Indiana University Golf Course


School of Dentistry Certificate of Appreciation (1996)
Indiana University Bloomington
School of Dentistry


Besides being a beautiful and challenging test for players of all levels, the Indiana University Golf Course offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of the IU campus. Built in 1957, this multi-faceted facility is open for public play year round (weather permitting).Still, the true charm of the 18-hole Championship golf course and its 9-hole adjoining Par 3 course, rests in the land. The 250 acre property, which includes a 36-stall driving range, could well be a nature preserve.

Unlike many modern courses, there are no housing nor commercial properties disturbing an atmosphere that is purely golf. Most of the 18 holes are framed by mature trees that defend the integrity of the course and make par a usually unattainable challenge. There are no water hazards or fairway bunkers, mostly because the trees offer sufficient problems for the golfer who expects to be challenged.This natural setting provides the charm of a state park that blossoms into nature's handiwork all year long, but especially in the spring and fall. Autumn's abundance of color peaks at the IU course, and few sights are more entrancing than a look down the ninth and thirteenth holes in mid-October. In the spring the wooded areas burst forth with the aroma of redbud and dogwood trees. Unless the IU marching band is practicing the school's fight song nearby, most of the sounds around the course are produced by wildlife. Most popular among these are the white-tailed deer that emerge from the woods and wonder across the fairways, mostly impervious to the golfers and the nearby click of club against ball. The deer often appear in groups of up to a dozen and sometimes are reluctant to return to the nearby wooded areas.However, if a golfer chooses to leave his ball and follows them into the trees he is met by a dense rolling area similar to what the first settlers in the state must have encountered.

When the Indiana University Golf Course opened, a summary of the facility was given to president Herman B Wells by Paul "Pooch" Harrell, the coordinator of the university's athletic facilities. Work began on the par-71 IU course is 1954 and it opened three years later. Former Indiana coach Jim Soutar designed the championship course with the help of Harrell.

The land on which the course was built had been owned by IU since the early part of the 20th Century and Harrell estimated the cost of building the course to be about $175,000, excluding the clubhouse. That cost was a fraction of what was required to build a championship-caliber golf course in the 1950s. One reason the IU course was cost effective was that little had to be done in the way of planting trees and moving dirt. No tax money was required for the construction with expense being covered by student fees. Each day during construction Harrell could be seen aboard a bulldozer featuring root rakes that yanked up the stumps of the trees after the forest had been leveled with chainsaws. Even today there are modest low spots where trees once stood before being removed and replaced by posh fairways. These fairways were kept in pristine conditions through the use of a built-in watering system, and the necessary irrigation came from the waters of Griffy Lake, which recently had become a municipal reservoir.

The original clubhouse was in a small block building adjacent to where the IU Foundation building now stands. The first hole was what now is No. 2 and the ninth hole returned to the clubhouse and is now the 10th hole. When a new clubhouse was built in 1978 the par-five that originally had been No. 18 became No. 1. The number of every hole on the course changed. Perhaps the most famous landmark at the IU course is a pair of rust-covered basketball standards that for years marked the two ends of the Assembly Hall court. The once red standards rest amid weeds not far from the No. 1 green, often unnoticed by golfers headed for the second tee.

In the 1950s the Hoosiers needed a top-flight golf course because other Big Ten schools had some of the best layouts in the country. Ohio State's Scarlet course and the University of Michigan's course both were designed by Alister Mackenzie, the architect of such national favorites as Augusta National and Cypress Point. Former IU golf coch Owen "Chili" Cochrane and Souter often would stroll back into the woods of the old Fee farm seeking ideas for the course layout. Souter began to lay out the course in his mind and on paper and then would relay his ideas to the IU draftsmen, who were in charge of providing the action prints of the layout. The two coaches reportedly sashayed so deeply in the woods one day that they became lost among the trees and could not retrace their steps for hours.