America's Newest Golf Destination - French Lick Resort, Indiana
By Brian Weis
If you are looking for your next great golf getaway, then look no further than the Midwestern state of Indiana.
Situated atop the rolling hills overlooking the Hoosier National Forest in southern Indiana is French Lick Resort, one of America's premier golf destinations. This historic resort is located in the small town of French Lick, where for over two centuries the Pluto Mineral Springs has attracted visitors. (It is also known as the hometown of basketball legend Larry Bird.)
Soon the town will be known as one of the great golf destinations in the country. Since the early 1900's, golf has been an integral part of this resort area. Tom Bendelow designed the first course here in 1907 followed by the great Donald Ross ten years later. In 2009, however, French Lick moves to an entirely new level with the opening of the spectacular new Pete Dye course.
Dye, an Indiana native who recently was inducted into the Golf Hall of Fame, is famous for his innovative course designs. In 1982, Dye gave us the concept of stadium golf at TPC Sawgrass in Florida. What followed were a series of Dye signature designs including the Ocean Course at Kiawah, PGA West in California, Whistling Straits in Wisconsin and now this new course at French Lick Resort.
Opening this spring, the new Pete Dye course is located on a dramatic site that looks more like the rolling mountains of North Carolina than the flatlands of Indiana. The course is situated upon a hilltop - one of the highest points in the state - offering panoramic views in all directions. Dye himself is excited about the location.
"I have spent the past five decades designing golf courses all over the world, including courses on great coastal sites," Dye explains. "This new project at French Lick Resort brings great excitement to Alice and me because the course is on arguably the best inland site I have ever worked on."
French Lick is the legacy of Tom Taggart
As you drive up the hill to the former Taggart Mansion, which now serves as the Pete Dye clubhouse, you are amazed that this beautiful land is in the Midwest. This historic clubhouse is the converted home of former resort owner Tom Taggart and was built in the early part of the 20th century.
Taggart is credited for bringing golf to French Lick Resort, as he was responsible for bringing Bendelow and Ross to the area to build the resort's first two courses. Now, nearly 100 years later, the current owners have brought in arguably the greatest modern day golf course architect to design a new championship course to complement those historical layouts.
Many already believe that Dye has created one of the most breathtaking and exciting 18 holes of golf in the country. The course was carefully carved into the dramatic hillside offering a variety of elevation changes, rugged and dramatic terrain, narrow fairways and ever changing bunkers, along with spectacular views from every hole that stretch for over 40 miles.
Acknowledging the advances in modern equipment, golf balls and player fitness, Dye has designed a golf course that stretches over 8,100 yards from the professional tees. However, this new creation welcomes all levels of players. With five sets of tees, yardages begin at 5,100 yards from the forward tees. Most players will probably play from either 6,100 or 6,700 yards.
This new course is already gaining recognition. In 2010, the PGA of America will play its PGA Professional National Championship on the new Pete Dye course. This is expected to be the first of several high profile professional events to be hosted here.
The Pete Dye course has many distinctive features
The new Dye course features many distinct design features, including stretches of holes on each nine that are vintage Dye. The front nine builds excitement from hole to hole and peaks on No. 6. Then it continues to get more visually dramatic as the outward nine finishes back up toward the clubhouse with one of the best views on the course.
The back nine offers the most dramatic stretch of holes from Nos. 11-14. This culminates with one of the course's signature holes, No. 14. Stretching nearly 600 yards from the back tees, this par five, with a split fairway, escalates from tee to green over a massive grass hollow that will intimidate even the elite players.
Complementing the new Pete Dye course at French Lick Resort is the historic Donald Ross course which has just undergone a $4.6 million restoration project that has brought the course back to Ross's original plans. Golfers will be challenged by the return of 35 original bunkers, expanded green complexes, native fescue areas and new teeing areas stretching the course to over 7,000 yards from the tips.
The Ross course (originally named the "Hill Course") brings a rich history to the French Lick Resort. The course was site of the 1924 PGA Championship won by the legendary Walter Hagen and hosted other golf greats and celebrities such as Gene Sarazen, Chick Evans, and Bing Crosby.
The Ross course is a parkland gem which meanders up and down the rolling hills a few miles from the main resort. The wonderful routing of the holes take full advantage of the many elevation points for classic Ross green sites, which are sloped heavily from back to front. It is one of only two public Ross courses in the state of Indiana and considered one of his more challenging designs.
French Lick offers a complete golf experience
French Lick is now the only resort in the world that combines the classic history of Donald Ross and the modern day design of the legendary Pete Dye. This combination is a spectacular opportunity for golfers to experience two of the best designers who ever shaped beautiful landscapes into golf courses.
In addition to two world-class championship golf courses, French Lick Resort completes the golf experience with a top golf learning and instruction facility. The Valley Links Learning Center utilizes nine holes of the original Tom Bendelow course. The reconfigured short course features his parkland design with rolling fairways, strategic bunkers, small greens and Scottish-style fescue grasses. The French Lick Golf Academy provides a wide variety of instruction including full swing, short game, video analysis and custom club fitting.
French Lick Resort is a $500 million historic restoration and casino development project set upon 3,000 acres of scenic grounds. It encompasses both the French Lick Springs Hotel and the West Baden Springs Hotel, located about a mile apart, which have both been fully restored to their original sophistication and luxury. The casino was built adjacent to the French Lick hotel and opened last year. The West Baden Springs property, with its massive dome, re-opened as a hotel for the first time since 1932. The hotels combine for 689 rooms and free shuttle buses connect all amenities.
There are two destination spas with a 36 treatment rooms (they continue to offer the Pluto Mineral Springs bath), over 51,000 square feet of gaming space, 115,000 square feet of meeting space and a variety of dining and entertainment options. French Lick Resort is truly a world-class golf resort destination and expected to attract golfers from all over the country. Visit www.frenchlick.com.
Article Tags: French Lick Resort
Revised: 03/13/2011 - Article Viewed 24,471 Times
Written By: Brian Weis
Brian Weis is the Publisher of GolfTrips.com, a network of golf travel and directory sites including GolfWisconsin.com, GolfMichigan.com, ArizonaGolfer.com, GolfAlabama.com, etc. Professionally, Brian is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America (GWAA), International Network of Golf (ING), Golf Travel Writers of America (GTWA), International Golf Travel Writers Association (IGTWA) and The Society of Hickory Golfers (SoHG). In 2016, Brian won The Shaheen Cup, an award given to a golf travel writer by his peers.
All of his life, Brian has been around the game of golf. As a youngster, Brian competed at all levels in junior and high school golf. Brian had a zero chance for a college golf scholarship, so he worked on the grounds crew at West Bend Country Club to pay for his University of Wisconsin education. In his adult years, his passion for the game collided with his entrepreneurial spirit and in 2004 launched GolfWisconsin.com. In 2007, the idea for a network of local golf directory sites formed and GolfTrips.com was born. Today, the network consists of a site in all 50 states supported by national sites like GolfTrips.com, GolfGuide.com and GolfPackages.com. It is an understatement to say, Brian is passionate about promoting golf and golf travel on a local, regional, national and international level.
On the golf course, Brian is known as a fierce weekend warrior that fluctuates between a 5-9 handicap. With a soft fade, known as "The Weis Slice", and booming 300+ drives, he can blast it out of bounds with the best of them.
Contact Brian Weis:
GolfTrips.com - Publisher and Golf Traveler