Indiana University approaches completion of new course construction

  • Indiana-University

    Construction of the eighteenth hole on the new golf course at Indiana University

  • Indiana-University

    Steve Smyers has designed a future-proof and environmentally sustainable layout

  • Indiana-University

    The course will have just 46 acres of irrigated turf

  • Indiana-University

    Fairways are being sodded with warm-season Myer Zoysia, to minimise required inputs

Toby Ingleton
By Toby Ingleton

Construction work is largely complete on a new golf course designed by Steve Smyers at Indiana University’s campus in Bloomington.

The new course replaces one that was built in the 1950s, which the University felt was no longer suitable for the modern golfer.

The University assigned a parcel of land from the old course to the create of a new state-of-the-art hospital, so the new course uses some of the remaining land from the previous course, plus an area that had previously been used for cross-country athletics.

“The topographic movement of the property, along with varied landscape ‘rooms’ and environments, make it ideal for golf,” said Smyers. “The client allowed us the flexibility to utilise the site where we created a journey that traversed the different environments and unique topography in a manner to develop 18 individual, different and unique golf holes. By doing this it allowed for the strategy to emanate from the land.”

The University’s brief to Smyers was to design a course that: could host high-calibre championships; provide for the future of the game; requires golfers to execute a variety of shots; would preserve and enhance the environment; and would be environmentally and economically sustainable.

“I have long advocated that most properties are distressed from an environmental perspective. Special care and attention went into designing around sensitive or protected areas. Additional emphasis was placed on the creation of wildlife habitats. Careful planning was placed on improving the quality of storm water runoff. There was also thoughtful interaction with the environmental community on restoring and reinforcing forest edges.”

Just 46 acres of turf – on tees, fairways, greens and the first cut of rough – are being irrigated on the course. Fairways have been sodded with warm-season Myer Zoysia, which requires fewer inputs than the cool-season grasses that are traditionally used in this region. Fine fescues in the second cut of rough will not require irrigation.

“Because the property is large, approximately 70 acres of out-of-play areas have been planted with native grasses,” said Smyers. “These areas provide great wildlife habitat environments, storm water purification and a peaceful setting and interaction between golf and natural surrounds. It also requires very little maintenance once established.”

While the golf course has been designed to provide a stern test, Smyers and the Indiana University team have also been very conscious of the everyday golfer. Each hole has multiple teeing grounds, it will be easy to find balls in the rough, and all but one of the greens are open to running shots.

“The only forced carry on the course is the second shot on the final hole,” says Smyers. “For the elite player we created a very demanding and long two-shotter as we wanted a strong championship finish. For the everyday player the hole will play short and the stimulation will be to execute a lofted club to a large, elevated putting surface guarded by multi-level bunkers.”

Construction work is now largely complete, and the course is expected to open in summer 2019.