Back in swing: Historic Lawrence golf course popular with players


One year removed from celebrating its 25th anniversary, The Fort Golf Resort in Lawrence is getting ready to welcome back players. The course, weather permitting, is expected to open for season play later this month, and golfers are already looking forward to returning to what is widely regarded as one of the nation’s top public golf courses.

“The Fort was a challenging course for me,” said Colin Braithwaite, 62, author of the golf book, “A Good Walk Unspoiled.” “It’s a super golf course, and a great value and fun. I would pay to play it again.”

“I golfed there and enjoyed the course,” said Merrillville resident Chuck Hevezi. Hevezi, who has been a Golf Channel spotter at Blessings Golf Club/Collegiate Invitational and at LPGA Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. “I enjoyed it mainly because of the topography, and the fact that it’s not surrounded by homes. The layout is good. It has good bunkering and green complexes. The clubhouse is also beautiful, and the history is an attraction.”

David Piper is the PGA Assistant Professional at The Fort. Piper, 66, has served as either the head professional or assistant pro at clubs for 36 years, and he is fascinated by the course’s history, which dates back nearly 100 years when Fort Benjamin Harrison was a U.S. military base.

“The Fort has a history unlike any other,” Piper said. “The Army acquired the land in 1903 and established Fort Benjamin Harrison. The original nine holes were built sometime in the 1930s and then expanded to 18 holes in 1970.”

It was after the U.S. Dept. of Defense decommissioned the longtime Army base in the early 90s, though, when the course as it’s known today began taking shape.

“In 1996, renowned golf course architect (late former Carmel resident) Pete Dye modified and redesigned the golf course,” Piper said. “Pete charged the state $1 for his services, calling the area, ‘The damndest piece of property I ever saw.’”

Unlike most of central Indiana, the Fort Harrison area, including Fort Harrison State Park, is heavily wooded, with wetlands, gullies, ravines and wildlife.

“It’s also the only golf course that has on-site accommodation (with the nearby) Fort Harrison State Park Inn,” Piper said.

The Dye-designed course opened in spring of 1997.

The Fort is owned by the state of Indiana. Its 7,148-yard, par 72 design features traditional Dye elements, including tree-lined fairways, undulating greens and rolling hills. On the property are practice facilities, a golf shop and the Garrison Restaurant.

The storied history of the golf course didn’t end at its design. Important events have dotted its history during its time of operation. For example, for two consecutive years it has hosted the NCAA Big Ten Women’s Golf Championship and a number of PGA events.

  • In 2018, golfers rated the course on GolfPass as the No. 1 layout in the nation.
  • Soon after it opened,  The Fort was selected ranked the third “Best Affordable New Public Course” by Golf Digest
  • In 2022, USA Today’s “Golfweek” called the Fort the seventh “best course you can play” in Indiana.

Even celebrities have enjoyed playing the course.

“Last year, two of the Backstreet Boys, Nick Carter and A.J. McLean, came out to play before their concert,” Piper said.

Piper looks forward to some time on the course himself.

“My golf swing is the best it has ever been in the 54 years I’ve been playing,” he said. “I look forward to the challenge. The golf course is a great combination of long, short, tight, and wide open. When played from the appropriate set of tees for the player, the course is very enjoyable, and the scenery is spectacular.

“In fact, it’s the best course in the area that is open to the public to play.”

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The Fort Golf Resort in Lawrence will open for play later this month. (Photo by Adam Seif)

The Fort Golf Resort at a Glance

Where: 6002 N. Post Rd., Indianapolis.

Rates: $67 Monday Noon to 4:00 p.m. and $56 after 4 p.m.; $77 Tuesday-Thursday, noon to 4 p.m. and $56 after 4 p.m.; $94 Friday, noon to 4 p.m. and $65 after 4 p.m.; $94 Saturday and Sunday, 7 a.m. to noon, $84 noon to 2 p.m., $72 noon to 2 p.m. and $65 after 2 p.m.

All fees include carts.

Dress Code: Men are requested to wear polo-style shirt with collar, casual slacks or shorts (but not basketball-style shorts). Women are asked to wear sleeved or sleeveless shirt, and golf-style skirt/slacks/shorts.