Irwin’s Coyote Crossing Leads the Pack
The first thing taught in Golf Course Architecture 101 is that land should dictate design. So it’s no surprise that hall-of-famer Hale Irwin, one of the few players in history to win three U.S. Opens and a prodigious student of the game, would follow that rule to a “tee” at Coyote Crossing Golf Club in West Lafayette, IN. The award-winning layout fits the property like a well-worn glove.
Coyote Crossing broke ground in early 1998 with the course officially opening June 7, 2000. Unlike some “signature” layouts that carry a TOUR-player affiliation in name only, Irwin, himself, was fully involved in the building process from conception to completion. Since his golf days ended, His company, Hale Irwin Golf Design, has constructed nearly two dozen courses in the United States. And while each may be different, they all share his commitment to designing player-friendly courses that work hand-in-hand with the existing environment.
Coyote Crossing epitomizes Irwin’s design philosophy, taking full advantage of the natural features of the Northwest Indiana countryside located within easy access of Interstate 65 and Purdue University. Irwin described the terrain as “near perfect, with views of open meadows to mature wooded areas” after first scouting the property. In fact, the scenic beauty of the area and, in particular, Burnett’s Creek which sashays through the 175-acre site, serve as aesthetic and strategic focal points of the course.
The par-72 layout tops out at 6,839 yards from the championship (black) tees, a somewhat modest length in comparison to many of the courses found on TOUR these days. But it plays sneaky long, even from the middle (tan) markers that measure just over 6,000 paces. Because of the ebb and flow of the terrain, there are several uphill fairways and quite a few elevated green complexes that often require an extra club or two on the approach.
The front nine envelops players with a sense of tranquility as it moves up and down rolling, tree-lined fairways lined with grass mounding and bunkers. There’s an excellent mix of open and tight landing areas, but never that pit-in-the-bottom-of-your-stomach feeling that your tee shot requires a perfect swing every time. The holes traverse over and around creeks and protected wetlands, and alongside cornfields and serene pastures. Meticulous landscaping that includes dogwoods, redbuds, azaleas and wild flowers remind you this is no ordinary semi-private course. In fact, Coyote Crossing is ranked the Hoosier State’s #6 public-access layout and has earned a 4-1/2 star rating by Golf Digest.
The 185-yard (middle tees) No. 5 is one of the best par 3s you’ll find anywhere. The hole is played entirely downhill from a series of five tiered tee boxes, through a chute of tall hardwoods and over a two-pronged creek bed to a shallow green below. There is a run-up fairway area just in front but be careful of the greenside bunker on the back left.
Number 7 is one of two par 4s on the front side that features a sharp, 90-degree dogleg right. Playing just 320 yards, Burnett’s Creek cuts across the narrow fairway about 200 yards out just before you reach the bend. Clear the water hazard and find the landing area just left of the sand trap on the inside corner and you’re left with a short iron or wedge over a front-false bunker to a receptive green.
The back nine at Coyote Crossing is equally as fun and fair, and presents players with a “change of course” on holes 15 and 16. The 494-yard, par-5 No. 15 and 379-yard, par-4 No. 16 both have a distinctive links-style flair, playing around a lake in an open-air area lined by upscale residential properties. The water comes into play on the approach at No. 15 and on the drive at No. 16. They’re followed by another fabulous par-3 at No. 17. The hole is played from elevated tees, over a sunken ravine, to a raised green fronted in front by a deep bunker. A tall tree on the upslope just to the left makes the shot appear much tighter and often “forces” balls to the right where another greenside trap awaits.
Coyote Crossing matches Irwin’s lauded playing career and his mannerisms both on and off the course — kind, charming, respectful but one of the fiercest competitors ever to play the game. It’s little wonder that, given its pedigree, that the layout is one of the Midwest’s most awarded and celebrated places to enjoy a round. With exquisite conditions, exceptional hole designs and a relaxed, no-hurry atmosphere it represents the very best in daily-fee play. The amenities are also top-notch, too, including a beautiful clubhouse complete with a full-service pro shop and exceptional restaurant. The practice facility spares no expense either, with a bent grass driving range as well as a short game practice area and putting green.
The second rule when it comes to course design is creating a layout that challenges players of all abilities to shoot their best round. Coyote Crossing exceeds that expectation. The third rule, although often overlooked or forgotten, is to make the experience affordable and appealing to all golfers. Coyote Crossing excels in that department, too, with rates that make playing here one of the best bargains since the Louisiana Purchase. TeeTime Golf Pass members can also take advantage of several promotional offers making the course a must-play for locals and traveling golfers, alike.