David attended the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and received a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture in 1973. After working in the animal feed industry for a few years, he returned to the University of Arkansas and was the Men's Golf Coach there from 1980 to 1983. During this time, he began studying golf course design after playing Pinehurst No. 2 in 1981. In 1983, he left Arkansas to go into golf course construction in Ocala, Florida, and then in 1987, David began working for Links Design in Lakeland, Florida as a Design Associate. In 1990 he took a position with Dr. Michael Hurdzan and Hurdzan Golf Course Design, Inc. where he was Senior Design Associate and International Project Coordinator until 2010.
Whelchel "semi-retired" to Bella Vista, Arkansas in 2010, and started Whelchel Golf Course Design and Consulting and now has almost 35 years in the golf business and the last 29 of that in golf course design. He believes in designing golf courses that fit the terrain and integrate the surrounding ecosystems into the design while at the same time developing a challenging and fun layout that is affordable and maintainable.