2002 Indiana Golf Guide
Indiana has half the golf courses of Michigan, far fewer resorts, but more than its share of golfing gems. We have visited many of them in the past two decades and will share some of those observations here. You will find more extensive coverage in our online 2002 Indiana Golf Guide Indiana. We also want to alert you to the excellent Indiana Golf & Travel Guide http://www.indianagolf.com put out by John Martin of Golf US. We featured John and his observations on the December 14th Michigan Golfer TV Show. http://michigangolfer.tv. While there, you can also see another Indiana show we did on November 23.
The Course at Aberdeen
Golfers will find a course that feature plenty of water, bunkers, wasteland and trees guarding finely manicured fairways and greens. Lawson Creek and a plethora of ponds come into play on 14 of the holes. The course has some remarkable stone bridges throughout that give it a richness not seen on many golf courses. There are also a couple of dramatic elevation changes on the course that create some visually pleasing holes. Paul Swenson, the course superintendent, indicated that they have just about finished tweaking the course since its opening. "We had some settling problems here and there and we also took out some trees that we felt were unfair." Rick Reid, formerly of Tecumseh, is the Director of Golf.
The weekend rate for spring and fall is around $50, with it jumping about 10 dollars in the summer. The course is part of an extensive and expensive real estate development that plans to go private when the financial numbers work. The development includes a Scottish themed brew pub which features a variety of great ales.
Also consider The Inn at Aberdeen. The Inn has 11 bedrooms, many with Jacuzzis and fireplaces. It is a top of the line B&B with prices ranging from $100-170 per night. The Inn was originally a 100-year-old farmhouse that was recently remodeled and expanded. This is not a place for foursomes, but rather a spot for a romantic getaway for a twosome. The Inn is located about a Tiger Woods' drive from the golf course.
Blackthorn GC-South Bend
You will encounter a dramatic piece of ground at Blackthorn and the immaculate care of its staff. Their famous Blarney hole, a par 3 warm up hole, allows you to get out that first bad swing in your round and you will need it as you try and navigate past that 250-year-old oak which commands the 4th fairway.
Corporate America has laid claim to the land surrounding the course and the solitude that was once there has been transformed into a worldlier atmosphere. Tim Firestone is the Director of Golf and he will take good care of you. http://blackthorngolf.com
Fazio has taken some flat Indiana farmland and sculpted a very imaginative course. Basically, he dug six fairly large ponds on the course and took the dirt and created mounds and some high ground. There are only a few ball-grabbing trees on the 7,008-yard course. Fazio has created some interesting greenscapes with his bunkering. The course is well maintained by Todd Adams, the course superintendent. It is now going into its third year and the solid reviews they have received from the golfing community have shown up in their cash register. The course also features a nice practice area. The course is located in Chesterton, just south of I-94. Green fees are around the $50 mark.
Indian Oak Resort and Spa, serves both the Course at Aberdeen and Brassie. Golfing both of these courses would be a good way to spend a late fall or early spring weekend while waiting for the Michigan courses to thaw out. Online: http://www.thebrassie.com Porter County CVB: http://www.casualcoast.com
The Indianapolis Star rated Juday Creek number eight in the state a few years ago and it has remained a favorite as another 60 courses have come on board since their opening. Golfers will find the course demanding due to its abundance of water, its 56 traps and undulating greens. They have terrific food and Director of Golf, Brian West, a Hawkeye in the Hoosier State, treats you very well. http://judaycreek.com
Mystic Hills GC-Culver
Besides being home for the famous Culver Military Academy, Pete and Alice Dye also live in Culver. Obviously, this situation provided Steve with a wonderful opportunity to get Pete as the designer of Mystic Hills. Pete and Alice* were presented with the opportunity to design a golf course that was practically in their own back yard. With Pete and Alice's son, J.B. Dye also part of the deal, the deal was cut and Steve Bonnell was to be the proud owner of a Dye golf course. He has a scrap of paper up on the wall that showed some of Pete's early scratching. I talked to Dye about the tools he uses in designing a course and it is all paper, he is not a computer guy at all.
Culver is not exactly on the way to anywhere in Indiana, so Bonnell's big gamble was, if Dye designs it would they come. The answer is yes. The course is absolutely delightful and affordable. It has the course uniqueness that one expects from Pete Dye. The course is still a little tender, but you will enjoy it immensely. And who knows, the twosome ahead of you just could be Pete and Alice getting in a quick nine. The club professional is Dave Pugh. Dave, his staff and the new clubhouse will provide all the welcome you will need. Our foursome gave it "eight thumbs up".
*See Michigan Golfer for Women article on Alice Dye, in our June 2000 issue. Online at michigangolfer.com
Swan Lake Golf Resort-Plymouth
The changes have been and will continue to be immense. The biggest changes are to the physical plant. US Golf Academy regulars will find a new proshop and clubhouse waiting for them. It is a spectacular building that offers a wonderful view of the golf course. It also has a beautiful foyer that can act as a space for golf school receptions and mixers. They have weatherized their instructional area and built a new banquet facility that will seat 600. To their existing structure, they have added a new pool area, created a pond in back of the hotel and have extended a veranda that allows golfers to relax after a round with an adult beverage and gaze out at 36 holes of golf. On the drawing boards are some new onsite condos, a new fitness center and a tunnel under the road to link the two golf properties. Currently, they have 93 guestrooms in their hotel, but might have to add some rooms in the future.
Swan Lake Resort and the US Golf Academy have 36 regulation holes of golf, 9 executive holes designed for teaching the short game, a massive driving range and five regulation holes for the golf academy. Ben Berger, head professional, will make sure that you are well taken care of. He has put a new Prolink GPS on all of the carts, thus enabling him and his staff to make sure that play on courses is running smoothly.
The instructional area has new classrooms for end of the day briefing of the students. Student are videotaped during the instructional portion of their school day and played back in the classroom with their instructor there to critique them. Each instructor at the school has four students and the instructor stays with them thoughout the session. "We tried using a clinic approach to our teaching, but focus groups, surveys and personal phone calls, indicated that students wanted less time in the classroom and more time in front of an instructor. They also wanted one instructor during the time spent and not a series of instructors," said Hulse.
The schools has simplified their registration process. Students can sign up for two or three-day schools, with a price break during midweek. Students can also get a savings by attending schools later on in the summer and early fall. Of note this year, is a women's only school, a husband and wife school and an adult and a child school.
The new facility will be christened in March and be available for those first students in April. For information on the school schedule, or public play, click on http://slresort.com
Warren Golf Course at Notre Dame-South Bend
Ken Fry, the head professional at Warren Golf Course* is a happy man. He has a dream course designed by a top flight architectural team in, Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coor, that is coming in to its own. This talented twosome is known for their design work at Talking Stick in Arizona, Plantation at Kapalua in Hawaii and the remarkable Sand Hills in Nebraska. Both architects are noted for their traditional approach to golf course design.
"We had a great growing season this year and the course is in terrific shape," said Fry. "And the season, after a slow start has really picked up. Last year at this time (November 17, 2001) we had a foot of snow on the ground. Here it is 70 degrees and we have lots of golfers out on the course." Fry indicates that he gets quite a bit of play from Michigan. He did alert us to the fact that football weekends at Notre Dame are usually booked solid.
Their signature holes include the 9th, a bunker laden three par and the spectacular 16th, a formitable four par that is as beautiful as it is treacherous. The 6,700 yard par 71 course has 81 bunkers, six ponds and Juday Creek on its 250-acre site.
The clubhouse is very richly appointed, with ample trophy areas to display Notre Dame's past history in golf. I caught a glance of Michigan legends, Horton Smith and Al Watrous in photos of prior teams. Fry said that the new course has really helped in recruiting for their golf team. Brian Godfrey, formerly of Blackthorn GC, is the Director of Golf. Brian has mentored many of the professionals in the South Bend area, and brings a definite touch of class to the organization.
*See Terry Moore's review of Warren GC in Sep/Oct 2000 online issue of MG. michigangolfer.com
I was able to catch up with them as they played the course in a family sixsome. They were hitting from the back tees and everybody was hitting it big. Terry Smith, the patriarch of the family, was thoroughly enjoying himself and why not. A successful aggregate businessman, he envisioned the course, hired the architect and left enough land for 33 homesites, which included one for each of his children. Terry and son Todd currently have homes on the course and Chris is building a new house with a price ticket that will just about match his earnings on the tour this year.
Rock Hollow is a terrific course, it is not overly expensive and you definitely, will be a Tim Liddy fan when you have finished your round. http://rockhollowgolf.com
Walnut Creek and Club Run-Marion
New this year at Walnut Creek is the launch of a new 100-year-old farmhouse/proshop/restaurant that Randy has added to the product mix. The farm that the golf course has been in the Ballinger family for over a century. The farmhouse has been totally renovated into a series of eating and meeting rooms, with one room set aside for a museum of the property.
Walnut Creek is a great stop on your way South. The Ballinger family provides great service and puts much of the profit back into the property. Each year that have a Symphony on the Greens event, that raises money for the Marion Symphony. It has been a real success. http://walnutcreekgolf.com
Purgatory Golf Club - Noblesville
Billed as the longest non-mountain course in the world at 7,754 yards, Purgatory is also Indiana's shortest course, at 4,562. It can be hell, but you can choose the heat level. Kern has taken a relatively flat piece of ground and transformed it into an architectural showcase.
Mike took us out to the second hole to view the fairway from the tee and then from the green. From the tee, you could see the fairway and greenside bunkers that awaited your shot, when you looked back at the fairway from the green, the traps were invisible, hidden by the hooded backside of the bunkers. Merchant pointed out that this was an Alister MacKenzie design feature. Purgatory is a course you really need to put on your list. It is indeed memorable. http://purgatorygolf.com
Plum Creek CC-Carmel
Plum Creek plays to a 127 slope. Dye has woven 18 holes through a variety of water features; well-placed bunkers and tree guarded greens. The finishing holes, 15-18 are a great test of golf and ones you will long remember. http://plumcreek.com
Brian Nicholoff, Director of Golf, has been at the helm since the course came on board. Brian has a Michigan history, having worked at Waahtenaw CC during Jim Applegate's tenure.
Prairie View, a Robert Trent Jones Jr., has received many awards and its share of magazine covers. If you are the type of golfer that pursues trophy courses, this is right up your alley. http://www.prairieviewgc.com
Hamilton County Golf
According to Amy Vaughan, Director of the Hamilton CVB. The area has a variety of lodging properties that provide stay and play packages for their 15 golf facilities. We stayed at the Double Tree Guest Suites and it was great.
Call them for their Stay and Play packages or pull up their very informative website. http://www.indianaspremiergolf.org
French Lick Springs Resort and Spa-French Lick At the French Lick Springs Resort and Spa their motto is that the "the past is always present". The past is really brought front and center this year as they celebrate 100 years of serving the American public. French Lick Hotel is reminiscent of our own Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. In the lobby and hallways, you will also see photos of famous people who have visited French Lick since it opened in the early part of last century. It is on the list of Historic Hotels of America. In addition, Links Magazine named it as one of the 10 Best Historic Golf Resorts.
There are two golf courses at the resort, the Valley, constructed almost a century ago, was built three holes at a time in nearby Spring Valley. This is one of the oldest courses in the Midwest. As the course thrived, a new course, The Hill Course, was designed and built by Donald Ross in 1922. Dave Harner, the Director of Golf for French Lick Resort, recently hosted Bradley Klein, as he wrote about the course and Donald Ross in his new book. French Lick has a variety of golf packages to match your wallet or purse
You can see French Lick, the golf courses and the Railroad Museum, by viewing the November 21th Michigan Golfer TV Show at http://michigangolfer.tv http://frenchlick.com
Christmas Lake GC-Santa Claus
The course plays to 7191 yards over its rolling hills and valley terrain. It is known for it Zoysia grass tees and tree lined fairways.
Covered Bridge GC-Sellersburg
The course is amid a massive upscale subdivision, so you will need to get accommodations close to I-65. We recommend the nearby Days Inn. It is at the 7-mile marker on I-65 and golf packages. You are just seven miles from Louisville, Kentucky at the Days Inn, so you could cross over for a nice meal or a cruise down the Ohio River after your round.
This course is most comparable to Michigan's Treetops and Dunmaglas . These courses have significant elevation changes and dramatic landscapes. Sultan's Run was one of the first in a new crop of Indiana courses that have elevated its status in the golf world. http://www.sultansrun.com
Hidden Creek GC- Sellersburg
Hidden River is a lush and well-manicured golf course that prides itself on its country club amenities and look. The front nine has a five-acre lake to showcase its holes and the back nine meanders through some majestic woods.
The course markets itself with three other Indiana and Kentucky courses, The Bull, Sultan's Run and Maywood. They are part of the Kirchdorfer and Cunningham GC Management company. You can make reservations for all three at 800-822-2556. http://www.kentucky-golfer.com
Cambridge GC -Cambridge
Cambridge GC, built on 170 acres of Indiana farm land, offers the golfer; multiple tees, targeted landing areas, in-play lakes, grass mounds, demanding bunkers and finely sculpted bent grass greens. It also had a seven acre practice facilities with two split level Zoysia grass tee areas, eight target greens, a chipping green, bent grass green and bunker for pitching and sand practice. Their motto, "Šlinks golf that will challenge your passion."
This semi-private golf course is conveniently located at the U.S. 41 and I-64 interchange. http://www.villageofcambridge.com
This was just what Terry Friedman wanted to hear. He told Tom Fazio that he wanted him to build a top 20 golf course. "Indiana has never hosted a men's U.S. Open. If we build a venue, they may come," said Friedman. He sold his Michigan based company for roughly a quarter of a billion dollars and decided to get into the golf business. He was around to see Fazio devote more time than usual to the 366 acres that make up the course. He watched as Fazio took 150 of those acres and magically used them for unforgettable fairways, greens, tees and rough. Judging from the early reviews, he found those 18 holes. http://www.victorianationalgolf.com
Links at Grand Victoria Casino
Tim Liddy moved a lot of dirt to bring about this Scottish links style course that features bent grass tees, fairways and greens. Liddy had the opportunity to create a number of winding lakes on the course when he created the massive and sweeping bunkers that are prevalent on the course. Liddy, one of Indiana's hottest golfers, has of late worked on Sultan's Run, The Fort, the Trophy Club, Rock Hollow and will open Cambridge CC this summer.
After your round, you can retire to your wonderful Hyatt room, catch an evening cruise aboard the gaming ship or attend one of the casino shows.. The ship cruises up and down the Ohio River while gamers make their fortune inside. http://www.hyatt.com/usa/rising_sun/hotels/hotel_risun.html
We previewed the course about four years ago and have not been back since. At the time it was still tender and growing in. We have a visit to the property on our to do list for next year. http://quailcrossing.com
Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex - Ackerman Hills GC and Kampen GC
The Ackerman Hills course is a nice 6436-yard course that is a little more golfer friendly, than its sister Kampen course. For example, the Ackerman course has 14 traps whereas Dye's Kampen course has 48. The Kampen has a slope rating of 145 and the Ackerman 124.
Doug Hill, Director of Golf for the Purdue course and the superintendent, Jim Scott, give us a tour of the course on the Michigan Golfer TV Show. http://michigangolfer.tv/2001shows/show35/index.html http://purdue.edu
As with any modern course there are a number of spacious tees, in the case of Coyote Crossing there are five. Irwin continues on by providing big huge landing areas for you tee shots. While there are three nice sized water hazards, a meandering steam and a variety of traps on the course, they do not seem to jump in the way of your ball.
The last four holes are very nice, with the 18th particularly challenging by having to cross two steams and a pond on your way to the green.
Jeff Mathew is the Head Professional, with owner Randy Bellinger as Director of Golf. http://www.coyotecrossinggolf.com
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