Once we left French Lick we hightailed it back to Indianapolis so we could drop Keith off to catch his flight back to Chicago and get settled into our hotel for the second leg of the Indiana swing. For the next two days Corey and I would be staying in Carmel and playing a few courses around the Indy area. After we dropped Keith off at the Indianapolis airport we met up with my friend A.C. who lives in Indy and who had very kindly arranged all of our golf while we were in town. Over dinner A.C. told us we would be playing Wolf Run Golf Club the next morning. His description of the course had me a little concerned. He kept telling us “Wolf Run is SO hard, but you are going to LOVE it”. Hmmm . . . that sounded a bit like telling me that someone was going to punch me in the stomach but that it was going to be a jolly good time for everyone. You could say that I was a little bit skeptical.
Wolf Run Golf Club is the brainchild of the late Dr. Jack Leer who was a local dentist and an accomplished amateur golfer. Dr. Leer wanted to create a golf club that would be a stern test and a place for serious golfers to work on and develop their games. The club has cottages on site and offers national memberships so golfers from all around the region, and really the country, belong to the club and visit there for the exact reason Dr. Leer had in mind . . . to test themselves and develop their games.
The next morning we were out the door early and on our way to Zionsville which is about a 20 minute drive from where we were staying in Carmel. I’m always amazed at how quickly midwestern cities can go from developed commercial and residential areas to farmland, which is exactly what happened on our drive to Wolf Run. One minute we are passing strip malls and subdivisions and the very next we are in the middle of cornfields and tractors! Upon arrival to the club we met up with A.C.’s buddy Avis and hit a few balls on the practice tee before it was our turn to tee off. Based on the course’s reputation for toughness I was more than happy to play the 6,505 yard tee option. The next option back was 6,880 and that is pushing the limits of my capabilities so I was glad that there was no real debate among the group as to what tees we would be playing. With a steamy haze (it was going to be a hot day) over the 1st hole A.C. put a peg in the ground and started the round.
Hole 1 – 395 Yards – Par 4
The course starts with a tee shot from the elevated tee on this par 4. Enjoy the view, it may be the last time at Wolf Run that the hole is all laid out in front of you! A good driving line is over the right side of the bunkers on the left. Being on the left side of the fairway minimizes the greenside bunkers on the approach shot which is nice as well.
Hole 2 – 165 Yards – Par 3
Next we have a one shot hole that plays across flat terrain, but has a creek (not visible in the photo below) fronting the green that must be carried.
Here we have a look at the green from the right side.
Hole 3 – 515 Yards – Par 5
This par 5 plays a bit uphill and has trees lining both sides of the fairway which makes it crucial to find the short grass with the tee shot. A draw seems to be the ideal shot shape here.
Players who attempt to reach the green in two need to be aware of the greenside bunkers and bring their second shots in on the left side of the green. The photo below was taken from about 100 yards out.
Hole 4 – 375 Yards – Par 4
Here we have a mid length par 4 which provides the opportunity to be as aggressive or conservative as the player wishes. The further right a player aims the more daring the carry over the bunkers is, but the reward is a shorter shot into the green.
The approach shot into the green which sort of sits in a bit of a bowl surrounded by the mounds covered in native grass.
Hole 5 – 430 Yards – Par 4
This lengthy par 4 is a beast of a hole. The fairway doglegs to the right which sets the hole up perfectly for a fade.
Below is the view into the green.
Hole 6 – 160 Yards – Par 3
This one shot hole plays just a little bit downhill and there is a little bit of room to miss on the left and a little more on the right. Coming up short or going long may cause a few problems.
Hole 7 – 310 Yards – Par 4
I loved this short little par 4 which takes just a 200 yard shot off the tee. I suppose really big hitters could go for the green but it’s a really risky shot with the scrub area between the end of the fairway and the green. A 170-200 yard short will leave a short iron or wedge for the approach.
Below is a view of the approach into the green from the edge of the fairway. Not only is it short, but it also plays just a touch downhill to make it even shorter.
Hole 8 – 395 Yards – Par 4
This is rated as the most difficult hole on the front nine and I would agree that its pretty darn tough. I felt like the hole calls for a draw, but standing on the tee I had a difficult time getting a comfortable alignment for the shot.
A look at the approach into the green.
Hole 9 – 375 Yards – Par 4
This hole starts with a drive up the hill to a blind landing area. The hole doglegs to the left so keeping the drive on the left side of the fairway could shorten the approach shot a little bit.
Here we have the approach into the green which plays a little bit uphill.
Hole 10 – 520 Yards – Par 5
This hole provides the option of laying up short of the bunkers or trying to carry them with the drive. Laying up short means a blind layup shot and hitters long enough to carry them will have a chance to get home in two.
Below is a view of the third shot into the green.
Hole 11 – 390 Yards – Par 4
This hole bends to the right and a fade is the ideal shot shape off the tee. The bunkers on the right are in play so the safe shot is to skirt left edge in the event of a mishit that doesn’t clear them.
Here we have the approach into the green which is flanked on the right side by some pretty deep bunkers.
Hole 12 – 375 Yards – Par 4
This mid-length par 4 begins with a drive to an undulating fairway. This fairway felt plenty wide from the tee so we swung away with our drivers.
Avoid the bunkers on the right side . . . seriously, avoid them.
Hole 13 – 210 Yards – Par 3
Coming to the tee box for this hole is one of those throat tightening moments in golf. The shot is every bit as tough as it looks. I played my 200 yard club so it may play just a little bit downhill. Getting in any of the bunkers on the hillside will not end well, so really try to hit the green here.
Hole 14 – 420 Yards – Par 4
This is a cool hole where the drive is to a blind landing area. I felt like standing on most of the tees at Wolf Run, that I didn’t really know what was going to happen for the next shot.
I definitely did not see this next shot coming from the tee. The approach into the green is over water and players who hit their driver a long way may have to dial back on the teebox as it may be possible for them to run out of fairway.
Hole 15 – 445 Yards – Par 4
This hole is rated as the most difficult hole on the back and I don’t normally like difficult holes . . .not so in this case. From the tee a hybrid or 3 wood is going to be the club for many players. There is a stream crossing the fairway that can come into play off the tee so none of us hit driver here.
The approach into the green is a long one which is why the hole is considered so difficult. Players are forced to layup off the tee and then hit a long tough shot into the green. I like seeing that kind of test in a golf hole. Anything that adds to the variety of shots the course demands is a good thing in my opinion.
Hole 16 – 110 Yards – Par 3
I loved this cute little par 3 hole. It is all downhill so I hit a 100 yard shot and landed right in the middle of the green. The putting surface is small and there is not really anywhere to miss, so swing easy and be accurate.
Hole 17 – 490 Yards – Par 5
Yet again, we find ourselves driving the ball over a hill and to an area that we cannot see. This par 5 is a shorty so reaching the green in two will be a real possibility for many players.
Here is a look at the approach into the green. The bunker right in the middle of the photo below is actually not a greenside bunker. There is some distance between that bunker and the putting surface which makes it perfect for catching second shots of would be eagle putters who come up short.
Hole 18 – 425 Yards – Par 4
The final hole on the course is a lengthy par 4 with dense trees down the right side. I felt like the tee box set me up to hit a cut into the woods so it took a fair amount of effort to get lined up properly to hit the shot I wanted to hit.
The approach shot into the green is not an easy one. With bunkers and native grass everywhere just about all the misses are going to result in serious trouble.
After we finished and I tallied up my score I have to say that it was not pretty. I hadn’t see so many double and triple bogeys on my card in a long time. I’d like to chalk it up to the extreme heat that day, but I know better than that . . . the course is just plain tough. That said, I have to agree with what A.C. had told us the night before. The course is incredibly tough, but I DID love it. The holes were really interesting and offered the opportunity to hit a variety of shots. Being able to move the ball off the tee is a big help here and that is not an area of my game that I have a ton of confidence in, so there was a lot of uneasiness as I stood on each tee. The native grass made it difficult to find balls that wandered astray, but if you can keep it in the mowed grass the course offers scoring opportunities. To me, what really made me like the course is the variety of holes and shots. There just isn’t a mundane hole out there. I had a great time playing the course and I don’t recall ever enjoying a punch in the stomach quite so much as I did at Wolf Run.