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A Slice of Waveland History

By Jon Turner


The Pavilion

The history of Waveland Golf Course--one of the the country oldest golf course and possibly the one of the oldest municipally owned course in the

country--touches back over 122 years.  The land was deeded to the Des Moines Park Department in 1894 by Fannie Mae Ingersoll.  In 1901 

the golf park designed by Warren Dickson was formally dedicated.  There are several unique things associated with this park and its surrounding

 such as the large elk paddock, which was once located in the northeast corner.  

1901_layoutEvidence of the trolley car rail track are still visible near the parking lot entrance along 

University Ave, and old stone foundation remains on the course beside the 14th tee where

the caddie shack, golf bag storage, and maintenance building once stood.  A sizable

pavilion once stood on the eastern side of the park and small buggy roads wound 

along ridge tops throughout the park.  The Drake University Observatory which was

designed by John Wetherell is located on the grounds.  Descendants of both Mr. Wetherell 

and Mr. Dickinson still live in Des Moines.  Throughout the years the golf course has 

evolved and today it bears little resemblance to the original design.  However, many of 

the original greens, fairway and tees areas are still in used. The brick clubhouse, which

once served as living quarters for the golf pro and his family, is a beautiful old building

with fine architectural details inside and out.  In the mid 1960s, the MacVicar freeway

project took almost 25 acres of golf course from the southern side of the park.  Along with

the lost golf holes, there was a permanent changes in the watershed known as Golf Creek which now sits under the existing freeway

warren_dickson     and flows from the southern side of the park into the Waterbury-area. Several new holes were built to replace those taken

    over several years ago and today the holes layout remains essentially the same, although the order of hole number has

    juggled around a few around a few times since then.  Today, Waveland Golf Course is an irrigated, high-tech course that

    still has the incredible charm of early golf architecture.  It is full of beautiful vistas, rolling fairways, large woodlots, 

   and abundant wildlife.  Over 40,000 rounds of golf yearly and during the winter months the grounds are used by 

    skiers, sledder sand nature hikers.  It is considered a serious golf challenge by most who have played it.  There

    are many steep lies and tight fairways,  and the course requires  shot-making to meet par.  In 1951, the Waveland 

   Men's (WGA) and Women's (WWGA) Golf Associations were established.  Waveland has hosted Arnold Palmer, 

   Billy Casper, National Public Links Qualifying tournaments, Men's and Women's City Championships,  State High

   school Championships and many other quality golf events.   

Warren Dickson Design Waveland Golf Course