Just south of Omaha’s center is the community of Papillion. Often lumped in with LaVista and Ralston, because of geography and population numbers, Papillion is a growing suburb of the big city. Tara Hills was the original Papillion course as a 9-hole track until it expanded to 18 a while back, but now Eagle Hills makes up half of the “Hills” golf experience. Built about a decade ago, Eagle Hills is a longer and more treacherous course in relation to its counterpart, Tara Hills.
The clubhouse: Eagle Hills’ clubhouse is comparable to a small country club’s. There’s a small-ish pro shop, lightly stocked. A snack bar with adjoining seating areas and a television leads you to small reception and conference areas. There is a bit of outside seating, too. The clubhouse suits a golf outing or tournament better than a wedding reception or seminar. The place is pretty stock and pedestrian.
The staff: There has been a lot of change recently in the management at the Tara/Eagle complex. The Eagle Hills scorecard doesn’t list a PGA Professional anywhere. The maintenence management is in the process of shifting hands. Since the opening of the course, I can remember two different Pros, both have since left. I guess this is what one can expect in a small golf complex run by a small community’s government. The staff is generally nice but the pace of play is rarely managed well. The area of hole numbers 10-13 is not set up for fast play and the management can’t seem to figure out how to move people through quicker. Many four hour rounds die in this area of the course.
The course: From whichever set of tees golfers choose, there is little length to be found. The back tees barely measure 6,500 yards. The middle tees are less than 6,000 and the ladies’ is about as short as a “championship” course can get. The front nine is pretty defenseless from the lack of length. The longest Par 4 on the front measures 408 from the back tees and plays downhill all the way. Par 3s play to a max of 160 on the front and the two Par 5s measure 490 yards each. The only trouble one can get into is with wild tee shots, but given the length of the front, taking less club to find the fairway is always an option. The back is a little longer on the scorecard, but plays a lot longer, especially on Nos. 10, 11, 14 and 17. Both Par 5s are 3-shot holes as there is much water and swampy stuff protecting them. The signature hole is probably No. 14. A 534-yard Par 5 doesn’t really allow a driver from the tee as the landing area narrows between swamp, out of bounds and a fairway bunker. A short tee shot in the fairway leaves two more short, strategic irons to the green. This Par 5, and No. 11, borders on unfair, but a little thinking can get you out of there with pars. The course is generally in average shape as it gets a lot of play. Certain greens and tees are protected by trees and get little to no sunlight, leaving them spongy, weedy and almost unplayable. The front is a much more playable and aesthetically pleasing nine while the back gets a little choppy as the season goes on. There is a 3-hole practice course and a driving range. Range balls are $4, the three-holer costs $8. If one can get through the Par 5s on the back without blowing up, a low score can surely be found at Eagle Hills.
The value: Without using discount services like Golfnow, Eagle Hills is a little overpriced for the quality golfers receive here. Riding 18 during the week will run in the mid-to-high $30 range, the weekends are just over $40. There are junior and senior rates, like most courses. Pace of play is notoriously slow in the afternoons here, so players wishing to play in 4 hours or less should play earlier in the day. Overall, the prices are competitive, but the value leaves a little more to be desired.
Compared to Tara Hills, Eagle’s sister course, this is a better choice for your round of golf, but there are even better options out there. Eagle Hills is completely average in just about every measure, but average is usually ok with folks. If you are playing only 9, make sure to play the front. Also, make sure to score on the front when playing 18 because the back gets a little more testy.