2001 Indiana Golf Guide
Indiana's 470 golf courses are divided into six geographic areas: Northern, Eastern, Central, South Central, Southern and Western by their state's online and print golf guide: http://www.indianagolf.com. It is a top-notch site that navigates well and will quickly give you location, price and lodging and information.
Michigan Golfer has visited and enjoyed over 50 Indiana courses during the past 10 years and a number of those we have highlighted here. We have always had a nice relationship with our Hoosier friends. We seek the warmth of their golf courses from November to May; they in turn flock to our cooler northern climate from June to September. They are the first to applaud our wonderful courses and at the same time are very proud of their own.
The Course at Aberdeen
Dr. Michael Hurdzan conjured up some more of his well-regarded magic as the architect of The Course at Aberdeen. Named for a port city on the northern coast of Scotland that is also the birthplace of golf, Aberdeen is located in Valparaiso, about 30 minutes southwest of the Michigan border.
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
The South Bend area is becoming more of a golf hotbed now that Warren Golf Course at Notre Dame has joined Blackthorn GC and Juday Creek in nearby Granger.
Blackthorn, the Hurdzan-designed course in South Bend, has been a northern-Indiana favorite since it opening in 1994. It has gathered its share of awards and appears in most Indiana top-10 lists. Located on some rather dramatic land, Hurdzan was able to let the land create the course. They have recently renovated their bunkers and the terrific condition of their course is the payoff of new irrigation. If you tee up Monday through Thursday you can avail yourself to Blackthorn's Blarney Hole, an additional hole that serves as a warm up par-3 (think Black Bear in Vanderbilt) or a tournament tie breaker.
Jack Quimby, of Meadowbrook Golf Management, has been with the club since the start and will take good care of you. Tim Fieldstone is the new professional, replacing Brian Godfrey, who is the new Director of Golf at Warren GC. He started out as a bag boy, attended nearby Bethal College and then joined the staff as assistant professional. He was mentored by Brian Godfrey, as well as the new pro at Warren GC, Ken Fry. They have a number of golf schools at the club: Mark Hamilton's Concept Learning Golf School, Pro Golf and The Natural Golf School. Blackthorn GC is always a treat.
The Brassie is one of a number of golf properties in Indiana's Porter County, that includes the Course at Aberdeen, Forest Park GC and the learning center at Creekside. Jim Fazio, a member of the famous Fazio family of golf architects, designed it.
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
Juday Creek has been doing strong business since the course opened a decade ago. While they have great local support, they do love to pick up some of those Michigan dollars that are either stopping there or going on to Chicago. The nearby Indiana Toll Road either funnels in eager golfers to their course or introduces it to thousands as they drive by. The Indianapolis Star rated Juday Creek No. 8 in the state a couple of years ago. Golfers will find the course demanding due to its abundance of water, bunkers and undulating greens. The course replaced the sand in 56 bunkers on the property and soon will be expanding the clubhouse. The sand, a whiter blend, enhances the other features of the course.
Michelle Rogers, the facility's general manager, is proud of the improvements they have made this year and will continue to upgrade the course by expanding the clubhouse this year. Michelle's folks were originally from the Bay City area and made their early money in the restaurant business. They sold their restaurants and got into the development business, with Juday Creek being their first project. Juday Creek is their baby and they continue to pump the dollars back into the course.
Mystic Hills GC-Culver
Steve Bonnell has the Midas touch when it comes to Indiana golf. Bonnell and members of his family own Pond View GC in Star City, Pine View GC in Monticello and now One Terrific View, a.k.a. Mystic Hills in Culver.
Besides being home to 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 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. Dye's tool for designing a course is strictly paper, he is not a computer guy.
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 his imagination. 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, whose 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 http://www.michigangolfer.com)
Swan Lake Golf Resort-Plymouth
Swan Lake Golf Resort is now taking top billing since being taken over by new ownership last March. The resort, with its 36 holes of golf and its 93 hotel rooms, had primarily served as the facility for the U.S. Golf Academy and as such, had lived in its shadow. However, that will change under new ownership and the leadership of Director of Golf, Mike Hulse. According to Hulse, a new and much needed proshop/clubhouse will be ready for spring 2001. The clubhouse will feature a banquet room that can better serve an expanding market base for their facility.
The school will continue with its tradition of excellent instruction, which is heavily influenced by the teaching philosophies of Jimmy Ballard, Don Essig and Jim Flick. The U.S. Golf Academy has developed a reputation as one of the best teaching facilities in the Midwest. They have a new comprehensive computerized video system that will allow students to match their swing with some of the top 80 professionals in the game. The instructional area will also receive some attention by getting new target greens on the driving range. If Hulse is not there to answer your questions, Ben Berger, the new head pro, will take good care of you.
Warren Golf Course at Notre Dame-South Bend
The new Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coor course at Notre Dame is terrific This architectural twosome is known for 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.
The course went through a tough growing season in 1999, but has really filled in nicely since then. Signature holes include the ninth, a bunker-laden three-par and the spectacular 16th, a formidable 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. The team had been playing at nearby Blackthorn GC, a terrific course, but are happy to finally have their own facility. It is getting tough to get a tee time, as this is one popular course. Reserve your tee times early in the year.
Ken Fry is the head professional and Brian Godfrey, formerly of Blackthorn GC, is the Director of Golf. They are consummate professionals and will make your stay an excellent one. (See Terry Moore's review of Warren GC in Sep/Oct 2000 online issue of MG. michigangolfer.com)
Tim Liddy, Indiana's hottest architect and former intern to Pete Dye, launched his architectural career with Rock Hollow. Liddy took some badly scarred gravel pit land and created a demanding course that is a visual treat. Since Rock Hollow, Liddy has turned out the Trophy Club in Lebanon, the awesome Cambridge GC near Evansville, and the spectacular Grand Casino's Victoria Links on the Indiana side of the Ohio River. In addition, he also tuned up Sultan's Run and The Fort in Indianapolis.
Rock Hollow is owned by the talented Smith family. Chris Smith was on the PGA tour in '96 and '98 and won four tournaments on the former Nike tour. Todd Smith won the 2000 Indiana Open championship, having also won it in 1993. Younger brother, Terry, owns the Rock Hollow course record, beating both of his brothers.
Peru is another of those out of the way places, but definitely worth the drive. Rock Hollow has the dramatic land features that have made Black Diamond in Florida and Michigan's Bay Harbor and Hawk Hollow so dramatic.
Walnut Creek and Club Run-Marion
The Walnut Creek/Club Run 36-hole golf complex in Marion gets a tremendous amount of Michigan play. Owner Randy Ballinger, a regular at Michigan golf shows, offers a quality product at affordable prices. Our foursome stopped on our way to Indianapolis and was able to get in nine in the evening and another nine in the morning. We really enjoyed the courses and the variety of the golf holes. Ballinger, who designed the newest nine after having helped his father with the original nine, always makes sure that the courses are in great shape. People have a habit of doing that when they were the ones who built them. Walnut Creek is the old Ballinger family farm and every effort is made to increase the beauty and value of this family legacy.
Frankly, some members of our foursome "the gang that couldn't drive straight" were able to get an occasional birdie from time to time. The new course has matured very well and the first course is like an old friend. They have a driving range and practice area. They also have plans to create a proshop clubhouse out of their old farmhouse, which is currently being registered as a national landmark. Ballinger and his family would love to have some Michigan dollars help them with this project.
For the locals, they have adopted a Symphony on the Green series with the Marion Symphony Orchestra. This annual fundraiser makes - for one day anyway - a course that is as easy on the ears as it is on the eyes.
Walnut Creek is one of the first stops for winter-weary Michigan golfers who shoot down to get in some early season rounds, located just off I-69 on the way to Indianapolis. Walnut Creek partners with two hotels, the Holiday Inn in Marion and a Ramada Inn that is just a couple of Tiger Woods' drives away. Jeff Seagrave is the PGA professional.
Golf Digest awarded this course four stars and rated it seventh in the state a couple of years ago. Bear Slide has all the amenities: practice range, practice putting green, a short game and bunker area, snack bar, clubhouse and outing facilities.
Designed by the late Dean Refra, the design of the course will generate a lot of discussion with your group and will keep their interest the entire 18 holes. Chris Drake, the head professional of Bear Slide, is one of the top professionals in the state.
Dye rose to the challenge here, as he turned a 27-hole, not-so-spectacular course into one of Indiana's real 18-hole beauties. Golfers will be able to play both inside and outside of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Dye has designed an award-winning course that takes advantage of the trees and rolling land that was there, while also introducing some dramatic green, bunker and fairway formations that he thought up.
The Brickyard hosts its share of high visibility national and state tournaments on its challenging layout. Its tagline "A Legend Reborn," is something you can believe in.
Purgatory Golf Club-Noblesville
The course that created the biggest buzz with our foursome this year was Purgatory. Billed as the longest non-mountain course in the world at 7,754 yards, Purgatory was designed by Ron Kern for Tenna and Mike Merchant and opened last summer.
Our foursome could not wait to get to each new hole to see what awaited us. We were never disappointed. There are a number of great holes, the 735-yard 13th and the bunkers from hell at the picturesque 17th, to name a few. Don't miss this course when you play Indiana golf. (Editor's Note: We will profile this course in our June issue on new golf courses.)
Plum Creek CC-Carmel
Plum Creek, another Dye creation, winds through four unique golf communities in Carmel. You will golf in the shadow of homes that range from $130,000-300,000. The clubhouse, which serves this community year-round, is spacious and beautiful.
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.
Prairie View is a very upscale facility that delivers a great golf course, an outstanding practice facility, first-rate service and a touch of Michigan for discriminating golfers. Brian Nicholoff, partner and GM, is a Michigan native who worked at Washtenaw CC during Jim Applegate's tenure many years ago. He is always delighted when Michigan folks drop by. His father in-law, Jim Ackerman is an Indiana developer who is such a substantial contributor to Purdue University that they honored him and his wife Lois, by naming one of their golf courses after them at the fabulous Birck Golf Complex.
Robert Trent Jones Jr. designed Prairie View. The awards it has received thus far will insure that the Jones name in golf architecture will continue on. Every hole is a work of art; we especially enjoyed the heavily trapped par-513th. This is an exceptionally exciting golf course.
Michigan has inherited some fine golf courses from the government when it shut down military bases. Our Upper Peninsula's Kincheloe and Red Fox Run are superb courses that come quickly to mind. In Indiana, they have The Fort. The Fort is located within Fort Harrison State Park and is spread out over 238 wooded acres. In addition to this great golf course, you can also avail yourself to some on site lodging, which was once officer quarters. Scott Larson, the PGA pro, is ecstatic over the progress of the complex. "We just completed our third full year and the course is in the best shape since it opened," Larson said.
Tim Liddy completely transformed this golf course four years ago. His new design helped him pick up some wetland awards and the thanks of thousands of area golfers who are gratified about what he did to the former course. It has a couple of signature par-5s: the sixth hole demands a strong drive over a huge ravine to an uphill fairway and the 11th offers another uphill journey with the green being 547 yards away.
They are having a real surge of Michigan golfers coming their way. "The West Michigan Golf Show was really great for us. We booked a lot of rounds there and had the opportunity to showcase our course to many of them this summer," said Larson.
Our foursome rated this golf experience as one of the best of the seven golf courses we played.
Hamilton County Golf
Hamilton County, just north of Indianapolis, started to aggressively market its very substantial golf products last year. This upscale community has really got some things to crow about. The courses that are part of their golf packages include, Prairie View, the Preserve, Plum Creek, Purgatory, The Fort, Brickyard Crossing and Bear Slide.
According to Amy Vaughan, Director of the Hamilton Convention and Visitors Bureau, the area has a variety of lodging properties that provide stay-and-play packages for their 15 golf facilities. We stayed at the DoubleTree Guest Suites and it was great. Last year they offered a one-night, two-rounds of golf package with breakfast for $184 per person or two nights and three rounds of golf for $290 (double occupancy plus tax). Call them for this year's deals at (317) 844-7994.
There is no doubt that the Hamiltonians have the product, the money, the vision and the team to back up their claim of premier Indiana golf. Call them for their Stay and Play packages or pull up their very informative website at http://www.indianaspremiergolf.org or call 800-776-TOUR
Country Oaks is located in the heart of Amish Country. It is a quality course at affordable prices. They have three tees, ranging from 5,338-6929 yards, to challenge your game. The complex has a one-of-a-kind look to it. As you approach the course you will see a spectacular farmhouse, barn and silo framed by fairways and greens. They have restored and renovated the farmhouse and barn of the original farm, with one serving as the clubhouse and the other as the pro shop. According to Robert Koonz, they have plans to build a new cart barn and turn the existing one into a banquet area.
It is a pretty straightforward course and is now into its fourth season. Golfers will find immaculate grounds and a course that is nicely framed by its seven ponds. It is a visual feast.
French Lick Springs Resort and Spa-French Lick
During the past 20 years we have been publishing the Michigan Golfer, I have seen hundreds of new and exciting courses. While that is all fine and good, I also really enjoy visiting some of those which have been around a long time. French Lick Springs Resort and Spa is such a place. It spectacularly lives up to it motto of a place where "the past is always present."
In many ways, it 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. At French Lick, the discovery of sulfur springs first brought people from all over the U.S. to test their healing powers. Then later, they came for the golf.
It also 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. They are both interesting to play with the Donald Ross easily the better of the two. However, the Valley course, with its plain design, has some interesting holes. The one problem with the Valley course is that it has gone through a lot of floods. There are times when host pro, Dave Harner looks out of his proshop and sees boats rather than golf carts. The Hill Course is down the road and as the name suggests, does not have that problem.
French Lick has a variety of golf packages to match your budget. We strongly recommend this golfing experience. A walk through this ageless hotel is worth the price of a tee time. And who knows, you might even bump into Larry Bird while in town.
You might also check out the recently renovated West Baden property and see its magnificent domed room built over 80 years ago. This resort also had an 18-hole golf course at one time. You can also wander over to the Indiana Railroad Museum and check out all of its great trains. Incidentally, the food is absolutely wonderful. Michigan Golfer highly recommends this golf experience.
Sultan's Run opened to rave reviews in 1992. However, the Sultan's Run folks decided to take the course to a higher level and brought in Liddy to renovate the entire course. His work was so massive that he became the course architect. The improvements he made were profound and have launched the course into the forefront of great Midwestern golf courses.
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.
When last we saw Rusty Mason, he was the golf professional at Sultan's Run. Mason is now part of a great team who has built the Cambridge Golf Club. He teamed up with Liddy and together they are bringing on a golf complex and community that will be second to none. "Links golf that will challenge your passion" is the motto of Cambridge GC.
Cambridge GC, built on 170 acres of Indiana farmland, 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.
Liddy has done himself proud with this one, it is just spectacular. Put this course on your to-do list. This semi-private golf course is conveniently located at the U.S. 41 and I-64 interchange.
Links at Grand Victoria Casino- Rising Sun
Tim Liddy is at it again. It seems like every new course that opens in Indiana has been designed by him. One of his latest is the Links at Grand Victoria Casino.
The course is part of a large gaming complex which opened four years ago, and features a 200-room Hyatt. There is not a tree on the course as it starts above the Ohio River and then drops down to run alongside the river on the seventh hole and in full view of the Casino. David Hall is the Director of Golf and is excited about the work that Liddy did. Look for a golf course preview in our June issue. Jeff Weales is the assistant golf professional.
Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex-West Lafayette Ackerman Hills GC and Kampen GC
I first heard about the new Kampen GC from Pete Dye himself. I was on a media trip to see his new course at Whistling Straits and found myself alone with him for about half an hour. Our conversation soon turned to his work at Purdue University. His excitement for his work caused me to go about 150 miles out of my way on an Indiana trip last year just to see it. It was dusk and I was able only to see the course in an Indiana twilight, but it was enough to make me schedule it in for next year.
The Ackerman Hills course is a nice 6,436-yard course which is a little more golfer friendly than its sister Kampen course. For example, the Ackerman course has 14 bunkers whereas Dye's Kampen course has 48. The Kampen has a slope rating of 145 and the Ackerman 124.
Dye's goal was to build the best university course in the U.S. Time will tell whether or not he succeeded, but the awards are starting to roll in.
Coyote Crossing-West Lafayette
Coyote Crossing is Hale Irwin's first Midwest course and judging from its reception, it will not be his last. Our foursome had a wonderful time golfing the course. Frankly, we liked it because it was not a course that beats you up. Apparently, that is exactly what Irwin was counting on. In his promotional literature, he says, "If you don't have fun on one of my courses, then I've failed in presenting the product the way I should have."
As with any modern course there are a number of spacious tees. In the case of Coyote Crossing, there are five. Irwin continues by providing huge landing areas for tee shots. While there are three large water hazards, a meandering steam and a variety of bunkers 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. We enthusiastically gave this course "eight thumbs up."
The Indiana golf product is just getting better and better. They did not start their golf course building boom at the same time as Michigan, and thus they are in a catch-up mode. However, they have really added a number of very exciting courses to their inventory.
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