Walking To a Different Beat

By Steve Eubanks
Courtesy of Golf Business

When you come from a family that has been bucking trends for 80 years, taking the unconventional route comes as naturally as walking. And walking is exactly what Sam Taylor, owner of Stony Creek Golf Club in the central Indiana town of Noblesville, is trying to encourage.

Taylor built and opened Stony Creek in 1990 with an emphasis on walking. His reasoning? To keep area juniors involved in the game. "We lost the caddie generation, which used to introduce kids to the game," Taylor says. "That avenue of entry into golf is gone. And with all the other leisure activities that kids have, from computers to everything else available, it's hard to get their interest in coming to the golf course."

To combat the loss of the next generation of golfers, Taylor puts few restrictions on juniors. In fact, he entices them by offering Stony Creek's only discount. "We've resisted discounting and we don't go in for having all these different rates for different times of day and different groups," Taylor explains. "We don't have a senior rate or women's rate. Our only special rate is a junior rate because we want to encourage them to play."

And he wants to encourage everyone to walk, a throwback to the era when Taylor's grandfather built a driving range and par-3 course called Willowbrook in 1931. At a time when practice grounds only existed at the country's finest clubs, the family patriarch bucked the system during the Great Depression, just as his grandson is defying conventional wisdom today.

Stony Creek is Taylor's second course. Willowbrook closed in 1965, but not before the family acquired more land to build Sycamore Springs Golf Club, an 18-hole facility that operated from 1967 through 1994. Once metropolitan Indianapolis expanded and Sycamore Springs became too valuable to continue as a golf course, the family sold it for development and added a par-3 course to Stony Creek.

"With our par-3, we're able to fill a niche and get families out to play golf," Taylor says. "We do anything we can to get the next generation of golfers interested in the game. If we don't get them playing, none of what we've done for the last 80 years will mean much." 


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