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Sep 25, 2013 by Alan Hinds
This summer we began a mythical 18 hole course made up of our county's more interesting Par 3's that are open for all to play. The front or North 9 was published several weeks ago and are courses north of 146th street. Today we continue with the South 9 comprising the back nine of our most intriguing Hamilton County short course.
Hole 10. "Swan Island". The 14th at River Glen, Fishers. You must carry the pond and over a small pocket of grassland with a nesting swan. Avoid any low, smothered, pushed line-drive 4 irons. They want to keep calling it Swan Island.
Hole 18, "Open Prairie". The 4th at Prairie View, Carmel. Judging the wind's impact and the pin setting makes for an exciting tee shot. Bunkers right can save a pushed shot to a pond, and a hill slope left can pitch a pulled shot to the green.
Hole 12. "Surf or Turf". The 7th at Ironwood, Lakes Course, Fishers. Surrounding sycamores hide swirling winds on this island Par 3. A two-tier green accepts a well struck shot if it avoids the bunkers that border the hole. With a nervous mis-hit, the lake eats up the ball and the golfer has reservations at the drop area.
Hole 13. "Turning Point". The 16th at Plum Creek, Carmel. It demands a critical tee shot with OB left and a water hazard to the right and in front of the green. The Pete Dye design can be very instrumental in either match play or stroke play.
Hole 14. "Good Luck". The 2nd at Brookshire, Carmel. Golfers get hot when left leaning shots tumble into Cool Creek. Tall mature trees add dismay to errant shots missed to the right. For good measure a front bunker can come into play.
Hole 15. "Two Over". The 17th at Mohawk Hills, Carmel. Can be stretched to over 200 yards for the back side of this 9 hole course. Protecting par is a knee knocking carry over water and a much visited right side bunker.
Hole 16, "Eagle's View". The 13th at Gray Eagle, Fishers. Indeed, golfers watch with intensity as tee shots drop to a very undulating green. A bunker front left and water behind and on the right are nature predators to a weak tee shot.
Hole 17. "No Way!!!". The 7th at Sunrise, Carmel. A stone filled creek points the way to an uphill plateau target. While the green is large, the backdrop woods and steep gully up front can make a golfer's tee confidence small.
Hole 18. "Marsh Madness" The 12th at Prairie View, Carmel. A scenic tee box overlooks a plateau green protected by marsh, woods and bunkers. Lots of mental energy is expended before, during and even after the shot. Try two putting a green with a center ridge line dividing left and right sides.
For more about courses in Hamilton County, visit VisitHamiltonCounty/golf.
Sep 10, 2013 by Kevin Bowen
When golfers think of classic course designers of the 20th century the name Robert Trent Jones Jr. appears near the top of virtually every list. From major championship venues like Hazeltine and Bellerive, Jones Jr. put his imprint on some of this country's greatest golf courses. His stamp might not be extensive in the state of Indiana but he did carve out a beauty in Prairie View Golf Club on the east side of Carmel.
Prairie View is located just west of Connor Prairie and the course has some 1800s characteristics mixed in with a modern design. Built in 1997, Prairie View is a target golf course with over 90 sand bunkers, five lakes and White River that serves as a boundary on several holes.
Putting the golf course aside, and this is one of the premier public venues in the entire state of Indiana, Prairie View has gone under some significant changes over the past few months. The Cohoat and O'Neal Management Corporation purchased the club earlier this summer. Doc O'Neal is a household name around the state of Indiana and his track record in the golf business is well documented.
Some immediate changes that new management has implemented includes lowering green fees to $75.00 (a $15.00 decrease) and the twilight rate to $45.00 (after 3:00 p.m. daily). There's no doubt in my mind that these won't be the last changes that Cohoat and O'Neal will make to Prairie View and this is a welcoming move for a course that is sometimes forgotten in Indiana's finest venues.
One element of Prairie View that separates them from some of the better public courses in Indiana is its practice area. A massive range, two putting greens and a chipping area is in itself impressive. However, Prairie View has an established Academy that's primary service is club fitting to a variety of golfers. The Academy utilizes the popular "Trackman" approach to club fitting with pro Darren Thomas and fitting specialist Pat Towle provide services for plays of all skill level.
With a golf course that can't be seen anywhere in the state of Indiana and management that is committed to matching the course itself, the time is now to head to Prairie View for one of the rare total package public venues.
Aug 27, 2013 by Kevin Bowen
The ground on which The Fort Golf Resort currently lies is rich in history. A staple during the 1900s for U.S. Army, the land is now home to one of the most scenic golf course in the state of Indiana. The Fort offers some tremendous elevation changes and some views that alone separate itself from other golf courses around the area.
A major appeal to The Fort for people visiting central Indiana is the on-site lodging that is less than 100 yards from the first tee. At the golf course, the grand ball room fits 300-350 people, a daily buffet lunch is offered and pair that with two small conference rooms and The Fort ranks among the top public courses in amenities around Indianapolis.
One thing I noticed about playing The Fort, was how good of shape the course was in despite having heavy cart traffic due to hills. Obviously the views on the course speak for itself, but I was impressed with the care of the some of the outer areas along the golf course.
The fescue grass does a nice job of not allowing holes to bump right into each other and at the same time it's far enough off the fairway to only gobble your ball up after a significantly errant shot.
The variety in teeing grounds allows for all types of golfers to enjoy The Fort and challenge themselves from whatever yardage they feel fits their games. This is one of the main reasons why The Fort is in the process of inquiring about trying to host an LPGA event in the coming years.
"The LPGA is very interested in the area and they are very interested in the golf course," Director of Golf John Swan said. "The big deal is looking to secure some sponsorships. It is in the early stages but we are very serious about it and it's something that the LPGA is doing as well."
All in all, The Fort is well worth the $49 twilight weekend rate with some spectacular views, a variety of length on all pars and one of the most thrilling finishes that will keep you focused for the entire 18. The Fort is also available as a part of a Hamilton County Stay & Play golf package.
Favorite Par 3: Hole 5 is a medium sized par three by today's standards, stretching to 170 yards from the back set of tees. What the hole might lack in length it makes up for in the view with a downhill tee shot over a deep valley and bunkers awaiting the players.
Favorite Par 4: Hole 4 is the signature hole at The Fort and the third par four of the day comes after two shorter ones to begin the day. The demanding, long par four doesn't play as long as the 438-yard number on the scorecard but the drive lands in a blind, downhill area that generally slopes to the left.
Favorite Par 5: The back nine begins with some significant elevation changes and No. 11 provides one of the most scenic views on the course. The tee shot at No. 11 overlooks the tops of the trees with bunkers down the right side. A blind layup shot awaits the players before the green opens up with a nice run-up area.
Aug 13, 2013 by Alan Hinds
Bear paw shaped bunkers backdrop the first hole and tall maples, oaks, and sycamores add a cathedral-like closing on No 18. It is Scottish plaid and parkland golf merged together.
Cicero's Bear Slide Golf Club is a study and an interesting tour of golf contrasts. Architect Dean Refram, who worked extensively with Arnold Palmer, blended a links style front nine with a more wooded back nine. Refram's routings make creative use of a variety of hills, valleys, creeks and water landscapes. The settings provide both conservative play and risk reward options.
It is not just this review that recognizes the uniqueness and beauty of the course. Head professional, Mark Wisman, notes that Bear Slide is ranked as one of the premier courses in Indiana and a top rated public course by Great Lakes Golf Magazine.
Superintendent Chris Thuer, CGCS, directs great attention to course condition. Manicured tees, greens, and fairways are well evidenced. There are no cart ruts on this public course. Tall fescue grasses add aesthetics to the look but they more frame the fairways than find its tee shots.
Bear Slide's greens, while often noted to be among the fastest in the county, have none of the severe undulations that can make arrival on the green a new scoring threat for the golfer. They are maintained at quick, but grass healthy speeds.
Among the front nine holes, Mark likes the No 1 hole, with a fairway guarded left by a bunker and it subtly tilts right to water. A narrow left to right sloped green starts your putting day on this par 4. The backdrop of bear paws bunkers (see picture above) reminds you are on the right track.
He adds No 5, a long uphill par 4 as a signature hole. Once a good drive is hit, pull a long iron or fairway wood from the bag if you're hoping to reach a small elevated green bending back to the left. A prevailing breeze always add to the distance and a par is your friend.
Adding to the list of memorable front side holes, my playing partner, David Hinds, and I find No 3, a straight-away par 5 to be the "sneaky tough" hole on the front. Check the cart's yardage book carefully. Beware of bunkers! It's a deceptive hole with both grass and sandy hazards all along the way. Only a 30 yard chip-in to save par helped my disposition here.
For the back nine, Marks offers the par 4, No 15, as one of the best. From scenic elevated tees, the golfer has two branches Bear Slide Creek which challenge both lay up and go-for-it options. A grassy hill slope on the right and bunkers left front protect the green.
My brother and I would add the back nine's only par 5, No 12, to the list. It's a fairway that takes a drive toward water and then around water to peninsular type green. Facing a stiff SW wind, we both remarked this must be where they get the "bear" in Bear Slide.
Mark's other signature hole on the back nine is the No 18. This home hole closes the well-crafted adaptation of golf architecture with the natural terrain. An avenue of tall trees guides a drive to a valley and then up over Bear Slide Creek again to an amphitheater green. You will remember your par or birdie here.
It now up the steps to the Bear's Den, the 19th Hole served by the cordial Jill Wisman providing what every relaxing scorer's table should have...cold beverages and hot popcorn.
In Cicero, you follow the bear tracks if you are hunting for birdies. This season the conditions are very favorable at this award winning golf club.
Jul 30, 2013 by Alan Hinds
It is not a Bigger-is-Better World for Hamilton County Par Threes
Among the some 300 holes of public golf in Hamilton County, our Par 3's, tucked between long twisting Par 5's and crafty Par 4's, are often overlooked. We've constructed an 18 hole course made up solely of our county's more interesting Par 3's. We have two nines-the North 9, published today and the South 9, courses below 146th street, coming in a later edition.
Hole 1. "Monster Mountain", the 9th at Forest Park, Noblesville. The oldest par 3 in the county has the Honors. It is short but has a 35 foot uphill, mostly hidden green with severe downslopes. If the ball doesn't reach the green, it is back at your feet.
Hole 2. "Hell's Half Acre", the 17th at Purgatory, Noblesville. With a sea of extensive crushed limestone bunkering before you get to the green, it is the course's most photographed signature hole. But, hey, it's better than water. You can hit your second shot! (See picture)
Hole 3. "Paradise", the 16th at Bear Slide, Cicero. It has elevated tees from a ridge overlooking a small green fronted by a meandering trickle of Bear Slide Creek. It's peaceful. It's pleasant. It's "Paradise" until a mis-club hit...then it's Punishment.
Hole 4. "Mystery Pines", the 16th at Pebble Brook, South course. This hole provides a bit of club selection intrigue. The teeing ground is below the hole and tall pines behind the green block prevailing south winds. A wrong club or swing can find a front bunker or OB left.
Hole 5. "The Watering Hole", is the 8th at Fox Prairie, West nine, Noblesville. Shots must carry a pond, a deep bunker, and a severe slope to reach a narrow green. As tee shots start their descent, golfers' eyes tighten in watchful hope that each difficulty is overcome and their ball lands safely.
Hole 6. "Highlander", the 11th at Stony Creek, Noblesville. After a hairpin turn on the Tenth hole. This par 3 presents a simple straight downhill shot to a small green, guarded by water and wetland. Short in distance but long in challenge.
Hole 7. "All Carry", the 14th at Wood Wind, Westfield. This short, eye appealing hole is more beast than beauty to most golfers. Water confronts the shot all the way to front sloping green. Bunkers in the back act as a billboard not to hit it too long. It's more a panic than a scenic tour. (See picture)
Hole 8 "Links of Demand", the 2nd at Pebble Brook, North course, Noblesville. Its length with tall overhanging trees on the left narrows the best shot pattern to a curl in from the right side. Deep bunkers short and left catch hits with too much draw. This demanding test comes early in the round.
Hole 9. "The Impenetrable Fortress", the 3rd at Purgatory, Noblesville. A classic redan military defensive design, the green is uphill with a hidden back section that spreads low behind a narrow front portion. Deep bunkers left and right suggest a straight frontal assault as the only chance to score.
Jul 17, 2013 by Kevin Bowen
Located at 161st and Towne Road in Westfield, Wood Wind has evolved in numerous ways over the years but it's their academy that has really taken off in recent years. The Academy is run by three of the more accomplished teaching pros around the state and offers instruction, club fitting, repair, junior golf, and corporate and ladies clinics.
With so many tremendous golf courses in Hamilton County, today's golf industry means for a course to thrive than niche has to be created. That is exactly what Wood Wind has done. Their teaching portion of the golf course is one of the tops in central Indiana and it begins with Wood Wind Manager Doc O'Neal assembling three of the finest instructors.
• Jon Hoover-The 2011 Teacher of the Year by the PGA Section of Indiana, Hoover instructs numerous college golfers and has a specialty in club fitting with many different club companies.
• Brad Fellers-Fellers is one of the more accomplished teaching pros around the state of Indiana and has plenty of experience with the SAM PuttLab putter training system.
• Mark Mathews-With over 30 years of experience in the golf industry, Mathews is the expert club fitter of the trio. Mathews works with people of all skill levels in helping them find the correct fitting equipment for their game.
Outside of the teaching academy, Wood Wind is a public golf course but also offers memberships and a multitude of leagues for people of all ages.
Looking for a place to practice and improve? Then head over to the academy, full-length range and chipping area.
Feel like you are ready for the real course? Then cross 161st street to Wood Wind's 18-hole championship golf course. Affordable and well-kept public courses in Hamilton County can be difficult to come by but Wood Wind Golf Course offers just that and a plethora of other amenities to keep golfers coming back.
Jul 02, 2013 by Alan Hinds
Most of us are familiar playing parkland courses but Noblesville's Purgatory Golf Club offers the most distinctive links golf in the county; some say the state as well. Adding to the mystical tone of the course is that all holes are named. From the Impenetrable Fortress to Hell's Half Acre, all intrigue and captivate the golfer's attention.
Prevailing breezes, absence of trees, knobby firm fairways, native grasses, extensive bunkering and undulating greens are the work of my playing partner and course architect Ron Kern (see purple shirt).
With six sets of tees and several combination scorecards, the course is playable for everyone. It has a national ranking as one of the best courses for women and a length risk-reward challenge on every hole that also can make it one of the toughest for men. Try to find a course that has both!
The centerpoint is an expansive mountain lodge clubhouse that seems cut from the Rockies. For more information on this award winning course, go to PurgatoryGolf.com.
A full service pro shop is led by the personable Jon Stutz who heads up a superbly proficient team of golf instructors. The many programs of the course make for an active destination point for both local and out of town golfers. Course superintendent James Brown, GCSAA, must be the hardest working man in golf business caring for a golf course of 218 acres with lush green (yes, generous) fairways flanked by waving dormant, tan fescue grasses. The look is visually appealing and challenging all in one.
All the Par 3's are set to shoot in different directions. Even though the 17th, with a sea of bunkers is the most photographed, it is the 12th ,with a fanlike spread of tee boxes, that is uniquely designed to contest all approach shots.
The Par 4's are the holes with the muscle to test the golfer. They are designed as two shot holes but patrons say you can "get there in three." The most notable is the back nine stretch of the 14th, 15th, and 16th. In terrain and routing, each is artfully different but all provide a golfer's perpetual conflict...conservative strategy or risk/reward.
On the front side, the course starts early says Kern. The do-or die Par 4, 2nd over water tests both strategy and execution. For example, golfers can choose their tough shot off the tee or make it on their approach?
Patience and good shot planning make the Par 5's receptive to birdies and pars. The wishbone shaped fairway of the 18th is the most interesting. It offers distance, position, fade and draw options off the last tee. The mental side of golf that distinguishes Purgatory endures to the end.
There is no finer 19th Hole than the warm ambiance of the bar called the "Confessional" staffed by the friendly team of Abbi, Brittany, Teress and Mandy. Golfers end their day readily admitting that time spent in Purgatory is well rewarded.
May 22, 2013 by Alan Hinds
The scorecard of Fishers' River Glen Country Club notes its reputation as "Nature's Golf Course." It's not hard to see why it earns this accolade as it runs adjacent to the White River in an arboretum-like setting. As such, golfers share the fairways with many woodland critters that hop, creep, crawl, dash or fly across the course much like the variety of golf shots I hit on a recent visit.
With its origins dating back to 1940, today's River Glen routes a well-conditioned 18 hole, Par 71 course with four sets of tees starting at 5,106 yards and extending to 6,847 yards. Head professional Scott Casey runs a well-stocked golf shop and directs a variety of golf programs popular with all ages and genders. Course superintendent Dan Kaar broke the code on enjoyable golf with his cutting the rough to a ball-finding length. Yes, it is an off the fairway length but with none of the frustration and fatigue of searching and searching.
Greens are large, elevated, contoured back to front and set to be 10 on the stimpmeter. They are smooth, consistent and once the speed of the greens is felt, putts tend to go where pointed and good reads are rewarded. As with a parkland course, it has many trees, but in most respects these border fair, generous fairways. Trees and shrubs, more often than not, tend to guide rather than grimace the golfer. As an added bonus, they also colorfully paint the seasons at River Glen.
The gentle dogleg turns of the fairways sparks a player's interest on the tee and all the way to the cup. Seven holes draw to the left and seven fade to the right. You might say it is a balanced routing no matter how you slice it. Ponds border several holes and a meandering creek must be crossed at various times but one has to work hard to put a ball in the White River.
Casey tags the par 4, 4th with a tee shot strategy to an elevated green in a grove of trees as a front-side signature hole. He also contends the 9th, a par 4, as being one of the county's top sneaky tough doglegs. The back nine's par 3 14th, aptly nicknamed Swan Island, starts a stretch of holes that require thoughtful tee placements and approach shots over hazards.
My favorite is the 15th, a sweeping dogleg right par 5 to a crest of a hill that curls down to a benign looking stream and bunker protecting one of the original greens. After our side by side layups, my playing partner Joe Rhodes and I placed a friendly closest-to-the pin wager on our 66 yard pitch shots to the green. Thirty minutes later, I was buying the drinks at the club's Red Tail Tavern served by its gracious hostess, Bernadette.
All in all, I finished with one nine under 40 and the other over and was consistently engaged on all 18 holes with both the beauty and subtle challenge of the course. If you like the natural setting of a parkland course, River Glen County Club is sure to be a pleasant choice for you and other nature lovers.
"Now on the first tee: Audubon, Perkins, Hanna and Gibbons."
May 14, 2013 by Alan Hinds
Hamilton County has a love affair with golf. You cannot drive across this golf enthusiastic county without seeing a flag stick somewhere along the way. And our local golfers are willing to share the tee box! It is easily done with 14 public access and seven private courses that distinguish our county. Midwesterners from all over take advantage of our area's golfing hospitality. The Hamilton County Visitors Bureau describes it well. It is called Stay and Play...and so many golfers do.
Special rates for lodging and golf are provided to visitors and your tee times are automatically set up by area hotels. Warm accommodations, variety of area restaurants, noteworthy courses, and collegial pro shops all make for or wonderful golf get-a-way. Courses like Noblesville's Purgatory Golf Club, ranked among America's top courses for women; Carmel's upscale Prairie View Golf Club and Plum Creek Golf Club; Westfield's Wood Wind Golf Club; Cicero's Bear Slide Golf Club; and River Glen Country Club in Fishers are often packed together for a golfing destination. Nearby Indy courses such as the Fort Golf Resort and Brickyard Crossing can also be added in the packages. You have as many choices as the clubs in your bag. Check our golf directory at IndianasPremierGolf.com.
Our terrific courses did not just happen. It was by design! Architects such as Robert Trent Jones Jr., Pete Dye, William Diddle, Jack Nicklaus, Dean Refram, Arthur Hills, Gary and Ron Kern, William Newcomb and the legendary Tom Bendalow have all put their signatures on county layouts. You will find our courses highly rated in such publications as Golf Magazine, Golf Digest, Great Lakes Golf, and Golfweek. It is no surprise our county has become a destination point for golfers everywhere. In Hamilton County, when you can combine golf with just about any other attraction in our eight great towns, you see why our golf Stay and Play is also called the Perfect Parley.
You're more than welcome to join us on the first tee.
May 02, 2013 by Kevin Bowen
The Pete Dye designed golf course on the other side of Carmel, might not hold the prestige of Crooked Stick Golf Club but don't let that fool you. Plum Creek Golf Club is a championship level 18-hole semi-private golf coursed located just east of Hazel Dell Parkway and off of 126th street. Plum Creek is also apart of the Pete Dye Golf Trail.
Along with having one of the premier golf courses in central Indiana, Plum Creek also includes a renovated banquet room, an upscale snack/bar area, chipping and putting greens, a 300-yard long drive range, and pool/tennis facilities. The golf course is just over 6,900 yards from the back tees with demanding par threes and par fives that aren't overly long, with trouble surrounding them. Tee complexes range from 6,900 yards to 5,200 yards (the scorecard even includes a combination of gold and blue tees called the ‘member') and a wide range of ages call Plum Creek home.
Holes 1 and 9 (pictured above), along with the entire back nine, are played south of 126th street, where the clubhouse and practice facilities are located. The rest of the course is played just north of 126th street. The front nine has a little less character than the back, with holes mainly running parallel to each other and houses flanking holes 2, 3, 5, 7 and 8. Two sub 300-yard par fours on the front nine help distinguish the easier front side. Both par threes on the front nine have creeks to the left side of the green and the signature hole on the front is No. 4, with the same water hazard bisecting the fairway in two.
New ownership has made some interesting changes to the entire complex. A new back tee has been built at the long par three ninth hole. With the new tee, the hole can be stretched to up to 239 yards with a creek down the left side. The back nine remains pretty much the same as before with a new back tee built on the 13th hole, making that hole play up to 430 yards from the back tee box.
I love the added trees down the left side of the 13th fairway and management has added about 30 trees around the entire golf course in the past few months. In my opinion, the final four holes at Plum Creek are among the best set of closing holes in central Indiana. All four finishing holes have hazards that come into play with a risk/reward dynamic that creates great drama for all types of golfers down the stretch!
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