The Harvester Golf Club – Played September 2016
- Rankings: Golf Digest Public #46, Golf Magazine Public #57
- Location: 833 Foster Drive, Rhodes, Iowa
- Year: 2000
- Architect: Keith Foster
- Course Access: Public
- Walking Rules: Carts Available
Score Card Information:
- Black: 7,365 yards, Par 72, 76.0 Rating/140 Slope
- Blue: 6,840 yards, Par 72, 73.1 Rating/132 Slope
- White: 6,430 yards, Par 72, 70.8 Rating/128 Slope
- Red: 5,180 yards, Par 72, 68.9 Rating/120 Slope
The next weekend after my trip to Oklahoma and Kansas I was on my way to Iowa. I wasn’t going to see cornfields or the Field of Dreams site. As usual, I was in the area to sample some great golf.
I was getting to play with some friends I made on GolfMatch, the social golf app I have written about previously. It was great to have a group to play here. It would have been sad to drive all the way to Iowa and get paired with some bozos. This is the biggest benefit of using the app, so check it out if you haven’t already.
I couldn’t find a great deal of history about the course. This Keith Foster design was opened at the dawn of the new millennium. There is more elevation change than I would have expected for Iowa. Quite frankly the course is stunning and incredibly enjoyable.
The course has a simply elegant clubhouse and an expansive driving range, which can be seen below. It has all the facilities you could ask for.
We played 36 holes on our day. The first round was from the blue tees and all distances will be from those. We tipped it out for the second round, which was tough! Let’s get to it. I will say again that I like when courses name their holes. You can’t force it, but it’s fun when it works. I think they pulled it off here.
Hole 1 – 390 yards – Par 4 – Windmill
The first tee shot presents you with a wide fairway that accommodates any type of shot. The approach is also straightforward. There is not to much strategy on the first two shots, but you need solid strikes.
I found this to be a tough hole for not being overly long. The creek up the right side is very much in play. It is tempting to go up the right side of the fairway to have a shorter shot, but the water looms.
This is a great hole with plenty of trouble. What I liked is that while the shot is all carry the architect gives you a massive green to play to. There is always give and take.
This cool little bunker guards the front of the green. One aspect of the green that the photos don’t capture is just how sloped the putting surface is. Most putts from behind this pin position were perilously fast.
This hole is long and strong. You need two solid shots to have a shorter club to attack the flag. The fairway is wide, but if you get wayward a recovery is difficult.
Short but not so sweet. This hole plays longer than the yardage due to the uphill slope. The fairway is a wide target if you go with less than driver. The longer you choose to go off the tee the narrower the landing area becomes.
This may be my favorite hole on the course. It is visually stunning as you can see many of the other holes. The hole plays downhill all the way. With a whipping wind you really need to focus on the line of the tee ball.
This hole favors the player who can fade the ball, but still hit it a long way. The bunker on the right is in play and makes for a very difficult approach shot if you find yourself in it. The best play is up the left far from the sand.
I didn’t get a photo of the approach but this green sits at the top of a hill. Shot with some side spin landing on the left side can come down with the shaved grass. Shots that miss to the right make for tough up and downs.
The second par three is also downhill, but longer than the first. Our group struggled with tee shots on this hole for some reason. The green is large and should provide a good target. Distance control is the biggest factor.
The finisher on the front nine is the most difficult. It is very long and plays uphill. Add to that the fact that there is high grass on the right and water all down the left and this becomes a nerve-wracking tee shot.
Once the tee shot is done the challenges keep coming. The approach shot, most likely with a long iron, plays straight uphill. If you bail out on the shot to the right you will face a deep bunker that sits well below the green.
The start to the back nine continues the long hole theme seen on the ninth. The fairway is wide and invites you to wail on the driver. You will want to make sure you are on the short grass though so you can have a clean shot at the green.
The tee shot here provides a challenge due to the trouble down the left. The fairway is narrow.
The name of this hole is ominous and your fate can be dreary without good shots. The fairway is at its narrowest in the normal landing area. The uphill slope adds to the length of the hole.
One of the flattest holes on the property gives you a bit of a break. You can take less than driver here and the fairway is massive.
This green seems like it is a long way away! Thankfully it is open in front to run up a long club onto the putting surface.
There is no other way to describe this hole other than beastly. When we played it from the tips it was straight into the wind. I hit driver, two three woods, and seven iron from 115 yards! It’s a monster, but very fun. The fairway is relatively generous, but plays straight uphill.
The green has massive sloping that can be hazardous. Anything behind this pin is super fast down the hill. It is crucial to know the pin position here to give yourself a legitimate chance at a manageable putt.
This hole is awesome. It is super long, but plays much shorter because of a huge down slope in the landing area. I ended up hitting seven iron into this green and I am not that long. The landing zone is wide enough to go at the driver.
This one ends a phenomenal group of par threes. I don’t need to tell you where the trouble is. I will let the picture tell the story and exemplify the beauty of this hole.
The finishing hole is a dandy. It is long and rife with trouble. It is a cape hole that plays around a massive body of water. There is no shame in bailing down the left side of the fairway here.
I went on this trip with no expectations for what this course would offer. That being said, it blew me away. It is an expansive piece of property that had much more elevation changes than I would expect. The course has incredible variety. It tests the skilled player for sure and is immensely playable for higher handicappers if the right tees are chosen.
The best part of the experience was getting to meet three new golf buddies through GolfMatch. We had a great time playing 36 holes and celebrating the day. It just so happened that this was the day Mr. Palmer passed away. I think he would appreciate how we spent the day.