Officially opened on 1st May 2000, the William K. and Natalie O. Warren Golf Course at Notre Dame came about thanks to the generosity of alumnus William K. Warren Jr. The 18-hole layout is named in honour of Bill’s parents, combining his three great loves – family, golf and Notre Dame – and his magnanimity has also contributed to more recent course improvements.
Designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, the Warren Course nestles among 250 acres of woodlands on the north edge of the campus, within a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. Host venue for the 2010 US Women’s Amateur Public Links championship, it was also used for the fortieth edition of the US Senior Open Championship in 2019.
The course is the home to the Notre
Dame men’s and women’s golf programs and it has hosted a number
of college competitions, such as the 2005 and 2010 NCAA Division I
Men’s Regionals and the 2011 and 2015 NCAA Division I Women’s
Regionals. In 2010, David Chung led Stanford University to the
Central Regional title and a place in the NCAA Championship field.
Three months later, Chung was the runner-up in the US Amateur
After being disappointed the previous day by the Ackerman-Allen course at the Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex at Purdue, I played the following morning at the Warren course at Notre Dame with the first tee time. I was joined by a retired professor of finance who played nine holes due to an injury. I was also joined by a retired couple who moved there to be closer to their only daughter and only granddaughter. Both sent in their retirement notices the same day three years previously, with the wife taking up golf at that point. She was more passionate about the game then her husband. After we finished the morning round in just over three hours, they went right to the first tee for their second round. My point in telling this story is that the Warren course is very playable, not exhausting physically or mentally. Like many "public" designs by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, this course is built more for enjoyment than for challenge.
I had watched on tv Steve Stricker win the 2019 Senior U.S. Open and knew a little about the course. The course has essentially no real change in elevation, save for a few small declines and rises near the end of the round. The course reminded me very much of Hidden Creek in New Jersey, both in its design, terrain, difficulty, and landscaping.
The first thing that struck me was how close the course is built to the campus. While Notre Dame is a mid-size school in population, its facilities are expansive (and gorgeous). One would think they would have wanted this land for future expansion.
The second thing that struck me was how often the course returns to the clubhouse, allowing multiple chances to get refreshments or the restrooms, (only the restrooms were accessible due to Covid restrictions).
I liked the course for its playability. Like many courses designed by Mr. Coore and Mr. Crenshaw, the fairways are fairly generous and the greens sufficiently wide. Unlike their better and more acclaimed designs, the Warren course does not have difficult greens, interesting green surrounds, or an excessive use of bunkers.
There are hazards here but mainly in the form of taller grass on a few holes as the ball will kick into the heavy rough if slightly offline. The back nine offers a bit more trees as well for defense. There are three small ponds on the course and Juday Creek, but I only found one of the ponds to influence one’s decisions. As for the Creek, I did not think it was often worthy of a consideration for the average length player. There are some “nice” holes here but nothing that is heart-stopping or particularly memorable.
In summary, it is a golf course meant to be enjoyed. It is not a golf course where one will be consistently challenged or thinking about multiple options.
The course plays 7020 yards from the Black tees, par 71 rated 73.4/132. From the Blue tees it is 6744 yards rated 71.5/128. From the White tees it is 6346 yards, rated 70.4/125. I played the Blue tees with the husband. There is another set of shorter tees. We had good weather unlike my earlier rounds in Indiana at Quail Crossing (rain), Victoria National (hot and humid), Brickyard Crossing (rain/downpour), and Ackerman-Allen (soggy and rain).
The course is kept in good condition from the teeing areas, bunkers, and greens. Unlike other courses during Covid, each cart was given a rake for the bunkers. Most other courses were not allowing one to rake bunkers.
1 – par 4 372/372/352 – a gentle start with a few scattered trees and ten scattered bunkers down the left side. There is a bunker on the right that sits inside the fairway about 90 yards short of the green. The green has decent slope at its front with two large bunkers sitting on the right.
2 – par 4 462/462/443 – The number one index plays as a dogleg right with heavy trees down the left to stop balls from going onto Douglas Road. There is a single, raised fairway bunker about 75 yards short of the green on the right that sits inside the fairway. This is followed by a single bunker to the left of the green which is raised and sloped back to front. It is a nice hole.
3 – par 4 410/393/357. The third hole features two bunkers on the left with a pond on the right that extends to the right side of the green which slopes towards the water. Bigger hitters can reach the pond where the fairway narrows substantially as the pond comes into play and after the two bunkers. The smart play is to lay up short of the bunkers leaving one 130-150 yards into the green. The green has two bunkers on the left side. This is one of the best defended greens on the golf course. It is a nice golf hole.
4 – par 3 143/121. This is a nice short par 3 to an elevated green with three large bunkers, one fronting the green. The miss to this hole is to go long, otherwise one should hit the green.
5 – par 5 518/518/495. This hole lead to my only double bogey due to a tee shot that kicked left into the higher grass which lead to a series of “recovery” shots where I tried to be too heroic. There are three bunkers down the left side with one very large bunker opposite it. I was convinced my ball was in one of those left bunkers until I saw the hard ground slanting towards the grass. The fairway is sufficiently wide enough so that one should hit it. The hole bends leftward with the green elevated again. There is a small center front bunker and a large, deep one on the left side which I found with my fourth. It is a nice hole.
6 – par 4 473/436/415. I thought this to be the second best hole on the front nine as a slight dogleg right with three bunkers down the inner side of the fairway. The green has large, deeper bunkers on either side with nice inner contouring for both bunkers on this elevated green. I managed to chip it to within a foot on a green that slopes back to front.
7 – par 4 407/398/373. I thought this to be the best hole on the front nine, turning slightly left with trees hard on the left side while the trees are scattered down the right side. A long way up the fairway are two separated bunkers left and three basically connected bunkers on the right lying about 160-130 yards out. The green has a large front bunker right and two on the left to a green sited back against the trees and Nitronwood Road. This was another one-putt for me as the green is straightforward.
8 – par 4 441/414/397. Parallel to Douglas Road and heading the opposite direction of seven this is a straight hole with all of the trees and fairway bunkers on the left side The green has flanking bunkers and is flattish. A more interesting green would have made this a better hole but perhaps Coore and Crenshaw did not want to add a difficult green on a longer hole.
9 – par 3 185/185/164. This is another fine par 3 with a large vertical center bunker about 10 yards before the green with two on the left and one on the right. The green has some nice interior sculpting although more would have been better.
10 – par 5 495/495/473. Passing the clubhouse again leads to a risk-reward par 5 where the longer hitters will try to fly a part of Juday Creek that bisects the fairway about 40-60 yards short of the green but continues hard against the green on the left. Longer hitters likely have as little as a 9 iron for their second. The safer play is to lay up leaving a shot of 100-60 yards over the wetlands and stream that becomes a pond on the left side of the green. The green is angled right to left. I laid up and had a more makeable birdie chance than the husband who barely cleared the stream but had an awkward stance to a green with no bunkers. The hole is fairly bland given its length as a par 5 and should be converted to a par 4 unless it is lengthened. Perhaps they could not get the permits but Juday Creek is also behind the green. A more interesting hole would have had the green on the other side of it requiring one to twice cross the creek.
11 – par 3 245/216/187. The longest par 3 on the golf course with two bunkers flanking the front of the green about 20 yards short and then bunkers on either side. The hole has a significant false front to a long green with a higher tier. This hole is pretty straightforward; hit a long, straight shot.
12 – par 4 443/443/424. Another long flat par 4 that is essentially straight with the defense being scattered trees down both sides and two fairway bunkers on the left. The green has a fairway bunker left and another fairly long green.
13 – par 4 433/433/424. This hole has the same tee shot as the previous hole with the goal being to avoid the two fairway bunkers on the left. The hole ducks to the left with another bunker about 100 yards out followed by two on the center-left front of the green. I liked the hole because it has better contouring surrounding the green that many of the other holes.
14 – par 3 210/197/175. The final par 3 comes a bit early and it feels a bit like eleven with bunkers on either side although this green is set off a bit right to left.
15 - par 4 418/380/357. Heading back to the clubhouse, this is a more heavily bunkered hole with two on the left and three on the right pinching into the fairway about 150 yards out. There are two bunkers at the green which is raised with two tiers. Surrounding the green is basically flat land with no interesting land forms.
16 – par 4 345/345/323. The most visually attractive hole on the course from an elevated tee has you hitting across Juday Creek which cuts across on an irregular/diagonal line. Down the left side are trees and five large, but shallow bunkers. The green has fronting bunkers and has good interior shaping. It is a nice, short par 4.
17 – par 5 565/480/462. I felt this hole to be too short for a par 5 playing downhill then up to the green. There is a pond off to the left which can catch tee shots. There is a bunker well short off the tee on the right that I could not figure out why it was there. There is ample room to the fairway and to the right of it. When the pond ends is another bunker on the left that I could not understand why it was placed there. The one on the right about 125 out made a bit more sense as did the bunker 45 yards short of the green on the right. The green itself has a single bunker left. I felt the hole to be only good from the Black tees and a missed opportunity from the other tees as it is too short for a par 5 and was an easy birdie for me.
18 – par 4 455/434/415. From another elevated tee, one plays over Juday Creek for the final time, striving to avoid the raised bunker on the right while not playing too close to a ditch and trees going down the left side. The ditch continues all the way down the left beyond the green. There are no other bunkers to a two-tiered green which is not very interesting.
The course suffers from a lack of interesting greens as well as no real contouring for the green surrounds. Two of the par fives are too short from the Blue tees. If the objective was to build a very playable public course then Mr. Coore and Mr. Crenshaw definitely succeeded. It is not a course one should make a special trip to play as it is one of the mid-tier courses they have built. But if one lives near Notre Dame it is worth having a membership without the normal charges of a private club.
Mark, as a Purdue alumnus who has not yet been able to play the new Ackerman-Allen layout, I'm curious about why you felt disappointed by it. For what it's worth, I loved old Ackerman and am interested to see what Dye did with it. It seems he kept a few bits of the routing intact, but without having been on the ground it's hard to know much more than that.
I did my normal hole-by-hole write-up on Ackerman-Allen but I will post the summary here without the individual holes.
Designed by Pete Dye, the Ackerman-Allen course at the Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex at Purdue University is perfect for its intended audience: the university’s men and women’s golf teams. These teams are comprised of scratch or much better who likely hit the ball very far. This is a course that achieves its primary objective of being a good second course for its college golf teams to prepare for competitions as the college game, much like the pro game, has length as a primary variable. The Ackerman-Allen course is long. Other than length, however, it is not particularly interesting until near the end. You will not find anything unique on the course. It is a fine, if bland, golf course. It is perhaps the least interesting course designed by Pete Dye that I have played.
It has very good conditioning whether one is in the rough, the fairway or on the greens.
The bunkering is a bit odd with many flattish bunkers, much shallower than is typically built by Mr. Dye. There are also not as many bunkers as is on his other courses. Mr. Dye often uses bunkers to both confuse and also as a penalty. At Ackerman-Allen there is not a single bunker that is overly punitive or distracting. This is not to say that one will hit a good recovery shot here from a bunker, but on his other courses you know when you are in some of them that your objective is merely to get out, rather than out and close.
Having playing Brickyard Crossing earlier that morning in a steady rain and a few holes of a downpour, I played the Ackerman-Allen Course soaked from an overnight rain, with a near continuous light rain while I was playing. I felt the bunkers at Brickyard Crossing and the other Pete Dye courses I have played to be much better than here. Perhaps bunker play is a weakness in Purdue’s golf teams as a result?
The Kampen course was being used for a collegiate tournament which is why I went to the Ackerman-Allen course. My understanding from many others is the Kampen course is the much better course.
I played as a single as many other groups had cancelled with only two foursomes on the front nine having a two hole lead and four hole lead. I opted for a set of tees that where too long for me as a way to lengthen my round but I still caught/passed one group on hole five. The second foursome did not allow me to go through when I caught them on hole seven, nor when they stopped briefly at the halfway house. I finally went around them on hole fourteen to play seventeen-eighteen. I circled back to play ten through thirteen again, followed by fourteen-sixteen. Despite my detour, I caught the slow foursome again on sixteen. I then went around them on seventeen and played eighteen a second time as well. So, in a sense I played five extra holes as no one was behind me.
The course is a whopping 7546 yards from the Black tees, par 72 but rated 76.8/137 which I thought to be correct. One does not lose too many balls on the course as there is only one pond on the course that comes into play on two holes. Any out-of-bounds is far away from the fairway. One could perhaps lose a ball in a few areas of tall fescue off of fifteen and sixteen but my feeling is these areas are often mowed lower unless there is a tournament. The Blue tees are 6838 yards and recommended for those with an index less than 5 and rated 73.2/128. The White tees are 6363 yards rated 70.9/125 recommended for indexes 6-10. There are two shorter set of tees as well.
As mentioned I played the Blue tees, both wanting to see a bit more of the course and to “slow down” my play. With the rain the course easily played well over 7000 yards on my day as only three times I got a rollout on my tee shot of more than five yards; on holes one, twelve and eighteen. More often my ball was next to where it landed. That’s okay, I was not going for a score as I was wanted to see the golf course. On a normal dry day with other players I would have opted for the White tees, recommended for my index and length.
I think the index suggestions are roughly right, but even then I think this course plays longer than its yardage. I felt the ratings were nearly a full stroke too light for the Blue tees despite the easier bunkering due to both the length because the greens were also fairly tricky. Many of the holes are built on hills and despite several downhill tee shots, the approach shots are uphill. The greens look as if there is not much break, but there is. I did note that many of the holes I played seemed to have the most difficult pin placements for the hole as I spent five-seven minutes putting or chipping from different locations on the holes as a way to pass the time.
I disagree with the golf magazines that currently favor fun/enjoyment/minimalism over difficulty as I think there should be more of a balance. Yet at Ackerman-Allen I think the course does swing a bit too much towards the ability merely to hit a tee shot long from those Black and Blue tees. It does not offer much in the way of strategy or decision-making. If one hits it long, then one will have a straightforward shot into receptive greens.
For normal length players on the White tees it is an enjoyable course as the forced carries to reach the fairways are not an issue. The approach shot rarely requires much thought as the greens are fairly large and the bunkering is not difficult. There are not many interesting land features such as mounding or fall-offs around many of the greens. Most of the course is built on hills, save for four holes. The front nine has only one “level” hole, that being the par 3 seventh although even that plays slightly downhill. Holes 15-17 are flat as well.
My main criticism of the course is that hole ten feels like the eighth, even if the green complex is different. Hole eleven looks and feels like the ninth. The twelfth looks and plays like the first. The seventh is a boring par 3. In essence, the course seems to not take advantage of the hillier/rolling land as the best holes are fifteen and sixteen, which are built on flat land.
In essence for me the course can be summed as: not a particularly interesting tee shot but hit is as far as you can, then not a particularly interesting green complex, uninspired bunkering, but good greens. Overall, that makes a course one would be happy to play if you live in the area, but not a course you should travel more than an hour to play. I want to stress again, other than the bunkering, it is a perfect practice course for the college teams where length is the key variable.
The back nine is much better than the front nine, with the course having a fine finish from holes fifteen through eighteen.
As I continued this golf trip in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio, those who had played the two courses at Birck Boilermaker said the Kampen course is very good while the Ackerman-Allen course is not very interesting, merely long. I then told them I agreed with them. I think that is right with the exception of the finish which is good.
Interesting! Thanks for your thoughtful response. I too would agree that Kampen is far more worth playing as a "destination" course as it is very, very different in character than Ackerman-Allen - I believe I gave it a five-ball rating on this site. If you get the chance to return to Purdue, it's well worth playing.
I'm sad to hear such a middling review of the new course as I had been looking forward to seeing it; the previous version of the course was one of my favorite courses to play anywhere and is by a fairly wide margin over Kampen the single course I have played the most in my life. Heck, I could even see a tiny bit of the old 8th hole out of my room's window for most of my college years. (I won't deny the fact that I chose to go to school at Purdue in part because of its two golf courses, old Ackerman included. As for playing Ackerman far more than Kampen, well, I didn't want to be beaten up every time I set foot on the course. And it was a better walk.) Because of that deep connection I felt for the old version, I have had mixed feelings about the new one ever since they announced it was going to be built, but it certainly did not appear to have been a dropoff in quality.
I'm not sure how much you read about it, but the original version of the course was designed by Indiana golf legend Bill Diddel (who was ironically the man who told Pete Dye he should stick to selling insurance) and was a similar "lay of the land" course with small, heavily sloped greens and light bunkering that wasn't particularly penal in most places. (Perhaps that was a driver behind the feel Dye was looking to replicate on the newer version, albeit with a lot more length.) That said, old Ackerman had some real quirk to it that made for a far more interesting round than you probably experienced. Topping out at probably about 6,500 yards, it featured a number of par fours and par fives with blind or semi-blind shots and some extremely steep slopes around greens. Lots of strategic choices were available since driver was not always required. Fairway lies were rarely level and in many cases caused a fair bit of discomfort, and there were always plenty of trees to contend with. In fact, tree management had sadly become a problem in the course's last few years, as a few holes had trees overhanging the greens that would both reach out and grab good shots as well as cause potential maintenance issues. (I read that dozens of trees were removed during construction of the new course.) Off the top of my head, there were probably three or four bland holes, but most of the rest of them were good to great ones.
I think two big reasons why they re-did the course was to alleviate some of the danger that modern golf ball technology posed to the housing areas adjacent to many holes on the eastern part of the property, as well as to provide more level ground for football parking in that area. At least one hole was removed from that area, and I imagine it was all graded to a more gentle slope. It's a shame because that part of the course - which is now I think holes 7-10 on the new layout - had some of the funkiest and best holes out there. The area along McCormick Road for the new holes 15-16 was not part of the original routing and doesn't seem to me like it would match the character of the rest of the course, but I'm glad to see you considered those to be good holes at least.
Just curious, if you were to give Ackerman-Allen a "ball" rating per this site's guidelines, what would it be?
I would give it a 3.5 rating from the Blue and White tees but if I were a longer and better player it might become a 4. I suspect more people would give it a 4 because there are several well designed holes and good greens.
Of interest is that the couple I played with at Warren, the three guys I joined at Stoatin Brae and then a playing partner at Brookside had all played Ackerman-Allen and had the same assessment (uninfluenced by me).
There is not any tree clutter on the course.
The original course sounds more interesting.
I did play most of the “better” holes twice and did spend a lot of time on each green.
Much like the Warren course, I am amazed how close the courses are to the campus, which by the way is both large with the new buildings beautiful. I like how the campus connects to the downtown. In my “spare” time I find a place to hike or tour a university if it is close by on a trip - I’ve toured 156 so far in the USA! Purdue was a pleasant surprise as I was expecting an “agricultural/engineering” look to it.
I think you won’t be too disappointed by Ackerman-Allen. You should definitely play it when you return. Golf Digest has it ranked in their top 15 in the state, although their raters used to favor difficulty (resistance to scoring) and “shot values.”
Super Impressive on Notre Dame Campus. Difficult Greens, most undulated greens I have played. Bring the putter! Good layout, must avoid the fescue (or junk as I call it) in order to have a good score.
Cool Course, Friendly staff. Well maintained fairways the greens where good as well. Not particularly quick but well maintained. The course is great, lots of nice scenery. Challenging and one has to do a risk reward evaluation on many shots. Would I play Warren again? Yes . Would I come from afar to play Warren? Hard question if your in the area 2-3 hours away I would give it a look. Anywhere further and its just not worth the drive.
This is the second best 18-hole campus course I’ve played – only Yale is better in my opinion. Just like everything at the University of Notre Dame the golf course is perfect for the students and just about everyone else from beginners to the champions who will tee it up here next year for the 2019 US Senior Open. There are many things I liked about the Warren. It’s very easy on the eye and it’s a breeze to walk. There’s a great deal of class to a course that’s laid out on a relatively flat site. The only downside I’m told is that there are a few issues with the par four 18th due to flooding problems, but on the two occasions I played here the hole played as it should.
The front nine offers width, angles and options where most of the trouble is set around the smallish and well-protected greens. The back nine is where the action builds with some water in play and the closing three holes are very strong. I’d say my favorite is #16 which is a short par four where Juday Creek and bold fairway bunkering must be negotiated. It’s considered the signature hole and for good reason although I loved the elevated tee shot on #17 and the dogleg left closer, again with the creek in play is a brilliant way to finish.
The people here are just exceptional and I’d thoroughly recommend a visit to see this gem and if you’re in the area a 45-min drive down to Culver will present the best 9 hole campus course in the world.
The subtle parkland routing of the front nine gives way to a fantastic back nine capped off by a great stretch from 16-18. I have never played an English heathland course but I imagine this is as close as it gets in the US.
Fantastic routing around streams and ponds by Coore/Crenshaw and the conditions were some of the best I have seen in awhile. The greens are slick but not out of control and the back nine gets you fully enmeshed in a great woodland experience.
It will be interesting to see when the routing changes for the Senior US Open if they keep the routing for the day players as that may take the course to a higher level.