CO-OP Architecture: "Finding Mapletøn"

Every great golf journey has its signature scenes. The moments in a four-hour round that prompt deep breaths, wide smiles and photos.

Mapletøn Golf Club's prime views will be a great surprise to members, but one of the best spots — spoiler alert — is right where you start. From the back of the clubhouse, you'll look south down the hill and absorb half the golf course and the skyline beyond.

To maximize the view, it's essential to minimize the distance between the clubhouse and the final green.

"You want to sit in the courtyard area and watch folks play into No. 18," said Kyle Raph, whose South Dakota architecture firm, CO-OP, is designing Mapletøn's clubhouse.

Which brings us to a recent moment of comedy. When one of Raph's project architects made a phone call to double-check the measurement from patio to putting surface. "How close is too close?" he asked. Just making sure that a Titleist doesn't end up hitting a wine glass.

Attention to detail is a critical theme across the board at Mapletøn. It certainly defines CO-OP Architecture, whose creativity will be on full display.

"In our world," Raph said, "it's a relatively small building with a very direct function. So we can really get into the design."

The Mapletøn clubhouse, slightly more than 13,000 square feet, requires a "comfortable sophistication," Raph said. Elegant but welcoming. Open spaces with natural light, but not so big that a member feels overwhelmed.

Raph makes frequent trips to the property not only to check on progress, but to gain design inspiration. The remote, natural feel makes the club an ideal escape.

"We want you to leave the world behind," Raph said.

The covered courtyard, which opens up to bar and private dining, will often be the hub of the activity. The main entry connects via straight line all the way out the back to 18 green.

"From the boardrooms to the bar and dining," Raph said, "we're really trying to connect inside to outside."

The directions, elevations and angles work perfectly. CO-OP arranged the wings of the clubhouse to showcase the 1st tee (west) and the 9th green (east). From the 18th fairway, one of the highest spots on the property, you'll be looking right through the main axis of the building and — beyond that — the Veterans Cemetery flag.

"It's very intentional," Raph said.

For all of its unique characteristics, a clubhouse demands a different perspective than most projects. When CO-OP designs a new school or office building, the structure is usually the focal point. At Mapletøn, the clubhouse is a companion piece. The architecture must enhance the golf experience, not distract from it.

"They're not coming here for the building," Raph said. "We still want to create amazing space and amazing architecture, but it has to complement the course. We want it to become one with the course."

Raph, a Sioux Falls native, helped launch CO-OP in 2012 precisely for projects like Mapletøn. He wanted to "make better buildings in our backyard."

CO-OP's portfolio ranges from Northern State's new football stadium to the Aberdeen Library to the Watertown Regional Airport to the new Jacobson Plaza in Sioux Falls. His team knows golf, too, assisting with Minnehaha's clubhouse renovation and addition.

From the beginning, Mapletøn excited CO-OP. How many times during a career, he said, does an architect get a chance like this?

"There hasn't been a club built in Sioux Falls for 60-plus years," Raph said. "We are super bullish about the success this is going to have."

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Mapleton Golf Club
2601 S Minnesota Ave
Suite 105-154
Sioux Falls, SD 57105