The Harvester Golf Club opened in 2000 and it’s perhaps architect Keith Foster’s finest original creation. Located 25 miles northeast of Des Moines in Iowa, Foster has achieved the objective and delivered squarely to his design philosophy of “producing timeless and enduring work”.
“Compared to some of the most famous courses in the world, we recognize that The Harvester is young,” says Dickson Jensen, owner. “But the course design, the surroundings, the commitment to tradition and the game of golf... it all lends to a maturity and a degree of excellence beyond our years.”
We couldn’t agree more, the Harvester is one the best and toughest – 7,340 yards from the tips – new layouts to grace the Midwest. And, it’s a daily-fee golf course where golfers are welcomed. What sheer delight.
Laid out within a residential development, surrounded by three sets of homestead properties, you might expect the Harvester to be somewhat restricted but, in actual fact, the fairways are set in a rolling prairie landscape with little sign of any adjacent settlements.
Designed by Keith Foster – better known in recent times for his restoration and renovation work at the likes of Southern Hills in Oklahoma, Colonial in Texas and Baltimore in Maryland – the Harvester course was built on time and within budget thanks to a close working relationship between the architect and owner Dickson Jenson.
Lake Harvester has been brought into the routing very cleverly and it plays a prominent part at the end of each nine. The par four 9th is called “Wish and a Prayer” with good reason as water flanks the left side of the fairway before cutting across the hole 150 yards before the green. The penultimate and final holes embrace the lake. The par three 17th (“The Thresher”) is a knee trembler from the tee as it plays to a peninsula green out in the water whilst the putting surface on the par five 18th (“Promised Land”) is reached via an island fairway that receives the second shot and launches the approach to the green.A decade after opening, Keith Foster returned to the Harvester to renovate bunkers, alter tees and add stone walls to the edge of the lake.
Location can matter a good deal when courses are assessed. Few people may see Iowa as a golf destination of note but there are a few courses worthy of one's time and attention.
Harvester is clearly one of them.
Kudos to architect Keith Foster because the holes you encounter provide a rich brew -- where skillful execution and a capacity for top tier shotmaking is a constant matter for any golfer to overcome.
The flow of the course is especially well done. The routing varies quite well from one hole to the next. Working the ball off the tee is also tested so that proper approach angles into the varied putting greens can happen.
Lake Harvester plays a main role in a number of the holes. Many people may not know of architect Keith Foster but his portfolio of courses is quite good and his work in restoring old time classic courses -- most notably Southern Hills, Baltimore CC / Five Farms, Colonial and without question his superlative involvement with Eastward Ho! on Cape Cod -- shows clearly a man who understands how to bring out the best in the various properties in which he has worked.
Harvester can be toughened considerably if need be but the daily preparation of the course is well done and serves its audience of daily fee players admirably. For those who come to Des Moines -- a slight detour to Harvester is clearly well worth scheduling.
by M. James Ward