Fairways to Heaven
Pete Dye, known as the father of modern golf course design, has built legendary links around the world. A new trail features the Indy resident's seven favorites in the Hoosier state.
Indiana is proud home to more Pete Dye designed golf courses than any other state. You could assume that this is the case simply because Pete Dye — one of only five golf course architects admitted to the World Golf Hall of Fame — lives a few miles up the road from Indianapolis. But that's not why.
Of the 100 or so courses he's designed over his 50-year career, more than 20 are in Indiana, and he says it's because of the land. "The rich soil and rolling topography are two key reasons why I have built so many courses within the state," the 86-year-old designer explained at the dedication of the Pete Dye Trail, a hand-selected sampling of Dye's favorite public courses around the urban area. The seven courses trace the development of Dye's design style and can be previewed on www.etedyegolftrail.com, where the greens guru offers video commentary about his selections. Each one, in its own way, displays his trademarks: deep pot bunkers, small tricky greens and high walkability.
1 Mystic Hills, www.mystichills.com
Culver, IN (117 miles from Indianapolis)
Starting from the north, you'll find Mystic Hills Golf Club in Culver. This is a family-owned, rural course with rolling fairways that offer views of wetlands and lush woods. The owner's son, Dave Pugh, is the pro and says that the course is ideal for long hitters like John Daly. Dye likes Mystic Hills because the topography changes from the front nine to the back nine, creating deceptively undulating greens. One nine is links style; the other has a more traditional layout.
Cost: $45 with cart.
2 Kampen Course, www.purduegolf.com
West Lafayette Lafayette, IN (71 miles from Indianapolis)
At Purdue University's Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex, you'll find the Kampen Course, one of the nation's top collegiate golf courses. Kampen is difficult with vast bunkers (lined with Dye's trademark railroad ties), native grasslands, ponds and a natural celery bog. Head pro Daniel Ross says, "Pete is a master of showing you where you should hit the ball and then tempting you to hit it somewhere else."
Cost: $75 with a cart.
3 Plum Creek, www.plumcreekcc.com
Carmel, IN (33 miles from Indianapolis)
Not too far from the private Crooked Stick course where Dye resides, you'll find Plum Creek Golf Club, a semi-private club. Director of Golf John Pielemeier says Plum Creek shows Dye's delight in changing landscapes. Every hole is different — Dye decorated the course with lots of water and tall grasses and honored his reputation with what the pro calls "sporty" bunkering.
Cost: $69 with a cart.
4 The Fort, www.thefortgolfcourse.com
On the northeast side of Indianapolis, The Fort Golf Resort shows why Dye delights in Indiana's terrain. Unlike many Hoosier courses built on farmland, The Fort was carved out of woods belonging to a former military base and was praised as the "best new affordable public course" by Golf Digest in 1998. Interim Head Pro Gordon Barnes says Dye gave the course blind shots and deceptive greens that make playing The Fort a great experience.
Cost: $69 with a cart.
5 Maple Creek, www.maplecreekgc.com
On Indy's southeast side, golf historians celebrate the Maple Creek Golf and Country Club, which holds the distinction of being Pete Dye's first 18-hole course, having opened in 1961. You'll recognize Dye's small, deceptive greens, his creative use of water (the first green has what amounts to a moat in front of it), and his emphasis on accuracy and good judgment.
Cost: $49 with a cart.
6 Brickyard Crossing, www.brickyardcrossing.com
Rated by Golf Digest as one of "America's top 100 public courses," it's no wonder that the PGA's Chad Collins can often be found practicing here. No other course offers the same special feature as the Brickyard Crossing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, just west of downtown Indianapolis. Four of the 18 holes are inside the famous 2.5-mile racing oval. Pro Jeffrey Williams explains, "it's a completely unique property" — you'll find Dye's characteristic railroad ties at the bunkers, but at this course, Dye lined lake and stream banks with concrete walls that used to surround the racetrack.
Cost: $90 with cart.
7 French Lick, www.frenchlick.com
French Lick, IN (111 miles from Indianapolis)
The last stop on the trail, the southernmost course, is the one that Dye calls his ultimate. The Pete Dye Golf Course at French Lick was built on a series of hills high above the wooded Indiana countryside — when he first saw the area, Dye said it couldn't be done. But, after moving more than 2 million cubic yards of dirt and creating spectacular, 40-mile views of the Hoosier National Forest, it became what Golf Digest called "the best new course of the year" in 2009. Part of the French Lick Springs Resort, the course is open to guests only.
Cost: $350 plus caddy fee or as part of a weekend package.