Located within a 247-acre property on the outskirts of Lebanon, The Trophy Club course is a mid-1990s Tim Liddy design that’s routed around the meandering waters of Prairie Creek.
The Trophy Club sits on a mostly flat piece of land in central Indiana wedged between the new highway (I-65) and the old highway (US-52) and bisected by a running creek that cuts a small valley and comes into play on several holes, mainly on the back nine. The course is routed out in open space with few trees in play, leading often to windy conditions which can make the course quite difficult when the wind kicks up. Most greens are fairly large and undulating; the architect, Tim Liddy, was once a protege of Pete Dye’s, and that association shows in the style of the greens and approaches. Distance control and proper shot shaping are required to get close to pins and course management is a must with most holes presenting several strategic options. Visually, the course can be difficult because of the lack of defined landmarks on the horizon and uncertainty around distances to the many twists and turns of the fairways.
My personal favorite holes include #2, a long, winding par five over the creek that presents the player with a bevy of layup options and angles into the green, #5, a driveable par four with a huge, mounded fairway for those who choose to lay up, #11, a reachable par five with bailout areas galore, #12, a quirky short par four along a pont, and #17, a par three to a very well-bunkered green. I greatly dislike the stretch of #7-#8, however, as they are on as unremarkable terrain as you’d ever find on a golf course, and seem forced in to complete the routing, and thus lower the golf course a notch in rating.
Played October 12 & 18, 2008
What many people may not realize is that the State of Indiana is blessed with an array of top quality public facilities. Many might make an erroneous conclusion that given the general assumption that the Hoosier State is overwhelmed by flat terrain and that the nature of the golf would likely be filled with simply boring predictable flat designs. That's not the case with the upper echelon of courses and The Trophy Club -- located just outside of Indianapolis -- is a remarkable effort for the wide diversity of holes encountered.
The course is located on nearly 250 acres of land and the best part is the freedom to enjoy the layout without being bombarded by distractions such as housing. Tim Liddy, a protégé of Pete Dye, gives ample room off many of the tees but there's always a preferred side to play nearly all the holes. To succeed at The Trophy Club requires constant adjustments -- no set manner with a routing that's simply top tier because there's no predictable patterns to hone in on when playing.
I don't like using the terminology "links like" because it can easily convey a false connection but Liddy has certainly added elements to The Trophy Club that give that sort of impression. The putting surfaces are well contoured but not to such an excess to be bordering on the putt-putt variety. The juxtaposition of the different grass types also makes for a splendid contrast between the carefully prepared areas and those utterly natural.
Candidly, the greater Indianapolis area has a number of quality daily fee public course options. The main weakness of The Trophy Club is that the quartet of par-3 holes is not really differentiated as much as I'd like to see. That doesn't mean the holes per se are poor -- but having a really short offering along with a very long one would have worked much better.
Too often people think of American golf being the domain of the coasts -- both east and west. However, the heartland of America is blessed with a number of outstanding courses and for those able to get to Indiana -- be sure to spend plenty of time in around Indianapolis.
The Trophy Club is not only a quality design but it provides some of the best value in all of American golf too. A winner on all accounts.
by M. James Ward