Situated twenty-five miles southwest of Lafayette, the course at Harrison Hills Golf and Country Club was set out as a 9-hole layout by William Langford in 1924. Seventy years later, the club engaged Tim Liddy to add a new nine to this classic old track and the process of blending new, open holes with original, tree-lined ones was rather a tough task to undertake.
Much of the budget was actually spent restoring the old holes – reclaiming original green sizes and recapturing abandoned bunkers – which proved to be just as important as creating the new holes. In order to have both nines return to the clubhouse, the old par five 3rd hole disappeared, with most of the new holes laid out on flatter terrain between the renumbered 3rd and 9th.
The course now extends to 6,720 yards from the back markers, playing to a par of 72. On the front nine, the left doglegged 7th is a daunting par five measuring a mighty 646 yards, while the short par four holes at the 11th and 14th (stroke index 14 and 18, respectively) both offer decent birdie opportunities on the inward half.
When you play Harrison Hills, you play two courses in one: a Langford & Moreau gem representing the original nine holes (eight of which still exist), and a mid-1990s mostly wide-open parkland style designed by Tim Liddy. Not to discount Liddy’s work, because there’s nothing wrong with it per se, but the Langford & Moreau nine is the star of the show. The rolling terrain and expert routing come together to produce some extremely memorable shots, mostly on the original nine. That said, holes 4-8 (obviously limited by terrain) make the player feel as though he/she is on a separate planet than the rest of the course. If the look and feel of those five holes could have replicated the rest of the course, the experience would be drastically improved.
The best holes include the semi-blind par three #2, the sweeping dogleg left par four #9 (the only Liddy hole on my “best holes” list), and the exemplary stretch of par four holes #14-#16, which features a hulking green complex fronted by two massive bunkers on #15. I don’t know of another stretch of three straight par fours in the state of Indiana that is better. If one exists, I have not played it.
My theory: had the “stigma” of being a nine-hole course not been such an issue in the late 1990s/early 2000s which drove the expansion, this course would be thriving today without the addition of the second nine. It quite clearly would be one of the best handful of nine holers in the country. Instead, it’s a good, memorable, but flawed eighteen.
Played October 18 & 20, 2009