While Indianapolis may be Indiana’s capital city and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway proclaims to be the World Center of Racing, Indiana’s Hamilton County can tout itself as Indiana’s best place to live, have fun, and play golf. Located just north of Indianapolis, Hamilton County is an attractive location to call home. In fact, in 2022 Hamilton County was named the 4th Best County to Live in America by Niche
Going even further back, CNN Money declared two Hamilton County cities – Carmel in 2013 and Fishers in 2017 – as the top and best places to live, respectively. Frankly, if a vote was conducted on Hamilton County’s appeal as a golf destination, it would win in a landslide and would earn the title of “Indiana’s Golf Capital.”
“Beautifully manicured, affordable and golf-traveler friendly, our courses are located within minutes of each other, making your next golf trip easy and jam packed with great golf,” said Ashley Ledford of Visit Hamilton County, whose marketing slogan is “Just North of Indy.” “When you're ready to plan your Indiana golf getaway, our golf courses can help you build a weekend or week of golf at some of Hamilton County's premier clubs. A few courses are located close enough to each other to play 36 holes in one day and first-class hotels are also located near the courses,” concluded Ledford.
When you consider the number of world-class caliber golf courses in Hamilton County, it’s easy to understand why other Indiana counties are forever envious. In fact, there are very few counties, if any, in the U.S. that have this many top-notch, accessible golf layouts as Hamilton County.
To begin with, Carmel is the home of three first-class, public golf courses: Plum Creek, Prairie View, and Brookshire.
The Plum Creek Golf Club at Lynnwood Farm is a “peach” of a golfing destination. After playing this course, it may well be the “apple” of your eye. Seriously! Designed by legendary golf course architect and longtime Indiana resident Pete Dye, he had every reason to be as proud of what he designed at Plum Creek as he is about any other golf course that he designed in Indiana, of which there were many. Plum Creek is a proven championship venue whose setup makes it as attractive to a professional player as it is to a high handicapper. The presence of the Lynnwood Farm barn at Plum Creek – to the left of the 16th hole – is a reminder of this property’s agricultural roots, a staple of the Hoosier economy and Indiana’s way of life.
The Prairie View Golf Club is one of Robert Trent Jones, Jr.’s finest creations. Not surprisingly, this venue is now the annual home of the Indiana High School Athletic Association’s boys and girls high school state finals golf tournament. At Prairie View, the fairways are very well maintained, the rough is playable, not penal, the greens are in terrific shape, and water impacts play on just five holes. For golfers looking to improve any aspect of their game, they will be delighted to know that the Prairie View GC is also the home of the Golf School of Indiana. There is also a strong caddie program at Prairie View Golf Club, which is affiliated with the Evans Scholars Foundation.
The first tee at the Brookshire Golf Club is labeled as the beginning of an exciting golf experience. Owned and operated by the City of Carmel, this 18-hole design is a classic Midwest creation that features gently rolling terrain and stately, mature trees. The picturesque Cool Creek has a presence on most of the golf course. Brookshire was built in 1970 by Carmel resident and golf course architect William Diddel.
Next, Noblesville is the home of a trio of three public-access golf courses that are the envy of any municipality: Purgatory, Forest Park, and Fox Prairie.
More than 218 acres of land were used to build the Purgatory Golf Club in Noblesville which features more than 130 bunkers. Every hole at Purgatory has a name. Some of the more intriguing monikers are Stains of the Inferno (2nd hole), River of Flames (7th hole), The Valley of the Kings (12th hole), Sweet Misery (14th hole) and The Gryphon (18th hole). The most pronounced bunkering occurs on the 17th hole, which is Purgatory’s signature hole. The 17th – named Hell’s Half Acre – is a par three with an island green, which is surrounded by two acres of sand. Purgatory, an inland, links-style course which uses prairie-like grass for its rough, has earned strong words of praise as it has been rated the top golf course in Indiana, appears on a list of the top 50 golf courses in the U.S. for women, and has been ranked as one of the top 100 public golf courses in the U.S. Your Hoosier golf experience is incomplete until you play Purgatory.
Built in 1927, Forest Park Golf Course in Noblesville is the oldest course in Hamilton County. This nine-hole course has small postage-stamp greens, contour-enhanced greens, well-manicured fairways, and several elevated tees and greens. Notably absent from the course are water hazards – a feature appealing to all golfers.
Fox Prairie Golf Club is a 27-hole municipal golf course owned by the City of Noblesville. Featuring three nines – the Central, the East and the West, this course stands apart from the competition because of its brilliant greens. The course has also gone through a bunker renovation that really adds to the overall playability and ambiance. According to Fox Prairie’s Director of Golf Gary Deakyne, visiting golfers walk away impressed with the condition of this municipal golf course, which opened in 1970.
Other great public-access golf courses in Hamilton County, which deserve special recognition, can be found in Indianapolis, Cicero, Westfield, and Fishers.
When you visit Fort Harrison State Park in Indianapolis, you’ll find the Fort Golf Course, which is widely considered to be one of the finest public golf courses in Indiana. The Pete Dye/Tim Liddy design opened to the public in 1997 and has been a perennial Top-10 Hoosier track since. The Fort is one of the seven golf courses on Indiana’s Pete Dye Golf Trail, and is blessed with unique terrain that includes a large gully that runs throughout the 238-acre tract. When in Hamilton County, make sure your trip includes a round at one of our favorite courses in the entire Midwest!
Five years ago, Golf Advisor listed the Bear Slide Golf Club, located in Cicero, as the 14th best golf course not in Indiana, but in the entire country. The quality and quantity of the testimonials that are generated by this golf course will leave you impressed and ready to book a tee time. “This course never disappoints” is one of the best endorsements of this destination. Make plans to play this golf course sooner than later. And, then you will want to play it again.
Wood Wind Golf Club, located in Westfield, is a well-maintained golf course with a fully-stocked pro shop and a courteous staff. Within the last year, one past customer remarked that playing golf at Wood Wind “felt like I was at Augusta National!” Two of the most exciting shots at Wood Wind are the tee shot on the par-three 14th hole and the approach shot to the green on the par-four 15th hole. Both shots must be struck over water that guards the entrance to the green.
The Ironwood Golf Club is a 27-hole golf course in Fishers. The three nine-hole layouts are The Valley, The Lakes, and The Ridge. If you are looking to test your skill level in golf, check out Ironwood, which has a slope rating of 143. The most difficult hole to par is the 6th on The Lakes. During the summer, this is an attractive destination for a men’s league as it attracts more than 100 teams.
If you don’t have time for 18 holes or you run out of daylight and you want to play more golf, the Topgolf outlet in Fishers is a great destination to consider. Here, you can challenge your friends and family to point-scoring golf games that anybody can play year-round. Also, the microchipped golf balls help you calculate the distance of your shots. And, the items on Topgolf’s extensive food and beverage menu will tantalize your taste buds and quench your thirst.
In conclusion, a great place to live is made even greater thanks to a litany of top-ranked public courses that reside in Hamilton County.