The lowdown on Des Moines
We’ve got two courses at Des Moines. The Solheim Cup course will be made up of holes 10 to 18 from the North Course for the front nine, then holes 10-16 are 1-7 on the South, and 17 and 18 are the last two on the South.
It’s the original Pete Dye design from when we first came here in 1967 – the other holes were built later – and the same layout as used for 1999 Senior Open and this year’s Junior Solheim Cup.
How does it play?
Golf Digest have just done the state-by-state rankings and the North is No 2 and South is No 3 (in Iowa). We have some busy roads on the exterior of the property and the Solheim holes are not by any of those roads which is great as they can get pretty busy. You need to play it a couple of times to have a good idea but most of it is in front of you and it is a good test.
There are a lot of rolling hills and a creek runs through the entire property and extends from the south-west corner to north-east corner. Pete Dye has a reputation for courses like Sawgrass but this is definitely not like that. We are the 12th course on his CV and nothing like the Dye-abolical reputation that he has.
We still have some of the original greens from 1967 when the green speeds were very slow so there are undulations. Now things are quicker and the undulations are still there so they’re tough.
The newer greens are a little flatter but are still Pete Dye with a hard edge on one side. If I was the captain I would include some short-game specialists as the rough will be a little bit longer around the greens. The greens will be around 11.5 – nothing too bad but they have the undulation.
The rough is Kentucky bluegrass and will be maintained at three inches. We will irrigate the rough to keep it growing. In the heat of the summer the rough typically thins out so we are doing our best to keep it thick.
The challenge will be to just maintain the course in the summer. August is a hard time to keep the course alive. We will be well into the 90s and that could be a big storyline.
It’s not a hard course to walk around but it will be hot and humid. In Iowa we have so much corn growing at that time and it gives off a lot of humidity.
The Europeans have visited and both captains have been a few times and Juli Inkster brought a couple of players with her.
The set-up is down to Juli and the LPGA, they determine the yardages and it will be almost 6,900 yards. My management team have been with me with at least five years so hopefully we’ll cruise right through it.
The key holes
I think the stretch from 10 to 15. They are some of our most difficult holes. Our 13th to an elevated green is a great hole. I don’t think many matches will go to 18.
On the front nine, the 4th, 5th and 6th are really tough. My favourite hole is the 6th which has a large, undulating green but is into the wind most of the time. The 18th is a pretty benign par 4, a dogleg right with five bunkers on the corner that you should carry, then a smaller-than-usual green.
Des Moines is very vibrant city. We have a big insurance base with a lot of banks and agriculture is also huge. The state fair is going on at the same time so there will be 100,000 attending that every day.
John Wayne was born nearby and Zach Johnson played his college golf here. Zach was kind enough to write a very nice letter promoting the club ahead of the Solheim and was equally kind enough to mention me.