Des Moines Golf and Country Club is gearing up for a four-year, $6.5 million upgrade of each of its courses.

When all is said and done, the courses will become more of a challenge to young, low-handicap players who expect fast greens and whose ability to hit the long ball takes many existing bunkers out of play, said General Manager Jim Cutter.

Work begins first on nine holes on the 18-hole North Course. In order to avoid disruptions for golfers, the total project affecting the club's two 18-hole courses will be spread over four years.

Much work is at hand, and all of it has been approved by high-profile course architect Pete Dye, 87, of Carmel,, Ind. who designed the original layout.

Cutter noted that even the practice green will get attention, with the result being a faster putting surface than originally conceived by Dye.

"Pete really stomps his feet about speeds getting so fast," Cutter said.

And the youngster can hit the ball farther. Cutter said bunkers that at one time were in play at 250 yards are no longer a threat to golfers who can easily hit the ball 285 yards or longer off the tee.

"Every bunker will get touched," Cutter said. That means they will be eliminated, reshaped or added, they will receive new sand. In addition, the 45-year-old mainline irrigation system will be replaced.
 
On the North Course, holes one through five and 15 through 18 will get attention first. There will be 20 new tee layouts, and the 18th hole will get a new green. The practice green also will be replaced.
 
Plans will change for each nine-hole project, Cutter said.