Pete Dye and Mini Golf: A Match Made in Herron

You don’t usually associate Hall of Fame golf course designer Pete Dye with miniature golf – although some of his designs have been referred to (charitably) as “tricky.”  But that all changes on June 7 when Dye and his wife/design partner, Alice, will be honorary co-chairs for the Herron Open: Mini Golf Mega Art event on the campus of IUPUI.  From 6-9p.m. that night, Eskenazi Hall will be transformed into a unique nine-hole miniature golf course with each hole designed by current and former students of the Herron School of Art and Design.  Tickets for this fundraising golf outing range from $35-$125.  A VIP reception will be held from 5-6p.m. where you will have the opportunity to meet Pete and Alice Dye.

Alice and Pete Dye

In addition to golf, the evening will include food, drinks, music, and an “art-meets-golf” silent auction.  Ticket and sponsorship information is available at the Herron Open website.

Kristi O’Brien Looks for Her ‘Big Break’

Kristi O’Brien (Photo:

Kristi O’Brien, a professional golfer from Fishers, Indiana, will be one of the contestants on the upcoming season of Golf Channel’s “Big Break Florida”, premiering Monday, February 24.  Originally from Ft. Wayne, O’Brien turned pro just over a year ago after graduating from IUPUI in December 2012.  Highlights from her stellar career as a Jaguar include five collegiate victories, the school’s lowest career scoring average, and the 2011 Indiana State Player of the Year.  She was also the 2011 Indiana Women’s Amateur Champion as well as a two-time winner of the Ft. Wayne City Amateur.  By advancing to the second stage of the LPGA Q-school, Kristi qualified to play the 2014 season of the Symetra Tour, the developmental tour of the LPGA.

You can meet Kristi in person Monday, March 3 from 7-10pm at Golf365, 9625 E. 150th St., Noblesville.  You’ll have the chance to play golf with Kristi while watching the second episode of “Big Break Florida.”

Follow Kristi on Facebook, Twitter, and on her website at

Professional Golf Close to Home: An Update

In a blog post from last October - “Professional Golf Close to Home” - we reviewed the wealth of professional golf action that had been in and around Indiana in the previous 13 months, including the 2012 BMW Championship at Crooked Stick in Carmel and the 2012 Ryder Cup in suburban Chicago.  At the end of that column, we speculated that there wouldn’t be much to look forward to within an easy drive from Indy in 2014.  Boy, were we wrong!

2013 Memorial winner Matt Kuchar.

In fact, encompassing a 250-mile radius of Indianapolis, there will be plenty to see this year from the PGA Tour, the Tour, the PGA of America, and even one of golf’s Majors.  Let’s take them in chronological order.  The Memorial Tournament returns to it’s annual home at Jack Nicklaus’s Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, OH, May 29-June 1.  A little more than a month later, the PGA Tour returns to the Midwest for the John Deere Classic at the TPC Deere Run in Silvis, IL, July 10-13.  Then from July 31-August 3 it’s back to Ohio and Firestone CC in Akron for the Bridgestone Invitational, one of the World Golf Championships events.


The final major of the year, the PGA Championship, returns to Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, KY August 7-10.  Valhalla was the site of two previous PGA Championships; 1996 (Mark Brooks) and 2000 (Tiger Woods).  It also hosted the 2008 Ryder Cup (won by the U.S.) and the 2004 and 2011 Senior PGA Championships (Hale Irwin and Tom Watson, respectively).


Tom Watson at the 2011 Senior PGA at Valhalla.

The Tour makes its two regular stops in Indiana in 2014.  First, the United Leasing Championship returns to Victoria National Golf Club in Newburgh, IN, June 26-29.  Then to Ft. Wayne, where former Masters champion Trevor Immelman will defend his title at the Hotel Fitness Championship, August 28-31 at Sycamore Hills CC.

Carmel Library Golf Sculpture For Sale

“It’s Only a Game” by sculptor Bill Bond.

One of the more unique pieces of golf art in the Midwest sits outside the Carmel Clay Public Library in Carmel, IN.  Created by sculptor Bill Bond and standing more than seven feet tall, “It’s Only a Game” features three golfers – two men and a woman – in turn of the century clothing.  Bond used his knowledge of golf, as well as his whimsical humor, as motivation for the imposing bronze sculpture.  Unfortunately, Bond recently learned he has terminal cancer and has asked Sculptureworks, a Texas-based art dealership, to find a buyer for his final casting of “It’s Only a Game.”

To facilitate the artist’s request, Sculptureworks has reduced the price of the piece from $125,000 to $85,000.  If you’d like to purchase “It’s Only a Game” for your home, business, golf course, library, or other location, contact Sculptureworks at 817-692-1247.  At the time of purchase, Sculptureworks will work with the buyer regarding placement and provide delivery and installation services.  In the meantime, you can view “It’s Only a Game” at the Carmel Clay Public Library, 55 4th Ave. SE, Carmel, IN.

Sculptureworks: PO Box 54702 – Hurst, TX – 76054 –

Professional Golf Close to Home

Rory McIlroy (left) and Tiger Woods played the first two rounds together at the 2012 BMW Championship at Crooked Stick.

Over the past 13 months, Indianapolis golf fans have had numerous opportunities to see the best golfers in the world without having to use much more than a tank of gas to get there.  Since September, 2012, Indiana and the surrounding states will have hosted six PGA Tour and PGA of America events.  Throw in two tournaments from the Tour held in Indiana (The United Leasing Championship at Victoria National GC in Newburgh and the Hotel Fitness Championship at Sycamore Hills in Ft. Wayne) and that’s a lot of professional golf virtually in our backyard.

The run started with the BMW Championship at Crooked Stick in September, 2012.  The BMW marked the first return of men’s professional golf to the state since the 1991 PGA Championship, also held at Crooked Stick.  Fresh from his victory at the PGA Championship just a few weeks before, Rory McIlroy took the BMW title.  That was followed later that month with a drive up I-65 to Chicago for the Ryder Cup, hosted by Medinah Country Club.  McIlroy played a pivotal role there, too, winning all five of his matches as his European team staged an unprecedented final day comeback to hang on to the trophy.

US fans at the 2012 Ryder Cup.

The state of Ohio seemed to be center of the golf universe in 2013.  Jack Nicklaus hosted his annual Memorial Tournament in May at Muirfield Village in Dublin, OH.  Matt Kuchar (pictured) was the winner there.  Three months later the Tour traveled to Akron for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, where Tiger Woods won his fifth tournament of the year.  Then, less than three weeks after Zach Johnson won the 2013 BMW Championship in Illinois (Conway Farms GC in Lake Forest, just outside Chicago), the PGA Tour returned to Muirfield Village in Ohio for The Presidents Cup.  Team USA continued to dominate the biennial competition, beating the non-European Internationals 18.5 to 15.5.

Matt Kuchar at The Memorial.

With the 2014 BMW Championship scheduled for Colorado, and the 2014 Ryder Cup and the 2015 Presidents Cup to be played outside the U.S., it could be quite a while before Indianapolis golf fans will see so much professional golf so close to home again.

Prairie View is (Still) in Good Hands

Golfers on the third tee at Prairie View Golf Club.

Prairie View Golf Club was the vision of developer Jim Ackerman in 1994.  It was his pride and joy.  Together with his son-in-law Brian Nicholoff, and famed golf course designer Robert Trent Jones, Jr., Ackerman transformed more than 200 acres of Hamilton County farmland along the White River into a golf destination that won praise from, Golf Digest, and GolfWeek Magazine, the latter giving Prairie View the #1 spot on its “Best Golf Courses You Can Play in Indiana” list in 2009.  But despite having one of the finest golf facilities in the state, the Ackerman family felt it was time to move on.  Nicholoff left the operation in 2009.  And with Jim Ackerman getting on in years, the decision was made to put the course up for sale in January of this year.  It was a sad coincidence that the 88-year-old Ackerman passed away two months later on March 2nd.

Enter Doc O’Neal and Gary Aletto.  Besides being friends for some 15 years dating back to their days in the Carmel, Indiana Dad’s Club, O’Neal and Aletto were also long-time friends of the Ackerman family.  O’Neal’s golf background is impressive to say the least: Carmel High School state champion in 1971 and ’72, Crooked Stick Golf Club champion in 1982 and ’88, past president of Crooked Stick, developer of The Bridgewater Club in Westfield, IN, and for the last five years, a partner in Cohoat & O’Neal Management – a company that owns and operates Wood Wind Golf Club in Westfield and manages The Golf Preserve in Frankfort.  Gary Aletto, a Carmel resident and entrepreneur, is also an avid golfer and member at Crooked Stick.  All of this made for a smooth and natural transition as (Matt) Cohoat & O’Neal and Aletto (as an investor) offered to buy Prairie View.  O’Neal says the Ackerman family did everything within their power to facilitate the purchase, hoping to keep ownership local and with a company they knew would maintain the quality.

While playing Prairie View, it’s not unusual to see the hot air balloon ride at nearby Conner Prairie. The course is built on land that is long-term leased from the historic re-enactment park just on the other side of White River.

“The course and the facility are second to none,” says O’Neal.  Yet he still saw room for improvement.  “Our first focus has been the golf course.  Not that it was bad, because it wasn’t.  But it wasn’t up to a standard that we wanted.”  Since acquiring the course in late May, they have concentrated on improving the condition of the greens, improving the speed of the greens, cleaning up the bunkers, and sprucing up the way the course is detailed.  Other aspects of the club that O’Neal wants to make sure are still a part of the Prairie View package are things that happen even before the golfer gets to the first tee.

“The welcoming, the friendliness, and the smiles of the staff,” says O’Neal, all add to the golf experience at Prairie View.  Future plans also include integrating Prairie View’s golf academy more into the club, with instruction, club fitting and repair, and clinics.

Prairie View is Gary Aletto’s first foray into golf course ownership.  Although still a member at Crooked Stick, Aletto says he has played a “fair amount” at Prairie View and looks forward to his involvement in the new venture.  He calls Prairie View “an outstanding public golf course.”

Pete Dye: A Conversation

Pete Dye and Mitch Daniels

Pete Dye (left), with former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, at the announcement of the Pete Dye Golf Trail.

Any list of the best golf courses in America always includes courses like Harbour Town at Hilton Head and the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, both in South Carolina, TPC Sawgrass in Florida, and Whistling Straits in Wisconsin.  What all of these world-class golf courses have in common is their designer, World Golf Hall of Fame course architect, Pete Dye.  Long before he built any of those other courses, he created his first real masterpiece in Carmel, IN with Crooked Stick Golf Club.  And although it’s Pete that usually gets the headlines and accolades (or, at times, the criticisms), many of his more famous designs have been a collaboration with his wife, Alice.

“It was a partnership from the very beginning,” Alice explains about her and Pete’s design process and division of labor.  “We laid out the holes and we talked about it together.  We had a dining room table and we’d cut strips of paper and laid them out on the map and talked about the best arrangement.”  In fact, it was Alice’s idea to make the green at the par 3 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass an ‘island’, creating one of the most iconic golf holes in the world. Alice brings a wealth of golf knowledge to the partnership by way of being a highly accomplished amateur golfer, winning multiple Indiana titles.  Her contribution to the process didn’t stop at the dining room table, though.  In a photograph hanging in the Indiana Golf Association offices in Franklin, Alice is seen – circa 1960 – at the controls of a bulldozer, moving dirt to create their first course, El Dorado Country Club in Greenwood, Indiana (a course now known as Dye’s Walk).

Alice Dye

Alice Dye moving dirt, circa 1960.

After El Dorado, Pete and Alice designed another 10 or so courses before they tackled Crooked Stick.  But ‘the Stick’ was the first in which they had a hand in every aspect of the development.  They found the land, raised the money to buy it, designed the layout and completed the construction.  Perhaps that’s the reason the Dye’s still maintain a residence along Crooked Stick’s 18th fairway.  In addition to Crooked Stick, Indiana features another two dozen Dye designs, giving the state the highest concentration of Pete Dye courses in America.  Seven of those courses comprise the Pete Dye Golf Trail.  Designed to promote golf and vacation tourism in Indiana, the trail makes stops at Mystic Hills in Culver, The Kampen Course in West LaFayette (part of the Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex at Purdue), Plum Creek in Carmel, The Fort in Indianapolis, Maple Creek, also in Indianapolis, Brickyard Crossing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and The Pete Dye Course at the French Lick Resort in French Lick.

Through hundreds of courses and literally thousands of holes, the Dye’s still trace their beginnings to Central Indiana.  The very first hole Pete designed is what is now the 10th hole at Dye’s Walk in Greenwood.  At the time, that tee sat next to a small cemetery (that has since been relocated).  Asked today if starting a golf course right next to a burial ground gave him pause, Pete Dye responds, “I’ve built more golf courses around cemeteries – I think they haunt me”.

Golf Club of Indiana

Golf Club of Indiana Course Information

The Golf Club of Indiana is an equally beautiful and challenging course that showcases one of the best golf landscapes that Indiana has to offer. The 175 acre course situated just outside of Zionsville and a short drive from Indianapolis is full of obstacles including championship tees that exceed 7,000 yards, water on 15 of the 18 holes, and 72 bunkers.

The course at the Golf Club of Indiana is meant for the true golfer. Each hole presents the golfer with a unique challenge testing their skills in shot making. The wooded area requires golfers to get creative in their ball flight; some holes present multiple obstacles requiring a high towering fade or a low lining draw. Whatever the golfers handicap, the water surrounding the course will surely present an adequate challenge.

The true aspect that sets this club apart is that upon arrival the players receive the full golfers experience. From the beautifully manicured greens, to the finest state-of-the-art practice facilities and the personal instruction opportunities, the golfer will feel at home in the quaint New England style club house.


Upcoming Events

 Junior Golf Camps 2012

For $200.00 young experienced or aspiring golfers may register for day camps to perfect their skills or introduce the basics. Topics covered include golf skills, fitness, sportsmanship, nutrition, and personal assessments. All camps will include lunch service and are presented by Golf Pro-Formance Academy, a PGS Sports Academy. The sessions run in segments as follows: session 1, June 19th-June 20th, session 2, July 17th-July 20th, and session 3, August 6th-August 9th.


Just Play Golf

This current promotion requires a $25.00 entry fee and the golfer will receive restaurant gift cards and prizes for playing golf in 6 different time tables separated by month, between now and October. After completing the game for each month, the player will receive a Nike golf prize ranging from duffel bags to shoes.

Fort Golf Course

The Fort Golf Course Information

This award winning 18-hole course located only a few minutes from Indianapolis is nationally renowned for its 238 immaculate and secluded acres situated inside Ft Harrison State park. The course plays off of the natural obstacles of the park by challenging the player with elevation varieties, wetlands, ravines, creeks, and lush forest while also providing stunning views and miles of hiking trails.

The Fort Golf Course is consistently ranked among the top public golf courses in Indiana by many magazine, newspaper, and internet publications for many reasons. One particularly recent honor for this course was the recent ranking of third best among nearly 500 courses in Indianapolis.

One especially unique feature of the course is that it plays host to two back-to-back par 5 holes. Hole 6 is 511 yards while the 7th hole is 542. Challenges like these at The Fort push the golfer out of their comfort zone and into a position of growth through experiencing pro-level greens.

The Fort Golf Course offers private and group instruction, a practice facility, a pro shop stocked with top-of-the-line apparel, men’s and women’s locker rooms, and a convention ballroom.


Upcoming Events

Youth links Indiana Charity Golf Tournament, June 25th, 2012

Golfers entered in this tournament are offered the chance to play golf with some very special guests on one of four premier Indianapolis, Indiana area golf courses, The Fort being one. Proceeds from participant registration fees will benefit the Indiana Sports Corp CHAMPS Grant program. To date, this charity golf tournament has raised nearly 6.3 million dollars for youth scholarship programs, including the Evans Scholars, among others.

Purgatory Golf Club

Purgatory Golf Club Information

Purgatory Golf Club is aptly named for its ability to challenge the player into overcoming its many obstacles which include 120 bunkers. Situated in Noblesville, IN, directly north of Indianapolis, Purgatory is 218 acres of award-winning golf. This course is designed to cater to players of all experience levels from beginner to professional.

In addition to a log cabin club house, one of its unique features is its range of length. Purgatory’s front tees, consisting of 4,562 yards, make it one of the shortest in Indiana, however, it’s back tees exceed 7,700 yards which is the longest option in the state. This feature creates an option for the golfer with both limited or unlimited amounts of playing time.

The course features many special amenities including a large 300 yard, 40 tee practice facility. This accommodating technique-enhancement area is fitted with short-game putting, sand stations and even a junior course. The most useful part of the practice facility is that the greens and bunkers are set up just as they are on the real course creating an accurate introductory experience. Other accommodating features include a full-stock pro shop, banquet hall, golf outing opportunities, and many high quality restroom facilities along the course.

Professional and assistant professional instructors are available for private lessons in increments of 30 minutes, 60 minutes, or a series of 5 30 minute sessions. Junior and group lessons are also available and can be very helpful in perfecting technique for beginners. The professional will touch on the many aspects of perfecting your golf swing, do a full personal assessment and also work on your short game.