Donald Ross made relatively little impact on the golf communities near New York City and Los Angeles, the two largest cities in the United States, however he blessed Chicago with a number of routes. The Indian Hill Club is one such establishment.
This course indicates Ross's ability to create a quality golf course within a relatively constrained property, which results in a Par 71 layout here, measuring just under 6,500 yards. Part of that small yardage is made up for by including more par threes (five) than par fives (four). This includes back-to-back short holes at the turn.
One of the more curious elements in Indian Hill's history is Harry Colt's potential presence on the property. Although most conclude that the majority of the work here was completed by Ross, Colt was in the area during his design work at Old Elm. Another recollection, attributed to Chick Evans, suggests Colt may have even played in the first group to tee it off at Indian Hill's ceremonial opening. Although all these facts are murky, it doesn't hurt to add a bit more mystique to a Golden Age classic!
Those who appreciate Golden Age golf architecture in the Chicago area will appreciate the name of the creek that flows across the property: Skokie Ditch.
Indian Hill has quite a pedigree, from architects Colt and Ross to beloved former caddie Bill Murray. Some of the material in the film Caddyshack has its roots at Indian Hill. The caddie program at Indian hill is still very vibrant. The name is somewhat of a misnomer, in that the course is quite flat with moguls and slopes as opposed to hills. This is a parkland course with trees on both sides of most holes.
The first hole is a welcoming par five that bends left. Favor right of center off the tee. Play it as a three shotter. The green is protected with two bunkers left and one right. The 2nd is the longest par four on the front and is straightaway. There are two fairway bunkers on the right side and one greenside front left. The 3rd is a gimme par five, especially if you can navigate the seven bunkers successfully. It is the shortest one and definitely reachable in two. It is followed up by the longest par three. Do not be embarrassed to hit driver. The 5th is a long par four that bends left and is the number one handicap hole. You can drive thru the fairway. A feature I had never seen before, the trees are actually marked so that you can identify where you went it. Ideal tee shot is a high draw. There are some fairway bunkers on the right starting about 130 yards out and greenside front right and front left. The 6th is a straightaway par four with a large fairway bunker left. The green also has two large bunkers, left and right. We now get to the scoring holes, seven thru eleven. Sadly, we were shut out at the gate. The 7th is the shortest par four and is pretty tight, three fairway bunkers right and one left. Consider laying up. I did not and had 71 yards to a pin tucked behind the left bunker. A series of catastrophic events lead to sinking a four-footer for a cataclysmic nine. The 8th is a short par four to a table top green with a false front. There are three bunkers right one left and long is dead. The good news is the green holds well. The front closes out with the shortest par 3. If the pin is middle left, it is a hole in one magnet as everything will trundle into the basin. The good news for us is that it was middle left, the bad news is we hit it too far right. We could not even hit the cup on our birdie putts.
The back starts with another short par three, the 18th handicap hole. There is a water carry and with bunkers front right and back left. The 11th is the shortest par four on the back. There are two fairway bunkers right and the fairway runs out about 60 yards out. Consider laying up, the green has two bunkers right and one left. The 12th leans right and has three fairway bunkers left. The green is bookended with bunkers left and right. The 13th is a long par three with a bunker in the sky on the right. Not hooker friendly. The longest par four is the dogleg left 14th. There are no hazards other than the omnipresent trees and the landing area is generous. The par five 15th leans left and the fairway gets pinched by a couple of trees on the right side about 250 yards from the tee. Ideal drive is a high draw. This green is reachable, but not by me. For us mortals, hit your second shot over the left side of the right fairway bunker to set up an attack wedge. I really liked the long right leaning 16th. The tee box is tucked back right with a slight water carry. I asked my playing partner, Andrew, if the tee box was new and he said no. I got the feeling that this may have been something that Dye added in the 90s. Anyway, ideal tee shot is at the two left fairway bunkers. The 17this a fun mid-length par three with a water carry. There is a large ghost tree on the right side on an island in the water hazard. Bunkers in the sky on the right do not suit my game, but I thought it was pretty cool. Unfortunately, Andrew informed me that they are planning to take this tree down. Say it ain’t so! We finish with a reachable par five for the big hitters. Fairly straight hole with water right and a fairway bunker left. This hole has the most bunkers on the course with ten. For us mortals, I would recommend laying up to 100 yards or so. Theoretically, this would take the bunkers out of play.
Very nice throwback course and club that I think should be rated much higher