The city of Hammond, Indiana is used to taking the leadership role in many ways; a resilient ever-changing
community, not unaccustomed to facing challenges, and making the best of difficult situations – so, when
the decision was made to establish a golfing facility to service this community, it should come as no surprise
that it was done right! The “Lost Marsh of Hammond” is an example of the high quality of effort and co-
operation that has defined this great city from it’s beginning – and just one part of an exceptional effort in Hammond towards creating a park(s) & recreational area that the entire region can enjoy.
A Little Background
Hammond Indiana is the oldest of the industrialized cities in northern Indiana, having been established in 1851 by Ernst and Caroline Hohman – and known primarily as “Hohmanville” for many years. The “Hohman Inn” which they started, served as a stopping off point for travelers on their way to the frontier town of Chicago and beyond. As the development of train travel for individuals and goods & services became more sophisticated, the area brought many who sought their fortune in this now vital and centralized community.
One of these men who came was George H. Hammond, who saw the opportunity to develop a meat packing plant, (and with others helped create the first refrigeration train cars for this purpose), and opened the “Hammond Packing House” in 1869. In 1884 the city of “Hammond” incorporated with Mr. Hammond’s plant now being the largest facility of its kind in the country. The workforce at this plant, (totaling up to approx. 2,000), provided an opportunity for others to establish businesses in the area, and with the further development of the “electric railway” serving the community, downtown Hammond flourished. By 1890, the population of Hammond exceeded 5,000, with all manner of services now available, and created a diverse group of merchants, which included a shop owner who specialized in watch and jewelry repair by the name of A.C. Roebuck. One day Mr. Roebuck saw an ad in a Chicago newspaper looking for a watchmaker – this ad was placed by a man named “Sears” – and history sealed his fate.
The first “big test” for this new city came in 1901 as fire destroyed the packing house, putting thousands out of work. But the resiliency of Hammond now came into play. The city leaders were able to attract the Chicago Steel Company to open a plant in the area in (1904), the Conkey Book Binding & Printing Company (the largest of its kind in the world) came along by (1909), and the Standard Steel Car Company by (1912). These (3) companies alone employed many thousands of skilled workers and Hammond continued to move forward.
By the early 1920’s, Hammond was a hub for entertainment in its famous “Five Points” district with a large danceland and amusement park. And a small town restauranteur by the name of Phil Schmidt opened a fish house near Lake Michigan. Soon thereafter the “State Line Power Plant” – also the largest and most modern in the world, at the time, opened in Hammond, Lever Brothers established a large manufacturing facility nearby, Hammond established radio station WWAE to service the area, (later to become WJOB), the population grew to 55,000 +, and (Are You Ready?), the local football team – the “Hammond Professionals” were awarded an NFL franchise! *(As I learn more about this subject, I will pass it along in future “Golf Notes”).
The depression years of the 1930’s hit the entire area very hard, but with a diversified working environment, Hammond was able to struggle through, and by the end of World War II, the city again hit its full stride; 1946 saw the beginning of the Purdue-Calumet University campus, 1951 introduced the Woodmar Mall, and in 1966 one local author by the name of Jean Shepherd published his famous “A Christmas Story.” But even Hammond had a tough time in the 1970’s, as thousands of jobs were lost at local steel manufacturing plants. With many Hammond residents having been employed by big steel, and moving out of the area, seeking jobs, the community fell upon tough economic times.
But Strong civic leadership, and the citizens of Hammond, continued to push forward – and today Hammond is in the middle of a project to revitalize the downtown area once again, it is growing in areas to the south with Cabela’s Sporting Goods store & the building of the South Shore Convention & Visitors Bureau; the opening of the Horseshoe Casino & Hammond Marina on the north side, and of course with the building of Lost Marsh of Hammond.
The Lost Marsh of Hammond
Lost Marsh of Hammond is a (27) hole golf facility located in the northern part of the city of Hammond, Indiana. Just (20) minutes from downtown Chicago, and built on “reclaimed” land in the heavily industrialized area of Lake County Indiana, Lost Marsh includes an (18) hole championship course, a (9) hole executive par three course, and an excellent driving range/teaching area. Built on over (300) acres as an overall civic cooperative effort, and designed by the firm of Howard Engineering, Lost Marsh is a part of an excellent overall recreational area that includes the nearby Hammond Marina, biking & walking trails, a public beach on Lake Michigan, an aquatic play center, and the fishing, boating & canoeing opportunities available at Lake George and Wolf Lake.
Opened in (1999) the par three course came first, with the challenging and beautiful (18) hole course opening in (2004). From the beginning, the course(s) have earned high praise for their overall quality & conditioning (due in large part to the great efforts of superintendent Larry Parducci and his staff) and most assuredly for the high risk/reward design most visible on the championship (18) hole course.
The Par Three Course
The executive nine holes is an excellent place to challenge your short game, or, for first time players, to enjoy a course that will not overpower you. The conditioning is of the same high standard you will find on the championship course, with rolling fairways and greens, and is a lot of fun to play an “after match” nine – for those more experienced players.
More importantly, this course is home to the “First Tee of Hammond.” The “First Tee” program is an initiative, which was started in (1997), with the mission “to impact the lives of young people by providing learning facilities and educational programs that promote development and life-enhancing values through the game of golf.” Now with over (200) charters in all (50) states, this program has introduced the game of golf to more than (4) million youngsters, and even has a division which partners with the Department of Defense to provide “no cost” golf to the children whose parents serve our nation in the military. Here at Lost Marsh, this program is in the excellent hands of Tiffani Tyler-English (Executive Director) and, Brandon White (the Director of Golf & Life Skills). *In the future, we will be profiling the local and national chapters of the First Tee program to give you a further understanding of how it its continuing to impact the lives of so many.
The Big Dog
The (18) hole championship course at Lost Marsh is a thing of beauty! And a course, that once you have played it, you will be talking about with all your golfing friends. From all (4) sets of tees, the course offers a challenge as strong as any course in our area. The “Tournament” tees (most difficult) will test all but the most talented and experienced of players, with narrow driving areas, long approach shots, and sand & water hazards a plenty. And, of course the “wild card” hazard – the wind! With its proximity to Lake Michigan, the winds at Lost Marsh can blow from any direction at any time, and can shift in a matter of minutes, so pay attention – and maybe bring a few extra balls! From these tournament tees, Lost Marsh is probably the most imposing looking 6,800 yard course you will ever experience. Unless your game is up to this extremely strong challenge, try one of the other sets of tees, and your enjoyment of the course will definitely be better served. And just a little advice – in order to keep your score down the first time you play Lost Marsh, play conservative, try to keep the ball in play – use the driver only where you can safely hit the fairway – and expect a few “bad holes.” The more you play this course, the more you will “learn” it, and enjoy it. But in case your round still reminds you of your bowling score – bring your fishing pole – a free fishing pier extends into the northern side of the course!
But whatever set of tees you use, you will notice the beautiful design/layout of the course, with many elevation changes, multi-tiered greens and the overall wonderful conditioning of the bent grass tees, fairways, and relatively quick greens.
Lost Marsh has excellent new carts with windshields & covers and course map on each, cart paths throughout, well marked yardages, a large scoreboard for tournaments, locker rooms, a full service beverage cart, a half-way house with excellent food, and marshals to keep a good pace of play. The course has an abundance of mature trees, native grasses, beautiful “plantings”, and even some wildlife. Lessons are available with head golf professional Dean Gabey, and “one day” golf schools are also available. And Lost Marsh further serves the community by acting as the home course to Cal College, Chicago State University, and to the high school programs at Bishop Noll, Hammond Clark, Hammond Morton, Hammond High, and University High of Chicago.
The Clubhouse & Golf Shop
Standing tall in the center of this wonderful golfing facility is the magnificently built and designed clubhouse. Open for (3) years now, the clubhouse includes a (240) seat banquet room – perfect for outings, special events, weddings, etc. Full-service conference rooms, a beautiful restaurant – open (7) days a week for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (with a great menu). And a 19th hole with outdoor balconies – and great views throughout the entire building. The staff is very helpful, and friendly; and the entire facility is overseen by the highly professional golf course administrator Niko Sullivan.
The golf shop inside the clubhouse is stocked with the finest quality golf wear & equipment, and is also serviced by a talented and knowledgeable staff – headed by golf professional Dean Gabey.
This golf facility is a tribute to the hard work and determination of the Hammond Port Authority, the Civic leaders and people of Hammond, and is just one more sign of the strength inherent in this city that moves forward with a standard of high quality, and a constant eye towards the future. Come on out and enjoy our golfing “oasis” in north Hammond – you will be glad you did, and you will come back. For further information about the Lost Marsh of Hammond, call the course at (219)932-4046 or log on to www.lostmarshgolf.com. Lost Marsh is located at 129th Street & Calumet Avenue in Hammond, Indiana. The address is 1001 129th St., Hammond, IN 46320. And for further information about the First Tee of Hammond, log on to www.thefirstteehammond.org – FALL RATES BEGIN OCTOBER 1ST –
Congratulations to all the players (from both sides) on another exciting Ryder Cup! And also to the great Chicagoland fans, members, and volunteers at Medinah C.C., and all those who made this event so special.
And a season long shout out to all who participated in this years Pepsi – Illiana Challenge – the players and “host” courses did another outstanding job.
October golf has officially begun – that means less crowded courses, great sales of merchandise, cool-crisp air, and most importantly, fall rates. Get in those extra rounds – try a new local course –or- just call someone you meant to play golf with this season – enjoy golf, you deserve it!
And please join Michael Stewart & myself on Thursday, October 11th for “Golf Talk” on WJOB1230AM. Call us on the air at (219)845-1100 as we discuss region golf – or- to view the show, log on to www.wjob1230am.com I usually go on about 2:30PM. And remember every Thursday, “Stew” and all the WJOB gang meet up at Freddy’s Steakhouse on 165th & Kennedy in Hammond, IN – great music, great laughs, and great food & drink – can’t beat it!
Special thanks this month: To Lost Marsh golf course administrator Niko Sullivan, Lost Marsh golf professional Dean Gabey – Frank & Pete in the golf shop – John, Dave, Ron, Jim, Alexis, & Susie at the course; Leanne at the Hammond Parks & Recreation Department, Bonnie & Ruth at the South Shore Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Welcome Center, and Steve at the Hammond Public Library.
And as always, I appreciate any comments, suggestions, questions, stories, etc. Please contact me at our e-mail address: email@example.com or leave me a voicemail at (219)947-4313. And to read past golf course reviews – or to just visit Golf Plus newspaper online – visit our website at www.GolfPlusOnline.net.
On a personal note: I would like to congratulate Jon & Steve Chontos on their 20th season of bringing us all the local golfing news, notes, and events here in the region in this publication. I’ve enjoyed writing these feature articles the last (2) years – and look forward to many years ahead of fun and friendship. Great job guys! And I will see you all next month!