Get out and “Play” this Spring

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Family-friendly Victory Field is home to the Indianapolis Indians. PHOTO: Indianapolis Indians

story by GLENDA WINDERS

From baseball games and golf, to auto racing and other outdoor sports, Indiana is full of inspiration for enjoying this season’s warmer weather.

Whether you are an athlete, a spectator or just someone who likes to get outside and play, Indiana is rich in opportunities, and you don’t have to go far to get to them.

If spring days already have you whistling “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” your first stop might be an Indianapolis Indians game.

“Summer in Indiana means one thing at the corner of West and Maryland streets -– it’s baseball season,” said Indianapolis Indians President and General Manager Randy Lewandowski. Attending a game at Victory Field is a summer bucket-list item for many Hoosiers, and we are excited to produce more great memories for our fans this year.”

And Indianapolis isn’t the only place to see an in-person game. The South Bend Cubs play at Four Winds Field, the Fort Wayne TinCaps at Parkview Field and the SouthShore RailCats at U.S. Steel Stadium in Gary. The Kokomo Jackrabbits take the field at Kokomo Municipal Stadium and the Oil City Stadium in Whiting is home to the NW Indiana Oilmen.

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Every night is “throwback night” at a Dubois County Bombers baseball game, played in the historic League Stadium in Huntingburg. PHOTO: Visit Dubois County

Joining the Oilmen as part of the Northern League collegiate baseball lineup is the Lake County Corn Dogs, who will play at Legacy Fields at Center Ross Park.

Bosse Field in Evansville, where the Evansville Otters play, is the third largest in the country after Wrigley Field and Fenway Park. It appeared in “A League of Their Own” as the home field of the Racine Belles, while League Stadium in Huntingburg portrayed the home of the Rockford Peaches. Recently HBO filmed “The Soul of the Game” about the Negro Leagues here. Satchel Paige came to play in the 1960s and posed for photos with local Little Leaguers.

It is now home to the Dubois County Bombers, and coming here will make you feel as if you have stepped back in time to the golden age of baseball. The stadium dates back to 1894, and its vintage signage, scoreboard and atmosphere remain.

Rather play than watch? Golf might be the game for you, and the 400 golf courses across the state make playing eminently possible. Pete Dye, known as the father of modern golf-course architecture, designed more courses in Indiana than in any other place in the world.

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There are 12 outdoor sports experiences at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. PHOTO: Kim Harms

Sign up for the Pete Dye Trail Challenge and play seven of them — the Ackerman-Allen course on the campus at Purdue University, the Kampen course (also in Lafayette), Maple Creek and Brickyard Crossing in Indianapolis (this one has four holes inside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway), the Fort Golf Resort at what was once Fort Benjamin Harrison, the Pete Dye Course in French Lick and the Tippecanoe Country Club in Monticello. When you finish you will have earned a pin flag — and bragging rights — for your efforts.

In Valparaiso, be sure and make a tee time at two enjoyable, yet challenging, courses: Forest Park and Creekside. And, just off the shores of Lake George in Hammond, is a golfers paradise—Lost Marsh Golf Course.

In DeMotte, the Sandy Pines Golf Club is one of the finest golf resorts in the United States. While the course itself is the main attraction, there’s also a restaurant/ bar specializing in American comfort food, overnight cottages, and event facilities.

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Sunrise at the Pete Dye Course at French Lick. PHOTO: Visit French Lick West Baden

Rochester is home to two beautiful golf courses: Rochester Elks Country Club, open year round, and Round Barn Golf Club at Mill Creek, a well maintained 18-hole course. This course with gently rolling terrain, mature trees, and Mill Creek flowing through makes this a very challenging and exciting course to play. While there, be sure to check out the round barn clubhouse, an architectural beauty.

And that’s just the beginning of places and ways to wile your summer afternoons. Swimming, tennis, archery, outdoor basketball, flag football, soccer, bicycling, hiking and much more are possibilities, too. If there are kids in your group, a good place to get them started is The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, where they can participate in 12 outdoor sports at the Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends Experience. From the football field sponsored by the Colts to a miniature-golf course styled after famous courses of the world by Pete and Alice Dye, this is the place to get children exercising outside and having fun.

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Sandy Pines Golf Club in DeMotte is one of the finest golf resorts in the United States. PHOTO: Sandy Pines Golf Club

“We’re thrilled that families don’t have to sit on the sidelines when they visit,” said Caleb Bailey, director of the experience. “We encourage families to play and learn about a variety of sports together. It’s about the interaction and fun together — not the scoreboard. In fact, we like to say the best way to keep score is through smiles, and we have plenty of those to share as we witness families enjoying quality time together.”