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Recreation

Recreation

From well-maintained, amenity-filled parks and winding trail systems to highly utilized organized sports leagues for all ages, Boone County is brimming with outstanding opportunities for recreational activities—both indoors and out.

The Boone County Family YMCA, located in Lebanon, is a staple in the recreational offerings of the area, currently boasting a membership exceeding 500 people. Despite not having its own facility, the Boone County Family YMCA offers as many as 40 programs designed to meet the evolving needs of families in the area. Among the various programs offered through the Y are summer camps, an after-school program, health and wellness classes, nutrition, cheer, ballet, theater and arts, CPR, youth sports, and much more.

The YMCA has plans to begin building a modern, 35,000-square-foot facility on the Witham Health Campus in early fall of 2009. The addition of this facility will provide Y members with such amenities as an indoor swimming pool and therapy pool, a gymnasium, a weight room, an aerobic room, an indoor walking track, locker rooms, and a child care area—to name a few. “By having a brand-new YMCA facility where we can offer a multitude of family-based, youth, adult and senior programs, we are able to fulfill our mission of bringing quality and affordable programs to the families of Boone County,” explains Amy Mitchell, Wellness Director at the Y.

trails

Sports have a major presence in Boone County and its surrounding areas, with the establishment of various youth and adult sports teams throughout the region. The Boys & Girls Club of Zionsville has organized a wealth of sports leagues and camps—among other programs and services—including basketball, flag football and T-ball. Little League baseball is played at fields across the county. Soccer is also a celebrated pastime, which is evident through the immense popularity of Socctoberfest in Zionsville. Each fall, the Zionsville Youth Soccer Association (ZYSA) welcomes more than 1,500 participants from all over the Midwest to participate in this competitive event, held at the 50-acre Eagle Fields complex. There are also plenty of options for fitness fanatics through facilities such as Anytime Fitness, Lebanon Sport & Fitness, Curves, and many nearby national chains.

It’s no wonder Boone County has such a love of sports, with its location in the Hoosier state and a short distance from Indianapolis. Indy is teeming with opportunities for athletes and sports enthusiasts, with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway; the NCAA headquarters and museum; Big Ten college athletics; and various professional teams such as the Indianapolis Colts (NFL), the Indiana Pacers (NBA), and the Indianapolis Indians (MILB) rounding out the selections for exciting athletics.

PARKS & TRAILS
One of Boone County’s greatest assets comes in the form of its great outdoors. The serenity of the untouched areas gives a sense of respite from the fast-paced world we live in today. Fortunately, all local Boone County communities have incorporated such entities as Parks and Recreation departments in order to enhance the quality of life through well-maintained park sites, trails, facilities, and an extensive list of programming for children and adults.Zionsville is packed with many park sites, facilities and miles of trails. The Zionsville Parks Department maintains nearly 20 parks and facilities, including the 77-acre Starkey Nature Park, the new 38-acre Mulberry Fields site, The Azionaqua Swim Club and the Zion Nature Center. The Nature Center’s facility offers a range of nature programs and is comprised of an animal room, a program room, a craft room, a wildlife viewing area, a library, a preschool room and various exhibits on the inside. Venturing outdoors, visitors will come into contact with the Zion Nature Sanctuary, which offers nature trails, flood plain areas and an outdoor classroom. Additionally, the sanctuary opened a new trail in late 2007, known as the “West Trail.”

The Lebanon Parks and Recreation Department oversees seven parks, notably the more than 40-acre Memorial Park and the more than 50-acre Abner Longley Park. Between the two parks, residents and visitors can take advantage of an outdoor swimming pool, lighted tennis and basketball courts, athletic fields, picnic shelters, a nature trail, and much more.

A major community effort in Jamestown helped to bring about the completion of Pleasant Acres Nature Park. The park, completed in the early 2000s, is comprised of trails, bridges, a shelter house, an overlook, a gazebo, and plenty of native flowers and trees. Another civic accomplishment was made through the establishment of Advance Community Park. The park is a newer addition to the area, equipped with a picnic shelter, basketball and sand volleyball courts, a skate park, a walking trail, an ice rink, a softball diamond, and plenty of open space for play.

The Farm Heritage Trail currently encompasses more than 40 miles of trail between Zionsville and Lafayette. The multi-use trail travels along the former Big Four railroad corridor and will eventually provide more than 60 miles of trail for walking, biking and equestrian use. The Friends of Boone County Trails (FBCT) is a major supporter of the Farm Heritage Trail project. A component of the Community Foundation of Boone County, the FBCT is a nonprofit organization made up of a group of Boone County residents dedicated to promoting the development of trailways in the area.

The Farm Heritage Trail will ultimately connect the Thorntown Kewasakee Trail, Lafayette Linear Trail and Zionsville Rail-Trail, with plans proposed to link Lafayette to Zionsville. The scenic Thorntown Keewasakee Trail stretches 1.7 miles in the Thorntown community, traveling from the downtown district into the Sugar Creek Valley. The Zionsville Rail-Trail is a 3.5-mile trail offering a connection to hiking trails in Starkey Nature Park and various picnic spots.POLO

Mention polo matches and most think of dignitaries like England’s Prince Charles, but in Boone County, and across the country, polo’s place as a recreational activity in bringing families and friends together has steadily gained popularity. There are nearly 280 private polo clubs across the country, and one graces Indiana’s countryside. Hickory Hall Polo Club is a well-manicured 20-acre spread near the eastern boundary of Boone County.

Polo has been a staple in the lives of Hickory Hall’s owners for years. “My husband’s been involved with polo and fox hunting with his whole family since he was 5 or 6,” says Donna Chandler, “and I got involved with polo later—that’s how I met Greg.” In addition to their involvement, their son, Austin, also plays polo at Culver Military Academy.

The Chandlers have taken great care to bring the enjoyment of polo to Boone County residents as well as benefiting the community. “Polo has been tied to charitable causes from its beginning,” says Chandler. And Boone County is no exception. Annually, Hickory Hall hosts the Witham Foundation-Boone County Chamber of Commerce Polo Match the second weekend in July. The event attracts around 1,500 spectators. While polo is the main draw, there are many other festivities for attendees to enjoy. “It’s really just a great way to go to the country and spend an afternoon with family and friends sharing fun and good food,” relates Chandler.

Recent Hickory Hall events have also benefited the Purdue Polo Club and Helping Her Heal Fund. “The Helping Her Heal Fund provides emotional, physical and financial help for women experiencing any form of female cancer, and the Purdue Polo Club event helps to keep the club strong so families and communities can continue to benefit from this undervalued sport,” explains Chandler.

Whether attending for the sake of enjoying a few mint juleps, or ready to ride horses for a six-chukkas game, people continue to discover the sport of polo in Indiana.

TEEING OFF IN BOONE COUNTY
Some of the hidden gems of Indiana’s recreational world are its rich golf courses, several of which are located right inside Boone County.

Golf

Turn-of-the-century entrepreneur Henry Ulen looked to support the Boone County community when he helped make the Ulen Country Club a reality in the 1920s. Recognized as the first William Diddle-designed course, the private 18-hole course at Ulen Country Club is composed of two acres of high-quality greens, 25 acres of fairway, 80 acres of well-maintained rough, two water features and a staggering total of 80 bunkers. Four sets of tees are available to accommodate golfers of all skill levels, with the longest tee offering play up to 6,310 yards and a par 70.

The Ulen course has undergone several major renovation projects within the last several years, including a bunker and tee renovation project in 2001, the installation of a new irrigation system in 2003, and the fairways move from rye grass to bent grass in 2006. While Ulen has endured these much-needed upgrades, William Diddle’s original design, including the green contours, fairway mounding and overall layout, has remained intact. (www.ulencc.com)

Opened in 1960, Cool Lake Golf Course in Lebanon offers exceptionally nice greens and a clean, well-maintained 18-hole course that stretches 6,008 yards from the blue tees, 5,661 yards from whites and 4,946 yards from the senior/lady tees. The layout features a gently rolling terrain with water hazards coming into play on five holes. In addition to the great course, Cool Lake offers plenty of opportunities for organized games and tournaments. (www.coollakegolf.com)

A shorter layout is available at Tomahawk Hills Golf Course in Jamestown. Built in the early 1970s and designed by Gary Kern, Tomahawk Hills provides quite a taxing nine-hole course. More than 2,900 yards of play, for a par 36, compose the public course, which is distinguished by bent grass greens and winter rye fairways. (www.tomahawkhillsgc.com)

Rated best public golf course in Indiana by Golf Digest in 2007, the Trophy Club golf course has garnered much praise and many visitors in its few years as a course. Designed by renowned architect Tim Liddy, Trophy Club’s course reaches over a vast expanse of 247 acres in Lebanon. Its 18 holes, intersected by Prairie Creek, account for a challenging day at the links for both novices and professionals. Boasting greens built to USGA specifications, individualized lessons provided by B.G. Winings, and programs for adults and aspiring teens, the Trophy Club is uniquely equipped to provide a professional challenge to players of any skill level. (www.thetrophyclubgolf.com)

Zionsville’s coveted Wolf Run Golf Club became a reality thanks to the passion of local dentist and accomplished amateur golfer Dr. Jack Leer and Steve Smyers, an expert player with an extensive knowledge of course architecture. In 1989, Wolf Run opened to much acclaim. Leer and Smyers designed quite a challenging course, with the hope of bringing in a membership composed of the best players in the country. While the beautiful 18-hole course has seen minor modifications, it has retained its testing framework, with a course rating of 74.2 and a slope of 143. Its popularity also remains, as it is currently ranked No. 18 in “America’s 100 Best Modern Courses” by Golfweek. (www.wolfrungc.com)

Just outside of Zionsville is the acclaimed Golf Club of Indiana, a public course that has been recognized among “America’s Top 75 Daily Fee Golf Courses” by Golf Digest. The Mickey Powell and Charles Maddox-designed course is characterized by “gently rolling terrain, large undulating greens and many mature trees,” with 72 bunkers and water coming into play on 15 holes. The championship tees provide play extending over 7,000 yards and a par 72, offering a challenge to the more experienced golfers. The attractive, highly manicured course features bent grass tees and greens and bluegrass fairways. (www.golfindiana.com)

Recently, the town of Zionsville purchased a nine-hole golf course for public use. “The people who owned the golf course at the time were wanting to sell it,” says Ed Mitro, Town Manager of Zionsville. “We saw that it would be a very important asset to the town of Zionsville and the community, so we stepped in and said we’d certainly like to buy it to keep it as a municipal golf course.”

Spanning some 50 acres, the Zionsville Golf Course offers three sets of tees ranging from 2,440 yards at the shortest and 2,970 yards at the longest, for a par 36. The public course “is very heavily utilized by locals and visitors alike. All age groups, from retirees to the Zionsville Community high school golf team, keep the course busy,” explains Mitro. (www.zionsvillegolfcourse.com)

From beginners to the almost professional, all levels of golfers find Boone County offers numerous options to practice and perfect their game.

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