From Golf Digest Architecture Editor emeritus Ron Whitten:
I've never much cared for Tiffany Greens Golf Club in Kansas City, mainly because I've felt it represented a lot of what was wrong with golf course architecture in the boom years of the 1990s. For starters, the course was built primarily to push the sales of homesites in an area where you'd never otherwise think of living: In former farm fields directly beneath the path of traffic flying into and out of Kansas City International Airport a mile away. Worse yet, its property crisscrossed with electrical towers and high voltage electrical lines. At the far right end of the driving range is a large electrical substation, a very unattractive sight to view.
The developer was John Q. Hammons and the course architect was Robert Trent Jones Jr. The two corporate giants had previously collaborated on the far superior Highland Springs Country Club in Springfield, Missouri a decade earlier. The magic they captured there did not transfer to this site.
Tiffany Greens, which opened in 1998, is simply one of RTJ II's less imaginative designs. The routing is spread out to maximize housing lot frontage (and to avoid some of those power-line easements). With the exception of the opening hole, a zigzag par-5 over a lake that plays so short with the prevailing south wind that even I was able to reach the green with a driver and a 4-iron, the bulk of the course is a succession of straight lookalike golf holes.
The par-4 second has a tree-lined creek to the left and a huge bunker reaching into the fairway from the right. That also describes the par-4 fifth hole, and the par-4 seventh, and the par-4 eighth, the par-5 11th and the par-4 14th. They all share those characteristics. If you hook the ball at Tiffany Greens, you're in for a long day.
You can hook into water off the tee on 13 of the 18 holes, and there's a lake to the left of the ninth green, too. As the routing includes several parallel holes on either side of creeks, it wouldn't have taken much daring to reverse the routing of a pair of those holes to put the creek on the right. But I suspect Tiffany Greens was laid out to keep the slicer out of harm's way as much as possible.
At least the par-5 16th, which starts out with yet another creek on the left and bunker on the right, eventually doglegs over the creek. Three other holes, the third, 12th and 13th, also have water hazards on their left flank and huge mounds on the right side of fairways where bunkers could have been placed but were mercifully left out. (On the 12th, a trio of tall trees sit atop the mound.)
The ninth and 11th, both par 5s, dogleg slightly to the left, and the par-5 16th and par-4 17th dogleg considerably to the left. Only the 420-yard 18th is a dogleg right, and it's a 90 degree turn off a sloping fairway and over a ravine to a perched green. I can't recall another course with such a huge imbalance in its structure of holes.
The fairways are Zoysiagrass, a perfect fairway turf in this area, and the greens are bentgrass that hold up remarkably well in hot summer. There are chipping swales and hollows to one side of several greens, but since these areas are turfed in that fairway Zoysiagrass, it's nearly impossible to putt from them. So one of the three recovery options—lob, pitch or putt—is eliminated from everyone's repertoire.
Although Jones and his staff did their best to locate holes to hide power poles, they couldn't avoid them all. Power towers march down the right rough on the uphill fifth. Power lines droop behind the green of the 14th, and you tee off beneath the buzz of electrical wires on the 15th and 18th.
With its dogmatic routing that is unfriendly to walkers and its unattractive presentation among power lines, I just don't think there is anything sterling about Tiffany Greens.