going right down the middle is the best, but once again, selecting a smaller club and laying up wouldn't be a bad idea if you can't control the driver. Another bunker lines the left side of the green, and a slight ridge on the putting surface can make for some interesting putts. Don't be long of the green either, as a big drop off on the back side would create a difficult shot coming back to the green.

Hole 5, Par 5, 590/520/450 yds

As the longest hole on the course, the fifth hole is not an easy one. The water on the right could still create a problem, but shouldn't be an issue for most. Both sides of the fairway have small rolling hills -- or moguls as they are called -- which creates another small landing area down the center. Far left is prairie grass, which can eat balls if you aren't careful on the tee. Once you are past the moguls, the rest of the hole is pretty wide open. However, you aren't entirely in the clear. With a bunker short left, two on right side and one on the left of the green, it takes another good shot to approach the green. The green is longer than it is wide, so accuracy is key.

Hole 6, Par 4, 415/380/330 yds

The sixth is a dog-leg right with the creek running through the hole by the green. If you are a long hitter, you may reach the water, but otherwise, it shouldn't be a problem on your first shot. You will have to clear it on the second shot as you approach the green. To be in good position for that approach shot, you'll want to be close to the left side to be wide enough to cut the corner. The green is rather large, but a bunker protects the left side. A ridge on the green can make for some tricky putts, and small hills on the back left and right can be a challenge.

Hole 7, Par 4, 385/363/307 yds

The seventh is a blind tee shot to a par-4. This hole is crested at the top, creating a down hill shot to the green. Once you are over the hill, it's just a short shot down to the cup. The hole is a slight dog-leg, so being down the right side is best. There are small hills along the left side of fairway with trees lining the right side. There is a bunker along the right side of the green, and the green is not easy in itself. It is two-tiered, with the back right higher. There is a drop off from the back side, so being short isn't a bad idea. The key to this hole is making sure you are on the correct tier on the green and not putting from one to the other.

Hole 8, Par 3, 152/138/127 yds

The eighth is the shortest hole on the course. At 152 yards at the longest, a mid to short iron is a welcome shot off the tee. The left side is lined with a bunker, and trees line the right side. The green is large, and deceptively flat, so don't over play the break on this hole. The key to scoring well is being straight and accurate on your shot into the green.

Hole 9, Par 4, 405/363/334 yds

The ninth is a straight par-4. There is a tree on the right side of the tee box, forcing a shot to the left. If you usually play for a big hook, you may have trouble here. There are hills on left and a large hill off to the right. It is now just for show, but the hill on the right side used to be a green on the old course. There is a sand trap on the front left, and the green is contoured -- creating interesting breaks. The ninth is a good hole to end on, and the key is being straight off the tee to avoid trouble on the left.

Final impressions: Although the SGCC appears to be one of the better courses in the area, and creates an interesting challenge from the tee to the green, it is currently underutilized. Taking the lack of moisture into consideration, the course was in good shape. The rough is still long and thick, and can make for some interesting lies if you miss the fairway.

With three different sets of tee offs, you can play the course to fit your level of skill. However, from the blue tees, the course looks and plays differently.

One aspect that is unique to the course, setting it apart from other courses reviewed thus far, is the size of the greens. The greens on the SGCC are massive, so even if you are on the green, you may still be a long way from the hole. Trying to get the long putts close to avoid three putts is imperative to scoring well on this course.

Overall, the Sibley Golf & Country Club can make for a fun nine holes of golfing for players of any age and skill. Choosing where and when to be aggressive on this course is the key. With holes that demand accuracy, to others that are more forgiving, the SGCC offers a good balance and an opportunity to use many shots in your repertoire.