French Lick Resort is an absolute masterpiece brought back to life, and should be a must visit for all. This small town in Southern Indiana was completely revitalized a little over 12 years ago to it’s old glory days back in the early 1900’s. The two original hotels were renovated back to the the days when the stars would come and visit the old sulfur springs, for a break away from the hustle and bustle of their everyday life. The French Lick Springs Hotel was originally built in 1845 and now today as over 443 guest rooms and suits along with many other amenities you would expect from a resort including horse stalls. Also connected to the French Lick Springs Hotel is the French Lick Casino.
What was once called “The Eighth Wonder of the World” West Baden Springs Hotel is known for its massive 200 foot atrium, West Baden has 243 luxury guest rooms and suites. Some of these suites have some amazing balcony views of the glorious atrium or the rolling hills of the countryside.
Golf is a very popular reason for many to visit the French Lick Resort, as it has become a destination in many golf circles because of the facilities provided. There was little difference in the early 1900’s as well. Donald Ross designed what use to be known as the “Hill Course” in 1917, which played host to Walter Hagen winning his record setting 4th
PGA Championship in a row, in 1924. Today the original Donald Ross course has been brought back to its original splendor and has been in America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses by Golf Digest 2010-2011. The other original course to the resort is the Tom Bendelow “Valley Course”, in 2007 this course was renovated into a 9 hole course, which kept the Scottish Links style of Bendelows original design. Of course the new star, is The Pete Dye Golf Course, which has been highly rated since its inception. In 2015 the Senior PGA Championship was played here at the Pete Dye Course. Over the next few weeks we will go over the splendor of all these courses in greater detail on Form Golf.
The last course to be added under the French Lick Resort umbrella is about 30 minutes south in a town called Jasper. Sultans Run has been around since 1992 and was picked up by French Lick Resort because of its location and absolute splendor already provided at the facility. Lets talk a little more about this 4th French Lick course.
Just east of Jasper, Indiana sits 224 acres of woods, rolling hills, water, and wildlife which the championship golf course, Sultans Run calls home. Recently Sultans Run went through a little upgrade and was added to the French Lick Resort lineup, much deserved.
Tim Liddy spent his early career learning from and working with Hall of Fame ASGCA member Pete Dye. The courses that he has designed have his own flare with some Pete Dye resemblance. Sultans Run was designed by Tim Liddy, this Southern Indiana gem opened in 1992 and is an absolute delight. Unlike Northern Indiana the southern portion of the state is naturally hilly and has a lot of wooded areas. The acreage that Sultans Run is built on is a prime example of the wonderful natural landscaping Southern Indiana provides.
It has been a few years since I last played Sultans Run but every time I have played there it has been fantastic. The highlight of the course is the view from the clubhouse of land which legendary Supreme Sultan roamed. Supreme Sultan holds the record for the most sired World Champion American Saddle-bred horses. Sultans Run is a memorial to this legendary horse.
There are four sets of tees for all levels, starting at 5,762 yards and tipping out at 6,859. This par 72 championship course has a rating 73.4 and slope of 136. The first hole plays 430 yards with elevated tee boxes an elevated green you are guaranteed on uphill approach shot. The bunkers down the left side are not really in play on your tee shot, unless you hit your tee shot over 350 yards, but staying right is the best chance so that you have the best angle into the green.
There are over half the holes at Sultans that have water in play and the par 3 2nd hole is the first to feature this. From the elevated tees you must carry the water with just a small amount of rough between water and green. The inward nine finishes off on the hardest hole on the course. The 9th hole is a 412 yard par 4 over a gully and almost a 200 yard carry to the fairway from the back tees. This hole is not one for the driver as it turns left which the left side has a row of bunkers protecting from cutting the corner. If you score a par or better on the 9th be happy and move on.
The back nine has two of the most picturesque holes in Indiana. The 12th hole is a 209 yard par 3 where the green complex actually sits on a peninsula with water surrounding all sides except the front right to right side.
The 18th hole is one of my favorite holes that I have ever played. This hole screams Pete Dye with some Liddy twists. The elevated tee shot on this dogleg right 429 yard par 4, is over a gully with the carry to the fairway sitting close to 200 yards just like the 9th hole. The long hitters will aim down the treeline on the right side which requires a 260 yard carry to clear the gully and bunker complex to find the fairway. Going long on your second shot into the green is not an option as you will find the water or possibly the waterfall. While many will struggle on this final hole at Sultans Run they mostly all have a smile on their face because of the views on this hole.
Sultans Run is an absolute must for everyone to play. When you are done playing, head over to the Schnitzelbank restaurant. This place is great especially if you love German food. It is highly rated by many and recommended by all who have been there. Some items that you will see on their menu include: Pork Shank, Beef Rollanden, The Bratzel, Wurst Platter, and many other popular German delights.
Check in next week as we take a look at the Ross Course at French Lick!
Picture Resources: Frenchlickresort.com, sultansrun.com