The Takeaway: Ever so slightly better than the North Course, the South has an excellent front nine that gives character to the classic tree lined country club experience. A straightforward layout that is a solid test without being overbearing. Grade B
Designer: Pete Dye in 1969
Phone Number: (515) 440-7575
Course Website: Official Website - Visit Des Moines Golf and Country Club (South)'s official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - 1600 Jordan Creek Pkwy, West Des Moines, Iowa 50266 – UNITED STATES
What to Expect: The South Course opened a year after the North at Des Moines Country Club which stands as the premier 36 hole club in the Hawkeye State. The South starts out much stronger than the North course so it is no wonder that the first 7 holes are used in the Composite course that is employed during large events. The course loses some momentum on the back nine with some pretty average holes before a strong finish. I give the South course the slightest of nods over the North course, but it would take a photo finish to distinguish the winner. While you can flip a nickel on which course is better between the North and South, there is no question that the composite course that is occasionally used features the best 18 holes on the property (1-7 and 17-18 on South paired with the back nine of North). Like the North, the South Course is a mature layout with tree lined fairways, a handful of water hazards, and no waste or natural areas which results in grass over virtually every non-water square inch of the property which means you'll likely be playing with your same golf ball all round long. In a very un-Pete Dye fashion, the course doesn't look manufactured at all and instead lays naturally over the terrain similar to what you might find at The Golf Club in Ohio or Crooked Stick in Indiana. Like the North Course, the South doesn't "wow" you in a lot of places but there is nothing goofy here either which equates to a course that is easy to enjoy over the long term.
By the Numbers
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 9th Hole – 442 Yard Par 4 – Though this hole is not included in the Composite course that was used during the Solheim Cup, the 9th is a strong hole and a great way to finish the front nine on the South course. From the tee, players see a raised fairway and are unaware of the pond that runs the last 120 yards of the hole on the left side; but a quartet of bunkers protects balls from chasing into the pond blindly. There is no forgiveness on the left side of the green with water snuggled up next to the fringe while the right side has a trio of bunkers. It is a dramatic setting and design to conclude the front nine with.
Best Par 3: 17th Hole – 198 Yards – Often regarded as the most challenging one-shotter on either course at Des Moines Country Club, the 17th is included in the Composite course for a reason. The green slopes hard from right to left which further encourages players to stay away from the trio of bunkers up the left side of the putting surface. With the rear half of the green running away from the player, it takes a special shot to hit a shot close to the Sunday pin position.
Best Par 4: 1st Hole – 426 Yards – The opening tee shot at Des Moines Country Club's South course sets the tone early for how good of a front nine players are in store for. A creek runs up the left side of the hole with the fairway tilting towards the water and six bunkers that are found on that side of the hole. All of that adds up to Dye begging players to keep their tee ball up the right side despite the fairway slowly bending left the whole way to the green. The creek disappears under the fairway and reemerges on the right side of the green along with a crescent bunker hugging the putting surface. While many courses give players a warmup hole to start on, Pete wants your best right off the bat.
Best Par 5: 2nd Hole – 605 Yards – If you thought Mr. Dye was going to let up after a staunch opening hole, think again as you step onto the tee of this 605 yard brute. The two bunkers on the outside of the dogleg are a great aiming point, but if your drive is going to travel over 280 yards then you'll need to stay left of the sand which brings the pond further into play. Players that thread it between the bunkers and pond will have a decision to make on whether to go for the green in two, while players laying up will generally elect to stay short of the fairway bunker just under 100 yards from the green. With a trio of bunkers on the right side of the green, a fade that starts on the left edge of the putting surface is an ideal shot to execute.
Birdie Time: 7th Hole – 406 Yard Par 4 – You know the clear birdie opportunities are slim on a course when a par four over 400 yards is identified as the best chance to take a stroke back. The fairway bends left but the bunker protecting the inside of the dogleg is easily carried to set up an approach shot you can get aggressive with. The green has some strong undulations to deal with, but with over 40 yards of putting surface depth to work with you should be able to hit this green in regulation and have a shot at rolling in a putt for birdie.
Bogey Beware: 4th Hole – 475 Yard Par 4 – The South course has a tough start but the most challenging moment in that stretch culminates here at the 4th with a lengthy two-shotter. Bunkers sit on each side of the driving zone so anything that doesn't part the middle sets itself up for an early resolve that bogey is coming your way. The fairway bends to the right after reaching the driving zone, but which side is favorable to approach from is tough to decide. From the left side you have the width of the green to work with but a trio of bunkers to fly with only the shallow portion of the green to work with. From the right, the green turns away from players and requires a draw to get close to most any pin placement while a false front deflects shots coming up wanting. Don't be a hero, just minimize the damage.