Robert Trent Jones Snr designed the North and West nines at Otter Creek in 1964 and they comprise the main 18-hole golf course at this 27-hole facility. Rees Jones added another circuit - the East nine - thirty years after his father’s fairways were first fashioned here.
There aren't many RTJ, Sr., layouts I am a big time fan - but his effort at Otter Creek clearly makes the short list. The layout is faithful to the original design and the hole variety is quite good and appropriately challenging depending on the tee position you select.
The Jones philosophy of tough par easy bogey is front and center. You have a number of large scale bunkers with big greens with various internal contours.
In many ways Otter Creek reminds me of another one his works that opened one year later in 1965 -- Hominy Hill in Colts Neck, NJ. The Garden State layout originated as a mega-private course for its owner Henry Mercer before becoming public years later.
The rise of quality public golf in the Hoosier State clearly ascended in the years after Otter Creek first came onto the scene. However, the course has hosted a range of key events including serving as venue a number of times for the Indiana state amateur event.
The routing is fairly straightforward and I wish there was a bit more variety in terms of the par-3 holes. Basically, you are playing almost the same shot in four instances. Jones was also not as proficient in creating a really top tier short par-4 although the 2nd hole (West) -- formerly the 11th -- is better than most of his efforts.
Its also hard for me to think of a really top tier short par-3 that bears the architect's name.
The fairway bunkering scheme follows the Jones theme -- pinching in drive zones -- sometimes with flanking bunkers. A bit more variety would have helped matters.
Otter Creek is still worth a visit, however, given the depth of public course options that now exists in Indiana I see the course drifting a bit downward -- not so much as a critique against the course because scoring is still challenging -- but as consequence on just how underrated the depth of Hoosier public golf has risen in the last 25 years.
M. James Ward