Indiana Golfing Tips from a Pro in French Lick West Baden
If you love to golf, start planning your trip to French Lick - West Baden, Indiana today! We chatted with the Director of Golf at the French Lick Resort, Dave Harner. Recipient of PGA’s 2012 Golf Professional of the Year Award, Dave has been a mainstay at French Lick Resort for over 30 years. Keep reading to find out special insider tips for his courses, information on other courses in the area, and things to do on your visit to French Lick - West Baden, Indiana!
You are the Director of Golf at French Lick Resort. Tell us about your courses.
We have three unique and very different courses.
The Valley Links Course was our first venture into golf at French Lick, and we know that it was completed around 1907. However, there is evidence of golf as early as 1904. Tom Bendelow, was a sales representative for the Spalding Corporation and was the “designer”. Although his primary focus was equipment sales, he would personally lay out a course for the buyer with a sledgehammer and wooden stakes. As I understand, the actual construction took a few years and was constructed three holes at a time until finished. Today, it’s a fun and challenging regulation 9-hole venue….with some plans in the works to expand to 18 holes in the near future!
The Donald Ross Course was built when architects searched out land that was most suitable to build a course so as to avoid extreme excavation. In the early 1900’s through the late 1940’s - golf was a walking sport. Therefore, the course was laid out in a condensed space. The Ross Course was considered a futuristic facility when built, and still today, due to the extreme greens contours, and hilly terrain. It stands the test of time when challenged by today’s player with modern equipment.
If you are not in tune with the American golfing scene - you may not know about the Pete Dye Course at French Lick. The course was named the Best New Course in America by all of the major golf publications when it first opened in 2009. Since then, we have hosted 14 championships - including the 2015 Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid, and the Inaugural Senior LPGA Championship presented by Old National Bank. Design of this course was quite the opposite of the Donald Ross Course. Over 3 million cubic yards of dirt was moved to build the Pete Dye Course which is over 1,100 yards longer than the Ross.
Visitors can explore the Pete Dye Golf Trail throughout Indiana. What characteristics define his designs?
Looking at the Dye Course on paper - it has 6 sets of trees, virtually no water hazards, and the fairways are less severe with no forced carries to the greens. However, Pete Dye’s routing is unique - slight right to lefts, slight left to rights off the tee, and a tremendous amount of visual intimidation and deception. The Dye Course at French Lick packs a real punch if you miss the fairway from the tee.
Do you have a signature hole at the French Lick Resort? If so, what tips do you have for golfers to be successful?
We have several holes worthy of distinction. The Par 3’s at the Ross course are among the most difficult you can find, with most of them being over 200-yards from the championship tees. Play the Par 3’s well and your score will certainly reflect it. Miss the greens short, always.
The key to the Dye course is to play the right set of tees. Don’t bite off more than you can chew! Many tee from the back tee in the beginning. By their turn, they have either lost all of their balls or become frustrated and move up to a much shorter distance. Remember, Pete’s courses are deceiving, so tee off with a goal of hitting toward the 150-yard markers. Don’t even look at the green!
Another tip - our forecaddies are invaluable to help you enjoy the course.
Aside from the courses at French Lick Resort, where else can golfers go to play in French Lick - West Baden, Indiana?
There are other courses in the area such as Sultan’s Run in Jasper, Indiana, Lucas Oil Golf Course in English, Indiana, and Country Oaks in Montgomery, Indiana. Other popular courses are Buffalo Trace, the municipal course in Jasper, and Paoli Country Club*, a little 9-hole venue in Paoli, Indiana. (*Name changed to Green Acres Golf Course)
What about beginners and kids? Can they have fun golfing in French Lick - West Baden, Indiana?
Kids 12 and under play free on all of our courses when accompanied by an adult, and 18 and under are half price. We do recommend that beginners play the Valley Links as there are some serious players at the Ross and Dye courses.
What is your favorite time of year to golf in French Lick - West Baden, Indiana?
I love late spring and early fall. The temperatures and colors are hard to beat! I always recommend golfing Sunday through Thursday as courses are much less crowded at those times.
Do golfers have to bring their own equipment to French Lick - West Baden, Indiana?
We offer complete, state of the art rental equipment at all of the courses, sponsored in part by Callaway Golf.
Where do you recommend golfers go before or after a game to wind up or wind down?
French Lick - West Baden and the surrounding area have many attractions. A popular spot is the restaurant Hagen’s, at the Donald Ross Course. There is also 33 Brick Street, which is owned by some high school friends of Larry Bird and houses some of his greatest trophies and awards. The French Lick - West Baden Museum is also a popular place to visit. French Lick and West Baden have a rich history worth exploring.
Also, The LPGA Legends Hall of Fame in the West Baden Springs Hotel is a must-see for golfers. Memorabilia and awards from the greats of women’s golf are on display!
Thanks for reading! Learn more about golfing in French Lick – West Baden, Indiana here.
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