IU Golf Course | Practice Facility | Directions
The tradition of Indiana's men's golf program has been well-documented and the university's commitment to excellence in the sport is evident by the golf facilities that reside in Bloomington close to the IU campus.
Located just a few minutes from campus, the Indiana University Golf Course offers many amenities for golfers of all kinds. The facility includes an 18-hole championship course, a nine-hole executive course, a large, lighted, driving range and in 2003, a state-of-the-art practice facility was added.
Construction began in 1954 on IU's championship layout and three years later the 6,900 yard, par-71 facility was finished. Dense forest occupies the property, resulting in an 18 hole, tree-lined layout that demands accuracy off the tee. When golfers reach the greens at the championship course they are often faced with difficult putts on the large, severely sloped putting surfaces. The combination of slopes and size gives players plenty of room to work on their short games. Former Indiana men's golf coach Jim Soutar designed the championship course with help from former coordinator of Indiana University's athletic facilities, Paul "Pooch" Harrell.
"When the original members of the Hoosier clan of Fee settled a thousand acres north by east of Bloomington, Ind., they had no idea that 250 of those acres, heavily timbered hills, would one day be the stage for what promises to be one of the most scenic and interesting playing grounds in American golf. On these Injun summer days, this same thick forest, where the hoot owls used to chase the chickens, is now being transformed into the Indiana University's own new golf course."
Reporter, Chicago Tribune
October 31, 1954
Describing the golf course to then IU President Herman B Wells, Harrell claimed "this is a golf course designed for all kinds of golfers-professionals, top-flight amateurs, average amateurs, duffers and hackers-providing they can hit the ball straight."
As if the tight fairways wouldn't make the course tough enough, the IU layout is made even more difficult by the abundance of doglegs over the rolling Monroe County terrain.
The University owned most of the layout since the early 1900s. Harrell estimated that the total cost of the golf course, excluding the clubhouse, was about $175,000. The amount was actually a fraction of what it cost to build a championship-caliber golf course back in the 1950's. One reason for the low cost is that little had to be done to make the golf course, as far as building hills, planting trees and moving dirt is concerned. Not one cent of tax money was used to build the course.
All expenses to build the golf course were financed solely through student fees.
Each day during construction, Harrell, a former quaterback and third baseman at Indiana, climbed aboard a bulldozer complete with root rakes, which yanked up the stumps of the trees after they had been leveled with chainsaws.
Knowing that the heat and humidity of Indiana summers would be common, fairway and green watering systems were installed during construction. The source for the irrigation system was a newly installed municipal reservoir, which is now known as Lake Griffy. Laced into the clay and sand surface was blue grass and fescue for the fairways, while the greens were seeded with C-1 bent grass.
"We have a very good golf course that demands a lot off the tee and course management. The greens are very sloped, usually back-to-front, and you have to make sure the ball is on the correct side of the hole. The trees make the fairways pretty tight, but certainly reward the good shots."
Mike Mayer, Head Coach
Former Indiana golf coach Owen "Chili" Cochrane and Soutar would often stroll back into the woods of the old Fee farm daily, while Soutar began to lay out the course in his mind and on paper. Soutar would then relay his ideas to IU's draftsmen, who were in charge of providing the actual prints of the layout. It was during one of these long hikes back into the woods one day that the pair became lost in the dense forest, and could not retrace their steps for hours.
Some of Indiana's natural wildlife is often found roaming the fairways near dawn and dusk. The most popular visitor to the course is deer, but wild turkeys, coyotes, fox and hawks have also been spotted on the 250-acre layout.
The front nine holes demand very accurate tee shots and precise iron shots. The par-36 frontside is evened out with two very good-sized par-fives and two lengthy par-threes.
The first hole, which was originally the 18th hole, is a beautiful dogleg-left par-five to an elevated green. The second and third holes are relatively the same, as both are tree-lined on both sides and the golfer's second shot is downhill to large greens.
The fourth hole is a very testy par-three, that although the golfer tees from an elevated box, the hole can measure up to 225 yards in length. The golfer is tested once again on the par-three seventh, as a smaller green is nestled amongst the woods.
By far the toughest stretch on the golf course is holes 9-12. Hole nine is a par five that doglegs to the left, which demands a fairly straight drive off the tee. Once at the turn, the golfer is rewarded with one the most beautiful sights on the course, which is the view of the ninth green. Surrounded by large pine trees, the second shot into nine can be as rewarding as it is breathtaking.
The 10th hole is a tight tee shot into a valley, which leaves you with a very uphill second shot. The large green, which slopes severely back-to-front, can contribute to a bad start on the back-nine, if the ball is not left below the hole.
On the tee at 11, the golfer faces another scenic shot as the dogleg-right par-four extends along the tree line back into the woods, leaving the golfer with a decisive tee shot. Trees along the right side of the hole will prohibit any one from entering the green from that angle.
The final hole in this tough stretch is No. 12. This hole tees from out of the woods to an uphill fairway. Marked off as 430-yard par-four for the men, the women actually play to a 381-yard par-five. For their second shots, both men and women face another uphill shot, which leads into one of the smaller greens on the golf course.
Upon concluding the tough stretch of holes 9-12, the golfer will find a little more room for error as they turn for the clubhouse. The 18th hole on the championship course is a straight away par-four with a view of the clubhouse in the background. Once the golfer has reached the green, he will find a very tricky green with numerous slopes and breaks to judge. The ball must stay below the hole in order to prevent the golfer from ending with a big number on the scorecard.
The IU championship course plays host to Indiana Section PGA events as well as numerous collegiate tournaments. The course has also hosted a total of eight Big Ten Championships, which include six for the men (1961, 1968, 1969, 1975, 1984, 1993) and two for the women (1985, 1996).
The Hoosiers hosted their first Big Ten Championships in 1961, which was won by the Ohio State men's team. Medalist honors went to the Buckeyes' leader, famed golf legend Jack Nicklaus.
"Hosting these two tournaments is nothing but a benefit to this team. It's always an advantage to play your own course and the Northern field is going to be packed with Big Ten teams, including the defending National Champions Minnesota. We feel that this golf course is going to be a challenge for all the teams and I can't wait to host these tournaments."
Mike Mayer, Head Coach, on this year's upcoming Northern Intercollegiate and Big Ten Championships that are hosted by Indiana.
Indiana's men's team will once again serve as host for the 2002 Northern Intercollegiate and the 2003 Big Ten Championships this upcoming season.
From Jim Soutar and "Pooch" Harrell to the current coaching and golf course staff, the Indiana University Golf Course has been maintained at a championship caliber for over 45 years. The playing ability of the golfers that play IU is as wide as the fairways are narrow. This golf course rewards the managing golfer, but can easily punish the golfer that cannot find the fairway. Indiana University is home to truly a championship golf course.
The IU Golf Course is located on the Ind. 45/46 Bypass (See the Interactive Campus Map).