A Trip North of Indianapolis Will Lead You to a Golf-Centric Haven
Long before Hamilton became a household name thanks to a six-year stretch as Broadway’s most successful play, the golf courses of Hamilton County in central Indiana have been eliciting rave reviews and playing to packed tee sheets.
The golf-centric county just north of Indianapolis has staying power that can never be canceled or retired. With 14 top-line courses in a 22-mile radius (yes, that is not a typo), your group could play seven days straight of 36 holes and never play the same course twice.
As a bonus, Hamilton County is home to two of the seven courses on the Pete Dye Golf Trail, a collection of Pete Dye-designed courses throughout the state that was formerly named a golf trail in 2017. Plus, if you are a member of a private club, I strongly recommend using your reciprocal agreement to play Maplecreek Golf & Country Club, Pete Dye’s first course that opened in 1961 (originally as Heather Hills).
As I write this article, Georgia is taking on Alabama in College Football’s National Championship Game. “NFL’s Biggest Game” also graced Lucas Oil Stadium in 2012 as the New York Giants defeated Tom Brady’s New England Patriots for a second time. I am pretty sure the FCC would fine me if I called the game by its actual name, so we’ll just keep my money in my cobwebbed wallet on this one! Naptown, as the locals call it, has also been home to the NCAA Final Four, the NFL Draft Combine, the movie Hoosiers, and of course, their pride and joy, The Indianapolis 500.
In such a great sports town, is it any wonder that golf plays a starring role for close to eight months a year? MGM highly endorses taking your next buddies' trip to Hamilton County and enjoying any combination of the below top-rated courses.
The Fort Golf Resort, Indianapolis
The Fort GC is a perennial top 10 on Indiana’s best course list since opening in 1997. Pete Dye took a 238-acre tract of land that was made for golf and etched his indelible style into each flowing hole. “When golfers play The Fort they are typically struck by the rare topography that we have,” stated John Swan, director of golf. “While most of the great courses in the central Indiana area are built on flat or rolling terrain, The Fort has the great advantage of being built on some very hilly terrain with a large gully that runs through the property. A majority of the holes are tree-lined and Pete Dye did a masterful job of routing the course,” described Swan. Owned and operated by the State of Indiana, the 7,148-yard, par-72 layout also features Stay and Play Packages with the adjacent Fort Harrison State Park Inn.
Purgatory Golf Club, Noblesville
Purgatory’s first-class golf experience begins with a friendly staff, a 30,000-square-foot log cabin clubhouse, and a pristinely manicured property that is completely dedicated to golf. The 7,754-yard, links-style course is spread out over 218 acres, is routinely ranked as one of the top public courses in Indiana, and has garnered numerous national awards. Holes 16 through 18 might be the best finishing trio of holes in the state, thanks to a memorable par-4, par-3, par-5 combination. The Ron Kern design opened to the public in 2000, and was actually blessed by a priest, meaning that you’ll never get a bad break at Purgatory!
Bear Slide Golf Course, Cicero
In an area known for incomparable golf at unbelievable prices, Bear Slide GC fits in perfectly. In fact, the Dean Refram design has been named as one of Golf Digest’s top 75 most affordable courses in the nation. The 6,998-yard, par-71 layout plays at a staunch 136 rating from the tips and features seven par-4s that play over 400 yards from the back tees. According to Head Professional Mark Wiseman, Bear Slide has developed a reputation as the course better players want numerous cracks at to try and lower their scores. Bear Slide Golf Club uniquely features a Scottish links-style front nine and a traditional-style back nine. Finally, the property is highlighted by Bear Slide Creek that meanders through the back nine.
Prairie View Golf Club, Carmel
Prairie View GC has the distinction of being the only Robert Trent Jones Jr. golf course in Indiana. I was fortunate enough to play Prairie View for the first time last year and came away thoroughly impressed. From the moment our group pulled in, we knew we were in for a very special golf experience. Their expansive clubhouse features 1830s era architecture complemented with a white picket fence, prairie grass, wildflowers, and modern amenities inside. While the outward nine is open, the inward nine features narrow fairways and multiple tree-lined holes. Also of note, the property is devoid of any busy roads or homes, making Prairie View a haven for local wildlife. Golfers will often see native birds such as hawks, red-winged blackbirds, or cardinals among other animals native to the Indiana prairie.
Plum Creek Golf Club, Carmel
The 6,802-yard, par-72 layout features strategically placed bunkers, challenging green complexes, and plenty of Pete Dye trademarks designed to make you think before swinging. In other words, patrons can expect to play a sporty Pete Dye Course that was built for all levels of golfers. Plum Creek’s back nine is a favorite of locals and traveling golfers alike, with a variety of holes that give you the chance to make equal amounts of birdies and bogeys. Plus, their pace of play is generally fast, so two four-hour rounds sets up for a perfect 36-hole day.
Wood Wind Golf Club, Westfield
Wood Wind GC may not be the longest course in Hamilton County, but it’s clearly no pushover. At 6,462-yards from the tips (playing to a par of 71), Wood Wind starts out with a bang. Holes 1 through 5 measure 422, 445, 420, 189, and 455 yards respectively from the back tees. Half of the championship 18 holes are impacted by water and all five par-3s play over 175 yards from the Black Tees. 2022 is sure to be another big year at Wind Wood according to Elliot Egler, PGA Head Golf Professional. “We are excited to unveil two newly redesigned holes, #5 and #17, that are sure to be a hit this season,” began Egler. “We also host numerous golf and non-golf events that are open to the public, and our Social Memberships and Annual Golf Memberships are a great value! We pride ourselves in being our neighborhood golf club,” ended Egler.
River Glen Country Club, Fishers
River Glen’s website says it all on their home page. “At some point, you'll have to stop admiring the scenery and hit the ball.” When you're on the links of River Glen CC, the only thing you feel surrounded by is nature. The par-71, 6,847-yard layout runs alongside the White River and is lined with majestic, old-growth trees and vegetation making the 1990 Gary Kern design an Indiana favorite.
In conclusion, Hamilton County welcomes golfers with a collection of immaculately groomed, eminently affordable courses all within a short drive from the capital city of the Hoosier State. 14 stellar properties equal one bucket-list golf destination and makes the play Hamilton the second-most successful Hamilton in the nation! For more information on Hamilton County and to book your Stay and Play Package, visit IndianasPremierGolf.com.
More Great Courses to Play Just North of Indianapolis
Brookshire Golf Club, Carmel 317.846.7431
Forest Park Golf Course, Noblesville 317.773.2881
Fox Prairie Golf Course, Noblesville 317.776.6357
Gray Eagle Golf Club, Fishers 317.845.2900
Ironwood Golf Club, Fishers 317.776.6357
Pebble Brook Golf Course, Noblesville 317.896.5596
Stonycreek Golf Club, Noblesville 317.773.1820