News From Terre Haute, Indiana

September 24, 2010

On and Off the Course: Purdue's Kampen Course a gem in Indiana's rough

Jennifer Myers
Tribune-Star Correspondent

WEST LAFAYETTE — About a month ago, Indiana was still heavily mired in heat and humidity, making outdoor activities such as golf less appealing than usual. At that time it felt like the repressive heat would never go away, it would never rain again, and all of the grass was just going to continue to wither and die. And the month prior to that we kept getting rained out of golf events!

This summer, many of the golf courses in the Wabash Valley had a hard time with maintenance because we had a July with more rain than usual, and August with less than usual. Rainfall amounts in July were over 7 inches, and the typical July might have 5 inches of rain. August normally has 31⁄2 inches of rain, but this year Bradly Pugh, the greens superintendent at the Country Club of Terre Haute, measured a mere 6⁄10-inch of rain for the whole month of August.

All of the local courses took a beating, especially in August. They had irrigation, but too much irrigation without rainfall brings its own problems; retention ponds in this area tend have a high salt content (bicarbonate salt), and city water has chemicals in it that are intended for human consumption. In an ideal situation, golf course superintendents have chemicals they can put down to battle some of these problems, but limited budgets and such a high level of need helped Mother Nature to win the battle of the greens and fairways. The Wabash Valley area had 37 days of temperatures above 90 degrees from the middle of June through the end of August, and I recall quite a few of those with heat indexes above 100.

After playing so much golf on distressed courses, it was such a nice change when I went to West Lafayette on Labor Day to play Kampen Golf Course with my husband, my son and my brother. It was my first time to play it, and since I had heard so much about it I was really looking forward to it. The first thing we all noticed was the abundance of green grass.

Kampen was in great shape, and it was a beautiful fall day, with a strong wind, so the links course really played as it was intended. You really had to think about your club selection, depending on if you had the wind at your back or if you were hitting into it. Andy said it was almost like when he played in Scotland, except that it was only a two-club wind that day. (Only a golfer would understand what a “two-club wind” is).

For those of you who are not golfers, it means that if you would normally hit an 8-iron a certain distance, that wind in your face means you’d better hit a 6-iron or you’re going to come up short!)  It was a fun day, and we all agreed that Kampen was one of the best courses we’d ever played.

Kampen is a Pete Dye course, built in 1996 with the collaboration of Mr. Dye, Superintendent Jim Scott and 32 Purdue students. The departments of Forestry, Entomology, Water Quality Testing, Agronomy and others all were involved in its construction. One of the benchmark features of the course design is the water reclamation process in which all of the water used on the course is recycled.

The course has five sets of tees, ranging in total distance from 7,465 yards to 5,260 yards. The black tees have a slope of 143, which is where the NCAA Men’s Championship in 2008 would have been played from. The blue tees are 6,874 yards with a slop of 139, the whites 6,411 yards with a slop of 135, and the golds 6,067 with a slope rating of 131. The most forward tees, silver, are at 5,260 yards with a rating of 121, making Kampen playable for wimps like me! Kampen is rated one of the top collegiate courses in the nation and Golf Digest rates it 4.5 stars on its’ “Places to Play” list.

Besides Kampen, Purdue also has another course called Ackerman Hills, which is also a fun course to play, though not of the caliber of Kampen. The rates for Kampen normally are $70 with a cart. Ackerman Hills is $39 with a cart Monday-Thursday and $44 Friday-Sunday. Or you can play unlimited golf on either or both courses with a cart for $99. However, due to aerification coming up, the rates on these courses will go down this fall. Ackerman Hills will be $25 Monday-Thursday with cart, and $30 Friday-Sunday beginning on Sept. 20 when they aerify the greens. Kampen will be $50 every day with a cart beginning on Oct. 11, when those greens will be aerified.

We have still have some beautiful fall days left to play golf, so get out and enjoy them while you can!

• Quote of the Day —“They say golf is like life, but don’t believe them. Golf is more complicated than that.” — Gardner Dickinson

• Upcoming Events — Tee It Up/ ISU Women’s Golf Junior Clinics will be staged at Hulman Links Golf Course from 2 to 3 p.m. on Sept. 4, 18 and 25 and Oct. 2, 9 and 16. Chipping, putting etiquette, course management and much more will be covered. The event is free. Call (702) 250-0426 for more information.