Golf the Great Life at River Oaks


Great Life Golf and Fitness has made a name for itself in its efforts to re-define the country club experience. River Oaks in Gladstone is just one of its locations in Kansas and Missouri offering 18 holes of golf integrated with a full service fitness club and other amenities. The club is representative of Great Life’s ambition to provide the whole family a place to enjoy and be active at an affordable price.

While the clubhouse features a full workout facility complete with treadmills, stationary bikes, elliptical machines, free weights and machines, it is the golf that is the centerpiece of River Oaks. Don’t let the newly renovated billiards and game room in the clubhouse’s upper level distract you when you check in. Keep the focus, and hit the golf course.

While the course is not long, it is not without challenge and interest. The course tops out at 6400 yards at the tips, but features tight fairways, tricky doglegs, and a number of hazards, predominantly wooded areas and the frequently present winding river. River Oaks plays to a par 71 or 73, depending on the set of tees one chooses to play – another feature of this interesting track. When we previewed the course in late May, we opted for the last set of tees to experience the entire course. Immediately from the start, we were pleased by the condition of the course. The fairways are well groomed, consistent, and provide clean lies while the greens rolled well and provided a fair challenge for rolling the ball to the hole.

A round starts out on a short, but skinny par-5 that plays across multiple elevation changes, meaning a golfer is likely to find a challenging, uneven lie along the way. The lightly canted green accepts shots hit to it, but with trouble left and behind, it requires care for those who attempt to reach it in two.

The second shows the golfer how much of the rest of the round will go. From an elevated tee, a decision must be made whether to play straight to the fairway with a long iron, or pull driver and attempt to shape a shot or cut the corner over trees and a waste area. Those who pull off the daring shot will find themselves with a short wedge in to the par-4 while more conservative players might still need to cover 200+ yards.

And that is how a round at River Oaks goes. Choose your shots wisely and pull them off, and it’s a very manageable and fun course. Fail to plan your way around and you’ll find yourself in trouble more often than not. The front nine closes out with a short par-4 that plays up a hill with trouble right and left to a postage stamp green. With a well-placed tee shot that avoids the out-of-bounds right and timbered hazard to the left, golfers will need to hit the green for any chance at a par.

After a cool drink and a little re-grouping, the back nine opens with a sweeping downhill par-4 that appears wide open, but can lure you to sleep with the broad view from the tee box. The eleventh is the first of the two holes that plays to two different par values – in this case either a three or four – depending on the tee box a golfer is playing.

The twelfth is another of the bones the course throws you in a wide open, moderate length, straight par-5. With a couple of well-placed shots that avoid the fairway bunkers, a solid wedge is all that stands between a golfer’s chance at birdie.

With a few more signature dogleg par-4s (one that might be a par-5 if you play that tee box) and a couple of challenging par-3s, the round wraps up with a dogleg right par-5. If you can keep your concentration throughout the round and continue to play with a solid plan, the course will reward you with an enjoyable round and a fun challenge.

When the round is done, you might not be ready for a workout, but the newly renovated upstairs billiards and game room is likely a better place to round out your day. Grab a soda and tally up your round over a game of eight-ball and, when it’s done, plan your next round at one of Great Life’s other facilities.

Great Life offers three tiers of membership that provide additional courses and facilities at each tier. The Golf Club of Kansas and Staley Farms are also Great Life courses with their own set of membership rates and amenities. Give Great Life a call for more details.

Whether you prefer to play golf, workout, hang out, or all of the above, Great Life aims to please you and your whole family with a variety of activities and options. Give River Oaks a try and enjoy a unique golf experience.