If you are a golfer in Indiana, you have heard about the Otter Creek Golf Course, located near Columbus, in south central Indiana. If you are a serious golfer in Indiana, then you have probably played Otter Creek. And, if you are a good golfer living anywhere in the world, then put Otter Creek on your ‘bucket list,’ if you have not played it yet.
Otter Creek (www.ottercreekgolf.com; 812-579-5227) is one of Indiana’s top golf courses. It is not a private course. It’s a public course. There is no pool. There are no tennis courts and there is no spa. It is simply a golf course – always has been and always will be.
Opened in 1964, Otter Creek – designed by the late, legendary Robert Trent Jones, Sr. – has matured like a fine wine. It has truly gotten better with age! Otter Creek is as appealing now as it was when it opened back in 1964.
“Building tournament golf courses today usually involves large scale earth moving equipment,” says Chad Cockerham, PGA head golf professional at Otter Creek. “Course architects can begin with a clean canvas and build the landscape they desire. Fifty years ago, architects took the landscape and designed the course into it. You could say the golf course was always here, Mr. (Robert Trent) Jones just chipped way the rough pieces. What was left was a fair test that provides a stage where champions distinguish themselves from the rest of the field.”
Otter Creek is now a 27-hole complex. In 1995, another set of nine holes – now called the East course, designed by Rees Jones — was opened. The original 18 holes were renamed the North (front nine) and the West (back nine).
This course was originally owned by Cummins Engine, the largest employer in the area. The course was intended to be used by Cummins’ employees, but soon after opening, the company donated the course to the City of Columbus. Golfers are now indebted to Cummins Engine.
Amateur golf is especially indebted to the existence of Otter Creek. Why? Because the Indiana State Amateur Golf Tournament was held here from 1965 – 1990 and on five other occasions since then. Otter Creek is where Indiana’s amateur golfers go to earn their golfing credibility.
“There are, on very few occasions, some things that pass the test of time and become timeless,” reflects Cockerham. “The test of golf offered by Otter Creek is, indeed, timeless.”
When you play at Otter Creek, it makes a big impression on you.
“In the last 40 years of my golfing life, including some on a minor competitive level, Otter Creek is still one of my favorite places in the world to be,” says Andy Applewhite of nearby Seymour, Indiana. “Probably the four best courses that I have played are Crooked Stick, Valhalla, Bay Hill, and Otter Creek. Otter Creek ranks as my second favorite place to play in that group.”
As for the golf course itself, it will reward you with the chance of a good score if you are accurate off the tee. There are no funny bounces or bad hops at Otter Creek, which could easily be renamed ‘Squirrel Run,’ as there are more of those furry critters on the property than otters.
Otter Creek is a golf course that gives you options on many holes, which adds to its allure and mystique. There are few blind shots at Otter Creek. You can get a good idea of how every hole should play by standing on the tee.
Otter Creek is aging gracefully, has stood the test of time, and looks forward to at least another 50 years of hosting golfers from the golfing world. Make plans to play Otter Creek and then send a note of thanks to Cummins Engine. It’s been a gift that keeps on giving – day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year.