Tyler Rae has completed a project to restore William Langford and Theodore Moreau’s style at Wakonda Club in Des Moines, Iowa.
“The restoration focused on addressing Wakonda’s infrastructure and reclaiming the original architectural design,” said Aaron Krueger, the club’s director of golf. “We had five newish greens built to USGA specification that were maintained differently to the original 13 greens, which have native soil push-up subsurface. Our recent work has seen those five greens returned to the same style as the rest of the course.” Over 20,000 square feet of sod was taken from the five rebuilt greens and used to expand the other 13 putting surfaces.
Rae has taken inspiration from Langford and Moreau’s work at Culver Academies in Indiana, as well as Lawsonia Links and West Bend in Wisconsin.
“Our work on greens has also brought back thoughtful green shapes, perimeters and boldly scaled fill pads, which is a departure from the rounded, egg-shaped smaller greens that once existed,” said Rae. “Greens will no longer be a one-dimensional, monotonous affair.
“Players will now be faced with less demanding, wider playing corridors off the tees and more demanding approach shots into greens. The wider playing corridors will help to reinstate angles and options. The angles will then need to be utilised to access back left, front-left, back-right and front right pin locations.”
All 53 bunkers have been rebuilt, also to a Langford and Moreau style, and many that were grassed over or out of play have been reclaimed.
“We have placed and shaped hazards and bunkers back to their original locations, fitting them into the hillsides and natural landforms for historical purposes,” said Rae. “We were fortunate to have land available to move, shift and rebuild tees with modern distances in mind. What was meant to be a tough carry distance or challenge 100 years ago will now once again be brought back into play for players of all skill levels from the respective teeing grounds.” New ‘L&M’ tees stretch the course to 7,160 yards, and new forward tees total 4,378 yards.
The course is expected to reopen in May 2024.
This article is based on material that appeared in the January 2024 issue of Golf Course Architecture. For a printed subscription or free digital edition, please visit our subscriptions page.