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."