State offers unique opportunities for golf enthusiasts
By Glenda Winders // Photography submitted
For many golf devotees, playing a round involves simply throwing clubs in the trunk, driving straight to a nearby course, perhaps getting a few warm-up putts in, and then heading home directly after finishing up. But who says you can’t build a more well-rounded experience around your course time — even an out-of-town journey including some nice dining, sightseeing and lodging accommodations? Get ready to go clubbin’ in style with the following options.
As Indiana has more Pete Dye-designed courses than anywhere else in the world, it’s only natural that there would be a trail challenge showcasing seven courses that comprise part of his vast legacy. Perhaps golf’s most well-known course designer and architect, Dye began designing courses back in the early 1960s, and went on to design and co-design more than 100 courses around the U.S. and other countries.
The Pete Dye Golf Trail Challenge, which is supported by the Indiana Destination Development Corporation (IDDC), will take you to courses throughout Indy, West Lafayette, Monticello and French Lick. The official website includes a “Plan A Getaway” tab where you can explore lodging options in each course area.
“The nice thing about this collection of courses is that it’ll take you around the state about as much as we can,” says Noelle Szydlyk, director of sports tourism and events at the IDDC. “Six of the seven are public courses, allowing players much more flexibility on booking their tee times, and then booking their own lodgings and whatever else they might want to do around the area. This is a great opportunity to get maybe a three-day trip in, and experience three courses in the process.”
Simply sign up online to receive your free pass via text (there are no apps to download), and complete the challenge at your own pace — after which you get a Pete Dye Golf Trail pin flag to commemorate the experience.
“There’s not a deadline on it,” Szydlyk says. “We’ve had folks take two or three years and complete it at their leisure. The other cool thing is that these courses were selected many years ago by Pete Dye and his wife, Alice. So they had a hand in choosing special courses for people to experience — sort of a bucket list of courses, so to speak.”
For more info, visit petedyegolftrail.com.
True fairway fiends can get all the action they can handle through Great Indiana Golf Trail packages. These include the Fall Color Special, offered from September 6 until the end of the 2022 season and including two days of unlimited golf and a room for one night.
Featured courses include a classic 18-hole layout at Cobblestone Golf Course, and Noble Hawk Golf Links, both in Kendallville, as well as Bridgewater Golf Club in Auburn, Cherry Hill Golf Club in Fort Wayne, Stonehenge in Winona Lake, and others (a few of the featured courses are up in southern Michigan if you feel like venturing out of state, but there are plenty of options within two to two and a half hours of the Johnson County area).
“We’ve been doing this program since 2000, and it’s grown and grown because we have really good golf courses around here and competitive pricing,” says Tim Dykstra, owner and general manager at Noble Hawk. “Our courses at Noble Hawk and Cobblestone complement each other well because they’re very different in design and atmosphere. This is a destination and people can plan a golf vacation, anywhere from foursomes to groups of 40 to 60 that will come for three or four days. They may play several of the courses during that time, at 27 to 36 holes a day.”
For more on Great Indiana Golf package options, visit greatindianagolf.com.
If you’ve never tested your skills on any courses down in the French Lick area, now’s your chance to try the Southern Indiana Golf Sampler. Three of the state’s top public courses are yours for the conquering, along with a two-night stay at your choice of three hotels (double occupancy at the French Lick Springs Hotel, the Valley Tower or the West Baden Springs Hotel). This package includes rounds at the Donald Ross and Pete Dye courses in French Lick, a round at Sultan’s Run Golf Club in Jasper, and nine holes at French Lick’s Valley Links Course. Cart rental is included.
If time allows, don’t forget to experience other local attractions like the French Lick West Baden Museum, the French Lick Winery or the casino.
“We also have our Ultimate Classic Golf Experience, which includes play on the Donald Ross Course, built in 1917, and then the Valley Links, which was built in 1907,” says Dave Harner, director of golf operations at the French Lick Resort. “So you’re talking 100-plus years of golf history there. Then we have the Hall of Fame Package, and that includes all three courses.”
Those interested in taking a trip and getting some pro guidance to take their game to the next level while they’re at it can sign up for the French Lick Game Changer Golf Academy, which includes a three-night stay at one of the resort hotels. You’ll get daily instruction sessions on all facets of the game and afternoon guidance out on a course — instructors even video each participant’s swing for a full frame-by-frame analysis.
“The courses are great, but I think what’s unique here is that we have so much else besides the courses,” Harner adds. “And when you consider that we have the Donald Ross course and the Pete Dye course that opened in 2009, we have the best of the old and the best of the new. Both of those men are in the World Golf Hall of Fame, and as of right now there are no other properties in the world that have two Hall of Fame architects on the same property.”
For additional info on package deals in the French Lick area, go to frenchlick.com/golf/packages.
Check out more stay-and-play golf options around the state at indianagolf.com/stayandplay.