Location: Notre Dame, Ind.
Course architects: Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw
Tee — Yardage / Rating | Slope:
Black — 7,020 / 73.4 | 132
Blue — 6,744 / 71.5 | 128
White — 6,346 / 70.4 | 125
White — 6,346 / 76.7 | 134
Green — 5,302 / 71.1 | 122
Saturday morning greens fee: $$ [$50-$99]
Caddie service: No
Walker friendly: Yes
Starter: The United States Golf Association will conduct the 40th U.S. Senior Open here this week. The course is one of the earlier creations from the renowned design team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. The over-50 field is likely to have its way with the course during the championship, June 24-30, but for everyone else it’s a most worthy test and an enjoyable Midwestern golf experience. The Warren Course was financed by Notre Dame graduate William K. Warren Jr. in honor of his parents, William K. Warren and Natalie O. Warren. The elder Warren was instrumental in the founding of Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa in the mid-1930s. The Warren Course has hosted a plethora of USGA, NCAA and Big East tournaments, but the Senior Open is the biggest by far. With a topography as flat as the gridiron at nearby Notre Dame Stadium, the Warren Course will not remind golfers of Coore-Crenshaw’s more heroic creations at places like Bandon Dunes, Streamsong and Sand Valley — this is north central Indiana after all. Coore and Crenshaw challenge golfers on the greens, which are generally small and undulating, though not ridiculously so. They’re reminiscent of golden age greens of the 1920s.
Play because ...: The design is excellent and makes for a pleasant day in the park. The challenge is there, but not overwhelmingly so, primarily because there’s not a lot of elevation change — which is good if you’re not into scaling massive man-made hills. The greens are pitched and speedy enough to require some thought. Meanwhile, the U.S. Senior Open was a catalyst for improvements, including rebuilt and newly-lined and enlarged bunkers, a rebuilt driving range, green expansion — to provide more pin placement zones — and about 200 yards more in length to make room for more tee boxes for the pros and ever-longer college golfers.
Takeaway: While the Warren Course isn’t an expensive, multi-day destination the way some other top-rated Coore-Crenshaw courses are, it’s definitely worth a day-trip down Interstate 80-94 to famed Exit 77 at Notre Dame. And one more thing: In order to make the tournament run more smoothly, the USGA re-numbered some of the holes and cut par to 70 by making one of the par 5s into a par 4.
THE RATINGS [1 to 10 scale, 10 being the highest]
Food | Beverage: 7.0
Pro shop: 7.0
Pace of play: 8.0
COURSE | Scorecard
Best par 3: No. 4 [143 | 143 | 121 | 101 yards]
Easily the most memorable par 3. The hole's unforgettable green is small, narrow, undulating and slopes severely from back to front. The hole features bunkers in front, left and right, the latter of which is the deepest on the course. This hole will play as No. 16 for the championship and will make a great viewing area.
Best par 4: No. 16 [345 | 345 | 323 | 272 yards]
During NCAA events, the hole produces scores ranging from 3s to 8s. It’s a 345-yard uphill right-to-left dogleg with bunkers left, a generous fairway to the right, a creek located 175 yards from the tee, and a devilishly deep pot bunker in the middle front of the green. The green has four quadrants and is sloped severely back to front — as in the 1920s when such angles were necessary for drainage. Seems like nothing, right? Um, no. This hole will play as No. 1 for the championship.
Best par 5: No. 17 [565 | 480 | 462 | 414 yards]
The tee shot is downhill into a prevailing wind to a fairway bordered on the left by a pond and wetlands. The second shot into the landing zone is uphill and a golfer must avoid a large bunker on the left near the layup zone. The third shot is to a small green bordered on the left by a massive bunker.