Dozens of golfers came from across the tri-state area on the last day of September, gathering at the Briar Leaf Golf Club in La Porte to play a round of golf and raise some money for the Friendship Botanic Gardens in the process.
Friendship Botanic Gardens has been a major tourist attraction for Northwest Indiana since 1938, but has fallen under the radar for locals in recent years. Friendship Gardens comprises over 100 acres of beauty, featuring themed gardens and walking trails, and is home to many local species of flora and fauna.
“(Friendship Botanic Gardens) has been there since the ‘30s, but it’s just sort of become this thing there on Highway 12 that people just drive by,” said Williams. “The board of directors is trying to change that. They’ve contacted corporate sponsors, raised some money and have spent the last 18 months completely overhauling the gardens. Their goal is to make Friendship Gardens the attraction it used to be 75 years ago.”
That’s where the golf outing comes in.
“There’s lots of upkeep involved – maintenance costs, etc. We’re here to raise some money to help with that. We had a great turnout here today, with 64 golfers participating. It’s definitely going to be an annual event,” Williams told IIMM.
We caught up with John Leinweber, president of the Friendship Botanic Garden Board of Directors as he was out on the course.
“We’re very excited about today’s event. This is the first one we’ve ever done and the turnout for a first-time event has been very encouraging,” said Leinweber.
“We really want to make the Gardens into the attraction it used to be. We have added gardens for cancer survivors and for the JDRF. We have gardens for different countries: the Polish garden, Asian garden, Italian garden - we have a lot of weddings and host a lot of events. There’s a creek that runs through it. It’s really stunning - just beautiful,” said Leinweber.
“We have a Halloween Event at the end of October, and a Turkey Program near Thanksgiving with live turkeys. It’s just a lot of fun,” said Leinweber.
Paul Sittig made the drive all the way down from Three Oaks, Michigan to spend some time with friends and shoot some golf.
“I play with the Briar Leaf Mens’ Club and I’ve been to the Gardens in the summer. It’s a wonderful place - very peaceful and wonderful. Just a great place to visit and enjoy the local scenery,” said Sittig, who was very eager to get back to his game.
“We’re doing just great here today. We got two birdies out of three holes. I got my name on the pin and we even birdied the toughest hole on the course. Things are looking good and our wives are even going to join us here for dinner later this evening. We’re having a great time,” said Sittig.
If you’d like to visit the Gardens and see for yourself what all the fuss is about, they’re open from May through the end of October, Wednesday through Sunday from 10-6. Admission is $6 for 13 and over. Wednesdays are free and there’s plenty of free parking.
You can check them out on the web at http://friendshipgardens.org/.