Situated less than a mile to the north of Des Moines International airport, the course at the Wakonda Club was set out on a somewhat restricted parcel of land by William Langford in 1922. Today, it’s been lengthened to just under 7,000 yards, playing to a par of 72.
The club hosted the Western Amateur in 1947 then the US Amateur in 1963. In more recent times, the Principal Charity Classic, an annual PGA Tour Champions event, has been held here since 2013. The tournament raises money for Iowa children’s charities, with almost $4.5 million raised in 2018.
Author Daniel Wexler in The American Private Golf Club Guide says “the dean of Iowa’s Golden Age courses sits on a rolling property well-suited to William Langford’s famously deep bunkering and elevated, heavily contoured greens (and) it relies upon the uneven landscape for a good portion of its difficulty.”
Wakonda Club is real gem set in the hilly oak forest just south of downtown Des Moines. Designed by William Langford in 1922, the layout has major golden age vibes with endless quirks and charm. Tight treelined fairways with steep ridges rarely provide simple approach shots. Memorable green complexes, notably "chief Wakonda's grave", a large mound in the center of the 18th green. This course is a subtle puzzle that takes time to figure out angles and positions to score well. The club provides casual old-school hospitality with fantastic swimming pools, clay tennis courts, and a really cool poker room and wine cellar attached to the locker room. Absolutely play this course if you have the opportunity, a classic track that will test your game while delivering loads of charm.