Many of you in the golf community may be wondering why the owner of the #1 golf course in the state of Iowa would undergo a complete renovation of the golf course and all of the club’s facilities. The answer is certainly multifaceted, but can be summarized in a simple statement: The Harvester Golf Club was a very good public golf course, ranked annually in the top 50 of the Golf Digest Top 100 Public list; that will become one of the greatest private clubs in the country. An even simpler answer is, The Harvester Club desires greatness.
I want to share with you how I believe those statements are defined and what all is involved in this process. Over the next several months I will be adding to this blog my thoughts and experiences as it relates to this grand transformation of The Harvester Club. Let me start with helping you understand who I am: I am a 54 year old male who has been married for 31 glorious years to my wife, Luann, who has supported me and put up with many years of crazy ideas and far fetched dreams that many times seem unattainable. With her support, we forged forward and have been blessed with many great outcomes in our lives. The best of our blessings includes 5 wonderful children, 4 happily married, and 6 special grandchildren. I am an Iowa native, born and raised in small town Iowa, educated at Iowa State University receiving a B.S. degree in Industrial Engineering, an MBA degree in business, and a Master of Science in Engineering Valuation. My natural instincts pushed me to begin my own business in the engineering, construction, and development world. Starting from scratch, my business (Jensen Group) has developed into a very successful real estate entity in the state of Iowa. Our reputation is strong and has grown, not by fancy advertising, but through consistent hard work based on traditional values of honesty and caring for others. Our pattern of business over the past 30 years has been always challenging ourselves to be excellent in all the we do. Our projects get bigger, more complicated, impact more people, but in the end the same fundamentals apply; hard work, striving for excellence, and doing what is right.
You now understand a bit about me and the overall goal of The Harvester Club; so let’s get into the big picture of this project. When you transform a well-established public golf course into a private club the major areas of work include two general things: the redoing of the golf course, and the redoing of the facilities. Throughout my entries on this blog, over time you will see the details unfold. By the way, as mentioned earlier I am 54-year-old man, and I do not quite understand blogs, but it has been suggested by many that this would be a good method to inform those in the golf world what is unfolding at The Harvester Club. So, if my writing skills are not the best and/or I am not using proper “blogging” techniques forgive me!
Let’s start with the redoing of the golf course… Over the years I have had the privilege to play hundreds of courses around the United States. Golf has taken me to some of the most beautiful, God created locations imaginable. The calmness of many golf sites, the naturalness of the God given features, and simply the awe of the views has driven me to thoroughly love the game. The friendships and comradery of family and friends playing these spectacular golf courses has been priceless.
The game of golf has expanded and challenged my mind, and pushed me to understand everything about the game. I have come to a point in my life where I believe “the good old days”, when things were simpler, can still be the best days in the future. For the game of golf, “the good old days” began in the 1920’s with great architects like Charles Blair (C.B.) MacDonald designing masterful courses such as National Golf Links of America on Long Island. The great golf architects of the Golden Age of golf design such as C.B. MacDonald, Seth Raynor, Charles Banks, Devereux Emmet, George Crump, AW Tillinghast, H.S. Colt, William Flynn, Perry Maxwell, and many others; have inspired me to spearhead the efforts of creating a golf club that models the efforts that these individuals demonstrated through many wonderful golf clubs in the United States today. To create a Golden Age design in 2018, I sought after what I believe is one of today’s greatest scholars of golf course design, Keith Foster. Keith was not only challenged and invigorated to create a 1920 type golf course on the landscapes of the rolling hills in the middle of the state of Iowa, but he was also excited to draw on his vast knowledge of study of these great architects' designs from the Golden Era. Keith gladly accepted the difficult position of changing his original design at The Harvester, enhancing it to fit fully with what would have been done in ‘20s had any of the great architects before him been on this piece of land to create a masterpiece. Keith is constantly challenged to make The Harvester great while still utilizing the tremendous design he created in year 2000 that many of us have enjoyed playing on over the last 18 years. I will go into many of the things that Keith has retained and restored of the original Harvester design and share with you the new features and concepts that would have been contemplated for a design that would have been completed in the Golden Era. Step 1 of the golf course redesign was completed in March 2018 when Keith Foster said, “Let’s make The Harvester Club a GREAT Golden Age design.”
Step 2 in the process of renovating the golf course is the selection of the contractor to do much of the work. One may think that moving dirt from spot A to spot B, or digging a bunker 5-foot-deep in front of a green, or naturalizing the slopes of hillsides can be accomplished by most anyone who call themselves golf course construction companies; that is far from the truth. The work of the actual individuals on site, day in and day out, crafting the earth with small equipment and many hand tools is a very complicated, skill-based, and demanding job. After a thorough search of my options, I was fortunate enough to obtain the services of McDonald & Sons golf course builders out of Baltimore, Maryland. Through my research there are certainly other capable firms, but I can confidently say that McDonald & Sons have proven to be the right firm for our project. The resume of McDonald & Sons is deep and spans over many years with work successfully completed at some of the highest and best clubs in the United States. In other words, these guys are really stinking good!
I hope you enjoyed my brief introduction of our project and I look forward to sending out more posts that detail out many fun and exciting decisions that we have made and things we have accomplished throughout process of converting The Harvester Golf Club (public) to The Harvester Club (private).