Speed and style: Davenport Country Club renovation

Ron Forse discusses how the golf course architect duo behind Forse Design achieved top-end renovation results on a tight timeline.


Filed to: Renovation, Iowa

Speed and style: Architect Ron Forse on the Davenport Country Club renovation
Opened in 1924, the 18-hole golf course at Davenport Country Club in Pleasant Valley, Iowa, was designed by Henry Colt and Charles Hugh Alison. Renovation work carried out by Forse Design in 2014 focused on returning the golf course to its intended look and feel, with repositioned tees and expanded fairways and greens. Photo by Harry W. Walker III

With any golf course renovation, there is pressure to produce within an established time frame. Jim Nagle and I have done our share of fast-tracked projects, but the Davenport Country Club renovation demanded the quickest turnaround of any of them.

We were able to work at such an incredible pace by solidifying a thorough vision for the renovation — thinking through every aspect of the course, every feature relative to every golfer, maintenance, and project costs — before construction began. Jim and I had been working together for 17 years at that point, and our unified, coordinated approach meant we could tag-team and collaborate on-site to get things done swiftly but without compromising quality.

Superintendent Dean Sparks was really the hub of the wheel. Superintendents are excellent planners, and Dean’s meticulous planning and detailed timeline were what allowed this to happen in such a small window. A project of this magnitude absolutely requires someone who can be on-site every day and is prepared in every way to handle the scope of the work. Dean was flexible and able to make decisions on the fly, and he’d trained his crew very well leading up to the project. Everyone worked well together, which contributed to the necessary efficiency.

While the speed of the project no doubt made it unique, for Jim and me, the opportunity to do something so detail-focused and authenticity-driven with a Charles Hugh Alison design was tremendously special. We were committed to getting the style right, but also invoked a little artistic license, taking cues on bunkers from another Alison course, Hirono Golf Club in Japan. We’d used this method before — borrowing architecture that worked in other places and would make a course better, but that was still completely authentic to the designer. We are extremely happy with the results at Davenport Country Club.

Ron Forse is the president of Forse Design.