On the green: Indiana Golf breaks ground on new Fort Ben Headquarters


A crowd of Hoosier golf enthusiasts gathered June 5 to celebrate the official groundbreaking for the new Indiana Golf headquarters at The Fort Golf Resort, 6002 N. Post Rd. in Lawrence.

The nonprofit has raised about $5.6 million toward the Pete and Alice Dye Golf Center, named for two well-known golf course designers who built more than 300 golf courses, many in Indiana. The new center — a 13,000-square-foot building scheduled for completion in spring 2025 — will have administrative offices, the Indiana Golf Hall of Fame, an indoor golf academy and a short-game practice area.

Capital campaign chair Steve Sterrett said the organization is about $900,000 shy of the overall cost to build, and efforts will continue during the construction phase to raise the rest of the funds.

“What this building is all about — it’s giving a home to golf in Indiana,” Sterrett said. “But what it’s really all about is giving back and giving young people a chance to succeed.”

Indiana Golf is the umbrella organization for Indiana PGA, Indiana Golf Association, Indiana Women’s Golf Association, Indiana Golf Course Superintendents Association, Indiana Golf Foundation and First Tee-Indiana, which introduces golf to youth.

Sterrett, a lifelong Lawrence resident and owner of Old Oakland Golf Club, said he started out playing football, basketball and baseball at Lawrence Central High School and didn’t start playing golf until he was 25.

“I was looking for something that I could do for the rest of my life competitively, because you know what, you’re not going to play football, basketball or baseball very long into your adult years, and golf has turned out to be a blessing,” he said, adding that his interest in golf led to his support of First Tee. “We help hundreds of thousands of young people every year and teach them how to succeed in life by putting this funny little club in their hand and asking them to hit this little ball, which seems very easy, because it’s not moving. But it really turns out to be incredibly difficult.”

Gina Giacone is president of the Indiana Golf Foundation, which operates the state’s junior golf program, provides scholarships and runs First Tee, which she said has reached more than 100,000 Indiana youth.

“The First Tee program not only teaches golf, but also teaches life skills such as pursuing goals, growing through challenges, collaborating with others and using good judgment,” she said. “The growth that we see from these kids in the program, even in just a six-week class, it’s truly amazing.”

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First Tee alumni Blayze Chapman, an incoming sophomore at Brownsburg High School, speaks during the Indiana Golf groundbreaking ceremony June 5. (Photo by Leila Kheiry)

First Tee alumni Blayze Chapman said that in addition to golf skills, the program instills core values such as respect, responsibility and integrity. Chapman said he started playing golf through First Tee at the age of 6.

“It provided me with a very good basis to be a very mature young person,” said Chapman, who is an incoming sophomore at Brownsburg High School. “I was very fortunate to be able to start building relationships with the coaches and the other participants,” which helped when he started to compete.

Indiana Golf Executive Director Mike David said golf is a significant economic contributor in Indiana, with about $2 billion a year generated through golf and associated businesses. He said the new center will play a role in that continued growth.

“It will house not only our administrative offices but also the Indiana Golf Hall of Fame,” he said. “The new hall of fame won’t be just glass displays with trophies, it’ll be an interactive experience that will tell the story of the history of Indiana golf and recognize those that have played a vital role in shaping that history.”

Lawrence Mayor Deb Whitfield was among the dignitaries who shoveled the first official dirt for the center’s construction. She said it’s exciting to see more development in the Fort Ben area, which is Lawrence’s downtown. Whitfield said she appreciates Indiana Golf’s efforts to encourage inclusivity in the sport through improvements at golf courses in the heart of Indianapolis, such as Douglass Golf Course, as well as this investment in Lawrence.

“I’m very excited about this and to walk through it and see the history of golf in Indiana,” she said.

For more, visit indianagolf.org.

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A row of ceremonial shovels and helmets awaits the official groundbreaking for the new Pete and Alice Dye Golf Center, the future headquarters for Indiana Golf. (Photo by Leila Kheiry)

Pete and Alice Dye Legacy

Pete and Alice Dye’s granddaughter Lilly Harmon witnessed the June 5 groundbreaking ceremony for the new Indiana Golf headquarters named in her grandparents’ honor.

The Hoosier golf legends built Crooked Stick Golf Course in Carmel in the 1960s and then moved in, she said.

“They made their home on the 18th hole of Crooked Stick and lived there for many, many years until they both passed away several years ago,” Harmon said. “Together, they built over 300 golf courses — a lot in Indiana.”

Indiana was special to her grandparents, Harmon said, because Alice Dye was born and raised in Indiana.

“Alice was also a very well-decorated amateur golfer, and she gave back to the First Tee quite a bit and really loved to introduce people to the game of golf,” Harmon said, adding that having the center named for her grandparents honors their legacy. “I know they would be so proud.”

Harmon said the family is excited that future generations will be able to learn about Pete and Alice Dye’s legacy. She added that golf has always been part of her life.

“I was born with a golf club in my hand,” she joked. “I never played competitively, but I do love the game so much. It has given me so much. It’s given my family so much and we’re just so happy to be able to give back.”