When you think about top golf destinations in the country, Louisville probably isn’t at the top of your list. Instead, when you think of Kentucky, words like “derby” and “bourbon” are what immediately come to mind.
I’m here to tell you that there is absolutely some remarkable golf to be found in Louisville. I’ve played a few courses, but the town’s residents are really nuts about their golf. So much so, that they more or less demanded that I write an article highlighting the best tracks in their fair city. I obliged, so long as they agreed to help me out. It didn’t take much convincing by either side.
Let’s dive right in.
Chariot Run Golf Club
Even though Chariot Run is located just over the state line in Indiana, it’s just a short jaunt from Louisville.
This is a big, modern design that asks your best from tee to green. Is it long? From the back tees, yes. But there’s plenty of tee options to choose from so everyone can enjoy this spectacular track.
If you’re a fan of bent grass greens, these are some of the best in the business.
Due to this course’s wide-open, treeless nature, there’s nothing to stop the wind. As a result, shots hit up into the air can be affected. According to the local’s it’s best to swing it easy when it’s breezy, and use the natural contours to place your ball where you want it.
In my opinion, Chariot Run is one of the most underrated courses in the country. I highly doubt you’ll be disappointed if you make some time for a round here.
Fuzzy Zoeller’s Covered Bridge Golf Club
My kids are just old enough now that they’re starting to expand that slang vernacular (which is Hebrew to me). My daughter mentioned the “Fuzz” going by our home the other day. I gave them a quizzical look because I didn’t know what in the world they were talking about. I thought she must have been talking about Fuzzy Zoeller. Long story short, the “fuzz” is teenager parlance for a police car.
Ok, that’s well beside the point, but I couldn’t help myself. Can any of you help me interpret teenage-speak in 2021?
I digress. Fuzzy Zoeller’s Covered Bridge Golf Club is yet another course just over the state line.
I don’t get to play off Zoysia fairways often. But I sure get excited every time I do. Next to Paspalum, this is my favorite turf in a fairway. The ball sits up like it’s on a tee. No tight lies on this stuff.
Though the design is what we might call modern, the course is right in front of you.
Even though there are some demanding holes, they’re more than fair. And there are plenty of opportunities to score if you hit the right shots.
For the record, don’t worry about the “fuzz” showing up if you make a double bogey. I made a couple here and still lived to fight another day.
GlenOaks Country Club
It wasn’t that long ago that GelnOaks had fallen on hard times. The golf course suffered, it wasn’t getting much play, and the general feel of the place was one of decay.
Such is the case no longer. The vibe at GlenOaks is one of constant improvement, and my how far they’ve come. While there’s still work to do, local Golfer’s Authority readers are excited about this place again for the first time in a while.
I had the chance to correspond with one such member about the details and I’ll leave it at this: GlenOaks is a place you’re going to want to play sooner than later. If you don’t, you might not be able to get a tee time.
New Albany Golf Course
If you ask my wife, she’d tell you that I play a lot more golf than I should. She isn’t wrong. But to my credit, I’m always looking for the best deal I can find.
That’s why I’ve played New Albany Golf Course a couple of times now. In the Louisville area, there’s no better value.
Are the greens and fairways perfect at this property? No, they don’t compare to Augusta. But I’ll sing their song any day of the week for the way you’re treated and the price you pay.
This place has a loyal following too. Do they drive sports cars and wear pleated pants? Check the no box on that one too. They’re my kind of folks. They want to play their golf, commiserate amongst one another, and enjoy the game in its purest form.
You can’t tell me golf should be played any way else.
Quail Chase Golf Club
Carmel, California might be the Holy Grail on the West Coast. That’s where David Pfaff hails from. And he’s the genius behind Quail Chase Golf Club.
This parkland design meanders softly over rolling terrain. Between holes stand groves of scotch pines, dogwoods, maples, and oaks. Coupled with the picturesque McNeely Lake as a backdrop, this place brings about peace no matter how you’re playing.
Even better, you have 27 holes to choose from here. Each nine is distinctly different from its brethren. If you have time, locals highly recommend playing all three nines.
A stupendous setting, great service, and top-notch course conditions make this one the premier facilities in the Louisville area.
Seneca Golf Course
The Louisville Department of Parks and Recreation operates Seneca Golf Course. You all know I love courses that are run by municipalities and provide opportunities for everyone. This track is a shining example.
It’s not an easy one to say the least. It’s been ranked the “Sixth Toughest Course in Kentucky”. Set amongst the scenic Seneca Park, the course traverses rolling hills. Elevation change is a frequent occurrence so choose your clubs wisely.
Having opened in 1934, Seneca continues to be a Louisville favorite to this day.
Charlie Vettiner Golf Course
Charlie Vettiner is another track overseen by the Louisville Department of Parks and Recreation.
More than 50 bunkers, a meandering creek, and quiet hills make this course challenging from a strategic standpoint, but also fun to play. Four sets of tees help in this regard.
This track gets a lot of play. Locals say that morning tee times are preferable if you want to get around quickly. With that said, the staff pride themselves in monitoring pace of play regardless of time of day.
There are also plenty of opportunities for junior golfers to be exposed to the game here. Frequent summer camps and an abundance of kids’ programs are available to everyone. Even better, they don’t cost a fortune.
Come one, come all for an enjoyable time at Charlie Vettiner.
Persimmon Ridge Golf Club
“Make the natural decision”. That’s the motto at Persimmon Ridge Golf Club. It’s fitting. This golf course was designed by none other than Arthur Hills, and it’s golf as it should be. Everything seems just right here – from the layout to the way you’re treated.
Located only 25 short minutes from Louisville International Airport, this is a classic parkland design that asks you to hit all the shots. You might get to cut loose with driver on one hole, and have to thread a three-iron between the tees on the next.
Yet again, this isn’t an easy golf course. Members and guests alike agree that patience and precision are the keys to having an enjoyable round.
Put Persimmon Ridge on my list.
Elk Run Golf Club
Even though Elk Run is located in Southern Indiana, it’s just a short trek from downtown Louisville.
It was just a couple years ago that the fairways were redone here. And from everything I’ve heard, they’re plush and a pleasure to play from.
That’s not the only good news about Elk Run, however. The rest of the course is always in splendid condition and the design is second to none. Long holes bend both left and right. The par threes demand quality shots. And there’s plenty of room to gamble if you so choose.
Fully appointed with the latest and greatest that all the best public courses have to offer, Elk Run is worth the trip across the Ohio River.
Sleepy Hollow Golf Course
All the way back in 1966, a number of Louisville locals were together at a party and spent the evening sipping famous Kentucky Mash. As usual, the world’s problems were solved, except one toward the end of the evening: the courses in the city proper were just too damn crowded.
I’m told these fine fellows slept in that morning, but renewed their interest in the last conversation of the previous night soon after they woke up. One thing led to another and James A. McWilliams, owner of a large tract of land in Oldham Country, was the founder of what soon became Sleepy Hollow Golf Course.
The course is touted as one of the best nine-hole courses in the entire state to this day. Even though folks travel from all around to play here, everyone is treated like family. It’s been that way since the beginning and certainly isn’t going to change any time soon.
The layout? Straight forward. Condition? More than suitable for anyone. The experience? Golf as it should be in a place where you’d least expect.
When I think of Kentucky, I think of a few things: whiskey, thoroughbreds, and bluegrass. The state is certainly known for all of the above, but there’s oh so much more to experience.
Yes, golf is part of the story here too. Especially in Louisville. All you have to do is ask our readers who so generously contributed to this article. While you might find many of them in a pew on Sunday morning, you can bet your bottom dollar they’re on first tee early the same afternoon. My kindest thanks to you all.
If you’d like to share more about your experience with public golf in Louisville, please share with the rest of in the comments below.