Warren Golf Course at the University of Notre Dame

Warren Golf Course
Notre Dame, Indiana, USA

6744 YARDS (PAR 72)
COURSE ARCHITECT: Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw (1999)
COURSE WEBSITE: http://warrengolfcourse.com/
LAST PLAYED: August 8, 2000.
LOW SCORE: 80 (+8)

After staying the night in Michigan, we ventured into Indiana with the intention of playing a course in South Bend called Elbel. We didn’t realize that we crossed a time zone going into the state so we had a lot more time than expected.

So we headed to the Notre Dame campus to look around and kill some time. We took a couple pics of the football stadium and then noticed a golf course just down the road. There were barely any cars in the parking lot and no one was on the driving range…is this place even open?

Since I wasn’t playing much golf at the time, I didn’t do any research about the courses in the area and just left the planning to another guy in our foursome. I had no idea that Notre Dame had a golf course on campus.

We headed into the 1800’s-style clubhouse and marveled at all the memorabilia behind the glass cases before moving into the well-stocked pro shop. There we found out that the course was indeed open to the public and only $35.00 or so to play. So we made the call to Elbel to cancel and handed over our cash to the girl behind the counter.

Needless to say, it was the right decision!

The Warren GC was a real treat to play. It may sound like hyperbole, but the course seemed like it had been there forever (although the soft edges around the bunkers required a lot of care when getting in and out). The land itself is decidedly unspectacular but I’d say Coore and Crenshaw did a great job maximizing what they had.

“We wanted an old-fashioned, traditional golf course, one based on subtleties rather than special effects”, Crenshaw has said of Warren GC.

C&C have always believed that ‘width’ is one of the most important elements to a solid design. This ensures playability for all players, regardless of skill level.

That belief is evident here, with very generous landing areas off the tee. Accuracy IS very important, however, if you’re to have a proper angle into the cleverly designed green complexes, many of which have false fronts.

Highlights for me included the short 143 yard fourth hole and its severely sloped putting surface and the 495 yard downhill tenth hole with a dangerous second shot requiring a carry over a creek that runs diagonally across the landing area.

Another beauty is the 16th, an uphill 345 yarder that presents a multitude of options off the tee due to a creek that runs diagonally away and to the right of the player. The fairway opens up to the right but you have a much longer carry over the creek to get to the short grass. If you try to hug the left side to get closer to the green, you risk flirting with five bunkers protecting the landing area.

17 and 18 are both brutes, which makes me assume that C&C are big believers in offering their biggest challenges at the end of the round.

Interestingly enough, there wasn’t a par for the course at the time (not sure if this has changed). I’m told that often in Scotland and Ireland, par for the day depends on the weather conditions – a par four on a calm day may turn into a par five on a gusty day.

I ended up shooting a solid 80 on the day and thoroughly enjoyed the whole Warren GC experience. The ambiance is terrific and we got a treat when the bored course marshal followed us around for five holes.

“Are we playing slow?”, I asked.

“No sir”, he replied. “I’m just enjoying your games. You don’t mind if I tag along for awhile do you?”

So we had a gallery of one during the middle portion of the incoming nine and were regaled with tales and anecdotes from our new friend.

What a great day! But we had big plans for our next round…the supposed crown jewel of the entire vacation would be played the next day in Illinois…

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