Des Moines Golf & Country Club is the premier golf facility in Iowa. Having two of the best golf courses, Golf Digest ranked the courses #2 & #3 on their most recent Iowa course list, on the same property sets it apart from the other top golf courses in the state. Expansive practice facilities and and multiple putting greens are just added bonuses. Des Moines Golf is an all around elite Country Club and comes with a matching price tag to experience all the amenities and social activities the club offers.
Des Moines Golf is also at the top of the list of Iowa golf courses on a National & world scale. Most recently the Solehim Cup in 2017 and before that the US Senior Open in 1999 brought the course to the national golf stage.
Both courses were designed by legendary golf architect Pete Dye, Dye also oversaw the renovations to both courses leading up to the Solehim Cup.
As you would expect from elite golf courses, both the North and South offer very challenging layouts. From the tips the North Course measures 7267 yards with a Rating and Slope of 75.9/136. The South Course is 7347 yards and 74.9/135.
It is amazing at how different a grounds crew can make a course look. Here are almost identical locations from the Soleheim Cup to less than a year later. Granted the second picture was in early May compared to August for the Solheim Cup, it gives a good idea of the work the course does to prepare for a large event.
The day I played at Des Moines Golf we played the Solheim Cup layout, which is the back nine of the North course and Holes 1-7, 17 & 18 of the South course. So I got a little flavor of both courses but not a complete view of either. One thing that stood out to me was how away from the city you felt on the course, while actually being surrounded by neighborhoods, busy streets and businesses. The Championship layout (Solheim Cup layout) mostly uses holes on the inner part of the course, this plays a part in the seclusion feeling as you are never playing along the two heavily traveled roads by the course.
As mentioned, the courses are hard. Every shot to and around the green needs to be played with thought. For the most part you want to be short (below) of the hole. Many holes leave you pretty safe if you are short of the green, can usually putt or have a non-scary chip. But if you miss in the wrong spot you may be chipping from rough with little to no chance of getting the ball to stop within 20 feet of the hole. There are a few false fronts on the greens (a Dye design staple), which I fell victim to on a shot that was about 2 yards short of perfect. The ball ended up with a less than ideal shot 20 yards up a steep hill, given the large quantity of divots around my ball this appears to be a common trap people fall into.
The courses have a fair amount of water in play and a lot of bunkers. Fairway bunkers, greenside bunkers and those pesky bunkers 30 yards short of the green are found on most holes. The sand is pure and easy to hit out of, but spending too much time in a bunker 170 yards from the green or in pot-like bunkers doesn't help the score.
The fairways are wide and don't require as much precision to set up your next shot. I used driver on every Par 4 and Par 5. I missed plenty of fairways but always had an opening to go for the green or at least advance the ball up pretty close to the green.
As mentioned, there is plenty of options for warming up between rounds. One of the putting greens is close to the clubhouse and surrounded by trees while the other was in the open by the course. If you have a morning tee time you probably want to use the course that has been out in the sun, it was in line with the on course green speed while the other one was slower before the sun was able to get to it.
I'm not sure if they normally have a beverage cart out on the course, but they do have two well stocked shacks with one on each course. They are also well positioned so that you will come across them multiple times.
If you get the opportunity to play Des Moines Golf & Country Club I strongly recommend it. It is a great challenge on a course with fantastic conditions. It doesn't offer some of the great photo opportunities that you get at Wakonda or Glen Oaks, just a great golf course that is highly enjoyable to play.