or a true golf enthusiast, nothing gets the blood pumping more than a course designed by Donald Ross, Pete Dye and Tom Bendelow. Nowhere else in the world can a golfer play courses designed by each of these noted and prolific designers at one resort destination.
Let’s look at each designer and what they have bought to golf course design.
Donald Ross was one of the most significant golf course designers in the history of the sport.
Donald Ross’ most famous designs are Pinehurst No. 2, Seminole, Oak Hill and Oakland Hills. He was 3km involved in designing or redesigning around 600 courses. Often he created challenging courses with very little earth moving. According to Nicklaus, “His stamp as an architect was naturalness.” Ross may have been most widely known for his trademark – the crowned or “turtleback” green, most famously seen on Pinehurst No. 2. Although golf architecture writer, Ron Whitten, argued in Digest that the effect had become exaggerated, compared to Ross’ intention because greenkeeping practices at Pinehurst had raised the centre of the greens.
Donald Ross was a founding member and first president of the American Society of Golf Course Architects, which was formed at Pinehurst in 1947. He was admitted to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1977, a rare honor rarely awarded for anything other than playing success.
Pete Dye is considered to be one of the most influential course architects in the world today. His first well-known course was Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Indiana, which opened in 1964, and which later hosted the 1991 PGA Championship.
He is known for designing the “world’s most terrifying tee shot”. Known as the “Island Green”, it is the 17th hole at TPC at Sawgrass located in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
Dye received the 2003 Old Tom Morris Award from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, GCSAA’s highest honor. In 2005, Dye became the sixth recipient of the PGA Tour Lifetime Achievement Award. He will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in November 2008 in the Lifetime Achievement category.
Tom Bendelow’s approach to course design is a “naturalist’s approach,” in that he strives to utilize the natural features of the chosen site to maximum advantage. His courses have often been called “Olmstedian”, in that his method of design was greatly influenced by the work of prominent landscape architects, Frederick Law Olmsted Sr. and Jr. “If a site had an especially unique feature — rock outcrop, stream, grove of trees, scenic view — he would work his hole placements in such a way as to take full advantage of the features even if that meant working his layout from the middle out,” according to the American Society of Golf Course Architects. “Bendelow’s designs changed as the game of golf changed. When given good sites and adequate resources with which to work, he could produce a very challenging lay out, equal to the best work of the day. His personal goal however, was to build good, solid, enjoyable golf courses – ‘sporty’ was his favorite term – for use by the vast majority of American golfers.
What does this mean for the golf courses featured at French Lick Resort and West Baden Springs Hotel? For golfers, you have three of the best golf courses in Indiana all designed by these three magnificent designers all in one enjoyable destination.
French Lick Resort and Casino and West Baden Springs Hotel have recently undergone a $450 million historic restoration in southern Indiana, and features 45 holes of unparalleled golfing heaven. With the full restoration of the Tom Bendelow Valley Links course, French Lick is the Midwest’s premier golf destination.
The Pete Dye Course at French Lick has been selected as the site for the 2010 PGA Professionals National Championship.
For your money, this is a great golf destination for superior play on some great golf courses and the accommodations will also impress you.