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Just as central Indiana has dozens of great golf courses, so also does it have many courses I don’t like. Unfortunately, I had to spend money to play them before I learned that. In the first blog, I wrote about my 14 favorite golf courses. Whether they were too hard or not made no difference because their beauty offset any frustration resulting from attempts to score well. The courses that I write about here, however, failed to enliven my sprit. Even if I were to shoot my career best score, I would still dislike them. That is, in fact, the case with one of them. My best score ever was on a course I despised. 

To my way of thinking, there are several reasons to dislike a course. They are:

It has numerous unfair holes

It costs too much to play

I never score well there

It’s flat and ugly, the landscape hasn’t been nurtured and beautified

It’s boring to play, too many holes look the same

It’s just plain too hard

It has too many blind shots, ie. you can’t see where your ball has gone

It has opposing parallel fairways where you’re in danger of being hit by errant shots

It’s never in good condition

That’s enough, don’t you think? I’ve made a list of 18 courses I could care less to ever play again. At this point in my life, I’m unable to play anyway, but when I get to heaven, I don’t want anyone making a tee time on any of these courses. If J, Bruce, Roger, Frank, KP, Chuck, Monte, George, Joe, Clint, Pat, Dave, Craig, Lorin, Jim, Tom, John, Warren, Bernie, Larry, or Drew are there, tell them to go ahead and play without me.

NUMERO UNO: The winner is the dreaded Pleasant Run. Replete with blind shots, poorly placed obstacles, dangerous parallel fairways, forced carries, and grassless tee boxes, there is little to like about this course. I learned to play golf there, and as a result learned many bad habits. Blind fairways make it hard to know where your shot has gone so you develop a habit of looking up to keep from losing your ball. “When you look up, you see a bad shot!” I never got over that failing. If I avoided Pleasant Run, my ego had a chance to re-inflate, but there were many other courses capable of re-bruising it.

I disliked several other courses because they were boring and ugly: Winding River, The Legends of Indiana, Tameka Woods, Smock, Sarah Shank, The Golf Club of Indiana, Valle Vista, and Hawk’s Tail. Conditioning is a problem with some of these courses, but others lack imagination and the touches that make an average course a good one. Most of these I tried to avoid playing if I could.

Courses with unfair holes translate into a course that’s unnecessarily difficult. Hickory Stick tops this list with Purgatory a close second. Hickory Stick holes numbers 5, 10, 13, and 16 should be blown up and re-done. Hard and unfair are perfect descriptions. Landing areas slope in the direction of hazards and keeping your ball on the small, elevated greens is very difficult. Purgatory has a hundred or more bunkers so keeping your ball out of the sand is nearly impossible. If you’re good at hitting out of bunkers, this course is for you. Heartland Crossing’s back nine is one of the hardest nine holes in the area. Some of the holes were so difficult they filled in several sand bunkers to make them easier. It helped, but it’s still a hard course.

Ironwood and Prestwick make the list because they are hard, and I found playing them an easily forgettable experience. Dye’s Walk has several unfair holes, narrow fairways, and an uncomfortable club atmosphere. Zionsville’s Wolf Run has the reputation of being the hardest course in Indiana. The slope is 148! The average is 115-120. I once played there as a guest and had no business playing the course. It was impossibly difficult. The Sagamore Club designed by Jack Nicklaus is difficult even from the forward tees. Fairway bunkers and water hazards are placed at the exact distance where a golfer of my ability hits the ball. Your ball is continually landing in hazards, and you’re always trying to hit your way out of trouble. 

The next course I dislike will raise a few eyebrows because it’s a favorite of a lot of people. I find it was not suited to my game. Uphill shots to greens, deep depressions in fairways in front of greens, a creek that crosses in front of seven greens, a forced carry over a deep ravine, and just plain long holes make Martinsville country club a nightmare for me. Sam Carmichael is a good ole boy, but he owns a tough track. I played there dozens of times, but nearly every hole gave me fits one time or another. One, three, four, six, seven, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, fifteen, sixteen, and eighteen all prevented me from scoring well! So while there exists fondness and a warm spot in the hearts of many golfers for Martinsville, I find it to be the pebble in my shoe I can’t get rid of. 

My best round, paradoxically, was on one of my least favorite courses, Hickory Stick. How that happened I just don’t know, but it did. I actually don’t remember a thing about the round, but kept the scorecard to prove to myself I can break 80! 

Golf is supposed to be fun, and it is when you play decently or the course is enjoyable. When you don’t play well it’s maddening. The course you play contributes to your success or failure because when your game and the course jibe, good things happen.  

A third blog will come later. It’s focus will be on courses I could take or leave. There are quite a few of them. Depending on the day, my mood, and whether I hit the ball well, I might like them one time and the next time, I might not. That blog comes later.

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