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The Journal Gazette

  • Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette Caitlin Kogulan practices at the Lifetime Sports Academy, which offers kids free golf lessons.

Sunday, April 09, 2017 1:00 am

Golfers' paradise here

People of all skill levels can find something to love

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

The multitude of terrific golf courses in the area is one of the best things about living in northeast Indiana. Having covered golf here since 1997, I usually send area newcomers to Cedar Creek Golf Club because it has a unique design, is in good condition and is affordable.

Personally, I like courses that have twists and turns, don't require you to be a long-ball hitter and aren't overly crowded, so Cedar Creek is my go-to course with rates of $34 to $38 for 18 holes with carts and GPS.

Make sure you take particular note of the par-4 8th hole, which has a wicked dogleg to the right that tempts players to try to cut the corner, often with catastrophic results. And be ready for some difficult putting.

But, that's not even in Fort Wayne.

It's true, Cedar Creek is technically in Leo-Cedarville, but if a Fort Wayne address is important to you, check out Chestnut Hills Golf Club. The great thing is it prioritizes accuracy over power, so you can be successful without pulling your driver out of the bag.

But I work downtown and want to slip away from work without my boss knowing.

There are good options near downtown, including Donald Ross Golf Club, Riverbend Golf Course and Lakeside Golf Club, but I would suggest Foster Park, which was Fort Wayne's first public course back in 1928. It plays to 6,434 yards and is good for all skill levels.

That's good because my co-worker really stinks.

You might want to check out McMillen Park Golf Course then, especially if you're anything like me and feel unfulfilled with a nine-hole course. McMillen is only a par-65, 4,653-yard course, but it's entertaining enough for experienced golfers and not difficult enough to have hackers pulling their hair out.

Maybe I should just get my friend some lessons.

Any golf course worth its salt will have a teaching professional. I would recommend Rick Hemsoth, who is at Foster, McMillen and Shoaff, Mike Harris at Brookwood Golf Club, Quinn Griffing at Donald Ross, Alan Moyer at Cobblestone Golf Course in Kendallville or Suzanne Noblett at www.noblettgolf.com.

Maybe he just needs better clubs.

Bobick's Golf Headquarters and Golf Etc. are your best options.

By the way, my kid is thinking about getting into golf.

You're in luck because Fort Wayne has an amazing program, the Lifetime Sports Academy, which runs June 5 to July 21 and is for ages 7 to 18. Kids can learn golf, tennis or swimming – for free! Go to fortwayneparks.org for information or call McMillen Park.

My wife doesn't play but she likes to watch good golf.

Again, you're in luck because Fort Wayne has some of the best city tournaments in the nation and they encourage spectators to come out free of charge. The Fort Wayne Golf Association (www.fwga.com) has its championship Aug. 5-7 at Sycamore Hills Golf Club. The Fort Wayne Women's Golf Association (www.fwwga.net) has its championship July 14-16 at Coyote Creek Golf Club. And the Senior Golf Association of Fort Wayne (www.fwsrgolf.com) has its championship Sept. 17 and 18 at Orchard Ridge Country Club. Of course, these organizations are always looking for new members and they have lots of other tournaments, too. But all three city championships this year are at private courses and that's pretty rare.

Speaking of private courses, I've come into some money and might join one.

You've got lots of options, including Fort Wayne Country Club and Pine Valley Country Club, and that's just in Allen County. Sycamore Hills is the crème de la crème because the Jack Nicklaus-designed course has hosted national championships for the U.S. Golf Association and the PGA of America, plus a Web.com Tour event. Fort Wayne Country Club members would take exception with me on that, though, and Orchard Ridge's greens are amazing.

What if I don't need all the frills?

Coyote Creek has an amazing course and a lot of history. Arnold Palmer won his first paycheck there. And it is a true test of golf.

Yeah, I want to really test myself.

Get in your car and drive to Noble Hawk Golf Links in Kendallville, play from the tips on a windy day and get back to me after you put three tee shots in the water on the 222-yard par-3 15th.

Any other place outside Allen County to check out?

There are so many great courses within an hour. My staples are Cobblestone, Eel River in Churubusco and Garrett Country Club. Stonehenge Golf Club in Winona Lake, formerly a private club, is amazing. 

I like to get a lot of exercise.

Check out Zollner Golf Course in Angola. It is extremely hilly and lots of fun. Angola is also home to Glendarin Hills Golf Club.

Since I'm new to town, where I can I see and be seen with people?

Autumn Ridge Golf Club is a popular, difficult course that is frequented by lifetime Fort Wayne residents and also visitors to the town. The owner, Roger Delagrange, also owns Cherry Hill Golf Club.

Any place else I should check out?

Some people figure a course next to an airport can't be good, but people like me swear by Brookwood. I played my first round in Fort Wayne there and, even though it gets lots of play, it is in good condition and is fun for all levels of talent.

Justin A. Cohn is a writer for The Journal Gazette and has been covering sports in Fort Wayne since 1997. He can be reached by email jcohn@jg.net; phone, 461-8429; or fax 461-8648.