The Pete Dye Course at French Lick

The Pete Dye Course at French Lick – Played 2015

  • Rankings: Golf Digest #93, Golf Digest Public #17, Golf Magazine Public #71
  • Location: 8670 W IN-56, French Lick, Indiana
  • Year: 2009
  • Architect: Pete Dye
  • Course Access: Public
  • Walking Rules: Carts & Caddies Available

Score Card Information:

  • Gold: 8,102 yards, Par 72, 80.0 Rating/148 Slope
  • Black: 7,254 yards, Par 72, 76.2 Rating/139 Slope
  • Blue: 6,701 yards, Par 72, 73.3 Rating/135 Slope
  • White: 6,115 yards, Par 72, 70.6 Rating/130 Slope (Men’s), 79.9 Rating, 130 Slope (Women’s)
  • Red: 5,151 yards, Par 72, 65.4 Rating/118 Slope (Men’s), 70.5 Rating, 120 Slope (Women’s)

In the previous post about the Donald Ross Course at French Lick I went into the history of the resort.  Please check that out if you haven’t yet.  The Dye course originated from napkin drawings Dye had after being told he probably couldn’t design a course on the severely sloped property.

The companion course to the Ross is very different.  Pete Dye crafted a brutal test on some of what I have to believe is the most varied topography in Indiana.  To that effect, it features a 40-mile panoramic view.  At 8,102 yards from the tips it can hold any tournament as evidenced by being the host course of the 2015 Senior PGA Championship.

Below is the entrance sign welcoming you to the course.

PDFL - ENTRYThey have a massive putting green to smooth out that stroke before you tee off.  You will need to be good with the putter out here!

PDFL - PUTT GREENThe building below is an event center on the property.

PDFL - EVENTThis is a mansion that is located on the golf course property.  It has a restaurant and a full staff.  Unfortunately I did not have time to go inside and check it out.  It was really pretty from the outside as you can see below.

PDFL - MANSIONI played by myself with a caddie early on a Tuesday morning.  I only saw eight or so other people the entire day and that was in the parking lot!  I chose the blue tees and we were on our way.

Hole 1 – 420 yards – Par 4

There is no easing into the round.  You have a tight tee shot down the hill.  There are bunkers and tall grass to the right.  On the left you have the large pond.  Hit it straight!

PDFL 1-1I hit one into the tall grass, but my caddie had the eagle eye.  The elevated tee allows you some extra distance which is helpful on the approach shot.  The shot is open in the front and there isn’t too much trouble around the green.

PDFL 1-2Here is a shot of the green from closer.

PDFL 1-3Hole 2 – 369 yards – Par 4

The second hole is a little less challenging than the first.  It is our first introduction to the volcano bunkers.  You can see them all up the right side of the hole.  I am not sure where Dye got this idea, but it was something I had not seen before.  The best line is at the last volcano bunker that looks straightaway.

PDFL 2-1The second shot is not too complicated.  Aim for the middle of the green to avoid the trouble.

PDFL 2-2Get used to greens like this with plenty of undulation.  I mentioned the practice putting green would be useful.  This is exhibit A!

PDFL 2-3Hole 3 – 554 yards – Par 5

This hole is one where you need to plan your strategy carefully.  The distance straight to the green is much shorter than the scorecard yardage since it is a big dogleg.  There is a pretty wide fairway for your drive so focus on hitting one as long as you can.  You can see the events center in the distance and the mansion is up to the left on the hill.

PDFL 3-1You can go for it on your second shot by crossing the depression.  All that is in play is rough, so there really isn’t a great penalty if you come up short.

PDFL 3-2Here is a zoomed in shot to show you where the green is in relation to the fairway.

PDFL 3-3The green is sloped quite a bit and features the runoff areas you see here.  You will need good concentration on putts here.

PDFL 3-4Here is another angle of the green and you can see what I mean about the undulation.

PDFL 3-5Hole 4 – 191 yards – Par 3

Pete Dye knows how to do par threes.  Look at this hole!  You won’t be very happy if you miss left.  A draw into this green is preferred.  Oh and there are plenty of bunkers to occupy your mind.

PDFL 4-1The green is seen below.

PDFL 4-2Here is a closer look.

PDFL 4-3Hole 5 – 345 yards – Par 4

I forgot to get a photo of the tee shot on this hole, but it was pretty straightforward.  The approach plays uphill to a green guarded by some deep bunkers.  Left is the place to be on this hole.

PDFL 5-1I took my own advice as you can see below.  The green is long and not overly wide.  There is a bit of a wavy quality in the green’s slope.

PDFL 5-2Here is another angle of the putting surface.

PDFL 5-3Hole 6 – 397 yards – Par 4

This hole was visually intimidating to me.  You need a good tee shot.  A good line is about five yards left of the cart you see with a draw.

PDFL 6-1Sometimes you get lucky with a picture.  I am not photography expert, but this one came out good!  I was blessed with great light and a good hole to capture the moment.  Golf-wise this shot is difficult.  You don’t have much of an opening on the green so you may need to take on the bunkers.  You want to be sure you carry it to the green because the bunkers are nasty.  The rough is no picnic either.

PDFL 6-2This green was a on the small side.  Compared to some of the others it wasn’t crazy sloped.

PDFL 6-3I thought the picture below was worth sharing.  This is looking out into the wilderness from the green.  This is not what I expected to see in Indiana.  Stunning!

PDFL 6-4Hole 7 – 500 yards – Par 5

There is a forced carry on this tee shot, but it isn’t overly taxing.  You really should just aim at the fat part of the fairway and set up the second shot.

PDFL 7-1This was a pretty view.  The layup is to a pretty wide fairway, but you need to concentrate to make sure you avoid the rough.  It is a pretty long shot from here.

PDFL 7-2The approach will be extremely uphill and partially blind.  You can see another one of the volcano bunkers behind the green.  There is all kinds of bunker trouble to the right.

PDFL 7-3This green is very small.  It was built with wedge shots in mind.  You do get a break as it is not very undulating.

PDFL 7-4I couldn’t stop taking nature pictures.  This was just a beautiful spot at a beautiful time of day.

PDFL 7-5Hole 8 – 170 yards – Par 3

This hole gives you some options.  It is not overly long, but there are plenty of bunkers to avoid.  If you want to go conservative (maybe playing the back tees) you can layup to the long strip of fairway that runs up to the green.

PDFL 8-1The green is large with a deep swale running through the middle.  Your speed on putts is crucial here to get away with a birdie or par.

PDFL 8-2Hole 9 – 410 yards – Par 4

This hole has a cool view.  The mansion and clubhouse sit up on the hill.  The large American flag serves as a helpful target.  You want to split the flagpole and last bunker on the left.  Anything up the right will have sand trouble.

PDFL 9-1Below is a closer look from the tee.

PDFL 9-2The approach shot plays over, you guessed it, more bunkers.  The green is open on the left side.  The putting surface is large and accommodating for all types of shots.

PDFL 9-3I wanted to show a closer view of the mansion from the ninth hole.

PDFL 9-4Below is a view of the green.  You can see the slope all around the outer part of the putting surface.  Most of the slope will funnel balls to the middle of the green.

PDFL 9-7Here is another angle.

PDFL 9-8This is just up the hill from the ninth green.  This is a legendary horse Peter The Great.  There is a plaque that explains his story.

PDFL 9-6He spawned many champion horses.

PDFL 9-5Hole 10 – 350 yards – Par 4

The start of the back nine is not overly tough.  The hole is on the shorter side.  The fairway is pretty wide especially if you aren’t hitting driver.  The left side of the fairway will give you a better angle to the green.

PDFL 10-1The fairway is crowned and if you miss it right you will be below the green as I was below.  The green is raised and guarded by traps.  The shot can be very difficult if you catch a bad lie in the rough.

PDFL 10-2Here is a closer shot of the green and you can see that the bunkers are nothing to mess with.

PDFL 10-3Here is another angle of the green.

PDFL 10-4And one more to show you the entirety of the putting surface.  You can see the undulation throughout.

PDFL 10-5Hole 11 – 394 yards – Par 4

This is one of the holes where it really helped to have a caddie.  You can really hit it anywhere out there, but you may be in the rough.  The elevated tee should allow for some long drives.

PDFL 11-1My caddie told me to head up to this spot near the eleventh tee.  He said it was one of the highest points in Indiana.  It had a great view into the town.

PDFL 11-2Here is a look at the golf course from the same spot.  It is a great place to take in the scenery.

PDFL 11-3I found myself in the rough.  This created a blind approach shot.  You can only see some of the flag in the middle of the photo.

PDFL 11-4Hole 12 – 388 yards – Par 4

The hole bends to the left and favors a draw off the tee.  If you miss left you will have an awkward stance and lie.  You can play safe and take less than driver here.

PDFL 12-1I missed left and had a long second shot.  The green looks like it is hanging on the edge of the property.  From this angle, it would be good to get something running up onto the green.

PDFL 12-2You can see below that the green will accept a shot that is low and running.

PDFL 12-3Here is a shot of the green that shows the slope.  There are a few tiers that make knowing the pin position very important.

PDFL 12-4Hole 13 – 162 yards – Par 3

The hole markers here are pretty cool.  The stones are large and feature Mr. Dye’s likeness.

PDFL 13-1This green is a plateau and is very large.  The only real trouble is on the left.

PDFL 13-2As you can see below the putting surface is enormous.

PDFL 13-3Hole 14 – 504 yards – Par 5

There are just some big golf holes at this course and this is one of them.  You will want to aim just right of the maintenance carts in the fairway.  Due to the uphill slope this will most likely be a three shot hole.

PDFL 14-1As I mentioned, the approach is all uphill.  Be careful with line and distance on any layups because you don’t want to be in the rough you see creeping into the fairway.  There is no benefit to that area.

PDFL 14-2The third shot is also uphill.  Due to this the green is semi-blind.

PDFL 14-3This is another of the smaller greens.  Most of them are on the par fives and anticipate that they will be accepting wedge shots.

PDFL 14-4Hole 15 – 344 yards – Par 4

This tee shot plays to a raised fairway that is to the right of the tee.  If you can smash a slinging draw out there you should have a short approach.

PDFL 15-1The approach will penalize shots missed to the left.  There are some deep, little bunkers over there that are well below the level of the green.

PDFL 15-2Here is a shot of the green.

PDFL 15-3Hole 16 – 183 yards – Par 3

This reminded me of one of the par threes at the Pete Dye Club in West Virginia.  It is really just flipped with the water being on the other side.  This is a long iron shot that must be accurate with the water up the whole right side.

PDFL 16-1The green isn’t too sloped.  It is quite deep though.

PDFL 16-2Hole 17 – 431 yards – Par 4

This is a brute of a hole.  You need a good tee shot here.  The fairway is slightly to the left of the tee.  A good line is just up the cart path.  Hit it as long as you can.

PDFL 17-1The second shot plays to one of the least guarded greens on the course.  There are the usual bunkers, but they aren’t as close to the green as some others.  This shot will probably be with a longer club, but focus on the middle of the green.

PDFL 17-2I haven’t pointed them out much, but a lot of the greens have these runoff areas.  They are better than some greens I have putted on.  The good thing about them is they give you options.  You can putt or chip depending on your preference.  It is a nice change up from deep rough all around.

PDFL 17-3The green is narrow, but long.

PDFL 17-4Hole 18 – 589 yards – Par 5

The tee shot here plays to a pretty wide fairway.  A good line is the middle of the group of trees up on the hill.

PDFL 18-1On the right side of the fairway is the bunker below.  It features sections of grass somewhat like the church pews at Oakmont.

PDFL 18-2The shot from this bunker is tough because you can’t see all of the fairway.  You want to keep it right.

PDFL 18-3Here is the view if you aren’t in the bunker.  It’s a pretty cool hole.

PDFL 18-4The third shot will play over a depression and some bunkers.  It is slightly elevated from the fairway so will require a little more club.

PDFL 18-5You can see the green below.  I was lucky to get an elevated shot to show the contours and size of the putting surface.  Unlike some of the other par fives, this green is massive.

PDFL 18-6Below is another angle showing more of the section with the flag.

PDFL 18-7As I mentioned in the Donald Ross Course post I mentioned I would show some pictures of the West Baden Springs hotel.  Well here they are.  The entrance is shown below.

PDFL - WBEHere is the view from the parking lot.  You can see the iconic dome structure.

PDFL - WBHThe inside is quite spectacular.  It is very open and unlike any other hotel I have seen.

PDFL - DOME 4Here is another angle.

PDFL - DOME 3And another.

PDFL - DOME 2The view looking straight up at the ceiling.

PDFL - DOME 1Here is a bonus picture.  This court is the one used in the movie Blue Chips when they went to visit Larry Bird.  It is the actual house he used and built for his mother.  It was really cool to drive by and see it.

PDFL - BCThe Pete Dye Course is a brutal test, but can be very fun if you pick the correct set of tees.  It is an immaculately maintained course that gets very little play.  My caddie said it has probably gotten 5,000 rounds since it opened!  While it is expensive, it is a truly enjoyable experience.  More than likely you will get the course pretty much to yourself.  If you are lucky to have a great caddie like I did you will feel like it was money well spent.  I was treated very well by the staff and was even given a gift.

The experience in the town of French Lick was awesome.  It is a phenomenal place for golf and the hotels seem like quite an experience.  If you are a basketball junkie it is also worth checking out the Larry Bird sights in town.  I didn’t get to spend a ton of time in the town, but visiting the area would surely be a different experience.

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One thought on “The Pete Dye Course at French Lick

  1. Pingback: End Of The Year Newsletter | Tiger Golf Traveler

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