The “Battle Ground” in question is the Battle of Tippacanoe, one of the largest clashes between Native Americans and American forces in the early part of American independence. The golf course also features some history, as it operated for nearly 50 years as The Lafayette Country Club before Robert Simmons converted it to Battle Ground, a public-access route, during the ‘60s.
The course received a significant update from Tim Liddy at the onset of the new millennium, and his style can be seen in the sand hazards around the course (a style no doubt influenced by his work with Pete Dye). The final three holes will showcase deep, sandy collection areas right of the par three No. 16, as well as an interesting mosaic of sand along the right fairway of No. 17, with grass barriers separating what could have been one large bunker into much smaller and more frustrating hazards.
A visit to Battle Ground will not quite live up to the same stressors faced by the land’s historic inhabitants, but it may create a headache for the inaccurate golfer.
What a difference ten years makes. When I was a Purdue undergraduate in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the course at Battle Ground was part of Lafayette Country Club; the club’s original Tom Bendelow nine holes sit right in the center of town where expansion is not possible, so in the late 1960s it hired former Dick Wilson associate Bob Simmons to design a larger course amidst lovely farmland outside the small nearby town of Battle Ground, named for the Battle of Tippecanoe which took place a mile or so down the road. A full Tim Liddy renovation took place on the course when it was still part of the club during my college years, but economic issues following the real estate crash in the late 2000s forced the club to sell and retreat to their charming nine-holer once more, opening it for the first time to the golfing population of Purdue and the surrounding area. The course remained a privately-owned daily fee layout for a few more years until the City of Lafayette purchased it after abandoning its previous flood-prone municipal course along the Wabash River. My rounds at Battle Ground all took place during the time it was public but before the city took over in 2013, and I found the golf course to be quite engaging and enjoyable thanks to a very creative set of green complexes done by Liddy along with his implementation of a Pete Dye-inspired angle-based strategic design philosophy.
The nines at Battle Ground appear to have been switched since I last set foot on the property, moving the more interesting bits of terrain to later in the round; I can’t say I disagree with the decision to do so, but the main argument I would make against the change is that the current eighteenth is a bit mundane for a closing hole. The most memorable holes on the current inward side to me are the serpentine par five eleventh, the only hole at Battle Ground where a wooded area comes into play, the long par three sixteenth over a ravine to an elevated green, and the par five seventeenth which is highlighted in the course description here on Top100, playing back through the ravine and up to a tiny green perched awkwardly between two sets of bunkers.
What I recall as the back nine (now the front) is mostly on the upper portion of the property adjacent to the road, feeling slightly easier for the most part aside from two very stout par fours, the fourth and ninth. The fourth plays dead into the summer wind and generally requires a long iron to find a large hump of a green protected by a monstrous bunker short and left; the par three fifth was no bargain either, playing to a tiny green protected by yet another deep bunker. The former closing hole, now the ninth, is a bruiser as well, playing slightly uphill to take away any possibility of roll off the tee, then across a plateau to one of the more severely humped greens on the course.
I always enjoyed playing Battle Ground; while it wasn’t blessed with the spectacular terrain of Liddy’s other creations Rock Hollow or Trophy Club, it was enough to provide another solid option for golfers in the greater Lafayette area. Lafayette sits in a region with an embarrassment of golf riches within a few hours’ drive, so it’s easy for a course like Battle Ground to be overshadowed; however, locals who choose to stay close to home and visitors to Purdue won’t be disappointed with this offering.
Played 8 times between June 7, 2009, and April 14, 2011