News From Terre Haute, Indiana

July 7, 2007

On and Off the Course: A devilishly good course In Indiana

By Jennifer Myers

I can honestly say now that I’ve been to Purgatory and back, and it wasn’t as bad as, well, you know, that other place. In case you’re wondering, the Purgatory I’m referring to is the golf course of that name in Noblesville.

Purgatory is one of the most honored golf courses in Indiana. Not only has it been named the one of Golf Digest Magazine’s 100 Greatest Public Courses, it has also been named by Golf For Women Magazine as one of the Top 50 Courses for Women in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, and still hanging in there in 2007 as 46th on the list. Golf For Women also ranks it as the Best Value under the category of “Best of the Best”, because it costs only $60 with a cart. Golf Week Magazine has ranked it No. 1 in the state, and Great Lakes Golf Magazine has it on its list of Top 25 courses in the Midwest.

What can be so great about a course with such an intimidating name? Well, first of all, at its full length of 7,700 yards, it’s the longest course in Indiana, but with seven sets of tees it can also play only 4,400 yards, one of the shortest courses in the state. It used to be the longest course east of the Mississippi, but has since been beaten out by a couple of courses on the Robert Trent Jones Trail in Alabama.

So why did someone decide to name such a heavenly golf course “Purgatory”? According to their Web site, “Purgatory was referred to as ‘sweet misery’ in medieval poetry. Golfing often feels like that; acts of difficulty while obtaining something wonderful.” They decided to name the course Purgatory because it is a place for golfers to test their limits. In religious mythology, Purgatory is the place where souls pay for their earthly mistakes so they can gain entry into heaven. That’s why the logo on all the flagsticks has a golf ball sitting atop a tee that is a trident with a halo floating over it.

Purgatory has over 125 bunkers, filled with crushed limestone as sand. Most of the bunkers are outside the most rewarding route to the green, so only penalize an errant or poor shot. One green though, No. 17, with its name “Hell’s Half Acre” is surrounded by two acres of bunkers! The green is like an island at a beach. Most of the bunkers there are just for show though, and wouldn’t even come into play unless you merely topped your ball off the tee. It makes for an interesting picture though when seen overhead! (If you have access to, it’s worth checking out Purgatory.)

There are very few trees at Purgatory, making for little shade, which I guess is only fitting. The fourth hole and the 10th are the only two holes that trees actually come into play. There are other hazards besides sand though. Dividing most fairways are mounds covered with tall prairie grasses and high fescue.

Thick, lush green grass close to the greens and fairways makes touch shots around the green very difficult. I really liked the greens once I got on them. They were fast but read very true, so it was easy to get the ball to the hole without having to give it a mighty whack with the putter, which makes it easier to pull or push a putt offline. If at all possible you want to give yourself an uphill putt, because face it, once you’re in Purgatory you don’t want to go downhill from there!

The clubhouse has an Indiana feel. Rather than a large mansion type of place, the clubhouse is a very large log cabin. It has banquet rooms, the pro shop and a restaurant and bar. The locker rooms are probably the nicest I’ve ever been in at a public course. They have showers and televisions, and even reading material in some of the stalls! Not only that, there are three bathrooms out on the golf course so you will never go more than four holes without passing one. Maybe that’s why Golf For Women keeps ranking it as one of the top 50 courses for women!

Another unique feature of Purgatory is that it is built on 218 acres, unlike most courses, which are built on about 150. This makes the distance between fairways almost twice what you will find at other courses. Perhaps that’s why one of their sayings is, “There’s room for everybody at Purgatory!”

For tee times and more information contact Purgatory Golf Club at (317) 776-4653, or visit their web site at .

Next week, Purgatory will host the Indiana Open and the course is in great shape. It will be interesting to see the scores from that event. They will be playing the course from about 7,600 yards, which is using the “Purgatory” tees (red) with some of the black tees. The course rating from the blacks is 76.1 and from the red it is 78.1, with a slope of 142. I’m sure those players will feel some of the torment that Purgatory offers!

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Quote of the Day: “It’s a Slice of Heaven, despite its name.” — Golf Digest, when describing Purgatory Golf Club.

Tribune-Star golf columnist Jennifer Myers can be reached by e-mail at

Vigo County Golf Leagues

T. H. Elks Ladies 9-hole — Low gross: Mary Shake. Low net: Shake. Low putts: Helen Atkins. Play of day: Lucille Merrill. Chip-in: Merrill, Effie Giffel.

Rea Park Women’s Tuesday — Low gross: Stephanie Meyer 75. Low net: Meyer 63. Birdies: Meyer (2, 16), Chip-ins: Sandy Stabler (1), Beth Lowe (10), Chris Barberry (14), Terry Mahalek (16). Play of the day: Linda Pair.

Mark’s Par Three Senior Men — Low gross: Ken Coffin, Don Bowdon 36. Low net: Coffin, Paul Nash 28. Closest to pin: Coffin (12). Longest drive: Ed Bard (13). Longest putt: Don McVeigh (17). Standings: Mattingly Collision 157, Dew Drop Inn 144, Vigo Bowl 139, Midwest Gas 137, Fuson Cadillac 128, Tabco 126, Old National Trust 120, Don Wills Cash Register 105.

Rea Park First Financial Bank Ladies 9-hole — Standings: Shepard’s Gas 397, VFW No. 1 34, VFW No. 2 313, Elliott’s Jewelers 306, Bratt Animal Hospital 302, Tabco 278. Low gross: Gard 46. Low net: Gard, Hoy 35. Play of the day: Mowbray, Anderson, Garrison, P.Miller. Chip-in: Montgomery (15), Gard (17), Miller (17), Wardell (16).