The Links At Rising Sun … A Wee Taste Of Scottish Golf In A Sunny Corner Of Indiana.

To understand why a slice of Scottish golf can be found in a corner of Indiana and laid out along the banks of the Ohio River, and with the Blue Grass State of Kentucky on the opposite bank, you have to know more about the course designer.

The Links at Rising Sun in the town of Rising Sun was designed by Tim Liddy, who is a member of the American Society Golf Course Architects, works out of Yorktown, Indiana.  He honed his trade for two decades under legendary Pete Dye before branching out on his own in 1993.

Liddy has designed some other renowned courses including the Coffin Golf Club in Indianapolis, Delaware Country Club, Magnolia at Landings Club in Savannah, Georgia and the Princess Anne Country Club at Virginia Beach.  He also designed the Rock Hollow Golf Club course in Peru.

However, if you are still wondering where Liddy got much of his ideas in being commissioned to design The Links at Rising Sun in 2000 it was after he had overseen reworking six holes of the Dukes Course at St. Andrews and the legendary Home of Golf in Scotland, and a 15-minute drive from my own club at Crail Golfing Society and the seventh oldest club in golf.

I recall vividly standing on the first tee in July 1995 when Prince Andrew, in the company of original Dukes course designer and five-time Open Champion, Peter Thomson along with Scot rugby legend, Gavin Hastings, drove the ceremonial opening tee shot out-of-bounds left off the first and now the 10th, before His Highness reloaded and birdied the par five opener with his second ball.

Since Prince Andrew graced the course that overlooks the historic Auld Grey Toon, and with the Dukes Course owned by Herb Kohler who also owns Whistling Straits, Liddy’s redesign work at the Dukes Course now sees the first playing as the 10th and the 10th is now the first.

Working on the redesign of the Dukes Course afforded Liddy, and what he wrote in an article in Golf Week, to see the relevance of links golf on a wider front.

Liddy rightfully argued golf in America has become too one-dimensional in flying the ball to the green.  He highlighted that for golf to compete in today’s society, golf needs to offer the antithesis of that culture, not a reflection of it.  He added that links golf courses provide the natural, sustainable model for a healthier outdoor exercise.  Links-inspired golf, he concluded, is the principle of working with nature, not against it. It has become increasingly vital to the future of golf in America that we understand the underlying message and act upon it.

3rd Hole Tee Marker, The Links at Rising Sun

View from the 3rd green at The Links at Rising Sun. Image …

So when you wind your way around the superb The Links at Rising Sun, and situated some 3, 750 miles from Home of Golf at St. Andrews in Scotland, you will enjoy the wealth of Liddy’s short period working close to where the ancient club-and-ball game was first played .

The The Links at Rising Sun is right of the edge of the charming township of Rising Sun that grew strongly from the early 1800s.

It had been in 1814 that John James of Fredericksburg, MD., journeyed to the area and purchased a large tract of land from Col. Benjamin Chambers, who had acquired it while conducting the original survey for the Northwest Ordinance. James and his son, Pinckney, surveyed the land and platted what was to be Rising Sun. In 1816, he registered the town of Rising Sun.

View into the 6th green at The Links at Rising Sun. Image …

Golf Balls for sale in the front yard of a house close to the 6th green at The Links, Rising Sun, Indiana. Image ….

8th Hole & view back down the fairway and the Rising Sun Casino, Indiana.


Several legends attempt to explain James’ choice of name for his small town. Some say it was taken from an early ferry on the riverfront. Others say James chose it because he was so struck by a view of the sun rising over the Kentucky hills.

The sun continues to rise from over the Kentucky hills on a golf course that features gently rolling bent grass fairways and greens nestled among traditional long waste bunkers, winding lakes and heather rough, and for the most part, the course boasts panoramic views of the Ohio River Valley.

Liddy has offered a choice of five tees with the course measuring 6,826-yards off the “Black” tees, 6,450-yards from the “Gold” tees, 6,320-yards if you choose to tee-off the “Blue”, 5,634-yards from the “White” tees and for the Ladies the course measures 5,006-yards from the traditional “Red” tees.

9th Hole tee marker, The Links at Rising Sun, Indiana . Image …

9th Hole at The Links at Rising Sun, Indiana . Image …

Water comes into play on some five holes particularly the par four, three holes and running all the way down the right side while at the 10th the water tries to keep you honest all the way down the left hand side of the fairway.

The uphill par four 11th, measuring 353-yards off the “Gold” tees is a decent but at No. 15 you should manage a par before tackling the No. 1 index hole, the downhill par five, 12th measuring all of 612-yards off both the “Black” and the “Gold” and 552-yards from the “Blue”.

Of the three par 5s the 12th is my favourite as a good drive and a decent second shot, and even for this 15-handicapper left me just a short iron into a raised and island-like green and the reward, and in first tackling the hole, a very pleasing par.

12t h Hole tee marker, The Links at Rising Sun, Indiana. Image ….

12th Hole & view off the tee. The Links at Rising Sun, Indiana. Image …

12th Hole & fairway marker, The Links at Rising Sun, Indiana. Image …

Liddy laid out three of the four par threes over the outward half at the 4th, 6th and the 9th holes while the there is just one par three on the back nine and that is found at 13, and so numbered as in two loops of the course I just struggled to find the green.

Not so at the par three, sixth and a gem of  just 137-yards off the back tees and down to 112-yards from the white, and so comforting to  play a par three where you do not have to hit the daylights out of a rescue club to reach the green.

14th Hole & bunkering short of the green. The Links at Rising Sun, Indiana. Image …

16th Hole & view of the green at The Links at Rising Sun, Indiana. In the background is the Ohio River and the hills in the distance lie in the State of Kentucky. Image …

In fact, Liddy designed the four par threes to play no longer than 200-yards which is the distance off the “Blue” tees on 13 while special mention to the 175-yard ninth where a small stream-like feature is situated right and where Liddy designed a bunker short and left to ensure your focus is solely on finding the green.  It was another hole I delighted in walking off with a par.

With the exception of a few holes, including the 11th where there two very deep Scottish links like bunkers right and below the green, the majority of bunker at The Links are very much what you now find at The Dukes in St. Andrews.  Like all bunkers, they are in place to penalise any errant tee shot but you should have little trouble getting yourself back into play or in a good few cases, finding the green such as at eight and 14.

Bernie’s Koala headcover on the 18th tee marker at The Links at Rising Sun.

18th Hole & view off the tee. The Links at Rising Sun, Indiana.

Clubhouse at The Links at Rising Sun, Indiana.. Image …

The closing hole is a Liddy gem hitting, as you do, to a fairway that drops off down the left side and where there is a pair of spectacle-like bunkers tucked into the slope of the fairway.  A good drive presents a second shot to a green protected in front by a gully of sorts while there is a unseen bunker right and well below the level of the green to catch anything off target.

The Links at Rising Sun offers many of the tests of the game you will find in tackling the best of Scottish and Irish links and while the course is situated in landlocked Ohio it still offers all challenges and presents just the same wee rewards you will find in the land of the Saltire.

Footnote ..

For someone living in Crail and also member of the seventh oldest golf club, along with being in the States reporting on the PGA Tour for two Scottish daily newspapers, it was a very special treat to discover The Links at Rising Sun,

So my very warm thanks to Jumpei “JP” Okuda, Golf Manager at The Links at Rising Sun for the wonderful welcome and the opportunity to play the course.

JP, who first began playing golf at age seven, is clearly passionate about the game.  He is the former Assistant Golf Professional at Newman Golf Course, Cincinnati, Ohio, from 2004 – 2010 before becoming the Head Golf Professional at Newman from 2010 – 2012.

Jumpei “JP” Okuda, Golf Manager at The Links at Rising Sun. Image

Bernie & Jumpei “JP” Okuda, Golf Manager at The Links at Rising Sun. Image

He was elected Class A PGA Membership in August 2012 and taking on the role of Golf Manager at The Links at Rising Star Casino to the present.

I asked him who was one of his favourite golfers and he singled out Graeme McDowell.

And knowing G Mac well, JP now has a signed club flag from the 2010 European Ryder Cup winning hero on display in the clubhouse and suffice to say, I am looking to the day to again catching up with JP.



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