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.
This 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.
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!
I 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sometimes 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The 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.
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.
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.
The hole markers here are pretty cool. The stones are large and feature Mr. Dye’s likeness.
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.
As 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.
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.
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.
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.
The 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.
I 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.
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.
Here 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.
The 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.