Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex
1300 Cherry Lane, West Lafayette, Indiana, 47906
IF YOU HAD TO SUM UP KAMPEN IN THREE WORDS, WHAT WORDS WOULD YOU USE?
Challenging. Beautiful. True-Test.
Kampen is going to test your skills as well as any golf course there is. If you can walk off Kampen shooting in the 70’s, let alone to shoot par, you’ve done something impressive.
KAMPEN HAS A REPUTATION OF “BEATING UP” ON GOLFERS AND BEING A VERY DIFFICULT GOLF COURSE TO PLAY. WHAT IS IT ABOUT THE COURSE THAT MAKES IT SO DIFFICULT?
I think the biggest thing that is so difficult is some of the places that you can end up if you’re not careful or if you don’t know the right approach to take going into a hole. If you find yourself in the tall grass, that can get up to your waist line, or in some of the bunkering, it is easy to start adding strokes onto your score.
WHAT IS THE SECRET TO SCORING LOW ON KAMPEN AND NOT GETTING “BEATEN UP”?
The key is finding the fairway off your tee shot. Put the ball in play, keep it out of the high stuff, out of the rough and out of the bunkers. If you don’t find the fairway, it can become a problem very very quickly for your round. However, I will say, you probably won’t do this if it is your first time playing this golf course. What you’ll see and what you’ll think you should be able to do is not a reality. Pete loves to set you up. He loves to tempt you to go where you are not supposed to go, to make you think this is the spot you’re supposed to hit, but when in all reality, that is the last place you want to go with the ball. An example of this is on the 1st hole. If you have a driver in your hand, you’re going to be able to hit it far enough that your drive may end up in the bunker that is straight in front of you. So, you decide to aim your tee shot towards the left, which is fine, you’re safe over there, but then your approach shot into the green is having to go over a green side bunker. You’re going to encounter a bunker either way with this approach. But, if you put a hybrid in your hand off of the tee and knock it straight down the fairway, then you’ll have a clean shot into the green with nothing in front of you.
DO YOU KNOW IF PETE DYE MODELED KAMPEN AFTER ANY OF THE OTHER COURSES THAT HE DESIGNED? DO YOU KNOW IF HE USED ANOTHER COURSE TO INSPIRE KAMPEN’S DESIGN?
I never have talked to him about that or asked him that kind of question. I don’t know, but I do have some suspicions on what he was doing. When he was building this golf course, it was right about the same time as he was building Whistling Straits up in Wisconsin. If you’ve ever seen Whistling Straits, obviously it’s much more dramatic being right off of Lake Michigan and the different variables that come into play being that close to a large body of water. I do think he used lot of the same design ideas on both courses though.
PETE DYE IS KNOWN TO BE VERY PARTICULAR AND EXACT WHEN DESIGNING HIS GOLF COURSES. ALTHOUGH YOU WEREN’T THE HEAD GOLF PRO AT THE TIME, DO YOU KNOW OF ANY CRAZY REQUESTS MADE BY PETE WHEN DESIGNING KAMPEN?
I do have one story that comes to mind. He is very particular about a golf course and the sightlines of what you can see as you look through a hole, through to another hole and so on. /he wants there to be certain views that you are going to have. I know back when he was building the course, there were power lines that stretched along the backside of hole 4 through to 5, over to 12 and on down the way. Well, Pete being Pete, he paid money to have the power lines buried. He wanted someone to be able to stand on 12, be able look down that fairway, look through the green, look past it and look across to 6, and then be able to look over to 7 and 8 across the road without anything hindering their vision of those holes.
IF YOU HAD TO PICK A FAVORITE HOLE TO PLAY, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
I would have to choose hole number 7. It’s a par 4, it has a dual fairway, which makes it a pretty unique hole in itself as not many courses have a hole designed like this one. You have a large bunker in the middle, then a fairway on the right and a fairway on the left. Depending upon where the hole location is the day you play, typically will lead you to play one side or the other. It also plays short enough that if you have the wind behind you at all, it’s definitely possible to reach the green with your tee shot. It’s a risk/reward shot. You can easily get a huge number on that hole if you do something stupid, or you can get an eagle! It has all of the elements of a great hole.
WHAT IS THE SIGNATURE, OR MOST TALKED ABOUT, HOLE ON THE GOLF COURSE?
This is a tough question. As you’re walking around out there, you can make an argument for any number of holes out there. Each person you talk to probably has their own opinion on what hole is the signature hole and I’d probably have a tough time arguing with them on it. For me though, I can’t just pick one hole, but what I can choose is a stretch of holes on the back nine. I think holes 16-18 are three of the most challenging finishing holes in golf. Hole 16 is a very good par 5. It’s not one that you will necessarily take a big number on, but it’s not easy to birdie either as it is guarded by bunkering all over the place. Then, you go to 17, a tough par 3. It’s right along the water. The wind direction will play a huge factor in the type of shot you play into this hole and the direction of the wind could be going in any direction. Case in point, during the national championship, we had four different wind directions on this hole on each of the four days we were playing. That’s amazing! As a player, what do you do? Hole 18 is one of the most difficult holes you will play as trying to get onto the green in two is a real stretch most of the time. There have been more tournaments won or lost in this stretch than any other on this course. If you are able to get through these holes even par, you’re probably going to gain a lot of shots on the competition.
WHO HOLDS THE COURSE RECORD? WHAT WAS THEIR SCORE?
We have had three different individuals shoot a 63 on the Kampen Course. I know Yohan Eden Edin, Jorge Campeo and another kid from Colorado all shot a score of 63. Unfortunately, I can’t think of the kid’s name from Colorado, but if he ever reads this, he should call us up and let me know so we can get his name on here.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF ABOUT THE COURSE?
I would have to say the reputation the Kampen Course has as a golf course. It’s held, for many years, as one of the strongest and, in some cases, one of the most difficult courses out there in the state of Indiana. It’s always ranked in the Top 10 as one of the best courses in Indiana. I would also have to say that I am very proud of the condition the golf course is in with the work of Jim Scott (Superintendent) and his crew. The level of his attention to detail, especially with the budget he has to work with, him and his crew do an amazing job. We don’t have an unlimited budget out here, contrary to popular belief, as most country clubs have more money to maintain one golf course than what we have to maintain two golf courses. To see the condition that it is in day in and day out is something that makes me extremely proud.