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Indiana's Green Acres Golf Club: Yes, It's the Place to Be

By Kiel Christianson, Equipment Editor and Senior Writer

KOKOMO, IN. - Raise your hand if playing in less than perfect conditions doesn't bother you. Now raise your hand if you would like to play a course that is not so easy as to be dull, but is also not so difficult as to rule out a career round.

Now raise your hand if you could play this course all day long for as little as $23 ($26 on weekends). For those of you with three hands in the air, Green Acres Golf Club in Kokomo, Indiana, is the place for you (and for God's sake, see a doctor about that third hand).

Green Acres opened in 1967 as a private golf club, and remained that way until 1984 (no word whether or not Eddie Albert, Zha-Zha Gabor or Arnold the pig were members). It is now owned by two golf pros and all-around nice guys (Earl Howard and Jim Clark), and offers one of the best golf values in central Indiana.

The private club's amenities are all still intact (practice range, restaurant and bar, banquet room, limited locker facilities, etc.), but the main draw is the 6,767-yard course on which I have had some of my best rounds.

The design is not a push-over, however. Architect Bob Simmons (designer of several other Indiana courses, e.g., The Battleground in Lafayette) took a nice piece of land that didn't quite fit in with the local farmland and turned it into an appealing golf course with a classic design. Simmons did not move a lot of earth around, but rather built holes that utilize the natural contours of the gently rolling countryside.

The only downside of the location and land is that it is in a floodplain, and a river runs through it (gee, that would make a good movie title...). Last year, unfortunately, the river overflowed after weeks of rain and several holes were completely underwater for part of the summer. This year, drought conditions have baked those same fairways. As you can imagine, the fairways on these holes are pretty ragged.

For those of us whose games are not going to suffer from inconsistent lies nearly as much as our own inconsistent swings, though, such conditions aren't going to make much difference. And, looking to the future, it likely won't be too long before the hardy blue grass and rye grass turf comes back. Until then, I always have my foot-wedge to handle the tough lies.

The bentgrass greens are in good shape, however, since they are generally slightly elevated above the fairways and stayed dry last year. The greens are medium-sized, generally round, and subtly contoured-very traditional. You won't find any post-modern, amoeba-shaped, potato chip greens here. The only knock on the greens is the fact that the old cups haven't been replaced very well, so the brown, ridged circles kind of jump out at you.

The course design makes good use of the surrounding woods and farm fields, with OB on many of the holes (or so it seems to us erratic drivers). Unfortunately, some of the OB stakes demarcate yards, too.

There are enough holes without houses to make the course pleasant. But there are also enough with houses to give it a bit of a subdivision feel. Adding to the difficulty are the over 60 (rather pebbly) bunkers in the fairways and around the greens.

Nevertheless, if you stay in bounds, out of the traps, and out of the river that winds around and across nearly half of the holes, you can shoot low here. The key is being certain of your distances to the greens; yardage markers consist only of stakes along the fairways, and many greens are slightly elevated, so you have to guess-timate what you need to get to the pins.

Take Nos. 1 and 10 (two shortish par 4s) as examples. Both holes require tee shots down into swales, leaving uphill seconds to well-bunkered greens. I've birdied and double-bogeyed each of these holes in various rounds, and they definitely set the tone for the rest of your nine.

No. 2 is only a 312 yard par 4, but it is an uncomfortable driving hole for me. First of all, woods close in on both sides of the tee box. On the left of the fairway are the river, woods, and houses. You cannot see the green from the tee, as woods and a large mound lie between tee and green.

Only 40 yards from the green, the fairway turns abruptly right around that mound, and leads to a small green that tilts from right to left, from mound to woods. Maybe this isn't hard for good golfers, but an iron off the tee never seems long enough to me, and a fairway wood seems too long.

Woods line the right side of the 416-yard, dogleg left 3rd as well. This is the number one handicap hole, thanks to those woods and the pond at the bend on the left. You need a long, straight drive here for a clear second to the green.

You should be able to cruise between No. 3 and No. 8. But when you hit the signature, 583-yard, par-5 8th, you will need to snap to and pay close attention. This hole plays straight away for the first half, and from the tee, looks less than inspiring. But at the mid-way point, the fairway doglegs severely to the right. If you fade or slice your drive to the right, you'll be fortunate to get through the trees back into the fairway.

The perfect drive, long and on the left side of the fairway, leaves what seems like a mile remaining to the green, through trees and over a river. Don't be foolish here. And don't be fooled, either-the hole has two greens, the nearer of which (intended for female players, but appropriate for both male and female high-handicappers) lies on the near side of the river.

Most players will want to lay up for a 150 to 120-yard third over the river to the slightly crowned green. I have been in foursomes where all four of us have gotten wet. I don't know if the water is ball-magnetic or what, but I have seen more short, simple approach shots flubbed on this hole than any other anywhere.

Just about every hole at Green Acres has a unique personality, so it would take far too long to talk about each. So, skipping ahead to the 167-yard, par-3 No. 12, you find the easiest hole on the course, if you know how to play it.

The green is tucked behind a large hill on the right, and drops quickly off into to the woods on the left. Play the hill-even a tee shot that looks way right should trickle down nicely.

The 420-yard 13th is a tough par 4. Another huge dogleg, the fairway bends to the left around a grove of trees. You can't go over the trees, and only the luckiest of shots will go through them (I guess I live right). If you bail out right, though, you're left with a very long second that you'll need to fade around yet more trees on the right.

The 568-yard 14th is very similar to No. 13, except it's a par 5 and in the woods on the left is a river as well. This is the fourth hardest hole, and No. 13 is the second, so these two can determine your back nine score.

Nos. 17 and 18 are likewise similar to each other, with No. 17 a short par 4 (376 yards) and No. 18 a long par 5 (568 yards). Both are doglegs left, with blind tee shots over bunkers at the "knee" of each dogleg. I always try to cut the corners over those bunkers, but the immediately adjacent yards come into play when you go this route. A pull hook results in OB. The second shot on each hole is downhill, but the 18th is much more so than the 17th.

The elevated green on No. 18 is guarded by bunkers both front right and front left. It is reachable in two, but since you will be hitting downhill and back up again, only a high AND long shot will get there; rolling it up through the bunkers will be tough. Both 17 and 18 can be relatively easily birdied, but they can also be tripled without too much effort if you go OB off the tee. So don't count your chickens before they're in the clubhouse.

For between $30-$40 (with cart), you could play here all day, which is really quite remarkable. It is also a very walkable course, if you prefer to play the way God and the Scots intended, and so could be played all day for even less. And the Scots wouldn't get too worked up about the rough fairways (which will likely recover by next season).

There is not much advantage for the white tees over the blues, so it is also a great course for all levels of golfers to play head-to-head to get a good feel for how they stack up. And while Green Acres likely won't take your breath away-it's design is solid rather than flashy-its woods and river might just take a few of your golf balls away.

One is very hard-pressed to think of a better value between Indy and Ft. Wayne, especially for the novice to intermediate golfer. As the song says, "Green Acres is the place to be."

Green Acres Golf Club

1300 Green Acres Drive
Kokomo, IN 46901
765-883-5771

Kiel ChristiansonKiel Christianson, Equipment Editor and Senior Writer

Kiel Christianson has lived, worked, traveled and golfed extensively on three continents. As senior writer and equipment editor for WorldGolf.com, he has reviewed courses, resorts, and golf academies from California to Ireland, including his home course, Lake of the Woods G.C. in Mahomet, Illinois. Read his golf blog here.


 
Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • golf

    Brenda Claytor wrote on: May 5, 2006

    I am retired and looking for friends to golf with. I usually golf with husband at Green Acres ...but trying to find women that like to golf.

    Reply

    • RE: golf

      cindy wrote on: May 1, 2015

      We are starting a Thursday night girls night out( nine hole) beginning May 14, 2015 at 5:45 - 6:00 are the Tee times please come join us and we also meet at 9:00 on Wednesday morning to play 18 holes. Come join us and bring some other ladies.

      Reply

    • RE: golf

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  • Golf course and homes

    Taylor wrote on: Apr 6, 2005

    These holes and homes are beautiful and you can find a home ranging from the price of $18,000-$80,000 There are many diffrent types of Homes infact I live in one of the most expensive ones!

    Reply

    • RE: Golf course and homes

      Taylor wrote on: Apr 6, 2005

      Really I dont think you do little girl!

      Reply

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