French Licks new golf course is to Dye for

By Jay CoffinSeptember 11, 2009, 7:03 pm
french lick resort dye course
The par-4 11th hole at the Pete Dye Course

FRENCH LICK, Ind. – Don’t blink when entering French Lick or you may miss it.

On the surface, the 1.6-mile stretch of State Road 56 is underwhelming but if you take some time to tour the strangely-named farm town made famous by Larry Bird you’ll find it charming.

There is much to be overwhelmed by where golf is concerned. For starters, the brand spanking new Pete Dye Course at French Lick stretches 8,102 yards from the gold tees and boasts a par-3 16th hole that is a beast at 301 yards; An old governor’s mansion serves as a clubhouse and can be rented for a smooth $10,000 a night that includes as much golf as you can play; The Donald Ross Course, built in 1917, hosted the 1924 PGA Championship won by Walter Hagen and wreaks of history; The nine-hole Tom Bendelow Course sits adjacent to the French Lick Springs and is a neat track if  you’re looking to kill some time late in the afternoon before dinner.

Add two vintage hotels – the domed West Baden Springs and the massive French Lick Springs – with a new 42,000 square foot Las Vegas-style gaming casino and the elements of the French Lick Resort combine to amass 3,000 acres of entertainment that rival anything in the Midwest.

For the past five years Bloomington businessman Bill Cook has overseen the revival of the community that was once known as a getaway for the hoity-toity who would arrive by train. Al Capone was known to make the trip from Chicago to do “dirty business,” Clark Gable frequented the town, the Chicago Cubs once called French Lick its spring training home and in 1931 Franklin Roosevelt announced that he’d run for President of the United States at a Governors’ Convention.

But now, a reported $500 million later, French Lick is known as a golf destination.

“This place is about stories and the series of them that have happened over the past 10-15 years that have led us to this point,” said Dave Harner, director of golf at French Lick since 1987. “It’s been exciting to be able to be a part of growing it all back.”

Below is a list of likes and dislikes from spending several days in Southern Indiana.

LIKES

1. The ambiance. The best view in the area is at the clubhouse of the Pete Dye Course, which Dye himself says sits at 900 feet elevation, well above the entire golf course. “The ambiance is what I remember most,” Dye said. “The continuous views you get, I’ve never seen anything like it. Some days you see 10 miles, some times it’s 20 miles. Some days you can only see a mile and a half.”

2. The history. A lot of the elements are either new or renovated but you still feel a strong sense of the past. Along with the aforementioned names, the Reagans and the Kennedys are some other of the nation’s elite that have spent time here for a little R&R. And it’s where Larry Bird learned how to play basketball. Enough said.

3. The Donald Ross Course. The Pete Dye Course is billed as the gem but the Donald Ross Course should not be overlooked. There isn’t a practice range and the four par 3s are similar in length – which will likely irk the traditionalist – but it is pure Ross from beginning to end.

4. Paoli is considered the closest big town. Population of French Lick is nearly 2,000 but neighboring Paoli – which is 12 miles away – is double with a population of 3,933. Big City folk find it comical.

5. Dealers at the casino. They’re all delightful, something that can’t always be said of Sin City dealers. Those tossing cards around at French Lick were helpful, told jokes and made you feel like you weren’t losing any money. Perhaps some would consider that a lethal combination. I call it memorable and pleasant.

DISLIKES

1. Difficulty of the Pete Dye Course. “You have to play it two or three times to appreciate it,” Dye said. I did, and I agree. The course is beautiful and is a handful. Playing it twice or thrice is recommended but with a $350 rack rate (and you can only play if you stay at the resort) it’s not a likely option.

2. Very few non-golf related activities. Paoli has all the shops and restaurants that you’ve come to know and love, French Lick has nothing. There is one Dairy Queen, a Subway and a JayC grocery store. That’s it. The WalMart and McDonald’s are in Paoli. Although, 33 Brick Street, a restaurant with neat Larry Bird memorabilia, sits just behind the French Lick police station. Not bad.

3. The $10,000 a night fare to stay in the Governor’s mansion. The bill is a little more than this editor’s budget could afford but I was able to get a detailed tour of the digs. It is an ideal spot for high-rollers to buzz into town, play some good golf with great accommodations, and get out. The place will see some action during the week of the Kentucky Derby.

4. Losing several bucks to those friendly dealers. Seriously, they really wanted me to win and I feel like I let them down.

5. Location. It’s not near a big city like many other great golf resorts but it is within a 5 hour drive of six major cities – Louisville (70 miles), Indianapolis (110), St. Louis (210), Nashville (240) and Chicago (275).

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.