Thanks to a very generous gift from Ned and Sue Pfau, the golf program at Indiana University has received a much-appreciated ‘shot in the arm.’ The championship golf course at Indiana University (1350 South State Road 446, Bloomington, Indiana; 812-855-7543), which first opened in 1955, has re-opened after a complete re-design by highly acclaimed golf course architect Steve Smyers. Smyers’ track record in the golf business made him the perfect candidate to oversee this project, as his resume includes work on 90 golf courses on six different continents since the late 1980s.
“We built a brand new golf course. This new course has nothing in common with the original course,” says Smyers. “Indiana University gave me a free hand. We built the golf course to match and complement the patterns of the existing landscape. It’s a beautiful piece of property.”
To honor and recognize the support from Ned and Sue Pfau, the new golf course has been named The Pfau Course at Indiana University (www.thepfaucourse.com). The financial gift from Ned and Sue Pfau was part of the Indiana University Bicentennial Campaign for Athletics. Construction of this course began in May 2018. The planned re-open date was the spring 2020, but it was delayed until June 15, 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Smyers was prudent and pragmatic with his decision making on how to construct this golf course. “Our goal was to achieve economic and environmental sustainability with this golf course,” says Smyers.
Weather permitting, the golf course will be open year round. Some of the major improvements on the golf course are target greens on the driving range, 36 mat-teeing stations, and 14-20 grass- teeing stations. Another plus is the lighted driving range. And, the venue also features a nine-hole executive course.
The new championship course measures from 4,300 to 8,000 yards. “This golf course will never be played from 8,000 yards, but it provides opportunities to give the course different looks and lengths on many different holes,” says Smyers.
This 18-hole golf course’s new routing and layout may well make it the envy of the Big Ten Conference, if not all of U.S. collegiate golf.Indiana University men’s golf coach Mike Mayer is thrilled about this new golf course.“At the beginning of the process, my expectations were high and they have been exceeded,” admitted Mayer. “This course has the potential to not only be one of the best collegiate golf courses in the country, but one of the best golf courses in the country, as a whole. Every time I visit this golf course, it takes my breath away.”
The Pfau Golf Course at Indiana University opened on June 15, 2020. Mayer reports that the new bent grass greens are in perfect condition. The new fairways have zoysia grass, which will thrive in the summer heat, and the rough will be inhabited by bluegrass. One of the featured holes on this course is the 14th hole, which can play anywhere from 268 yards to 459 yards. This picturesque par-four is the brainchild of Smyers. He has designed a sharp dogleg to the right which has 10 deep bunkers that guard the right side of the fairway. From the forward tees, this hole can play as a risk-reward drivable hole. From the back tees, it’s a strong par four that begins with a daunting tee shot. From the back tees, there’s no shame in recording a bogey five.
Since this course re-opened, everybody who plays the course seems to love it and can’t wait to return for another round on another day.
“The course is exceeding every expectation,” reports Mayer.“The reviews from nearly everyone, including some major golf magazines, have been fantastic. Mayer is optimistic that having a true championship caliber golf course will make Indiana University an attractive destination for the best high school golf prospects in the country. “Having access to this golf course will be a game-changer in recruiting,” admitted Mayer.
Smyers, himself a single handicap golfer, agrees with Mayer. “If you are a collegiate player and you want to get better, you want to go to IU,” adds Smyers. Does this mean that Indiana University will be the next powerhouse in men’s and women’s collegiate golf? Only time will tell. And, if Indiana does win a national title in golf in the coming years, Mayer may want to order two additional championship rings for Ned and Sue Pfau. And, possibly Smyers, too.
After golf, make sure you visit the 5,000-square-foot George L. Thomas Clubhouse where you can relax, dine, shop and enjoy wonderful views of the golf course. Opened in 2020 in conjunction with the opening of The Pfau Course, the George L. Thomas Clubhouse’s large east windows offer spectacular views of the golf course. While in the clubhouse, enjoy the wide range of pub-style dining options plus a wide variety of beer selections.
Now that this golf course is open, call the pro shop to reserve your tee time. Don’t be surprised if it takes your breath away!