Location: Florence, Ind.
Course architect: Tom Fazio
Tee — Yardage | Rating / Slope:
Tournament — 6,925 | 73.3 / 136
Champion —6,465 | 71.0 / 129
Resort — 5,923 | 68.3 / 122
Senior — 5,479 | 65.6 / 116
Senior — 5,102 | 72.2 / 124
Forward — 5,102 | 69.2 / 117
Saturday morning green fee: $$$ [$100-$149]
Caddie service: No
Walker friendly: Yes, but the cart fee is included in the green fee
Starter: Belterra Golf Club makes no pretense of being the main attraction at the Pinnacle Entertainment-owned Belterra Casino Resort. Most visitors to this rural corner of southeastern Indiana along the Ohio River come here for the casino action. Still, according to head golf professional Ty Robinett, the club does about 25,000 rounds a year, mostly from within the Indianapolis-Cincinnati-Louisville triangle, and the vast majority of golfers try their hand at the adjacent casino. “We always call it the Bellagio in the cornfield,” Robinett said. If visitors need a break from the gaming tables — and who wouldn’t? — or merely want an enjoyable golf diversion, Belterra offers quality conditions and a stern test. It’s as close to a sure thing as you’re likely to get at any casino operation.
Play because …: Low-handicappers will appreciate the variety of shot-making required by Fazio on this rolling, riverfront parcel. The par 3s stand out for their variety — our group hit 9-iron to 4-hybrid playing a combination of the “champion” (blue/6,465 yards) and “resort” (white/5,923) tees, with a mix of uphill and downhill shots. Higher-handicap players will welcome the wide fairway corridors and many run-up and bailout options into the contoured, multi-level green complexes, although a few of the holes leave no room for error short. For the more accomplished players, Belterra is a fun alternative where the odds just might tilt in your favor.
Takeaway: Belterra is a bit isolated, sitting roughly an hour south of Cincinnati and an hour north of Louisville on Indiana State Road 156, aka the Ohio River Scenic Byway, but that’s a huge part of the site’s charm. No houses, no distractions, only a casino that for golfers stands “like a beacon, always calling you home,” according to Tom O’Donnell, an insurance executive who was visiting from Cincinnati. Package deals with the casino hotel make Belterra a fun bet for golf and gaming.
THE RATINGS [1 to 10 scale; 10 being the highest]
Food | Beverage: 9.0
Pro shop: 8.0
Course difficulty: 8.0
Pace of play: 7.0
THE COURSE | Scorecard
Best par 3: No. 7 [188 | 166 | 132 | 130 | 93 yards]
Short is not an option, with water guarding the front and a bunker left. Too much club will leave a pitch or a long putt down a contoured green that feeds toward the water.
Best par 4: No. 5 [478 | 454 | 427 | 380 | 379 yards]
If you didn’t pick the proper set of tees upon starting, you’ll be saddled by second-guessing while standing on the tee of the brutish fifth hole. The slight dogleg left demands an accurate tee shot onto a shelf-like fairway. The falloff area left makes the long approach shot even more intimidating, with water short left and little room for error. It’s an early wakeup call to summon your “A” game.
Best par 5: No. 18 (522 | 501 | 477 | 450 | 450 yards]
From the elevated tee, the golfer plays northward toward the towering resort along the Ohio on a classic getable closing hole. During warmer weather, the prevailing south/southwest wind can make this hole reachable in two, but be mindful of how the water guards the right side. An eagle putt would help to ease any sting from the gaming operation.