Apr 22, 2024 - News

Des Moines' Wakonda Club golf course reopening after $8 million renovation

A photo of Wakonda Club's golf course.

Wakonda's golf course reconstruction was largely completed last year, but it remains closed as the turf is established. Photo: David Blum/DRMN BIG Drone Imagining via Wakonda Club

Wakonda Club's $8 million renovation is nearly complete with its golf course reopening May 14, general manager Rheanne Kinney tells Axios.

Why it matters: The club has been in Des Moines for more than 100 years, contributing to the metro's vibrancy with events like the Principal Charity Classic.

Catch up quick: Wakonda is a private, member-owned club that sits on more than 143 acres just south of downtown in the Gray's Lake neighborhood.

State of play: The renovation — headed by golf architect Tyler Rae — restored its iconic 18-hole golf course to its original Langford design.

  • Multiple greens were rebuilt and the fairway expanded from 24 to 34 acres.
  • The course closed in June last year for the renovations, shortly after the Principal Charity Classic.

Friction point: Some members opposed the plan last year based on cost concerns and the loss of 185 trees, including mature oaks.

  • Among them was then-Mayor Frank Cownie, a cousin of Wakonda Club president Peter Cownie.

What they're saying: The division among members was particularly tough because most are close friends, Peter Cownie tells Axios.

  • He believes the project is crucial to the club's future and says relationships among members are rebounding as the work is completed.
  • More than a dozen new members have joined in the last month, he says.

The other side: Frank Cownie is no longer a Wakonda member, but told Axios he wants the club to do well and wishes them success.

Worthy of your time: GolfPass named Wakonda one of this year's notable course renovations.


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