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Purgatory Par 3’s

By: Brian Rhodes on June 23rd, 2015

TennaMerchent_Sunrise over 7th

Photo of #7 River of Flames


Par 3’s have a huge impact on my overall feeling and personal rating of golf courses.  It is a pet peeve of mine when I use the same club for 3 of the 4 par 3 shots on a course.  With Purgatory being spread out over 218 acres very few people notice that the par 3’s all play in different directions. If we have a consistent wind you will play shots in every wind direction.  Thus even if you are playing similar distances they will require different clubs.


Purgatory par 3’s all look vastly different from each other, unless you have made a hole-in-one on one of them it is extremely hard to pick your favorite as they all have fantastic features.  If you are playing the farthest tee forward the only par 3 that has a forced carry is #12, in fact from those tees it is the only forced carry on the golf course.

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Why did you name the golf club Purgatory?

By: Brian Rhodes on June 12th, 2015

More heaven than Hell book

The Golf Club originally had the working name Sassafras, the Architects original drawing is posted in the hallway, and titled with that name.  There were some sassafras trees over in the north end of the property.  That’s a relatively unique tree in Central Indiana, but informal market research indicated that Sassafras was not a name that serious golfers would embrace.


In religious mythology, Purgatory is where souls pay for their earthly mistakes to gain entry into heaven. It’s about overcoming obstacles to attain eternal happiness.  In medieval poetry, Purgatory was referred to as “sweet misery.” Golf often feels like that; acts of difficulty while obtaining something wonderful.


The golf course is named Purgatory because it’s a beautiful place for you to test your limits.  Purgatory is a name that immediately resonated with golfers and it fits, it fits with why people play golf.  From the time you tee off on the first hole you have challenges and obstacles that you must navigate your way through until the last hole.  You’ve had good holes and bad holes, and the shot that you think you should have made, and a few shots no one ever talks about, the miss-hits that end up perfect.


Purgatory conjures images of great obstacle; it’s a name you remember.  Every golf course is difficult if you play from the wrong tees boxes.  Is our golf course a challenge?  Absolutely.  But does that mean you have to make it too difficult for yourself?  The answer is no.  Play a distance that allows you to enjoy the course and the day, you will find the course to be almost heavenly from the correct set of tees.


The logo also is a discussion starter that even non-golfers find very interesting.

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Hole 1: “Pride”

By: Brian Rhodes on June 5th, 2015

TennaMerchent Hole 1

Hole 1: “Pride” Par 4; plays 373 to 206 yards


There are a few architects that think the first hole should set a tone for the course and be a very challenging hole.  Donald Ross immediately comes to mind as most of his course that I have played start off extremely hard and par is an excellent score.  The first hole at Purgatory eases you into the rest of the day, it is relatively short in distance and wide in the landing area.


It is a dogleg left, where the object is not about hitting it long, it’s trying to fit your tee shot into an area that’s 200 to 230 yards off the tee and 50 yards wide.  So hopefully you start your round off out of the fairway, leaving yourself with a short iron, into a little bit of an elevated green that’s pretty receptive, not a lot of undulation, not a lot of movement to it … so you’re not going to hit a shot and be rejected left or right.


Two decent shots ought to give yourself a chance for a par on the first hole; depending on the tee markers many longer players approach this hold as a classic risk reward as they may be able to drive the ball onto the green.  I personally do not recommend this as the approach shot from very close and left of the green is very challenging and depending on the hole placement could eliminate a good birdie opportunity.  When you are on the green take time to overlook the whole course as the green is the highest elevation point on the property.

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Hole 8: “The Serpent” Par 4; plays 487 to 336 yards

By: Brian Rhodes on May 6th, 2015


Is one of my favorite holes, the tees shot is partially blind off the tee, many players may not be able to see their landing area.  This causes anxiety in some players as they are unsure where to aim, as they need confidence in their swing to produce good results.  The tee shot can be played by hitting it at the right bunker with a slight draw or starting it at the left bunker with a fade.


The hole can be very long depending on the tees played.  There are 3 factors that shorten the hole’s true playing distance:  the prevailing wind is straight downwind, once past the initial uphill portion the fairway then gentle slopes downhill, the green runs from front to back allowing shots to roll farther.


There is a bunker that appears to be greenside and causes an illusion putting doubt about the true distance in the approach shot. The bunker is actually about 50 yards in front of that green. There’s a huge bail out area, just beyond that bunker that leaves a player with a good opportunity for par.


The green is a reverse tier, reverse sloping green; it’s modeled after one of Alister MacKenzie’s favorite greens he did at Crystal Downs.  The green actually slopes away from you, and then there’s a tier that slopes away from you.  It’s very unsettling when you can’t see the bottom of the flag.  It is very uncommon; it looks like it has a shorter flagstick then the rest of the course.  Players are used to not seeing the bottom of the flag, when it is uphill shot, but when it is downhill and reverse, it brings in a whole new set of feelings.


The Serpent reconfirmed what I have always felt, that blind shots and illusions are an integral part of the game and far from representing tricked up holes.

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Hole 6: “Eunoe” Par 4, plays 434 to 241 yards

By: Brian Rhodes on April 18th, 2015




On paper and on first site this hole looks very benign, during normal play conditions quite a few players have a hard time remembering the specifics of this hole after the round.  The tee shot is shaped by three fairway bunkers and the landing area is fairly wide, leaving an approach shot between 165 to 155 yards to the green.  The players who have length as an asset can challenge the bunker on the right and leave themselves with just a wedge shot into the green.


This hole completely changes when we install tournament conditions, just a slight increase of green speeds make a world of difference on this hole.   The green has a Seth Raynor style hogback that routes it way through the green, creating three separate tiers.  If you are on the correct tier the player will have an excellent opportunity for a birdie, the wrong tier increases the odds of a three putt and makes par a good score.  If a player challenges the back left pin position then a bunker behind the green comes into play and makes par almost impossible.


“Eunoe” has had the distinction of the highest scoring average in relationship to par during our last 3 Indiana Major events.   Unfortunately, a high number of very good players walk off this green shaking their head at what just happened to their round.


Hole #6 was recently featured by Athlon Sports in their article “18 Holes to Play in 2015”

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Hole 2: “Stains of the Inferno” Par 4; plays 462 to 295 yards

By: Brian Rhodes on March 31st, 2015

lake on golf course indiana

Number 2 is where the course really starts it is a classic “cape hole” design.  The definition of a “cape hole” is a hole on a golf course that plays around a large, lateral hazard, and presents a risk-reward tee shot. That hazard is often water, and such water might extend the entire length of the hole. The fact that the fairway on a cape hole gently curves around the hazard means that golfers on the tee face a risk-reward decision: Carrying more of the hazard means placing your drive farther down the fairway, but also creates greater risk of losing your ball in the hazard.  The key point is that a cape hole forces you to think about how much of the hazard you want to cut off in order to carry your ball closer to the green.


The hole has a series of bunkers on the opposite side of the fairways that frame the hole and add even more visual intimidation.  I have heard from many players that their first thought is where I drive it, which is the thought process the architect wanted the player to determine before teeing off.  At this point our touchscreen GPS units come in extremely handy in assisting with you decision.  Just a quick reminder that depending on the line you choose to pursue it could be all carry, so remember to subtract the roll from your normal tee shot.  The hole can be played without ever having a forced carry, playing it this way usually will leave the player with a short iron left on their 3rd shot trying to get-up and down for your par the advantage to this route is that it usually eliminates a score higher than bogey.  Your better player is going to get in more trouble than your average player.


The staff encourages members and frequent players to play from one of the closest tee markers and the hole becomes a drivable par 4 that can really be a turning point in the match.  By utilizing different tee markers you can play a different course out here every time you play.

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How are Golf Courses Rated?

By: Brian Rhodes on March 24th, 2015

Purgatory Golf Club has won numerous awards throughout the years for having an outstanding golf course.  Quite frequently we are asked how these awards are determined. Many believe their favorite course is ranked behind other courses they may have experienced. They believe the rankings are skewed to a raters personal opinions and not very objective. Below is the criteria that Golf Digest raters use to determine these rankings. As you will notice, there is a formula to how they evaluate the courses. We thought this may be interesting and informative. You may enjoy this formula for evaluation the next time you play.


Golf Digest Criteria – each criteria is rated using a 10 point scale

  1. Shot Values How well does the course pose risks and rewards and equally test length, accuracy and finesse?
  2. Resistance to Scoring How difficult, while still being fair, is the course for a scratch player from the back tees?
  3. Design Variety How varied are the golf course’s holes in differing lengths, configurations, hazard placements, green shapes and green contours?
  4. Memorability How well do the design features (tees, fairways, greens, hazards, vegetation and terrain) provide individuality to each hole, yet a collective continuity to the entire 18?
  5. Aesthetics How well do the scenic values of the course (including landscaping, vegetation, water features and backdrops) add to the pleasure of a round?
  6. Conditioning How firm, fast and rolling were the fairways, and how firm yet receptive were the greens on the day you played the course?
  7. Ambience How well does the overall feel and atmosphere of the course reflect or uphold the traditional values of the game?


The average of each category is then totaled, double-weighting the Shot Values category with the result being the courses total point value.  A course needs 45 evaluations over the past eight years to be eligible for America’s 100 Greatest. The minimum ballots for 100 Greatest Public is 25, for Best in State 10.


While we enjoy the recognition and the awards, what we really find special is the enjoyment and interaction we have with our customers detailing their favorite aspects of our facility.  In the upcoming weeks we will blog about our favorite holes and the most interesting characteristics of Purgatory for you to observe as you experience the course.

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Announcing our New Twilight Practice and Play Program

By: Brian Rhodes on March 4th, 2015


DP_PUR44963 Twilight Practice and Play Flyer


Whether you are a Hogan disciple “The secret is in the dirt” or a Lombardi disciple “practice does not make perfect.  Only perfect practice makes perfect.”


They both agree to get your best results you need to practice along with playing.  With that in mind we are happy to introduce our player development program, called the Twilight Practice and Play Program.


The benefits of the 2015 Twilight Practice and Play Program are:

  • Access to the driving range daily after 4:00 p.m.
  • Access to Twilight Golf after 5:00 p.m. for a $15 access fee
  • Bring a friend or three – Guests fees are available for $25 each
  • Monthly supervised range sessions


All this for $299.00


Now the fine print:

  • Access times change based on daylight and seasonality – only earlier not later
    • Range access will be at least 3.5 hours before sunset
    • Course access will be at least 2.5 hours before sunset
    • Range is only available March 15 – October 31st
      • Range and course are dependent on weather conditions
    • Golf is available until December 31st
    • Program is only for individuals and range balls are not permitted to be shared


The highlights of our Practice Facilities


Our bent grass driving range tee has been professional leveled to ensure level lies, perfect conditions to promote perfect practice.  The range has strategically placed target greens and bunkers so you may replicate drives and approaches.  As we know hitting it in the fairway is important for your score.  Our 4 acres short game area is built so you can practice almost any shot that you will face out on the course up to 70 yards.  The 7000 square foot putting green is undulated very similar to our greens on the course.  Many have boasted that we may have the best practice facility in Central Indiana.


If you have any questions about the Twilight Practice and Play program please call the golf shop at 317.776.4653 or email me at

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Purgatory’s Devotional Pass

By: Brian Rhodes on February 24th, 2015

One of the major reasons that people state when ask why they don’t play more golf is:  the cost.


Our new loyalty program takes the starch out of this excuse.  The Devotional Pass is for the dedicated and loyal golfer of Purgatory Golf Club.  Since golf is almost a religious experience to some of us the card is aptly named, we are rewarding our frequent players


The Devotional Pass Benefits

  • One round included in the cost
  • 20% off Green fee and cart fee until you earn 10 points
    • Each 18 hole rack rate round is worth 2 points
    • Each 9 hole round and Super twilight round is worth 1 point
  • 40% off Green fee and Cart fee once you have 11 points or more
  • Access to twilight and Super twilight 1 hour early
  • $50 off Range memberships
  • Access to Member Only Events and Specials


All this for $89.00


The fine print –

  • Saturday, Sunday and Holidays are blacked out until 11:00 am
    • 20% discount is still applicable
  • Devotional Pass discounts apply to cardholders only
  • No Show Tee Times are subject to a $25 fee


Senior Devotional Pass

  • One round included in the cost
  • 15% off Green fee and cart fee until you earn 10 points
    • Each 18 hole rack rate round is worth 2 points
    • Each 9 hole round and Super twilight round is worth 1 point
  • 20% off Green fee and Cart fee once you have 11 points or more
  • Access to twilight and Super twilight 1 hour early
  • $50 off Range memberships
  • Access to Member Only Events and Specials

All this for $59.00

The fine print

  • Saturday, Sunday and Holidays senior rates are not applicable
    • 20% discount is still applicable off regular rates
  • Devotional Pass discounts apply to cardholders only
  • No Show Tee Times are subject to a $25 fee


If you have any questions about the pass program please call the golf shop at 317.776.4653 or email me at

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Golfing more frequently

By: Brian Rhodes on February 17th, 2015






     There is something about watching the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am that makes me wish for better weather so I could tee it up.  With the weather here being so cold, I stayed inside and watched way more TV this weekend than normal.


If you are like me, you want to play more golf this season.  Purgatory has several memberships that will help you reach that goal.  The price of these individual memberships varies between $1450 and $2500 depending on time/day restrictions.  That is less than I spend on week’s golf vacation, somewhere warm, and no we do not go to Pebble Beach (would be nice though).


I’ve heard many people say their golf membership is a mental health investment, giving them a time and place to recharge.  With membership you get freedom, it removes the barriers that are costing you rounds.  These reasons are no longer applicable:  limited time, unpredictable weather, lack of a prearranged group, and perceived monetary value.  If it rains after 5 holes who cares, I still got to play a few!  Now you have time for a bag of range balls and a couple of holes, if a meeting cancels or after work.


We have highlighted 10 reasons why Purgatory is fantastic club to join for membership.


1.  The Course – Our award winning golf course. Purgatory Golf Club has been ranked in the top 100 public place to play, including the #1 ranked public facility in the state of Indiana, 50 best courses for women, and we are consistently ranked in Golf Digest Best Places to Play. We have hosted all four major Indiana golf championships: 2007 State Open, 2010 Indiana PGA, 2013 Women’s State Open and 2014 Indiana Amateur Stroke Play Championship.   While awards and recognition are nice what really distinguishes Purgatory Golf Club is that the course is playable for all skill levels. The landing areas are very generous and a strategic play will be rewarded. With 6 sets of tees on every hole the course will provide you with the correct challenge for your handicap, we encourage you to determine tees based on weather and wind conditions. With over 216 acres dedicated to golf and no homes on the property you are sure to enjoy the scenery and serenity of Purgatory Golf Club.


2.  Conditions – A great layout is a start but what about conditioning? You’ll find that Purgatory has consistently the finest conditions in the area. While most clubs have been cutting costs we remain dedicated to providing pristine playing conditions.


3.  Practice Facilities – Once you have exposed your weakness on the course you can start working on improving them with our practice facilities. Our bent grass driving range tee has been professionally leveled to ensure level lies, perfect conditions to promote perfect practice. The range has strategically placed target greens and bunkers so you may replicate drives and approaches. As we know hitting it in the fairway is important for your score. Our 4 acres short game area is built so you can practice almost any shot that you will face out on the course up to 70 yards. The 7000 square foot putting green is undulated very similar to our greens on the course. Many have boasted that we may have the best practice facility in Central Indiana.


4.  Instruction / Club fitting – Our staff is affiliated with PGA of America and offer individual lessons along with clinics for Ladies, Men and Juniors. If you are improving your game, we are interested in assisting with the process.


5.  Convenience – Access to tee times are regularly available, as we normally host under 20,000 rounds per year. Our members are allowed to book tee times 14 days in advance, while the general public is usually limited to 10 days in advance. A high majority of our member rounds were played in under 4 hours last year. Please take into account when you play greatly affects the pace of play. Our staff is happy to recommend times that are general more open.


6.  Impress your Guests – Our lodge and course are sure to impress even your most finicky guest. All of your accompanied guest will receive discounted rates that match our frequent player’s card. Enjoy a drink or a meal in the Confessional bar before or after your round.


7.  Golf Cars – Our golf cars have state of the art GPS systems attached to them. With a touch of the screen you instantly know distance and direction requirements needed for success. You may also keep score with the GPS system.


8.  Camaraderie – We will introduce you to other members and invite you to partake in special events. Some examples of special events last year were: Men’s nights, Ladies nights, Wine tasting, Club Championships and WLGO tournament.


9.  No long term agreements – Our membership is for the calendar year only. Our goal is to retain you for the next several seasons but we understand it is difficult to commit to a long term agreement.


10.  Staff – Our passion is golf, and we are dedicated to promoting the game of golf. Our staff enjoys being here and is thrilled to share with our members. All members of our staff are trained in Ace Management training program to ensure all of our customer needs are satisfied.


Our unlimited golf membership and weekend only golf membership rates include the use of a golf cart and driving range.  Walking is always available, if you prefer.


In addition to what is listed if you sign-up and pay before March 31, 2015 we will include a voucher for 2 guest rounds.  The voucher is good Monday through Friday, no Holidays and limited to the first 25 people who sign-up.


I would be happy to answer any additional questions you may have either by email or at 317.776.4653.

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