The Hoosierist: Under the Radar

Plain cop cars, the city’s toughest golf courses, and real urban famers. Ask The Hoosierist.
Q: While some police departments furnish officers with hot rods, the IMPD has conservative sedans. Why?
A: Muscle cars come in handy if you’re cruising the open road, sneaking up on speeders. But they’re problematic (and a bit too flashy) if you spend your days prowling through neighborhoods scoping out criminal activity. Which is basically all Indianapolis cops do. That’s why, aside from a handful of Dodge Chargers purchased with a Department of Homeland Security grant, their fleet mostly consists of a vehicle called the Police Interceptor Sedan. Strip away the badass name and you’ll find a Ford Taurus with beefed-up brakes and suspension. But it has plenty of backseat legroom to accommodate three perps comfortably.

Q: I know private operations like Crooked Stick are challenging golf courses, but what are the most difficult public greens in Indy?
A: According to Golf Digest, the city’s most curse-inducing links are the two 18-hole setups at Eagle Creek Golf Club, both of which were renovated by legendary course designer Pete Dye. They’re more than a little tough, but the price to play a round ($30) is definitely right. Just remember that the course is part of a park, which means you might have to cool your heels while the occasional deer plays through. “Sometimes they’ll get into the sand traps,” says a staffer at the pro shop. “But as soon as they see a golf cart, they scurry away.” The Hoosierist, whose own flirtation with golf was short and humiliating, wishes he could get out of sand traps that easily.

Q: What’s the deal with all the small plots of corn I see around Indy? What’s the point of farming tiny pieces of urban land?
A: Believe it or not, there are still a handful of farmers busting sod in Marion County. According to the Census of Agriculture, about 20,000 acres sprout corn and beans instead of parking lots and malls. The reason you’ll find patches of cropland sandwiched between neighborhoods and commercial developments has to do with both economics and zoning—or the lack thereof. “Local governments have taken a laissez-faire approach to urban development in these areas,” says Craig Dobbins, professor of agricultural economics at Purdue University. Developers who aren’t ready to build on a particular parcel may lease it to a farmer in order to pick up some rent money. Which is why you’ll occasionally see tractors and harvesters snarling traffic on city roads as they move from one isolated agricultural oasis to another. It’s an annoying-yet-poignant reminder that not everything in Marion County is covered with asphalt—yet.