When you’re thinking about where to go on your next golf vacation, Fort Wayne isn’t likely to be top of your list. But if you live in the upper Midwest, maybe it should be. There are no less than 25 courses in the area that are open to public play and several of the top tier courses have been packaged together by Great Indiana Golf, which operates out of Cobblestone Golf Club in Kendallville, IN. Here are three “must-play” courses when you’re in the area.
Cobblestone is one of those elite courses I was talking about. The course has been around for a while and has always been a favorite of locals. One of the accolades it has received over the years was to be selected as one of “America’s Best New Courses” in 1999. The golf course is situated on about 250 acres of rolling terrain with several natural and manmade hazards along the way. Cobblestone offers a great practice facility that allows you to work on every facet of your game. The driving range, chipping green, and putting green are all conveniently located right behind the clubhouse. Cobblestone offers 5 sets of tees and can be played anywhere from 7,005 yards from the tips to 4,734 yards from the forward tees. The finishing holes on each nine are as different as can be. Number nine is a 375-yard par-four dogleg right that is the #1 handicap. It’s a tight hole with considerable elevation changes. The 18th hole is a 495-yard par 5 that is handicapped as the easiest hole on the layout. It’s not often that a par 5 is handicap #18Sand can come into play on the left side if you pull your tee shot. Play your layup shot down the left side to give yourself a clear shot downhill into a green that is well protected by bunkers.
When the weather turns cold outside, golfers can move inside and play a round on Cobblestone’s indoor golf simulator which is loaded with over 20 of the world’s best courses. Their pro shop is also well-stocked with logoed apparel from several top brands
Noble Hawk is another “must-play” in the area and it too has received its share of recognition. Golf Digest Places to Play awarded them 4 out of 5 stars. Course owner Tim Dykstra thinks Noble Hawk is one of the most unique courses in the area and after playing a round on it, I think he may be right.
The course is a combination of several golf course styles. Several holes will remind you of a southern course with lots of sand and water. Believe me, having lived and played golf in Florida for 25 years, there is only so much you can do with sand, water, and palm trees, so having a couple of other styles to fall back on is a good thing. A few holes feature tree-lined fairways, something you find on mountain-type courses. Several holes feature manmade hazards such as ponds, bunkers, and built-up rough like a parkland course. But to me. the overall feel of Noble Hawk is more like a Scottish heathland-style with gently rolling fairways carpeted in Bentgrass fairways, large undulating greens, and a variety of ornamental grasses that add to the challenge and overall linksy look of the layout. In addition to outstanding golf facilities, the level of service provided by the friendly staff is second to none.
Each side has its own risk/reward hole. The 7th is listed on the scorecards at 295 yards but plays downhill. Sand and water divide the fairway and while it is drivable and gives up the occasional eagle, playing for birdie is a more prudent idea. Number 14 is a very narrow but short par 4 that plays 299 yards. An iron or fairway wood off the tee is the smart play. The slope of the fairway will funnel the ball back to the middle and leave a short iron into one of the course’s smallest green. Brains over brawn will yield a better score.
The 13th hole stands out in my memory from my trip to Noble Hawk. I love courses that name their holes and this is one of the best: The Jugular! For most golfers, this 542-yard par 5 is a 3-shot hole. It’s a tight driving hole with trees on either side and is best played with a drive down the right. Choose your layup club carefully and leave yourself a manageable distance into the green. You’ll have to carry a small valley on your approach shot and it’s important to be on the right level of this multi-tiered green. Par is a great score here.
The third course in the triumvirate of must-plays is Glendarin Hills. Glendarin offers more of a resort-style course, that takes you through meadows and woodlands. The course features a lot of rolling terrain and wide-open landscapes. Glendarin Hills measures over 7,000 yards from the back tees, 7,055 to be exact, with a course rating of 74.6 and a slope of 140. At 6,283 yards (70.7/131) the White Tees will give the average golfer all he can handle and still allow him to leave with a certain amount of dignity! In all, there are 5 sets of tees that create a manageable distance for every level of golfer. Before your round, warm up on Glendarin Hill’s full-length driving range and stroke a few putts on the practice green.
The Best Western Kendallville Inn is the preferred hotel partner of Great Golf Indiana. The hotel is locally owned and was recently renovated. The Best Western Kendallville Inn has all of your typical big-city hotel amenities and a heaping helping of warm, small-town hospitality. They offer a variety of rooms and suites that are perfect for golf groups and couples. Rooms include a microwave and refrigerator, 32-inch LCD TV, high-speed Internet access, and a full breakfast buffet. Be sure to ask about the “special perks” available for their golf visitors. Nearby Fort Wayne offers big-city entertainment, dining, and shopping.
The Fort Wayne area is poised to be the host of a multi-venue golf tournament like they do in Myrtle Beach and Mesquite, Nevada. They have the courses and accommodations to pull it off and with a little participation from local restaurants I’m confident it would be a success. Great Indiana Golf has put together some great golf packages that include some of the best golf courses Indiana & SW Michigan has to offer together with overnight accommodations at the Best Western Kendallville Inn. For more information or to book your next Indiana golf vacation, Visit them online at www.greatindianagolf.com.