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On & Off the Course

July 1, 2012

ON AND OFF THE COURSE: Indiana's Pete Dye courses worth the drive

TERRE HAUTE — You’ve probably heard of the Robert Trent Jones Golf trail throughout Alabama, but you might not be aware that Indiana has its own “Pete Dye Golf Trail” comprised of seven courses.

Indiana lays claim to having more Pete Dye-designed courses than any place in the world, so the trail was established in 2011 to honor the renowned golf course architect and establish a collection of courses offering challenging golf and unique destinations. Listed from north to south the courses are Mystic Hills in Culver; Kampen at Purdue; Plum Creek in Carmel; The Fort, Maple Creek and Brickyard Crossing in Indianapolis; and The Pete Dye Course in French Lick.

Until two weeks ago, I had played three of the courses on the trail: The Fort, the Kampen Course and Brickyard Crossing. Recently I got the opportunity to play another course on the Pete Dye Trail, Plum Creek.

Kampen is one of the best courses I’ve played, and The Fort was beautiful with a great layout, so I had high expectations for Plum Creek. It was very challenging, with a variety of terrain and flora but not a lot of trees. It was quite windy that day too. This par-72 course features many strategically placed sand bunkers, plenty of water hazards mixed in, and large undulating greens. The championship tees play at 6,802 yards, with a rating of 72.6 and a slope of 133. What are called the “member” tees play from 6,215 yards, with a slope of 129.

You’ll go under the road after the first hole to get to holes two through eight. Hole No. 4 is an interesting dilemma from the start, as you have two fairways to choose from. It’s a par 4, so you’ll have to cross a creek to get to either the green or the fairway on the left at some point.    

On the back nine, there are a number of holes with water on them, many of them doglegs. No. 15 is a nice wide fairway if you stay to the left, but we had a strong crosswind and three out of four of us in my group found the water hazard on the right. We let a group of men play through on that hole, and one of them accidentally played our one ball that was in the fairway.

Later, after the round, he approached my friend to replace her ball. When she told him, “Oh, that’s not my ball,” he said, “Your ball is in the bottom of the lake.” She had been playing a Lady Precept, so I asked him if his friends had teased him about playing that ball. He admitted, “I didn’t tell them.” My guess is that he intentionally hit his tee shot into the lake on No. 16, before anyone discovered his error.

Plum Creek is semi-private, meaning that members get the most popular tee times — like weekend mornings — but plenty of non-member tee times are available. Rates, including cart, are $59 for 18 holes Monday through Thursday and $69 Friday through Sunday and holidays.       

Pete Dye made a good course when he designed Plum Creek, and I’m glad I got a chance to play it. Next up on the trail, The Pete Dye Course at French Lick. I might not get to play it, but I’ll at least get to watch my son, Phillip, play it in the Indiana Open.

For more information visit the Pete Dye Golf Trail website, at petedyegolftrail.com .

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