About five years ago, we decided to name our holes. I had played another golf course who had named their holes and I really liked it. I casually mentioned it to my dad. Unbeknownst to me, he had basically named all of our holes in his head already. He started rattling off names that he thought were appropriate for the holes. It was so thrilling to me to hear all these names that had clearly been well thought out over several years spill from my dad’s lips.
That winter, we sat down as a family and worked on naming the holes of the course. Each one’s name has some sort of meaning behind it.
Today, I’m going to share with you the story behind number 13. It’s name is Iowa’s Power. It originated for two reasons.
For about one week out of the year, the sun will hit the Principal Building downtown just right when you’re standing on this hole looking back at downtown Des Moines. The sun makes the Principal building light up like a pillar of light. It’s beautiful. It happens early in the morning as the sun is coming up for just a few short days out of the year. We have tried to catch it, but when it happens, a camera is never present. It’s striking, but I guess you’ll just have to trust me on it.
Because of this, we kept tossing around the word power when naming number 13. Principal’s Power. Something along those lines. However, Principal’s Power wasn’t really doing it for us, so we moved on to naming other holes while we thought more on this name.
Then, a certain group of golfers came to mind. They have played out here since we opened in 1973. A main stay. We have always loved to hear their stories about how they fought in World War II. Some were fighter pilots while others played the trumpet in the Army Band. They were good friends. To me, they define the beauty about golf. Every morning, they would meet for coffee and golf. It’s clockwork and friendship. All but just a few of them have passed away. There was Hoogie, Dean Chandler, Bill Spikes, Almo Contri, Ed Buckley, Chuck, Ray and others. We called them the Iowa Power group.
Their friendship was spun at their place of work: Iowa Power and Light. That was the name of the local energy company before MidAmerican Energy took over. Without fail, we had two or three standing tee times every weekday for the Iowa Power group. When I was growing up, they were my favorite group. It was like having ten grandpas who shared stories. In college, I even wrote a paper about them. Most of them had their own cart, so you would see four carts per foursome in the early morning.
As we thought about this special group who had seen Toad Valley grow through the years, we wanted to pay them tribute. After that, it was easy to come up with a name that was appropriate for number thirteen. Iowa’s Power. The power and beauty found in a building as well as in a friendship.