The Pete Dye Course at French Lick, Indiana

The new golf course at French Lick is the latest masterpiece offered to the golfing world by world-renowned golf course designer Pete Dye, “The Master.” Inconceivably, he sketched the first images of what was to be one of the finest modern golf courses on the North American continent on… a napkin while seated at a table in a local restaurant. Those early sketches were expanded, massaged, tweaked, reworked until the Master’s vision became a reality. Today, Pete Dye’s French Lick meanders through the forests and over the hills and dales of the Hoosier National Forest in southern Indiana and is one of the most visually stunning layouts in all of golf. Almost within days of its opening Dye’s design gathered a veritable slew of accolades, including:

  • Golf Digest - America’s Best New Public Course 2009
  • Golf Magazine - Best New Course of the Year 2009
  • Links Magazine - Rated One of The Best New Courses 2009

The 18-hole Pete Dye Course at French Lick plays a whopping 8,102 yards from the back tees for a par of 72. The course rating is 80 and the slope is 148. And yes, it’s just as tough as it sounds. Designed by Pete Dye, the course opened for play in 2009.

Green Fees: Expensive at $350, and to be able to play you must stay at the resort

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Pete Dye Course at French Lick
Photo Courtesy of French Lick Resort

Pete Dye’s Course at French Lick opened for play in June 2009. The 18-hole layout is already regarded as one of Indiana’s premier championship golf courses. How many great golf courses has Pete Dye created? I don’t know, and I certainly don’t care. What I do know is that, like all of his grand designs, this one is just a privilege to play.

Very few American golf courses are designed for walking, but Dye wanted French Lick to be one of the exceptions, a “walkable” course, and so it is. To walk it as you play is to be able to take the time to enjoy its incredible views: more than 40 miles across the rolling hills of Southern Indiana, one grand vista after another. It’s no wonder, then, that the course has been selected as the venue for the 2010 PGA Professionals National Championship.

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Photo Courtesy of French Lick Resort

The new Pete Dye course at French Lick is situated on what must be one of the most stunningly beautiful and spectacular sites one could ever imagine. The course is set on a hilltop with panoramic views in every direction. There’s no doubt that Dye is proud of his latest design. In one interview he said, “I have spent the past five decades designing golf courses all over the world, including courses on great coastal sites. 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.”

Dye’s layout is a long one, more than 8,100 yards from the tips – intimidating, tough, challenging, it’s all things to all golfers. And, even though it is, without doubt, one of Dye’s most demanding designs, for the pros at least, he has made sure that it’s playable and enjoyable for golfers of all levels of skill. Five sets of tees spread the yardages from 5,100 to 8,100. And, while the layout will tempt many of us to choose the Black Tees at more than 7,250 yards, we’ll probably score a whole lot better if we play from either the Blues at 6,700 yards or even the Whites at 6,100.

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Photo Courtesy of French Lick Resort

As one might expect, the new Pete Dye course at French Lick has already grabbed the attention of the powers that be at the PGA of America: The 2010 PGA Professional National Championship will be played here, and there’s more yet to come.

The new course at French Lick is pure vintage Pete Dye. The front nine starts out mildly enough. The opening hole is a straight shot to a fairly generous landing area guarded to the right by three large fairway bunkers with water to the left. From there the excitement builds, one hole after another, to finish at number 9 in front of the clubhouse – the view from the 6th is absolutely stunning.

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Photo Courtesy of French Lick Resort

The back nine at French Lick starts with a tough par of 4 that plays 350 yards from the blue tees - 390 from the tips - then the action changes dramatically as you enter what has been called the most dramatic stretch on the golf course: holes 11 through 14 - a par 4, two par 5s and a par 3. The 14th, a par 5 playing 504 yards from the Blue tees, is the course signature. Tight landing areas, a split fairway and an elevated green that’s more than 90 feet above the approaches are just the beginning. On the green you'll find it to be undulating and fast, and you'll also see that it falls sharply away on all sides, making a good read almost an impossibility, especially for someone who's not played the course before. Add some spectacular scenery and you’ll understand why 14 is the back 9 signature hole.

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Photo Courtesy of French Lick Resort

Finally, when you arrive at the 18th tee at French Lick, you’re either elated or deflated, you’re scoring well or your game is in pits so, either way, as you stand on the 18th tee you could be forgiven if you’re looking forward to the end, to a cold one in the clubhouse. But this is no time to relax; this par 5 plays more than 650 yards from the back tees and is designed to intimidate, to deceive and to punish poor club selection. A long dogleg left – almost a right angle – with a fairway that, somewhere around the 300-yard marker, drops some 100 feet in elevation and then culminates with a very tough approach to a huge, undulating green.

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