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2003 Indiana Golf Guide
by Art McCafferty

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 http://michigangolfer.tv. While there, you can also see another Indiana show we did on November 23.


Blackthorn GC-South Bend
This is one of the great ones in Indiana and certainly holds up well on Midwest rankings. Frankly, it is a course you do not forget. You will find it listed on all of the top 10 lists in Indiana and was one architect's Mike Hurdzan best works. Golf Digest rated it 4th in its debut year, 1994, and put it in its top 75 of affordable courses in America. Hurdzan had a very dramatic piece of land to work with and he disappointed no one in his effort.

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.

Corportate America has laid claim to the land surrounding the course and the solitude that was once there has been transformed into a more worldly atmosphere. Tim Firestone is the Direcotor of Golf and he will take good care of you. http://blackthorngolf.com

Juday Creek-Granger
This is a place that is familiar to many Michigan golfers because of its proximity to our border. Owners Linda and Mike Rogers grew up in Michigan and established a number of businesses before building Juday Creek. They continue to enhance the beauty of the course and faciltiy. Recently they added some white sand that provided a rich and final aesthetic touch. The course is well maintained, despite its heavy traffic. Flowers are omnipresent, but not in play and the clubhouse has had a recent addition, giving it more room for apparel and its restaurant.

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 ------, a Hawkeye in the Hoosier state, treats you very well. http://judaycreek.com

Mystic Hills GC-Culver
Steve Bonnell has the Midas touch when it comes to Indiana golf. Steve 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 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 will 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. 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 http://michigangolfer.com

Swan Lake Golf Resort-Plymouth
Changes. I first met Mike Hulse in the fall of 2000. He had been an employee of the US Golf Academy until 1997 and then left. Under new ownership, he was brought back and he has been smiling ever since. The new ownership has dedicated a vision and the resources to build upon the unpredented success of this school and then take it to the next level. The changes have been and will continue to be immense. Their biggest changes is to the physical plant. US Golf Academy regulars will find a new proshop and cluhhouse 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,They have 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 guest rooms in their hotel, but this might be a problem in the future as people find out about these changes.

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, the 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 and played back in these classroom with their instructor there critiqued 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.

They have simplied their registration process. Students can sign up for two or three day schools, with a price break during midweek schools. 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 the school schedule, or public play, you can get it all on http://slresort.com 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 growing in well," 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, but says that football weekends at Notre Dame are usually booked solid.

Their signature holes include the 9th, a bunker ladened 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 professionls in the Southbend 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. http://michigangolfer.com


Rock Hollow-Peru
All in the family. I had written about the Smith family for a number of years since reporting on their spectacular Tim Liddy designed Rock Hollow course in Peru, but had met only one, Todd. Todd, is the Director of Golf at the club and is one of the state's best players. He won the Indiana Open on two occasions. However, brother Chris is on the tour and has banked in excess of 900 K this year. Finally, brother Terry, has the course record for Rock Hollow.

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 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
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 were 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. Randy, who designed the newest nine after having helped his father with the originally nine, always makes sure that the courses are in great shape. People have a habit of doing that when they have been the ones to build them.. Walnut Creek is the old Ballinger family farm and as such, 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. Randy and his family would love to have some Michigan dollars help him with this project.

For the locals, they have adopted a Symphony on the Green series with the Marion Symphony Orchestra. This annual fund raiser 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 that 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. You can think of these fine Indiana folks, as family.


Bear Slide-Cicero
Golf Digest awarded this course 4 stars and rated it 7th in the state a couple of years ago. Bear Slide has all the amenities; practice range, practice putting green, a short game & bunker area, snack bar, clubhouse and outing facilities.

Designed by the late Dean Refram. 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.

Brickyard Crossing
Pete 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, trap 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 course non-mountain course in the world at 7,754 yards, Purgatory is also Indiana's shortest course, at 4,562. Designed by Ron Kern for Tenna and Mike Merchant, Purgatory opened this past 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. (Note. We will profile this course in our June issue of new golf courses.)

Plum Creek CC-Carmel
Plum Creek, a Pete Dye creation, winds through four unique golf communities in Carmel. You will golf in the shadow of homes that range from 130 to 300K. 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-Carmel
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 atWashtenaw 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-five 13th. This is an exeptionlly exciting golf course.

The Fort-Indianapolis
Michigan has inherited some fine golf courses from our government when they shut down military bases. Our Upper Peninsula's Kinchelo 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 were once officer quarters. Scott Larson, the PGA pro, is ecstatic over the progress of complex, "We just completed our third full year and the course is in the best shape since it opened.

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 5's; the 6th 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 their 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, Plum Creek, Purgatory and Bear Slide.

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 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. http://www.indianapremiergolf.org


South Central

Country Oaks-Montgomery
Country Oaks is located in the heart of Amish Country. It is a quality course at affordable prices. They have three tees, rdanging from 6929-5338 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. It is gorgeous. They have restored and renovated the farmhouse and barn of the original farm, with one serving as 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 that is now into its 4th year. Golfers will find immaculate grounds and a course that is nicely framed by its seven ponds. Highly recommended. It is a visual feast.

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, 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 might also check out the recently renovated West Baden property and see its magnificent domed room built over 80 years ago. You can also wander over to the Indiana Railroad Museum and check out all of its great trains. And, of course, there is always the chance you could bump into Larry Bird while in town.


Christmas Lake GC-Santa Claus
You can get into the spirit of Christmas with while playing Christmas GC in Santa Claus. The course has had a lot of loving care of late and is one of two courses, the other being Sultan's Run, that you can play over a two day stay.

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
Fuzzy Zoeller has done himself proud with his Covered Bridge GC. Owned and designed by Fuzzy, the course is a demanding test of golf.

Besides the famous covered bridge, which is representative of the bridges in this part of the state, golfers will find a beautiful par 72 hole course featuring five lakes, a meandering creek and a rolling terrain. The land is near Indiana's Floyd's Knobs. It has Zoysia grass fairways, choice of four tees and offers a challenge to all players.

We enjoyed the 9th and 18th holes as they shared both a diving lake and a massive green. A truly unique set of finishing holes. The nearby Days Inn, offers golf packages for Covered Bridge.

Sultan's Run
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 Tim 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.


Hidden Creek GC
Sellersburg, 10 miles north of Louisville, Kentucky, provides the background for two terrific courses; Hidden River and Fuzzy Zoeller's Covered Bridge GC.

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.


Cambridge GC
When last we saw Rusty Mason, he was the golf professional at Sultan's Run. Rusty is now part of a great team that has built the Cambridge Golf Club. Rusty teamed up with Tim 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 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.

This semi-private golf course is conveniently located at the U.S. 41 and I-64 interchange.


Victoria National
We normally do not review private golf courses in the Michigan Golfer, but in the case of Victoria National we will make an exception. It seemed like everywhere we stopped in mid and southern Indiana, they asked if we had seen the new Victoria National. Since we were within 40 miles of the place, we called Tom Rose, former Michigan golf pro at Pointe of Woods and he invited us down.

Rather than launch into all kinds of hyperbole here, I will just say that it richly deserves its selection by Golf Digest as the Best New Private golf course of 1999, just beating out Tom Doak's Lost Dunes course in Bridgeman.

Tom Fazio, created his latest masterpiece from an old strip mine that had long been abandoned to a Mother Nature that had filled in its deep strip scars with water and grew new grasses on its spoil mounds. When owner Terry Friedman walked the land with Tom Fazio, Fazio said, I see a hundred great golf holes here. My challenge will be to pick the best 18.

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. He had 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.


Links at Grand Victoria Casino
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 that opened four years ago, that 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 7th 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 Asst. Golf Professional

Rising Sun Indiana

Quail Crossing
This Tom Doak course is part of a golf community. It goes without saying that Doak has put together an interesting course. As is his custom, each hole has a specific name and reason for it.

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.



Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex
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. His excitement for his work at Purdue 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 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.

Dye's goal was to build the Best University course in the US. Time will tell whether he succeeded, but the awards are starting to roll in.


South Bend

Coyote Crossing
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 beat you up. Apparently, that is exactly what Irwin was counting on. In his promotional literature, he indicated that, 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 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.

We enthusiastically gave this eight thumbs up.


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