Pete Dye Golf Trail is a road well-travelled by visitors to Perdue complex

Purdue University: Two great golf courses,  two great cities one great University

By Rick Drennan

Ordinary people see a block of marble, while artists like Michelangelo see the Statue of David. You just have to keep chipping away.

It’s the same thing with golf course designers.

The bad ones see scrub land, and sandy bents and unmanageable swampland and throw up their hands, while the greats, like Pete Dye, keep chipping away until they’ve designed world-class playpens like the PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, or Harbour Town in Hilton Head, South Carolina, or the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Resort.

At Brickyard Crossing inside the Indinapolis Speedway

Nowhere does Dye’s magic touch come into sharper focus – small greens, undulating fairways, pot bunkers, railroad tie bulkheads and deep native roughs – than in his two masterful designs at the Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, his home state. One is a links design (Kampen) and the other is a parkland (Ackerman-Allen), and both are vital spokes in the wheel of The Pete Dye Golf Trail, a number of eclectic courses that are located right across the state, from his southern Indiana gem at the French Lick Resort to his infamous Brickyard Crossing layout (which partially runs inside the world-famous Indianapolis Speedway), to the lovely duality of the Purdue courses, and all the others in between.

Building the Purdue courses was a labor of love for Dye who, along with his wife Alice, still live in Carmel, Indiana, right off the shoulder of another of his other creations, Crooked Stick Golf Club.

Dye donated his services in making the golf complex in West Lafayette one of the centerpieces of his golf trail. In a way, it was payback for his time spent taking part-time courses at Perdue’s agronomy school when he was first starting out in the design business.

The Ackerman-Allen Course was reopened last year after Dye’s two-year renovation, and brings back to life a course that once hosted the NCAA Championship in 1961, won by the Purdue golf team, with a guy named Jack Nicklaus finishing as Medalist.

Ackerman-Allen course at Purdue

Dye’s extensive reno kept in mind the popularity of the original course and softened many of the contours on the greens. The re-do also employed many of the agronomy students at the school, and Dye even used his considerable salesmanship to get others to finance the project.

The Kampen course has played host to two national championships, and John Martin, publisher of the Indiana Golf & Travel Guide calls it “one of the most enviable collegiate golf facilities in the country.”

“It’s one of the Top 10 university courses in the U.S.,” agrees Dan Roth, head golf professional, a title he has held since 2006.

Roth says visitors are welcome to play both courses, and course prices and stay and play packages at nearby hotels are so affordable it has become a popular place to play for both in-state and out-of-state players.

“We get a ton of players down from Chicago, and they can’t believe our courses, or the reasonable prices.”

Roth considers his complex as a “central part” of the Dye Trail, and thinks the draw is the 36-holes of top-notch golf. West Lafayette really is at “the crossroads” of the Dye Trail, he said.

The off-course attractions are also a draw for visitors, especially Canadians who yet to experience the buzz of being in a major college city in the U.S.

Purdue University is home to 40,000 students, and is world-renowned for its engineering school. It includes such graduates as the late Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon. The engineer school is named in his honor and is one of the many impressive buildings on the downtown campus, located just steps from the golf complex. The giant football stadium and basketball court housing the school’s famous Big Ten sports teams, are also located on the shoulder of the Ackerman-Allen course.

Rachael Blankenship, sports marketing and recreation manager with Visit Lafayette-West Lafayette, says Purdue’s complex offers more than enough variety for travelling golfers, but there are 8 other courses in the immediate area to add to the lure. One is Coyote Crossing, an 18-hole, Hale Irwin designed Championship Golf Course in West Lafayette. It’s been ranked the ninth best value in America by Golf Advisor.

To get a feel for off-campus life, Purdue style, visitors should pay a visit to Harry’s Chocolate Shop, a world-famous bar opened in 1919 during Prohibition. It offered up fountain drinks and lunch items, but also served alcohol – under the radar of law enforcement. It has been called “one of the best college bars in America.”

Of course we had to venture over, sample a few Yuenglings and enjoy some early season B-Ball.

Lindo Mexico

Blankenship also directed her Canadian visitors to historic hotels right on Purdue’s campus, just steps away from the Wabash River, or the three distinct downtown districts; Chauncey Village, Wabash Riverfront and Arts & Market. Each offers its own distinct charm and flair.

After a short little shopping excursion these two Canadian’s found themselves with a little hunger on and a desire for something different.  No shortage of Mexican flair in this part of the Hoosier State.  Highly recommend Lindo Mexico on Sagamore Parkway in Lafayette with its hand carved and painted interior décor throughout.

We can tell you that two dinners, major league margarita’s and a few pints came to slightly over $40.00.  So even with the Canadian exchange it is still well worthwhile to travel to the good old USA!

For more information on:
Golf at Purdue University –
The cities of Lafayette and West Lafayette –
Pete Dye Golf Trail –