Upon visiting the historic Hazelden Country Club, near the rural town of Brook, Indiana, I immediately knew
I was some place “special.” And as strange as it may sound, what came to mind, were the beautiful old lyrics
from one of our great American classic ballads, “Ole man river, that ole man river, he just keeps rollin’, ”...and
why not! This land, including the George Ade homestead, located on the property, (which was listed on the
national registry of historic places in 1976) – along with the equally historic Iroquois River, that runs through
the property – makes you feel as if – if you were to quickly blink your eyes – you could easily be taken back to the late 1800’s – listening to some deep resonate voice pour out those low dulcet tones – you know – you can hear it now…see...I told you!
The story of Hazelden CC, is…the story of Mr. George Ade; a man who was born in nearby Kentland, Indiana in 1866, attended Purdue University in Lafayette, Indiana, and upon graduation, moved to the emerging “heart” of America’s ever-growing frontier – Chicago, Illinois.
Having worked as a reporter in college for the “Lafayette Call” – it was a natural progression for Mr. Ade to continue his love of writing in Chicago as he joined the staff of the “Chicago Morning News” – a long gone publication that gave him a place to work his magic through his “Stories of the Streets and of the Town” column, which “captivated” audiences throughout the Midwest, and beyond.
Mr. Ade soon expanded his career – writing countless plays, journals, and the like – and at one time (5)! of his plays, or musical comedies, were playing on Broadway in New York City, at the same time! No less than (Oxford Professor) Sir Walter Raleigh was to call George Ade – “The greatest living American writer.” Maybe the best way to describe his standing in the world of arts or entertainment of his era – would be to liken him to our present day’s George Lucas -or- Mr. Steven Spielberg.
Mr. Ade bought some property in rural Iroquois Township in the early 1900’s, built what was considered one of the finest country estates of its time, on his land – and in 1908, he hosted the “launching” of – (the soon to be President) –William Howard Taft’s election campaign at his home - *which I mentioned, still sits astride the course today.
As Mr. Ade and his friends enjoyed going out to the “back forty” and hitting a few golf balls from time to time – it seemed only fitting for a golf course to be built for their further enjoyment – and so that’s what he did, in 1910! And that is the course – (at least the original (9) holes) – that you will see today when you visit Hazelden CC.
Mr. Ade continued to write throughout the entirety of his lifetime – becoming a patron of the arts, a generous philanthropist – including a very generous gift, which allowed Purdue University to build the Ross-Ade Football Stadium -and- a biography of sorts that included these (3) individuals who were considered “pillars” of early America: Mr. Nicola Tesla, Mr. Mark Twain, and Mr. George Ade – and was edited by Hammond, Indiana’s own Mr. Jean Shepherd – fine company indeed.
Hazelden Country Club – operated from 1910 until 1980 as a (9) hole private club, and at one point, was assigned over to the membership, who (in 1980) added a new (9) holes that comprise the design of what you will see today when you come down to visit. (And) as best as I can figure, is (probably) the oldest continually operating golf course in our entire state!
In (2007), Mr. & Mrs. (Mike & Candace) Armstrong purchased the property, and have worked diligently in trying to maintain the “character” and (100+) year old “feel” to the property. In the clubhouse, you will see pictures of Mr. Ade, President Taft, and players – including the great Gene Sarazen, who came to play the course on occasion – proudly placed on the walls.
The course, which measures only a very “1910-like” 4,800-6,00 yards from its (3) sets of tees, is a rather easy par (70) lay-out for our modern day equipment, etc. (But) still forces you to hit some “creative” shots in order to score your best. *A hint: Mr. Ade was a lifelong slicer off the tee, so while playing the original (9) holes, he favors the right side when driving – he purposely made sure there was ample room for errand shots hit in that direction!
The course has electric carts, but is also very walkerfriendly; the Iroquois River, a pond, and many mature trees do come into play; there is a putting green and a practice area; the yardages on the course are wellmarked; the rate-structure is very player-friendly; the full bar & lounge area holds approx. (80) very comfortably, and serves some fine “pub-style” food from its full kitchen – (thanks to the incomparable work of Miss Yolanda!); the banquet room, which holds upwards of (120), and is very comfortable handling weddings, special events, etc., (also) will cater food designed for your needs; and the course, which suffered a (100+) year rain with a total of over (25) inches falling in a very short few weeks in (2015) – (forcing a
brief shut down in operations) – has been totally reseeded, and the drainage problems have been aggressively addressed.
Owner Mike Armstrong will be the first one to tell you that (2016) is definitely a “transition year” for Hazelden – with the rain of last summer – but just play “winter rules” when you go, and you will notice that the course (is) recovering very nicely.
For the low handicapper, expect a few real good chances at making some really nice “skins,” and for the newer player – you should have an opportunity to relax & not be overly taxed by the degree of difficulty.
But no matter what you shoot – I guarantee you will be treated well by the very friendly staff, you’ll have some fun, and maybe – just maybe – as you spend a little time on the property, you’ll hear what I heard as you relax in the country on this (100+) year old property – how did it go again? “Ole man…” yeah! You got it!
Hazelden CC is located about 45 minutes to an hour from northern Lake County, IN – it’s in the country, so call ahead for exact directions (basically I-65 south & then west to Rte. #55) – but set your GPS if you have one! The mailing address is 3705 E. State Road #16, Brook, IN 47922 & the phone number is (219)275- 7771 – have some fun, see a little history, you’ll be glad you did!
Around The Tours
With the Olympics going on, a few of the tours saw a more limited schedule in August – starting with the men’s European Tour: which began with the Paul Lawrie Match Play event in Dirleton, Scotland – an event that started with (64) players playing a match play format – and won by – host, Paul Lawrie – nice victory for the veteran in his homeland. Next came the Czech Masters, held in Prague (and) won by (28) year old Paul Peterson of the US for his 1st ever victory on the Euro Tour. And the month closed out with Belgian, Thomas Pieters, capturing the prestigious “Made in Denmark” Championship in Farso, Denmark.
The Champions Tour opened the month in Blaine, Minnesota for the 24th consecutive year at the 3M Championship, with Joe Durant bringing home the title in a playoff with Miguel Angel Jimenez; and the final major of the senior circuit was held at the venerable Scioto CC – (Jack Nicklaus’ childhood stomping grounds) – in suburban Columbus, Ohio, with this coveted victory going to Savannah, Georgia’s own Gene Savers for his 1st ever senior major. (And) closing out August for the (50+) set, was the Boeing Classic, held just outside Seattle, Washington – which witnessed another come from behind victory for (59) year old German Hall of Famer, Bernhard Langer – who won a play-off with Woody Austin & Kevin Sutherland – increasing Mr. Langer’s Champions Tour victory total to (29)! – tying Lee Trevino for 2nd place on the all-time Champions Tour victory total list – behind only the incredible (45) titles won by Hale Irwin – a total that could possibly hold forever! I know – never say ever (or) never! But do the math…start at (50) years old – and if you win (3) times per year until you are (65) – that still only ties Mr. Irwin!
The “world” of women’s golf witnessed (16) year old Eun Jeong Seong of South Korea defeat (19) year old Italian golfer Virginia Elena Carta – (the Duke University freshman, who recently captured the women’s (2016) individual NCAA individual title) – (1) up in the (36) hole final match at the (116th) edition of the US Women’s Amateur – becoming the 1st ever to capture both this title (and) the US Junior Girls title in the same year! And, more youth – proving the drive, chip, & putt competition is creating champions – young (13 year old) Lucy Li – who won the D, C, & P event – brought home the coveted (2016) Junior PGA Championship trophy in August – the future of women’s world-wide golf just keeps getting better + better looking every day!
And on the stage at Rio De Janeiro Brazil – were the world’s best women golfers – just a week after the men held their competition in Rio, the gold medal for golf (the 1st ever)…look it up, it’s a long story… at an Olympic event, awarded to a woman, was won by South Korea’s Inbee Park, the newest – (and youngest (28) LPGA Hall of Famer) – who played, despite being out with injury most of the summer, (and) won by (5) strokes over world #1 Lydia Ko of New Zealand – (giving her the silver medal) – and the bronze medal went to China’s Shanshan Feng. The US women were very competitive with Stacy Lewis finishing (1) stroke back of the bronze in a tie for fourth, Gerina Piller finishing tied for 11th and Lexi Thompson came home tied for 19th. Win, lose, no matter – the women of the globe were just all great!
Closing out August was another very solid victory for Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn – after having to withdraw during her round at the Olympics due to injury – this (20) year old bounced back – scoring her (5th) LPGA title of the year at the Canadian PacificWomen’s Open - *still not carrying a driver in her bag, (and) this week, I believe she never used a “wood” off of any tee all four rounds!
Finally – August – the world of men’s golf – it’s like watching a book “unfold” – you never know what’s going to happen, but it’s always exciting!
August started in Cromwell, Connecticut at the (65th) Travelers Championship with (now-veteran) Russell Knox of Scotland, winning for the 2nd time this season – and – at this event – history was made as Jim Furyk – (who was already one of only (6) players to ever shoot (59) on the PGA Tour) – fired a final round (58)! If golf proves anything – you can swing “your” swing and be successful – nice! The following week saw Ryan Moore – (a possible captain’s pick for the Ryder Cup) - earn his 5th PGA Tour title at the nearby John Deere Classic in Silvis, Illinois.
(And) – (I’ll come back to the Olympics) – the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, North Carolina – (an event won by the incomparable Sam Snead for (8) times! – out of his (185) worldwide victories!) – was won by (21) year old Si Woo Kim of South Korea, who rode his Friday course record round of (60) to a (5) stroke victory for his 1st PGA Tour title.
The (116th) men’s US Amateur title held at the incredible Oakland Hills CC in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, was won by Australian Curtis Luck (6&4) over Oklahoma University’s Brad Dalke in the (36) final match. An awful lot of our future tour stars competed in this event – great competition always!
The final PGA tour event of August was held at the “Bethpage Park Gold Complex” I’ll call it – (a facility that operates (5) courses with an estimated 200,000 rounds played per year on this property! *Really incredible when you consider Long Islands (9-10) month golfing season. The event – (The Barclay’s) – is contested on the Bethpage Black course – a golf course that is one of the few that posts (and deserves) a “warning sign” on its 1st tee advising all but the best players to avoid its “treachery”! Well, somebody had to win – and it was Olympian & Ryder Cup member Patrick Reed – who held on for a (5th) tour victory – by a slim (1) stroke margin.
And now (back) to the Olympics – which was contested the 2nd week of August on the “Olympic course” in Rio De Janeiro, an event that many thought would never happen – golf back in the Olympics. An event that – (men’s Olympic golf competition was not held since 1904 in St. Louis Missouri) – saw the top (4) men’s players – (and many others) – elect not to compete in – for either health (the Zika virus potential) or security reasons; an event that saw golf course architect move his family to Rio for over (2) years in order to devote full time to the completion of the course; and ultimately an event that went smoothly, with nothing but praise for the security, the course, and “hopefully” no adverse reactions to anyone’s health.
With the gold medal ultimately being awarded to (36) year Justin Rose of Great Britain in a close – (he birded (18) while Henrik Stenson of Sweden bogied the hole – providing the margin of victory) – (2) shot victory – Stenson brought home the silver and Matt Kuchar of the US rallied – (closing with (63)) to bring home his new bronze medal. The rest of the US team saw Bubba Watson finish tied for 8th – Patrick Reed finish in a tie for 11th (and) Rickie Fowler came in tied for 37th. The true winners however were Gil Hans’ golf course – built after facing incredible obstacles – and golf in the Olympics (both men’s & women’s) that provided an exciting look of our sport to the world, and, which most assuredly secured its position in the Olympics in Tokyo in 2020.
September golf means: The start of twilight rates at many courses, the forming of all leagues, and those always great “join now” memberships for (2017) where you receive the balance of the (2016) season free!
It also means the year-long Pepsi-Illiana Tour schedule for this season is winding down – still an event or two to go – if you can play – call (219)865-2554 for info, and good luck to all those who are headed to Scherwood GC for the Jackpot Finale!
And why not go on out to “The Ridge” Saturday, September 10th for the annual Verta Richards Foundation Golf outing – this great event held at Indiana Ridge GC in Hobart, IN is always a lot of fun & raises money for pancreatic research – call (219) 942-6850 for details – nice time for a wonderful cause!
(Also) – we’ve waited (4) long years to avenge the defeat at Medinah – now it’s time to win that Ryder Cup on our soil! Be sure to watch (Sept. 30th thru Oct. 2nd) as our best try to wrestle away the cup from our European foes. This is must see T.V. – good luck gents!
My special thanks this month to: Mike, Candace, Donna, Emily, Jerry, Yolanda and the entire staff at the wonderful Hazelden CC; and to my right arm – Mr. Mike Modrzejewski – for all his great assistance. (And) if you have a suggestion for a feature article you would like to see covered -or- if you just want to chime in – please contact me at our e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org or leave me a voicemail at (219)947-4314, and to read past golf course reviews – or to just visit Golf Plus newspaper online – visit our website at golfplusonline.net.
Lastly: Maybe golf writer Arnold Daly put it best when he wrote: “Golf is a lot like a love affair, if you don’t take it seriously – it’s no fun: If you take it too seriously – it breaks your heart!”
See you next month – Pete