The 3,200-acre French Lick Resort – nestled in the hills of Southern Indiana’s Hoosier National Forest – is an oasis of rest and recreation just waiting to be discovered. On property, you’ll find two AAA Four-Diamond nationally historic hotels, two world-class spas, 24/7 gaming at the French Lick Casino, meeting venues, and three challenging golf courses: The Donald Ross Course, The Pete Dye Course, and The Valley Course. A fourth “overflow” course – Sultan’s Run – is located about 30 minutes away in Jasper, Indiana, and is well worth the trip.
If you’re there to play multiple courses, I advise warming up on the Valley Course. This once 18-hole, Tom Bendelow design was original to the French Lick Springs Hotel and has been converted into a 9-hole layout and still has a lot of its original flavor and bite with rolling fairways, strategically placed bunkers, and Scottish-style fescue grasses. Experienced golfers can play it all the way back at 3,500 yards, while ladies, juniors, and seniors can move up and play it at 2,465 yards. The Valley Course is very family-friendly with two sets of tee markers for juniors and beginners. These tees measure 11,00 and 1,900 yards.
The Pete Dye Course at French Lick has received numerous awards including the #1 spot in GolfWeek Magazine’s “Best You Can Play in Indiana” for 13 years in a row. PGA TOUR player Colin Montgomery has said of the Dye Course, “It’s one of the iconic courses in America and one that golfers all over the world will want to play.”
The golf course sits on one of Indiana’s highest elevation points and showcases the course’s narrow and immaculately groomed fairways and the rugged and intense topography of the surrounding land. As you make your way around the layout, you’ll encounter three man-made lakes, numerous elevation changes, and Dye’s signature Volcano bunkers which, while aesthetically pleasing, can add intrigue and chaos to your round. You’ll also be treated to 40-mile panoramic views of the southern Indiana countryside.
Golfers at The Pete Dye course can choose from five sets of tees with yardages ranging from 5,155 for ladies, juniors, and seniors to 8,102 yards for better players and masochists!
The first hole on the Pete Dye Course is a 360-yard par 4, dogleg left that starts with a drive from a very elevated tee box, downhill to a receptive fairway. The water on the left is reachable off the tee for most golfers and takes about 250 yards to carry it from the White Tees. The fields and fescue grasses on the right also see a lot of play, too. A good driver will still leave an uphill pitch shot into a very narrow and undulating green.
Number seven is a 480-yard Par 5 with a fairway that slopes violently and fairway bunkers on either side in the landing area. Your 2nd and 3rd shots play significantly uphill, so don’t be afraid to hit an extra club or two depending on the pin position. Four bunkers surround the long, pear-shaped green.
Number 13 is a par 3 that plays 152 from the White Tees with one of the longest and most interesting greens on the course. It can easily be a one or two club difference depending on the pin position.
The Donald Ross Course was originally built in 1917 and allows golfers to step back in time and experience the game the way it was meant to be played. This par-70 course is second only to its sister course in Golfweek Magazine’s “Best Places You Can Play in Indiana.” It’s been that way since 2011 which speaks volumes to the quality and integrity of both courses.
Many of Ross’ original design elements can be seen to this day including about 80 bunkers, 35 of which are from Ross’ original course design. They feature Ross’ trademark flat bottoms and deep, gnarly faces; oftentimes it’s hard to advance the ball. You’ll also find square and rectangular-shaped greens with plenty of undulation; many are two-tiered.
You’ll soon understand why it was originally called The Hills course as approach shots often require at least one extra club. Try to avoid the rough as much as possible; it’s longer than what you’re probably used to and can cost you a shot – if not a ball – or two. Except for the dogleg left #8, the holes are pretty straight with strategically placed hazards – trees, water, and sand – waiting to claim errant shots.
The Donald Ross Course offers golfers 4 sets of tees ranging from 5.050 to 6,976 yards. Pick the tees that best suit your game for maximum enjoyment. The Donald Ross Course has many memorable holes including #3, a 364-yard par 4 that starts with a blind tee shot over a hill. Hit a great drive down the middle of the fairway and you could easily make it to the bottom of the hill. The second shot plays well downhill into a small, two-tiered green with a large bunker on the right and requires at least one less club. There’s another bunker about 75 yards short of the green on the left. The green slopes severely from back to front so it’s important to leave your approach shot below the hill.
At 305 yards, the dogleg left 8th hole may be short by today’s standards but still requires good course management skills. To master the hole, you’ll want to hit something less than driver of the tee and over the bunker. Staying on the upper plateau is very important and if you try to hit more club, there’s a steep grade at the dog leg that goes down to the valley. A good drive will leave an uphill chip shot into a two-tiered green that slopes well from back to front.
Guests can choose rooms at either the French Lick Springs or West Baden Springs Hotel. Both were iconic symbols of the great economic achievements experienced in the area in the early 1900s. They offer Old World opulence combined with modern comforts. Many of the original amenities available at the West Baden Springs Hotel are still available today. The casino is located at the French Lick Springs Hotel.
French Lick Resort is the perfect place for a guys, girls, or couples weekend getaway. With 45 holes of golf and another 18 located about a 30-minute drive away, you’ll have plenty to choose from when it comes time to tee it up. For more information or to book your next stay at the French Lick Resort, visit their website at www.frenchlick.com.