The Sagamore Resort is known as a boating retreat for those living in either the Indianapolis or Cincinnati areas, however the wise decision was made at the onset of the millennium to introduce golf as an option for visitors.
Pete Dye is the best-known architect in the Indiana golfing community, however Sagamore has done itself no disservice by hiring his son P.B. Dye to handle the design of this project. Although the clubhouse is set apart from the main body of the resort, players at the Harbor Springs course will eventually find their way over Kent’s Harbor. The majority of the holes are within a stone’s throw from Brooksville Lake, almost a somewhat less glamorous version of the elder Dye’s Kiawah course.
Despite being a relatively new course, local golfers can take pride knowing that the route recycles parts of their past: Hole No. 11 is a Cape-style par four along the lake, and the wall holding it up from the water is made out of concrete slabs from the old Indiana State Road 101. Immediately following that green, players will cross a creek on a bridge previously used in the local road system.
HarborLinks is a P.B. Dye design located in eastern Indiana on the shores of the enormous Brookville Reservoir, the largest man-made lake by volume in the state. My experience with P.B.’s courses has been that they are often more simplistic designs than his father’s, but have been tricked up somewhat to have the “Dye look” – railroad ties, mounding, crazy green complexes, etc. – and not always in a way that is good. Despite some dramatic lake frontage and decent bits of elevation change, this isn’t an ideal place for golf, mainly due to some massive power lines running right down the middle of the property and the fact that, as such a huge flood-controlled lake, it’s hard to really use it as a hazard on the golf course due to the fluctuation of water levels. As such, the lake really only comes into play on two or three holes. Golf really isn’t the star of the show here either, as most people come to the area for water recreation and/or camping at the numerous state parks nearby. I found myself in the area for those very reasons, and after a full day’s worth of some, uh, alcohol-infused recreating on the lake and a night sleeping on the ground in a tent – not to mention having played a whopping nine holes of golf in nearly the entire year prior – I wasn’t particularly in a good place to play great golf the next morning. To this day, my round at HarborLinks (then named Buck Point) remains both my worst gross score and score differential for handicap purposes since I started tracking such things over twenty years ago.
All that said, this course is certainly worth checking out if you happen to find yourself in the middle of nowhere eastern Indiana. A slightly lower-budget version of other P.B. Dye courses I’ve seen such as Boone Valley and Old Hickory in Missouri, it still features some bold and unique green complexes and a hell of a lot of variety. The front nine heads to the north of the clubhouse towards the marina with which it’s affiliated, featuring back-to-back par fives and a long par three with a swale in front adjacent to the lake as holes #4-#6, while the back nine turns south. My favorite hole on the course was probably the reachable par five #10, with its crazy long peanut-shaped green that slopes from front to back. #12, a long par four, features a similarly long green, though more forgivingly sloped from back to front with multiple tiers as the hole plays uphill. Two tiny greens are featured on short par fours #14 and #17, the latter of which is drivable and wraps around a tiny man-made pond adjacent to the lake. The long par four finisher features a smaller version of Boone Valley’s triangle-shaped #18 green with pinnable areas galore, albeit without the lake in front.
HarborLinks is certainly one of the more unique courses you’ll play, as P.B.’s work typically falls more into the realm of the absurd than his father’s. Despite the absurdity, it definitely has that fun factor, so that even a hungover, rusty player like me can attest to a great day on the course.