Par For the Course
Forest Park & Fox Prairie Golf Courses Offer Consistent Greens & Affordable Pricing For Local Golfers
Writer / Julie Yates
Pristinely beautiful, well-manicured and immaculately maintained are phrases that are often used to describe the two municipal golf courses that are under the auspices of Noblesville’s Parks and Recreation Department. Dedicated staff has ensured these public facilities continue to keep a country club-like appearance.
Each course has an interesting history. Nine-hole Forest Park opened in 1927 and is the oldest golf course in Hamilton County. In the 1960s, the sport boomed and local demand for golfing increased. The course could not be expanded because it would encroach on the park portion of the tract which, at the time, included an arcade and small train. When a parcel of land was eventually donated to the city, Fox Prairie was built on it in 1970. Originally it was an 18-hole course, but later nine additional holes were added in 1995.
Curt Brisco has worked for the Parks and Recreation Department in the golf division for the past 30 years. Eleven years ago, he became Golf Course Superintendent and oversees both properties. Although he has seen interest in golf fluctuate over the years, Brisco feels Noblesville’s golf courses have a lot to offer.
“I got in the golf business literally through the flip of a coin,” Brisco says. “I was working for Colonial Bakery and they had to downsize. Another employee and I tossed a coin to see who would keep their job. I lost but found employment as a second assistant at Fox Prairie Golf Course through an ad in the Indianapolis Star.
“In the 1970s and 1980s, some businesses in Noblesville would close each Wednesday at noon. People such as doctors, lawyers and bankers came out to the courses and played. Today, free time seems to have gotten squeezed out of people’s lives, but I feel the courses, especially Forest Park, have a loyal following. Our price point for the value a golfer gets is great.”
Each season, there are duel challenges to meet — financial sustainability and battling nature. While Brisco is in charge of making the courses playable, Mike Hoffmeister, Assistant Director of Noblesville Parks and Recreation oversees the monetary aspect.
“Both are in fine shape year in and year out, but mother nature is always somewhat of a problem,” Brisco says. “Keeping the turf on a green to a height of .125 inches, when in its natural state the grass would grow to a height of eighteen inches, puts stress on it.”
“The financial part is a big challenge,” Hoffmeister adds. “It takes a lot to run a golf course and make ends meet. The course is sustained by fees charged for playing golf, renting carts, the driving range and snack bar sales. Currently, we are exploring ways to create non-golf revenue to make up for the financial challenges.”
The cost to play a round of golf at either Forest Park or Fox Prairie varies according to the which course is chosen, the time of day and whether the patron elects to rent a cart. Differing levels of season passes are available. These options range from a $20 patron card entitling the holder to a two-dollar discount for nine holes all the way to $2000 for unlimited play and golf cart usage. Prices for walk-ons span from $14 for nine holes during a weekday to $49 for playing eighteen holes on a weekend morning while riding in a golf cart. Both venues have a golf shop as well as a snack bar that sells hot dogs, cold sandwiches, soft drinks and beer.
Golf lessons for all ages are taught at the Fox Prairie course. They are overseen by Gary Deakyne, Director of Golf and given by golf pros John Mohler and Mary Rabb.
“It’s hard to give just one benefit of learning how to playing golf,” Deakyne says. “Players have to call penalties on themselves, so responsibility, respect and playing by the rules are important. Golf is a game for a whole lifetime. It can be played whether someone is eight years old or 95. Everyone gets the enjoyment of being outside.”
Both Forest Park and Fox Prairie have a long tradition in the Noblesville community yet they continue to offer residents a fresh golf experience. Due to the growth of mature trees and the changing landscape, players can feel a new challenge each time they play the courses.
“In my opinion, Noblesville has the best golf courses around Hamilton County, if not the entire state,” Brisco says.
Forest Park Golf Course is located at 701 Cicero Road, while Fox Prairie Golf Course is located at 8465 East 196th Street in Noblesville.