Purdue South Course - History

Purdue South Course - History

A history of the former Purdue South & Ackerman Hills Course

Ackerman Hills is tradtional parkland-style 18-hole, par-71, championship golf course that sits quietly alongside Purdue's main campus. Designed by Indiana Golf Hall-of-Fame Member Bill Diddle in the early 1930's, Ackerman Hills is a traditional parkland-style golf course that works its way through mature trees and rolling hills. Formerly known as the Purdue South Course, the Ackerman course has played host to an NCAA Championship and numerous other prestigious tournaments.

Ackerman Hills blends the design of two architectural visionaries. Built in 1934, Ackerman Hills was originally the anchor of Purdue's golfing facilities. The course was host to the NCAA Men's Golf Championships in 1961 when Purdue won the team championship and Jack Nicklaus won the inpidual medal. Just a few years later in 1968, the course was redesigned by Larry Packard and developed further in 1998 coinciding with the opening of the Birck Boilermaker GC.

The course is named in recognition of Jim and Lois Ackerman and their support of Purdue Athletics.

Bill Diddel

Information regarding Bill Diddel from billdiddel.com © 2010 Gary Kern, Golf Course Architect

William William 'Bill' Diddel, born a native Hoosier in 1884, is one of America's great golf architects, yet much of his work is relatively unknown. The first time he watched people playing golf was sometime before 1900 while standing on the hill in Crown Hill Cemetery where James Whitcomb Riley is buried that overlooks what was then Indianapolis Country Club (now the Woodstock Club). Bill was an all-around athlete, and participated in sports at Manual High School and as a senior won his first golf championship - the Indianapolis City Amateur. He went on to Wabash college to become a four-sport letter man - basketball, baseball, track and football (no collegiate golf competiton at that time). In his senior year at Wabash, he was selected as the best basketball player in the USA. But Bill's chief legacy to golf has been a series of strong if under-appreciated courses, most of therm in the Midwest.

Bill got his start designing golf courses in 1921 by finishing a new course for Highland Country Club, of which he was a member, that was routed by Willie Park Jr. He then began full-time practice as a Golf Course Architect, and any assignments followed. It is believed the first course he designed was Ulen Country Club in Lebanon, Indiana. Bill worked on over 250 courses, mostly in the Midwest. Many of his courses are in small towns but he always felt an obligation to promote the game to all walks of life, especially in his home state of Indiana.

Bill was a master at routing a golf course, using the natural terrain to provide definition and strategy. His green designs were creative, difficult yet fair; they were integral in the strategy of each hole as well as the entire sequence of holes. Recognized as an outstanding golf course architect, Bill was one of the founders and a Charter Member of the American Society Of Golf Course Architects.

Other Charter Members shown (l-r): William P. Bell, Robert White, William Langford, Honorary President Donald Ross, President Robert Bruce Harris, Vice-President Stanley Thompson, Gordon, Secretary-Treasurer Robert Trent Jones, William Diddel, and James B. McGovern. Founding members not shown: Jack Daray, Sr., Robert "Red" Lawrence, and Perry Maxwell.

Bill Diddel has also been the recipient of many awards and recognitions:

  • The Fred Waring Sportsmanship Award
  • The American Seniors Golf Association Hall Of Honor
  • Indiana Golf Hall Of Fame
  • Sagamore Of The Wabash
  • Honorary Sergeant Of Arms Of the Tennessee State Senate

William Bill still enjoyed golf in his later years; even when in his middle eighties he occasionally scored in the seventies. If a golfer shot his age or better more times than Bill Diddel, there's no record of the achievement. He is said to have recorded that feat over 1,200 times in his life, as well as having won the Indiana Amateur title five times. Bill also holds the record of 12 strokes under his age, when in 1970, he shot 74 at the age of 86 on the tough Country Club of Naples course in Naples, Florida. He always savored competition; a favorite wager was to play 18 holes for a cigar. William Diddel passed away in 1985 just a few months short of his 101st birthday.