The concept for this new blog series came while I was traveling for work down at the PGA Merchandise Show. I have been playing golf for as long as I can remember and I wanted to figure out a way to write about something I loved as much as golf. So while walking around the showroom floor down in Orlando I had this concept to writing about the rounds of golf that I was already playing. I play golf as much as I can and the rounds produce nothing more than a scorecard and some mediocre memories based on how well I played. But that is where I decided to start writing about the golf that I was playing.
So I sat down and figured out a template of how I wanted to write these golf blogs. I decided that I would write a quick overview of the golf course, and then break down each hole on the course as I played it. I will talk about the distance of the hole from each set of tees, the hazards to be aware of when teeing off and hitting your second shot, the greens and their size and speed, and anything else that I can think of that is important for your round if you choose to play these desired locations.
The first golf course that made the list was Arbor Trace Golf Club in Marion, Indiana. The course is located about an hour from where I live in Fishers, Indiana and was not a bad drive at all. You can get to the golf course a couple of different ways, but since I live right off of Interstate 69 I took that straight north. Thanks so my iPhone’s global positioning system I was able to go turn for turn right into the club’s parking lot. Be careful when traveling to the course as you might miss it if you are coming from the east. There is no prominent sign telling you where you are.
When I first pulled in to the small parking lot I was pumped to finally be back on the golf course this year. I had not hit a single ball since the end of last season and I was excited to just get a club in my hands. I got out, stretched, and headed into the clubhouse to get a bucket of balls and warm up a little bit before my round.
When you first walk into the clubhouse you will see two different areas to visit. One area is the actual pro shop where you can check in and pay for your round or range balls. The other area is the dining area and while it is not an actual restaurant, the staff was friendly and they had a wide range of things to choose from. At the turn I had a chili dog, and after loading it up with onions and relish it was a meal fit for a champion. I highly recommend one of these when you are there. They are only $1.75 each, so you wont break your wallet either.
In the pro shop you will likely meet Jack Hart, the man behind the incredible golf course you are about to play. When I walked in he was the one that greeted me and even took the time to share a few pieces of information about the golf course. You can also shop for new shoes, a new driver, a new set of irons, or any other club that you might want to throw in your bag. They also have a wide variety of golf balls including the Titleist Pro V-1. That is my ball of choice, and they are competitively priced coming in at just under $50 a dozen.
They also have a handful of items that have the Arbor Trace Golf Club logo on the side. You can grab a bag of tees, a divot tool, or even a copy of the latest USGA rules book. There is really nothing missing from this golf shop. And if you are the kind of person that likes to hit a club before you buy it, the folks at Arbor Trace are always holding demo days with the industries’ leading manufactures. For instance, they have one coming up in a couple of weeks with Callaway. They are even giving you a free video camera if you buy a driver to help you tape and learn more about your swing.
Like I said, I had not hit a ball all year long so I wanted to warm up a little bit. I grabbed a small bag of balls and headed down to the driving range to warm up. The range is pretty wide open, but sits right next to the golf course. So if you have a big hook or slice, I might be cautious of where you aim. The range is also only about 250 yards deep, so if you are a long ball hitter then you need to make sure to not pull the big dog out of the bag.
After I was done hitting some balls I headed back to the clubhouse, jumped in my cart, and headed over to the first tee. Jack had warned me that the front nine was the easier of the two nines and that I needed to take advantage of the shorter holes and the par 5s. If you are playing from the back tees, the blues, you only get two par 5s all day. On the back, only the white tees and up will have a par 5. Jack later told me that folks used to complain the course was too much of a chip and put curse. So, they made the back longer, harder, and took away both par 5s for the long hitters. Trust me, when we get to the backside I quickly learned what it was like to make a bogey or two.
Hole 1 – Par 4 – Handicap 9
Blue – 360 Yards | White – 350 Yards | Gold – 300 Yards |Green – 260 Yards
Hole one is a pretty open first hole. It is a short par four leaving most players with a short iron or a wedge into the green. There is minimal tree coverage on both sides of the green and a small bunker guarding the front right of the green. Most of the bunkers on the course were small, some not even worth having in my opinion, but they do make it interested when hitting your approach shots.
The green on hole number one is very small and pretty much flat for the most part. For this early in the season the course was in great shape. The fairways were cut short, the greens were running smooth, and the grass couldn’t have been any greener. But hitting your approach shot into hole number one make sure you don’t miss long or you will end up in some thicker tree coverage.
Hole 2 – Par 4 – Handicap 1
Blue – 430 Yards | White – 400 Yards | Gold – 325 Yards | Green – 280 Yards
Hole two is a gorgeous golf hole. Standing on the tee box you see the green, even though it is some 400 plus yards away, a huge body of water guarding the front of the green. On the left hand side there is a fountain for aesthetics and a bridge to get you over the water if you are walking. I was in a cart for my round, but I thought the bridge was a nice touch. My drive ended up left behind some trees so I was unable to even go for this green in two shots. I hit a punch six iron out under the trees and left myself a wedge into the green.
The green was a little big bigger on hole two and it guarded in front by the water and long by out of bounds. There is actually a road behind the green and this forces you to be fairly accurate. Hit the ball short and you’re wet and go long and you are facing a two shot penalty. I ended up missing my ten-foot par putt and took my first bogey of the day on hole number 2.
Hole 3 – Par 4 – Handicap 3
Blue – 435 Yards | White – 335 Yards | Gold – 310 Yards | Green – 270 Yards
Nothing like getting your round started off with two of the hardest holes on the course. This hole comes in as the third hardest hole on the course, and it looks that way from the tee box. The hole is long, first off, with trees lining both sides of the fairway. The only thing good about this hole is the green. It is yet another circular green and is a little bit larger than the first two holes that you just played. But, the length plays a bear on this hole.
My tee shot ended up right, again outside of the fairway and behind some trees. I hit a punch Tight Lies (yes, I still carry a Tight Lies) and ended up hole high just left of the green. After a nice up and down I walked away from this hole with a par. If you get a par on this hole you will feel like you gained one on the field. Outside of the water being on the previous hole, I would consider this hole just as hard as number 2.
Hole 4 – Par 4 – Handicap 11
Blue – 310 Yards | White – 290 Yards | Gold – 280 Yards | Green – 270 Yards
When walking off of 3 green you will notice a small rest area just behind the tee box on hole 4. It is nothing to get too excited about, but there is a golf ball washer, a water fountain, and a Pepsi machine in here. It makes it a nice place to take a quick break if you have a group playing a little bit slow in front of you.
This hole is quite short, considering the first few holes you just played. But this hole, although seems like you might be able to reach it if you have a good swing at it, tosses some trees on the right hand side toward the green. There is also out of bounds long and right so you are basically forced to hit a three wood off the tee. There is also a bunker short and left of the hole to catch any miss hits. However, as tough as this looked from the tee, I pulled a driver and smoked one in the trees on the left. I had a shot at the green, tossed a 56 degree sand wedge onto the green, and drained the fifteen footer for birdie.
Hole 5 – Par 5 – Handicap 15
Blue – 540 Yards | White – 485 Yards | Gold – 410 Yards | Green – 400 Yards
This hole runs right alongside the same cornfield that you have been seeing in the distance all day long. It is the first par 5 on the golf course and is not an overly long golf hole. The green sits a little bit up hill from the tee box, and the fairway is lined on either side with light tree coverage. Of course, the way I was hitting the ball that day, I turned one over and tossed it into the trees on the right. Take note that from the tee maybe 260 yards out or so there is a little bunker that can cause some damage if you are not careful.
When I got to my ball I had only a few inches of room to work with. I decided to grab the trusty Tight Lies and take another swing at it. The ball came off the club face perfectly and the ball landed just short of the green. I had a nice little pitch and run for another chance at birdie. I hit the wedge a little fat and the ball checked on the green, but I hit the putt too hard, took the break out, and walked away with a par. Then again, you can never be too upset with a par.
Hole 6 – Par 3 – Handicap 5
Blue – 175 Yards | White – 165 Yards | Gold – 140 Yards | Green – 125 Yards
I have never been a big fan of par 3s, simply because there is so little room for error. This is the first par 3 on the golf course, and is not an easy one. I pulled a 5 iron here, as there was a little bit of wind in my face. You want to make sure not to miss left due to the heavy tree coverage. But there is plenty of room right, so swing away.
Once you get on the green make sure to miss it low. The green slopes back to the front and can make for some quick putts. My shot was dead at the flag, but after a bad bounce it ended up being long and sitting in the fringe. My putt ended up short and left, but it was good distance and left for an easy tap in.
Hole 7 – Par 4 – Handicap 4
Blue – 305 Yards | White – 280 Yards | Gold – 275 Yards | Green – 260 Yards
Hole 7 is quite the intimidating tee shot. The green is a little bit of a dogleg to the left, with more heavy trees short and left and water all down the left hand side. You don’t think this water will come into play, but standing there, especially from the blue tees, it is quite the nerve-racking tee ball. If you are going to miss off the tee, miss right.
I hit a driver trying to actually fly the trees on the left and land somewhere near or on the green. I had a touch of wine behind me and swung for the fences. Guess where I ended up? In the trees! I had another shot to the green, but no look at the glad from the trees. However, I tossed it up there and landed about fifteen foot from the hole. I two putted for a safe par.
Hole 8 – Par 3 – Handicap 7
Blue – 155 Yards | White – 140 yards | Gold – 130 Yards | Green – 120 Yards
I have never seen a par three like this before. The same water that you hit over on the last hole comes into play on this hole. But, there is a net hanging above directly behind the green. The reason for the net is to stop balls from the tee box affecting the players putting on the next hole, but it is funny to think that if you hit it long you might stay dry.
I hit an 8 iron up there and the ball rolled off the backside of the green. Again, getting a close up look of that net was interesting. I two putted for par, leaving it some good speed on the under side of the hole. I remember Justin Leonard once saying that if you miss a putt above the hole there is always the chance that it will drop. He stated that amateurs miss putts below the hole. I guess I know where I stand.
Hole 9 – Par 5 – Handicap 13
Blue – 555 Yards | White – 505 Yards | Gold – 410 yards | Green – 400 Yards
The final hole on the front nine is yet another par 5. This hole is straight away with a wide open fairway. There are light trees on the left and right, but if you are going to miss do so on the left hand side. This will give you the better shot into the green. The second shot goes down hill and back up hill right by the green and I was unable to get there in two. I hit a Tight Lies and was a good thirty yards short. I did manage to get up and down though.
On this hole make sure you do not hit the ball long. The clubhouse sits directly behind the green and the tenth tee is just to the left of the green. Also, right of the green and short there are some thicker heavy trees protecting the second shot. Either way, I suggest playing this hole as a three shot par five and hoping you can knock one in for birdie once you make the putting surface.
After the front nine I stopped in the clubhouse and grabbed a soft drink and one of those killer chili dogs. I chatted with Jack Hart a little bit about the back nine as well. He made a point to mention the two now par 4 holes on the backside. Originally they were par 5s from all sets of tees, but now they have rearranged the course and made them par 5s from the white tees and par 4 from the blue tees. I had been playing the blues for the front nine and had started to think I might change my mind for the backside.
Hole 10 – Par 4 – Handicap 18
Blue – 300 Yards | White – 260 Yards | Gold – 250 Yards | Green – 230 Yards
When I stepped up to hole ten, I had a tough decision on whether to hit a driver off the tee or take a Tight Lies and just get it close to the green. Being only a 300-yard hole I chose to take a driver out and smoke it to try and get close. Trees line the fairway on both sides and a bunker on the front left side of the green. The tree coverage is lighter on the left hand side so it makes sense to throw a bunker over there.
Take note when teeing off the water that is on the short hand side of the tee box. It will not come into play on this hole, but later it will be noticed. When you make it to the green you have little room to work with and the green slopes from the back to the front. I started the backside off the same as I did the front with a par.
Hole 11 – Par 4 – Handicap 8
Blue – 470 Yards | White – 415 Yards | Gold – 360 Yards | Green – 290 Yards
The 11th hole is a beast. Sitting at 470 yards from the back tees, you have to hit two great golf shots to make it home in two. Try to play this hole as a par 5 if you are not long off the tee and if you can walk away from this hole with a par consider yourself one up on the field.
The fairway is lined with trees both sides, but it is a pretty wide open fairway. You have to be able to swing away here for the sheer distance to the green. Once you are in the fairway, however, you have a small green that sits uphill to content with. If you are going to try to take a shot at the pin, which being it’s a par 4 you more than likely will, miss left. Right is covered with thick trees and leaves for a tough up and in.
Hole 12 – Par 3 – Handicap 6
Blue – 165 Yards | White – 155 Yards | Gold – 135 Yards | Green – 95 Yards
This hole is sitting right up against the cornfield and is protected pretty much all the way around by water. You have a nice sized pond on the front and right side of the green. When I stepped up the pin was in the front right, making me want to just miss left and long to stay dry. I didn’t as I hit it in the drink on my first shot. I hit an 8 iron, with wind at my back thinking that was enough, but the hole plays longer than the distance.
As if the water was not enough to throw you off, there is a bunker on the back right side of the green as well. This just shows that you need to aim left, miss left, and stay clear of the water. The pond is a red stake hazard, so you could potentially get a decent second shot depending on where your ball enters the pond, but that means you drop two and are hitting three form the field. I did in fact get up and down to save bogey.
Hole 13 – Par 4/5 – Handicap 14
Blue – 470 Yards | White – 475 Yards | Gold – 400 Yards | Green – 390 Yards
This is the first of two holes on the back that will confuse the average golfer. If you are playing the tips and are teeing off from the blues, this hole plays a little bit shorter than the whites. However, this hole for you would be a par 4. If you are playing from the white tees, like most golfers do, you will have a bit longer to get to the green, but this will be playing as a part 5 for you. Apparently folks here used to complain about the distance of the course so they decided to make some adjustments.
I hit my drive a little thin here, which left me a good fifty yards short of the dogleg. You need to be at least 275 from the whites to get around the corner. If you are not around the turn you have no shot at the green, as there is heavy tall tree coverage over to the left. I ended up hitting a smoking Tight Lies just around the bend; hit a seven-iron close, and two putted for a crowd-pleasing par. If you are playing from the blue tees, I wish you the best of luck on this hole.
Hole 14 – Par 3 – Handicap 2
Blue – 245 Yards | White – 215 Yards | Gold – 180 Yards | Green – 150 Yards
Talk about a long par 3. Standing from the blue tees you feel like you need to pull a driver to get close to the green. From the whites I took a Tight Lies to get there. The green is pretty big, considering the rest of the greens on the golf course, and the green is surrounded with trees on either side.
I hit the ball left about pin high but had a low hanging limb to contend with. I hit a wedge up and under, snapped a piece of the limb, and the ball came out hot and ran through the green. I did not get up and down and took a bogey. But, at the same time a hole this long I am just glad it was over.
Hole 15 – Par 4/5 – Handicap 16
Blue – 460 Yards | White – 480 Yards | Gold – 430 yards | Green – 385
Let’s go deep into the woods on this one. The tee box on hole 15 is buried in the woods you have been appreciating all day. You arrive at the tee and again the blue tees are in front of the white tees. This is because this is the second hole that was turned into a par 4 for the folks hitting from the blues. This hole is also another dog leg, almost 90 degrees to be exact. It is almost impossible to hit driver off the tee as you only need to go some 240-250 yards to get around the bend. From there the hole is not that long.
I took a driver, of course, and smoked it into the woods on the left. This left me with almost no shot to the green and a tough thick nearly buried in the rough lie. While walking to my third shot, which landed just short of the green, I noticed a bell just off the cart path near the bend. This is intended for folks to let the group behind them know it is OK to hit their drives and that the group in front is out of their way. I thought this was a cool feature and something I have never seen before.
Hole 16 – Par 4 – Handicap 12
Blue – 440 yards | White – 400 Yards | Gold – 340 Yards | Green – 385 Yards
Take out your driver and let it rip. This hole is pretty much wide open. You won’t see another more open fairway on this golf course. However, the hole is long and the green is uphill. The hole plays a lot longer than it actually is. The green is also pretty wide open and you can miss on any side without too much trouble.
The green is pretty small, but after this many holes you are used to it by now. I took a driver, smoked it up the left hand side, and actually hit about the best shot I had hit all day. I ended up, of course, right behind a tree and had no shot at the green. After a 6 iron knock down I chipped it up and in for a par.
Hole 17 – Par 4 – Handicap 10
Blue – 425 Yards | White – 400 Yards | Gold – 355 Yards | Green – 285 Yards
This is another pretty wide open hole. There is a bunker short and left, but the hole plays pretty easy from the tee box. There is, when coming into the hole, out of bounds behind the green so make sure to watch out for that when hitting your approach shot. You also have to contend with scattered trees all down either side of the fairway. When you do finish on the green, however, you have a relatively flat putting surface and can take dead aim at the hole.
Hole 18 – Par 4 – Handicap 4
Blue – 450 Yards | White – 395 Yards | Gold – 355 Yards | Green – 290 Yards
Most golf courses like to finish with a par 5.If not, they like to finish with a strong and difficult par 4. That is what Arbor Trace Golf Club has done. This hole is not easy by any means. Remember that water I told you to pay attention to on hole 10? This pond comes into play on hole 18. It is reachable from the tee box so make sure you play it out to the left.
The blue tees on this hole are some 30-40 yards behind the whites and take you back into the woods almost. The hole is not easy from the whites either, but makes for an interesting finish. If you are coming down the stretch and need a birdie, this might not be the hole for you.
My round at Arbor Trace Golf Club was just what I wanted it to be. It was my first round of the season and was actually the first time I had hit balls since last fall. But after a bucket on the range and 18 holes on the golf course I was ready to get out there and play some more. This game is an addiction and the folks at Arbor Trace helped me feed my need.
The golf course comes in at a par 72 from the white tees or a par 70 from the blues, and is a blast to play. From the small sloping greens to the pick your spot drives that you are forced to hit on nearly every hole, this is not a typical municipal course.
When you make your way up to Marion to play the golf course, make sure you introduce yourself to Jack Hart, grab a chili dog at the turn, and just have a blast playing a difficult and extremely affordable golf course. I cant wait for my next round. Until then, hit it straight!