French Lick Springs Hotel

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Travel through time at French Lick Resort’s championship golf courses designed by two masters of golf course design in their own distinct eras: Donald Ross of the Golden Age of Golf in the early twentieth century and Pete Dye of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.



Image of Donald Ross Golf Course Aerial View, French Lick Springs Hotel, 1845, Member of Historic Hotels of America, in French Lick, Indiana, Golf

Golf and history enthusiasts are in for a treat at French Lick Resort in French Lick, Indiana, which boasts three courses and 45 holes overall while spanning two distinct eras of the sport. The French Lick Resort encompasses two historic hotels: The French Lick Hotel (opened in 1845 and inducted into Historic Hotels of America in 2000) and the West Baden Springs Hotel (opened in 1902 and inducted into Historic Hotels of America in 2015). Guests at both have exclusive access to the courses.

Golf at the resort dates to 1907, when architect Tom Bendelow designed the first course for travelers and locals. His Valley Links Course has since been redesigned with families in mind; children 12 and younger can play for free on the regulation length, nine-hole course. In 1917, Scottish immigrant and golf course architect Donald Ross designed a second Golden Age course to withstand the test of time. Today, The Donald Ross Course at French Lick has been restored to Ross’ original vision, with trademark flat-bottom bunkers and rectangular-shaped greens with sharp undulation — harkening back to the days when the Ross Course hosted the 1924 PGA Championship won by the legendary Walter Hagen.

Hagen cemented a portion of his legacy as one of golf’s all-time greats with his PGA Championship victory at French Lick in 1924. It was the first of an unprecedented four straight PGA Championship titles for Hagen and the sixth of 11 major titles overall. That ranks third all-time in pro golf, behind the 18 of Jack Nicklaus and the 14 of Tiger Woods. Hagen earned it in that era of golf, the PGA Championship format called for 12 rounds over six consecutive days, starting with a 36-hole stroke-play qualifier followed by a match-play format over the last five days. Some of the pioneers of the early days of women’s golf also made their mark at French Lick, which hosted one of the LPGA majors in 1959 and 1960 at the Donald Ross Course. Betsy Rawls reigned over the field in 1959 to win the fourth of her eight major titles. Mickey Wright, who went on to claim 13 majors in her career, was the 1960 champion.

A century later, to complement the two historic courses, a third was added to the resort landscape in 2009. Hall of Fame architect Pete Dye designed a hilltop masterpiece known for its 40-mile panoramic views and challenging layout, as it plays 8,100 yards from the back tees. Record-breaking Scottish professional golfer Colin Montgomerie called The Pete Dye Course at French Lick “one of the iconic courses” in the United States when he won the Senior PGA Championship there in 2015. The course has also hosted Big Ten Conference Championships and Senior LPGA Championships. World-class golf has attracted scores of celebrities to French Lick over the years, including singer Bing Crosby, comedian Bob Hope, business magnate Howard Hughes, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and professional football player Peyton Manning. Even before he became basketball’s “Larry Legend,” French Lick native Larry Bird worked and played on the French Lick golf course in his youth.

Guests of the West Baden and French Lick Springs enjoy shuttle service between hotels and to the courses.

Photos

Historic Image of Golfers at Putting Green, French Lick Springs Hotel, 1845, Member of Historic Hotels of America, in French Lick, Indiana, Golf Image of Pete Dye Golf Course, French Lick Springs Hotel, 1845, Member of Historic Hotels of America, in French Lick, Indiana, Golf
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