If you didn't know that MacDonald Golf Park used to be the old Wichita Country Club, I will excuse you.
But tee off on the first or come up 18 to a raised green on an already uphill hole, winding through the cottonwood trees, you can see the bones of what used to be a great, historical private club.
"The par-72 MacDonald course is generally considered to be the best all-around municipal course," says golfwichita.com.
Second only to Auburn Hills, I have to agree. I really like MacDonald. It's long enough to be long for the long hitters, and short enough for playability. The course went through a $2M renovation but it happened in 1995. It could go through another one but I'd rather see it done to the clubhouse. It's an old building, great bones and history to it but an update would be nice.
The other big dig on MacDonald, as with other Wichita City Courses is the lack of a driving range. Sim Park and Clapp also don't have them, Auburn and Tex Consolver do. When I came to Wichita, I assumed that all golf courses would have a big practice facility, but they don't. It's a big gripe among golfers and if the funds become available, they need to add it pronto. It's a necessity in today's game and MacDonald is missing out.
The drought hurt the course last season, and the cold temperatures from this weird spring have hurt the course but it is greening up nicely in places, especially the greens. Greens are in great shape, considering the weather they've been given. Best thing for them is the moisture, of any kind. Compared to last year, we are lightyears ahead of pace.
I like the back nine to the front nine. I've never been a fan of a starting or ending par-3 hole. Never have been. Always like being able to rip a drive down a fairway to set up a birdie chance. You get the same chance with a nice tee shot off a par-3 but the feeling isn't the same. The par-4 closing hole is a gold finishing hole for the course. The ninth? Not a big fan. Would be if it were somewhere else on the course but not as a closing hole to the turn.
The track may look tame from the moniker of "muni" tagged on it but it's no pattycake. When the trees are in bloom, it's a tough track if you get off line. On five, the precision with your driver is imparative, either hitting a massive draw of the Cottonwoods or ust bombing it over. Do that, and you better have lenght because the fairway juts out further than you think. Same goes for the sixth, a long par-5 that if you don't hit the fairway, just put a bogey down and pray they don't test you on it when you hand in your scorecard. On the right; trees and a pond that slopes into it. On the left; metal wire fence and street beyond it. Drive it straight, my friend. Then if you do hit the fairway, the second shot is no fun, hitting a metal wood into a shallow green with a dip in front of it.
The back nine really turns it on and opens up for scoring. 10 and 11 are scoreable, as is 14, 15 and 16. Hit the green on 17 and walk away with par, if you are lucky. 18 is scoreable if you hit a good drive. Miss the fairway and par is a good score for you.
Like I said before, I really like MacDonald. I like the history of it and I like seeing the maturity of the course when I do tee it up. Update the club house and this old dog could have some new bark to it.