Victoria National was the first bucket list course in Indiana that I played, and was a pretty special one coming in ranked as the #1 course in Indiana (both public and private) and being listed in the top 50 courses in America. There is a pretty neat pic of the mural in the locker room below.
My buddy Matt and I flew on a 6AM flight to Detroit and arrived in Evansville around 11:30AM. Exhausted, we met up with our hosts (members at Victoria National) and discussed the day over some Chick-Fil-A. We had a 2PM tee time and arrived at the course about an hour early to get warmed up. It’s amazing what a few hours on planes and in airports can do to your body, evidenced by my first few swings on the driving range.
One of the first things to note: When I think of “Indiana Golf”, what I picture is NOTHING like what Victoria National actually is. Simply put, it is beautiful. Rolling hills, winding rivers and creeks, elevation changes, natural rock walls, it’s truly amazing. Victoria National is a Tom Fazio course carved out of an old strip mine. I literally was in awe for the first 5 holes as I took in the landscape. That and I was also in a state of utter shock as I had probably the worst 5-hole start in the history of golf.
Victoria National was easily the most challenging golf I’ve ever played. We played in May, a little less than a month after the Web.com tour event took place. The course conditions were insane. Fazio really liked to create a lot of Risk/Reward type shots on the golf course, and I’m an aggressive player so I took just about all of them I could, and paid for it.
The second hole was where I took the first risk. After coming off an opening bogey, I stepped up to a 323 yard par-4, slight dogleg left that literally follows the cliff line of a strip mine with a beautiful river below. This hole was visually stunning. The easy shot off the tee is an iron or hybrid out to a generous fairway. The risky shot is to take an aggressive line over the water and follow the edge of the cliff down the left side to cut the corner and go for the green off the tee. We had a little wind at the back so I went for it, and of course I pulled my drive into the shit. Of course to make matters worse I took my drop and stuck an 8-iron to about 3 feet and of course what was next? 3-putts. I kind of forgot how quick the greens were as I didn’t have to use my putter on the first hole. I blew it by and missed the 8 footer coming back. Nice double. Thanks Victoria.
The rough was insane and literally was a penalty stroke in and of itself if you found it. It was extremely dense and deep, and I couldn’t figure out any distances out of it. To make it even tougher, that rough finds itself VERY close to the greens. There really isn’t much of a collar, and with some of the tucked pins, it comes into play big time. The greens were hard and fast. They may have been the quickest I’ve played on. I had a hard time holding greens. I hit a lot of good golf shots into greens that just didn’t hold and ended up in the green side rough which was almost impossible to get up and down out of. Getting up and down was very very tough. I only managed to hit 9 fairways on the round, and 3 greens in regulation. To say I was struggling to get up and down in those conditions would be an understatement.
The last 4 holes I had read quite a bit about, as they are well known to be an absolute bitch and some of the toughest finishing holes in Indiana. I actually played them decent for as tough as the round was treating me. On the par-5 530 yard #15 I hit the fairway and green in reg, and of course 3-jacked for bogey. #16 was a 168 yard par 3, and a completely gorgeous hole. The pin was tucked right (pic below). I hit an 8-iron right at the stick and it just couldn’t bite. It found the green side rough and I walked away with bogey.
The view from the tee box on #18 was absolutely gorgeous. 18 is a par 4 that doglegs to the right around a large mass of water. It actually reminded me a bit of #18 at Bay Hill. I took a pretty aggressive line and hit a big bomb that left me about 80 yards in the middle of the fairway. Sitting there in the middle of the fairway, all of the couples eating dinner in the very nearby clubhouse were looking down on me. I had to stick this next shot to impress them after the drive that I hit so perfect. Chunk. I came up short of the green about 10 yards and then of course couldn’t get up and down. Nice bogey finish knucklehead.
If you play Victoria National try and get hooked up to stay in the cottages (below) that overlook #18. We stayed in them and they are very nice and would make a great guys trip hangout. Not to mention sitting at the fire pit overlooking the course is a perfect way to end the day! I cannot wait to go back.