The Itinerant Golfer

The Itinerant Golfer's Take on Indian Creek Country Club


Indian Creek Country Club

Architect: William S. Flynn
Year: 1928

55 Indian Creek Island Road , Indian Creek Village, Florida 33154
(305) 866-1263

driving range available
motorized golf carts and caddies available


When I received an invite to Seminole Golf Club and began planning my trip to Florida there was one course I absolutely did not want to miss, Indian Creek Country Club. Indian Creek C.C. is not on the Top 100 list, but it is a very highly regarded south Florida club that is well known among golf nerds aficionados and fairly unknown among the larger golfing public. The course was built by William Flynn in 1928 but what makes it unique is that the golf course is located on a private island just off the Florida mainland near Miami’s South Beach. What makes it completely unique is that the island was man made in the early 1900s when they were dredging Biscayne Bay for expansion. I would have loved to have seen that project unfold before the days of bulldozers, cranes and other heavy machinery. I cannot even imagine. Below is an aerial photo of the island I found on the internet.
 
Indian Creek Country Club 
In a stroke of good fortune my friend who sponsored my game at Peachtree Golf Club a few years prior also happens to have a membership at Indian Creek Country Club. I made contact with him to see if he would be able to help and a few days later I received news that my Florida swing would be starting off with a 1 o’clock game at Indian Creek. To say I was excited would be the understatement of the decade. I was beside myself with anticipation, as were the guys who would be joining me.

The plan was that Kyle and I would fly into West Palm Beach the night before we were to play at Indian Creek and then drive an hour south to our hotel right outside of Miami. The next day we would meet Corey and Ray at the club in time for a little lunch before we teed off. What is it they say about the best laid plans??? Well, Ray got jammed up at work, had to reschedule his flight and missed Indian Creek all together. Meanwhile Kyle ended up starring in a classic air travel nightmare. Apparently, there had been storms around the East Coast that day and as a result the flight schedules were severely out of whack. This resulted in Kyle’s being indefinitely stranded in Tampa.

Since I was already on the ground in Florida when Kyle reported his predicament I picked up the rental car and killed time by finding a theater and checking out the movie Hall Pass. I’m a big fan of the “guy comedy” genre so I thought it was pretty entertaining not to mention a pretty effective way to burn time while Kyle kept me up to date on his status via text message. For a good while it was uncertain if he was going to make it out of Tampa at all, but eventually he boarded and his plane took off for West Palm Beach 4 hours late.

By time the movie ended and I made my way back to the airport Kyle’s plane was just landing. He grabbed his bags and we hightailed it south, finally reaching our hotel at 3AM. What a start to the trip.

The next day we were awake and out the door early. No matter how tired you are it’s tough to sleep in late when you know you have a big day ahead of you. We tooled around the South Beach area in the rental car and eventually made our way over to Indian Creek. As would be expected at a private island there was a gated entrance with a security guard. We announced ourselves and the guard let us though the gate after he checked his list to make sure we supposed to be there. Once we drove through the gate and onto the bridge that would carry us to the island we were both hit with a surreal feeling that we were about to go someplace very special. As we turned left and started driving down the road to the clubhouse we began to realize exactly how right that feeling had been.

As you can imagine, private island is relatively small. There is just enough space for a clubhouse, a top notch golf course and very small number of homes, maybe 20 or 30. As we drove down the road to the clubhouse it was awe inspiring to see the houses on the island. I hesitate to even call them houses – these were bona fide mansions. Later on in the day we learned from our caddies that the properties on the island start at roughly $20 million and go up from there. There was currently one on the market for a cool $60 million. Not a bad little winter home for someone.

The photo below is of the tree that greeted us as we pulled up to the clubhouse. I’ve been told this is a Banyan tree. I’d never seen one before and thought it was something unique.
 
Indian Creek Country Club 
So, once we arrived at the clubhouse we signed into the guest book which was something new for me. I’d never seen this little detail at any of the other clubs I’d visited and thought it was pretty cool. The valet directed us to the locker room so we could change shoes and as we walked through the clubhouse we checked out our lavish surroundings. The clubhouse facilities here are truly magnificent and the spanish hacienda style architecture is perfect suited for south Florida. Below is a photo of the clubhouse taken from the golf course.
 
Indian Creek Country Club 
The locker room is one of the greats and has a nice cozy atmosphere just perfect for post round drinks. There are wooden lockers, tables for hanging out after golf and a nice little seating area with a TV to catch the news or follow the coverage from a golf tournament. Its the type of place that makes you want to sit and hang out for hours.

After changing shoes we met up with Corey on the outdoor patio and grabbed a quick lunch before going to the range to take a few warm up swings. When 1 o’clock rolled around we headed to the first tee where we met our caddies and away we went.

There were five tee options that started at 5,080 and went to 6,815. We opted for the 6,521 yard blue tees which started out with a relatively soft par 4 of 344 yards. This hole has a slight turn to the left and plenty of fairway and greenside bunkers. The photo below was taken from the tee.
 
Indian Creek Country Club 
The 1st green has a pretty severe slant from back to front which is only slightly visible in the photo below.
 
Indian Creek Country Club 
The 2nd hole is a stout par 4 of 409 yards. Again there are numerous fairway bunkers that can cause problems for players who don’t find the fairway.
 
Indian Creek Country Club 
As we strolled down the 2nd fairway we admired some of the homes across the street that we had seen as we drove in. The photo below gives an idea of what kind of real estate can be found at Indian Creek. Pretty incredible.
 
Indian Creek Country Club 
As can be seen in the photo below of the 2nd green there is a fairly significant false front that will come into play for approach shots that don’t quite make it far enough onto the green.
 
Indian Creek Country Club 
Next we reached the first par 5 of the round and it was no joke at 552 yards. The photo below was taken from the tee and the best play is to bomb it down the middle as far as possible.
 
Indian Creek Country Club 
Below is a photo of the 3rd green. It’s difficult to see the flag because it blends in with the white building in the background, but it is located at the second window from the right on the bottom row. Click the photo to see a larger version. I thought with this hole location the bunkers gave an optical illusion that made lining up for the the approach shot from this side of the fairway somewhat testy.
 
Indian Creek Country Club 
Here is a closer shot of the 3rd green.
 
Indian Creek Country Club 
The 4th hole is the first hole to run along the edge of the island. The white barrier wall on the right side of the photo below is the perimeter of the island. This hole is a par 4 that plays 340 yards from the blue tees.
 
Indian Creek Country Club 
Below is a photo of the 4th green. More bunkers and another tricky hole location.
 
Indian Creek Country Club 
The first par 3 on the course is the 5th hole which played 170 yards from the blue tees. The photo below was taken from the tee box. This one is fairly straight forward. Avoid the bunkers and knock it on the green.
 
Indian Creek Country Club 
The 6th hole is a serious par 4 that we played from 426 yards. The bunkers out front may be challenged by long ball hitters who wish to bite off a chunk and try to shorten the hole.
 
Indian Creek Country Club 
Below is a photo of the 6th green. This one does have a bunker or two but is infinitely more accessible than the previous holes.
 
Indian Creek Country Club 
The 7th hole is another shortish par 4 of 350 yards. The photo below was taken from the tee. I know Kyle looks like he is talking on a cell phone in this picture, but I assure you he is not. I think he is scratching his head and wondering how he made bogey on the last hole!
 
Indian Creek Country Club 
Just off to the left of the tee box is another gigantic Banyan tree like the one up by the clubhouse.
 
Indian Creek Country Club 
The 7th green, pictured below, is a pushed up green with numerous deep bunkers protecting it.
 
Indian Creek Country Club 
The 8th hole is a healthy par 3 that we played from 200 yards. The bunker in the middle is well short of the green and players that find it will have to execute a long sand shot to the green which, to me, is one of the hardest shots in golf.
 
Indian Creek Country Club 
The second par 5 on the first nine holes is the 9th which plays 517 yards from the blue tees. The photo below was taken from the tee box. There is a slight dogleg right to the hole.
 
Indian Creek Country Club 
Below is a photo of the 9th green with the magnificent clubhouse as a backdrop.
 
Indian Creek Country Club 
After the 9th hole we stopped by the halfway hut which was a cool little building located just to the side of the main clubhouse between the 9th green and the 10th tee.
 
Indian Creek Country Club 
We started the second nine holes out with another long par 4. The 10th hole is a relatively straight 415 yard affair with more excellent fairway bunkering. To my untrained eye it would appear that the real genius of this golf course is the strategic bunkering and the interesting angles that Flynn used in his layout.
 
Indian Creek Country Club 
Below is a photo of the 10th green which is one of the more accessible ones on the course.
 
Indian Creek Country Club 
The 11th hole may have been my favorite. It is a par 5 that plays 513 yards from the blue tees. Its starts off with a drive over the bunkers in the foreground of the photos below. If the drive is hit well getting home in two is quite possible, especially if the hole happens to be playing down wind.
 
Indian Creek Country Club 
Hitting the green with the second shot here requires a very solid stroke. I found the angle into the green to be a little tricky, but that may have been because the hole location was on the far left side of the green and I didn’t realize how much putting surface was actually up there to the right of the flag.
 
Indian Creek Country Club 
The 12th hole is a picturesque par 3 of 180 yards with the edge of the island running along the left of the hole. Below is a photo taken from the tee box.
 
Indian Creek Country Club 
And a closer view . . .
 
Indian Creek Country Club 
At the 13th hole we’ve still got the edge of the island running along the left side. This is a par 4 that we played from 305 yards. With a favorable wind this one could be drivable.
 
Indian Creek Country Club 
Everyone in our group opted for the safe play and hit their drives safely to the fairway just short of the green. The photo below is what most of our approach shots looked like.
 
Indian Creek Country Club 
The 14th hole is another long par 4. This one plays 418 yards and is a dogleg right. The aggressive line is to hit the drive as close to the bunkers on the right as possible to cut the dogleg short.
 
Indian Creek Country Club 
Below is a photo of the 14th green.
 
Indian Creek Country Club 
The final par 3 on the course is the 15th hole which we played from 152 yards. The photo below was taken from the tee box.
 
Indian Creek Country Club 
The 16th hole is a shortish par 4 of 360 yards. A good drive up the middle here will leave just a wedge into the green.
 
Indian Creek Country Club 
Below is a photo of the 16th green. Note the hole location behind the bunkers. Again, I felt like there was a bit of an optical illusion from this side of the fairway.
 
Indian Creek Country Club 
The 380 yard, par 4, 17th hole is fairly straight forward. A good drive down the middle leaves just a short iron into the green.
 
Indian Creek Country Club 
The 17th green is pictured below.
 
Indian Creek Country Club 
The course gives the players a break with the 18th hole which is a 489 yard par 5 and a definite birdie opportunity . . . maybe even an eagle chance. A cut shot off the tee is the ideal line to have a chance to get on the green in two.
 
Indian Creek Country Club 
The photo below is the 18th green which is elevated and has some serious bunkers. Alas, what looked like a birdie opportunity turned out to be a double bogey for everyone in our group.
 
Indian Creek Country Club 
The opportunity to turn a birdie into a double bogie seems to be a common theme at Indian Creek C.C. There are a number of holes where, standing on the tee, it seems like there is not much too the hole. However, when the hole is finished the player may find himself wondering how he made bogey, or worse.

The wind is a major factor at Indian Creek as well. The day we played the wind was probably a 4 on a scale of 1 to 10. From what I understand, once the gusts really get going is when things become really interesting on this course.

After we finished our game we retreated to the locker room where we relaxed at one of the tables and introduced Corey to his first Transfusion which, incidentally, may have been the strongest I’ve ever been served. For those of you not familiar with Transfusions they are equal parts vodka and ginger ale with a splash of grape juice and a lime wedge. It’s a staple drink at many golf clubs and one that should not be missed. In my opinion, they are one of the most refreshing drinks you can have during or after a game of golf. Heck, when I played Garden City Golf Club last year my host even offered me one at 7am BEFORE we played. When I declined his offer he persisted and offered to get one for me “without the needles”, ie. no vodka. It’s a good drink, I recommend checking it out as soon as you can.

After a couple of Transfusions in the locker room we gathered our belongings and woefully loaded our clubs into the car to head back to our pedestrian existence off the island. It was sad to drive over the bridge and leave this special place behind maybe to never return again. Indian Creek is absolutely a one of a kind. The golf course is a challenging beauty with fantastic bunkering, a great set of greens and a number of excellent standout holes. The club itself struck me a the ultimate leisure experience. I don’t know if it was the fact that it was on an island, but I’ve never felt quite so removed from the world as I did at Indian Creek. It is truly a fantastic spot and one that should never be passed up if opportunity to visit arises.

  • Nathan Simpson

    Enjoyed this very much. Thanks for sharing. Felt like I was there!

  • Scott Ross

    Thanks for the insights, I have a seasonal home on Bay Harbor Island and my daughter in NYC has arranged for me to play next weekend. It appears to be a testing and interesting day next week.

  • Scott Ross

    I did get a chance to play the course on the day of the club championship…3-23-2012…the greens were mic’ed until they were glass, the greens are also domed a bit so putting was even harder. The course is a second shot course with open fairways. It was a great opportunity to be humbled by such beauty.

  • Dax Giunta

    Thanks for sharing your experience and showing us hole-by-hole a very private course – felt like I played along with you! We have a family condo in adjacent Surfside but don’t know any of the members. Do you know if there’s any other way of arranging a round? Thanks!

    • golftripper

      Dax, the only way to play Indian Creek is either with a member in your group or by having a member sponsor an unaccompanied round. I have heard of the odd charity outing that is held there so that might be worth investigating. Good luck!!!

      • Dax Giunta

        Thanks Tripper – let me if you ever make it down to play again and need a fourth lol;)

      • Dax Giunta

        Hi Steve – hope you’re well since the last time we exchanged on your experience at Indian Creek. Just taking a chance but you mentioned having a friend who is a member and, as it turn out, I’m down here staying around the corner from the club until Thursday. That said, would you be down with putting us in touch to arrange a round? I’m here relatively often so if not this time then perhaps we can target the next…let me know. Thanks!!

  • Patrick Lunn

    I’ve actually played this course 11 times (via charity tournaments) and am about to play it a 12th.

    It’s very much “target golf,” since almost every green is raised, has a ton of bunkers, and is absurdly fast to boot.

    In general, the strengths and limitations of my golf game dictate that I try to bomb the ball as far as I can with my driver, because I’m pretty accurate with it. From there, I’ll try to play bump and run, punch it, do whatever it takes to manage the course and get near the green, because I just cannot hit my short irons for the life of me. I can sometimes punch ’em….but those high, soft shots elude me. Most times I try result in shanks. Anyway, if I’m on the green, great, I’ll two-putt for par, if not, hopefully I’m just off the green, where I can either chip up or putt, either getting in for par or bogey. Yes, my game from about 130 yards in involves a lot of what baseball pitchers would call “junk.” Whatever works, I say.

    Indian Creek, more so than any other Florida course I’ve ever played, really has a way of taking me out of the style I mentioned above. With all the traps guarding where you want to be, elevated fast greens and false fronts, the bump and run game becomes impossible. On most of the holes, NOTHING but a high, soft shot will do. I’ve hit fantastic shots (for me) into some of these greens that, on most courses I play, would be rewarded. Not at Indian Creek. Shots have a tendency to hit the green, then roll way off the green down a hill, or even worse, into a bunker – where my efforts are entirely futile.

    I usually drive very well here. Most of the holes are wide open, and are confidence-boosting off the tee. For me, that’s the most-fun part of playing here. Because the place is so tough for me, I do tend to elevate my game in response and play a little better than my average, on some holes….I’m often forced to take shots that I hate, and sometimes I surprise myself. On about 3-4 holes per round, I play amazing golf. On many of the remaining holes, I score 7s, 8s, 9s, sometimes double digits as I flail around the greens, and can’t get out of the deep traps. If you don’t have a very good sand game, this place can be especially frustrating.