Waveland is the most centrally located golf course in the Des Moines metro, located on I-235 a short distance from downtown. The central location makes Waveland easily accessible to anybody in the metro and a good option for anybody visiting Des Moines and looking to get in a quick round.
4908 University Avenue, Des Moines
Par 72, 6544 yards, 71.2 rating, 124 slope
The name Waveland is pretty descriptive of this course, you aren’t going to find many flat holes here. The constant elevation changes makes for a pretty difficult walk and most people tend to get a cart.
The course layout is pretty much what you would expect from a course that is over 100 years old. Lots of trees awaiting errant shots and greens on the smaller side. The course is usually in decent condition and I really enjoyed the challenging yet fair greens.
The first hole spares you of the tight tree lined fairway, but does have a decent change in elevation and not a real good idea of the fairway and green ahead. If this is your first round at Waveland, get used to being uncertain of where exactly you should be hitting the ball.
After a few easier holes to get you going, hole #3 will test your game. This hole is the longest on the course and is getting close to 600 yards. The fairway is narrow and trees line both sides of it, throw in some streams and this is a beast of a hole. Escaping with a Par here is a good feeling.
While the tall trees and narrow fairways will test you throughout the round, there is minimal sand bunkers to deal with and even less water. The course is on a square plot of land and you will encounter several holes with OB that border the boundaries of the golf course along roads and residential areas.
One neat encounter is that you get to play around the Drake Municipal Observatory that sits near the middle of the course. While Waveland is old, the observatory is older and the course was built around it.
Waveland sees a lot of play, they say over 40,000 rounds a year. If you are going there at a traditionally busy time you can expect a longer round. I have also been there on an early Sunday afternoon in the middle of summer and there was never a wait for our group.
For a good review from an outsiders perspective, check out the YouTube series "Strapped" from the very popular golf podcast No Laying Up. Waveland is one of the Central Iowa courses featured in the show.
The biggest downside to Waveland is that there is no practice facility, just a putting green. Given the importance of accuracy on the course it would be nice to get in a few shots before the round. Also the putting green isn't overly big.
Pro tip, before your round stop by the Waveland Cafe next door for breakfast. The classic diner setting is a popular breakfast spot in Des Moines, but be aware it is small and will fill up quickly on weekends.