The Country Club of Indianapolis was the city’s first country club, established in 1891 in the northeast of Indianapolis, where the Woodstock Club is currently located. It was one of several country clubs to emerge around the city at the turn of the 19th century, giving residents a number of options when considering club membership.
In 1914, the club moved to its current property and appointed Tom Bendelow to design the new course. This layout was rebuilt by William Diddel in 1930 then Pete Dye carried out further modifications in the early 1990s – though he had tinkered in one or two aspects of the course’s design when he was greens committee chairman years earlier.
In The American Private Golf Club Guide, author Daniel Wexler describes the course as “an occasionally hilly, classically inclined layout bisected by a creek which, though ever-present, only comes substantially into play on five holes. Standouts include the 541-yard creek-fronted 8th and the 336-yard closer, which bears a vague resemblance to the 18th at Olympic.”
The club hosted the 33rd edition of the US Women’s Open in 1988, when Hollis Stacy retained her title with an aggregate 4-round score of 289, beating nearest challengers JoAnne Carner and Sally Little by one stroke.
Country Club of Indianapolis is a fun course. An original Bendelow design with Peter Dye doing some retro work in the 1990s. It is surprisingly hilly for an Indy course with small greens. The first hole is straightaway from an elevated tee. Favor the right on the 2nd as there are three fairway bunkers left in the landing area. The green is raised with a bunker front left. The 3rd is a fun hole that leans right has a blind tee shot and is driveable. It has a split fairway with two sequential bunkers in the middle. Consider laying up, but if you go for it favor the right. If you are fortunate you will catch the downslope and springboard down the hill and trundle onto the green. However, in an interesting design twist, most of the downslope is rough, thus if you get a skid bounce the ball will not skip thru. Greenside bunker right and it is a tough green. Nothing like driving a green and then three jacking. The fourth is a mid-length valley par three. Two bunkers left and the green widens as it deepens, thus much easier when the pin is back. The fifth bends right and is downhill and fairway narrows the closer you get to the green. A stream cuts in front of the green at a diagonal starting about 50 yards out on the left and gets closer on the right. The 6th is a mid-length par three with a greenside bunker right. The 7th is a long par four that has a small valley starting about 150 yards out. You can get stuck with a downhill lie. Either hit a great drive or a lousy one to ensure a flat lie. There is a devilish deep trough bunker left. As bad as the bunker is, that is better than missing further left. The 8th is a par five from an elevated tee. Favor the right side to take the fairway bunker out of play. Possible to reach in two, but there is a stream running across the fairway in front of the green about 20 yards out. Play it as a three shotter and pick your favorite yardage in. The 9th parallels the first and is the longest par four on the front. Take an extra club to this elevated green. This is deservedly the number one handicap hole.
The back starts with the longest par four. From an elevated tee there is OB and a fairway bunker left. The 11th is a par five that parallels the 8th. Not as long, but play it as a three shotter. The green is elevated with a very small green that slopes away from you with a front right bunker. Hard to hold. The 12th has OB left and two greenside bunker left. Thirteen is the longest par three at a stout 232 yards. The 14th is a long uphill par four and is the number two handicap hole. Favor the left side. There are two front left greenside bunkers. I liked the 15th, but it did not like me. Short, with two fairway bunkers left and trees right. Ideal tee shot is down the right side. This redan green has a deep front left bunker. I challenged the back pin and paid for it dearly. Long is bad, it is not death, but I imagine up and downs are hard to come by. The last par three is mid-length. Favor left of center on 17. The closing hole is a short valley par four with two sequential bunkers in front of the green. I am sure it is driveable by some, I hit my drive well and was still 50 yards short. This green also runs away from you. I thought my pitch had to go, but it ended up running out over the green. Fun hole.
Fun course, I would pay to play it again.
Of the courses in the Indianapolis area, this is one of the best layouts (particularly the front 9). Most private clubs in the area are fairly flat but Country Club of Indianapolis has some elevation change which was welcomed. Unlike some courses, the elevation is not just perched tee boxes. I found myself with some challenging uphill and downhill approach shots to greens with sharp drop offs or protected by a pesky creek. Also, NO HOUSES!!! Another huge plus in my book.
Conditioning was fine, but not the best conditioned course in the area. Greens were a bit softer and slower that other privates in the state. I did play after a rainstorm which may be the cause.
This is definitely a “classic” course so don’t expect huge fairways and greens. But without a house in sight on any hole, this was a truly relaxing round of golf with some picturesque holes.
There is no reason this course should not be considered in the mix with the best courses in the state.