Sycamore Hills Golf Club officially opened for play in 1989, when the designer, Jack Nicklaus marked the occasional with an inaugural round. It’s billed as perhaps the finest golf club in the Midwest and there is no doubt that the former estate of the Fort Wayne provides near perfect golfing terrain.
The Sycamore Hills site undulates gently with the narrow Aboite River having been used to great effect. Mature sycamore, oak and fir trees frame many holes. With generous fairways you’d expect to score well, but with peninsula green sites and plenty of trademark Nicklaus traps set alongside natural waste bunkers, Sycamore Hills is a course on which scoring well largely depends on accurate approach play.
In the opinion of Jack Nicklaus: “Sycamore Hills is one of the finest sites we've ever had the opportunity on which to design a golf course… It has gorgeous trees, great movement of property, and it had some existing lakes that really functioned quite well. The site had a little river moving though the property which really afforded a lot of opportunities to create different shots.”
There are many top tier layouts in the Hoosier State -- safe to say Sycamore Hills is not of them. The facility came into existence during the time when Jack Nicklaus was creating more and more layouts and the resulting lack of architectural heft is in clear evidence when playing Sycamore Hills. The course accentuates a "big" presence with many different features scattered about but there's little to really move the emotional meter.
The conditioning side is what carried the day and the facility does not disappoint on that front.
However, the joy in playing golf comes when inherent shotmaking challenges you relish are paired together with first rate turf. Having the latter without the former is clearly disappointing. I've heard that Nicklaus has an interest in getting back to the site. I can only hope that happens. Until that happens, relish other courses in Indiana, one of the most underrated for golf course offerings in America.
by M. James Ward