Thursday, August 18, 2016

Golf Legends Are Made Here

By Joy Neighbors

“History made…more in the making,” that’s the Legends Tour slogan and you can watch it all happen, right here, this weekend! The Legends Championship Tournament, hosted by The Pete Dye Golf Course at French Lick Resort, will take place Friday, Saturday and Sunday. 

Friday morning the Legends Championship Pro-Am Shotgun begins at 7 a.m. Then it’s show time when the official senior tour, comprised of 60 of golf’s greatest LPGA players, takes to the greens for 18 holes of competitive golf on Saturday and Sunday, August 20 and 21.

Founded in 2000, the Legends Tour players are comprised of 14 LPGA Hall-of-Famers and more than 120 former LPGA tour stars; these are some of the greatest women to have played golf. All totaled, they have more than 750 LPGA tour wins and have played in 84 major championships.

But winning isn’t everything to these ladies. In the past 16 years they have raised over $18 million for charity partners. Last year alone the Legends Championship contributed $150,000 to Riley Children’s Foundation in Indianapolis. (This year's ticket proceeds will again go to the Riley Children’s Foundation.)

Here are five more Legends facts:

· LPGA tour professionals are age 45 and over

· More than 120 members take part in the tour

· 14 are World Golf and LPGA Hall of Famers

· Nine golfers have served as Solheim Cup captains

· The Legends Tour is now in its 16th season

The Pete Dye Course has been called one of the most iconic courses in America. Designed by Hall-of-Fame architect Pete Dye, this par 72 championship course affords golf at its best with narrow, immaculate fairways and rugged, intense terrain, which includes three man-made lakes and “volcano” bunkers. And the scenic 40-mile panoramic view has won national acclaim.

Legends Hall of Fame Museum
West Baden Springs Hotel
Be sure to take a break from the action to visit the Legends Hall of Fame Museum, located in at the historic West Baden Springs Hotel - well worth the stop for golf fans.

Monday, August 15, 2016

5 Ways to Spend a Relaxing Day at French Lick Resort

By Joy Neighbors

Slow down and take your time because today is National Relaxation Day. And that's perfect timing since August brings hot, humid weather that makes us want to do as little as possible. Consider this permission to kick back and enjoy some “down time” today.

At French Lick Resort, we have tons of ways you can spend a relaxing day. In fact, here are five to get you going or better yet, relaxing.

Relax on the Porch
1) Porch-Sitting

We have two of the most enjoyable porches around. French Lick Springs Hotel boasts a veranda where you can pull up a rocker or a cushioned wicker chair and wile away the hours reading, listening to music and enjoying a scoop (or two) of old-fashioned ice cream. West Baden Springs Hotel has an array of rockers situated along their 100-year-old porch. Claim a chair, enjoy the summer breezes, soak up the history and nod-off while you people-watch.

2) Take A Dip

Hot Tub and Pool
Both hotels boast indoor and outdoor pools, all with great features. At French Lick Springs Hotel, the pool has retractable sides that can be opened to catch some rays and closed when the rain sets in. West Baden Springs Hotel offers guests a traditional lap pool, an indoor pool and a delightful hot tub, all located in the historic natatorium. (What's that? See the blog post from July 25, 2016.)

3) Soak Up Our Spa Treatments

Spa at West Baden
The toughest part of this “activity” will be selecting which of our two world-class spas to enjoy. The Spa at French Lick provides relaxation and rejuvenation set amid classic American sophistication. Nurture your skin with a delightful selection of body scrubs and wraps or experience the ultimate in relaxation with a therapeutic massage. The Spa at West Baden offers old world luxury and serene surroundings. Destress and unwind with a Signature Sprudel Bath featuring our unique native mineral waters – people have been soaking in them since the 1920’s. Then experience a customized facial; the ultimate in pampering.

The Apollo Springs
4) Grab a Hamper

Visit one of our great “grab and go” cafes and select some scrumptious goodies for an impromptu picnic on the grounds. Maybe a cozy meal in the formal gardens behind French Lick Springs Hotel or spread a blanket at the Apollo Springs gazebo near West Baden Springs Hotel for an intimate luncheon.

5) Life in the Slow Lane

Carriage Ride
What’s more relaxing than the clip-clop of horse’s hooves on a brick boulevard, except riding in the carriage they’re pulling. Take a scenic carriage ride by day and admire the beauty of the resort or grab your special someone and snuggle up for a romantic moonlit trip.

Relax! At French Lick Resort, we always have something amazing to do.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Donald Ross Course - Truly Natural

By Joy Neighbors

Donald Ross
The Donald Ross Golf Course offers golfers a chance to experience the game the way it was intended to be played. This old-school course was laid out by world-famous golf course designer Donald Ross in 1917.

Ross, a Scotts-American, built the course to fit in with the natural landscape in true Scottish fashion. His architectural golf firm, Donald J. Ross and Associates, crafted and designed more than 400 courses throughout the country from 1900 to the late 1940s. Ross’s courses became so popular among golfers that he has been credited for laying the foundation for the American golf industry. Donald Ross was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame - one of only five inductees with the title “golf course architect.”

The Hill Course in 1924
Known as the Hill Course, this was one of the most popular golf courses in Indiana due to the steep hilly grounds, deep ravines and the severe contour of its greens. It was here, just seven years later, that golf pro Walter Hagen won the 1924 PGA Championship by beating James Barnes on the 36th and final hole for the grand prize of $6,830. This was the biggest event every played on the course and one of golf’s four major championships. It was also just the first of many PGA, LPGA and Senior PGA championships and events held on the Ross Course.

1958 Competition at The Hill
Other notable events included the 1957 Midwest Amateur Championship, which newcomer Pete Dye won. (Dye would also design a golf course for the resort 50 years later.) In 1958, the first ever French Lick Women’s Open was held here with Louise Suggs winning all. Due to its success, the LPGA Championship was played on the Hill Course again in 1959 and 1960.

In 2005, Cook Group, Inc. in collaboration with the Donald Ross Society (with Lee Schmidt working on the restoration), spent over $5-million-dollars to reclaim the links and return the course to its classic features including sever undulating greens and 35 original bunkers. It was renamed The Donald Ross Course at French Lick Resort in 2006. (It is one of only two Donald Ross courses still open to the public in Indiana.)

Head Golf Pro Rob Koontz
According to Head Golf Professional Rob Koontz, the course will celebrate its 100 anniversary next summer. “We’re done a lot to bring it back, in order to celebrate 100 years of legendary golf. So many legends have played here, so many in local, regional and national golf. We want to honor those who have been involved through the years; those who have stepped through and played this beautiful course.”

A Traditional Course
When asked what type of golfer would best enjoy this course, Koontz explained, “This is a course for everyone; professionals, amateurs and junior players. They all love coming here. We host several tourneys each year, the Indiana H Group (10 – 18 year-old) was just a couple of weeks ago.”

“Everyone loves the history of this place,” Koontz said. “It’s a testament to the course how it still stands up to high regard in the 21st century. It can be a challenge but that’s part of the fun. We have unified undulating green sites that are quite challenging, that’s why people want to play the course. If you’ve played once, you want to play it again; it plays different every time.”

After a challenging game nothing beats drinks at the clubhouse. Hagen’s Club House Restaurant was originally built in 1927 and named after golfing great Walter Hagen, 1924 PGA Champion. An old-fashioned display case in the Pro Shop contains several items that belonged to Hagen. The restaurant menu features everything from soup and sandwiches to seafood and steaks with a variety of libations to quaff with your meal. Seating is available inside the clubhouse or on the expansive porch overlooking the greens - an excellent spot to catch a stunning Hoosier sunset.

When asked what was his favorite part of working here, Koontz gestured to the course, “It’s just exciting to be in a setting so historical. I love the course, the community; the beautiful countryside nestled down in the Hoosier National Forest. I’ve been coming here since I was a kid and I’ve always loved it. There’s so much history to learn; it’s just a great place to be.”

Course Information:

Donald Ross Course

Located west of French Lick on State Road 56

Open daily 7 a.m. – 6 p.m.

(812) 936-5523

Course Accolades:

No. 48, Top 100 Best Resort Courses, GolfWeek Magazine, 2014

No. 100 America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses, Golf Digest Magazine, February 2013

No. 2 Course in Indiana, GolfWeek’s Best You Can Play, 2011 - 2013

Best Courses You Can Play, GolfWeek Magazine, 2008

America’s Top 30 Casino Courses, Golf Week Magazine, 2008

18 Best Holes in Indiana, Indiana Business Magazine, 2008

Runner Up: Best Remodel in America, Golf Digest Magazine, 2007

Runner Up: 2007 Renovation of the Year, GOLF Magazine, 2007

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Pins and Alleys and Lanes - Oh My!

By Joy Neighbors

French Lick Springs Hotel Bowling Alley - 1930s

Today is National Bowling Day; a day when bowling alleys across the country hold special contests, giveaways and offer free games or free shoe rental. The day was introduced in 2012 as a way to celebrate this “great American pastime.”

The game of bowling has been played for thousands of years dating back to Egypt in 3200 BC. A form of bowling has been played in Europe since the 1300’s.

In the U.S., bowling began as a game played on the lawn, similar to croquette. Played with only nine pins, gamblers realized they could win bets on it easily. Several states outlawed the game before a tenth pin was added to create more of a challenge and bowling was once again played for fun.

In 1895, the American Bowling Congress (ABC) was formed and adopted a standard set of rules for the game. The ABC began organizing national competitions and interest in the game grew. The United States Bowling Congress (USBC, formerly the ABC) plays a major role in regulating and promoting the sport.

Today, bowling ranks number one as the most popular participatory sport in the country. The Bowling Proprietor’s Association of America (BPAA) reports that 95 million people take to the alleys each year in more than 90 countries, and half of these bowlers are women. Kids are also enamored with the game; more than 10-million attend bowling parties each year.

French Lick Resort is home to Pluto’s Alley with six lanes for play and “Cosmic Bowling,” a family-friendly event held on Wednesday evenings. The alley can also be rented for private events and parties. An arcade, complete with pool tables and assorted games, is located next to the lanes. Great pizza, calzones and pretzels can be found at Pluto’s Pizzeria, and adult beverages are available at Pluto’s Well.

Pluto’s Alley, located in the lower level of French Lick Springs Hotel, is open Sunday through Thursday from 11am - 11pm, Wednesday from 5pm – 11pm, Friday and Saturday from 11am – Midnight.

If you can’t make it to the lanes today, mark your calendar for National Family Bowling Day coming up on October 11th.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Valley Links Golf Course For Family Fun

By Joy Neighbors

In celebration of National Golf Month, we'll take an in-depth look at one of the three courses at the French Lick Resort: Valley Links Golf Course and Activities Center.

It was 1907 when French Lick Springs Hotel owner Tom Taggart commissioned Scottish American golf course architect Tom Bendelow to build a championship course for the hotel. 

Bendelow Course
Known for his design style of utilizing natural terrain to create a challenging course, Bendelow designed a course to be enjoyed by all; beginners and advanced golfers. Boasting 18-holes and called The Valley Course, it featured rolling fairways, well-placed bunkers and fescue grass throughout. (During his lifetime, Bendelow designed more than 600 courses, most located throughout the U.S.)

Laying Sod
In 2005, the Valley Links Course was remodeled after the Cook Group, Inc. purchased the hotel and grounds. It went from the original 18 holes to a nine-hole family course with a driving range. This par 36-course was developed through a partnership with US Kids Golf, the primary junior golf company in the U.S., to create a kid-friendly course while still presenting a challenge to more advanced players.

Alex Whiteman
According to Alex Whiteman, Golf Group Sales Manager for the resort, “All levels will enjoy this course. We have USGA golf tees on the course, and it’s a championship-like course that offers good distance. You can enjoy playing here if you’re an avid golfer or if it’s just you and the kids, and we encourage family play on Valley Links.”

The Valley Links Course also offers FootGolf, a creative game that combines the components of soccer and golf. “FootGolf is the new craze that’s sweeping the country,” Whiteman said. “It’s where kids can play golf along with mom and dad, but instead of a golf ball, the kids are using a soccer ball that they try to kick into a 21” round hole. The score is kept just like golf and we have a FootGolf hole for each of our regular nine holes.” But don’t assume this is a game just for kids; adults enjoy playing as well. In 2015, the American FootGolf League (AFGL) was recognized as the governing body for the new sport and the Valley Links Course is designated as an AFGL course.

Training Area
The Valley Links Golf and Activities Center offers several special training programs throughout the year. “We have a First Tee program and PGA Jr League for youth during the summer,” Whiteman said. “We also offer a ladies’ clinic in the summer that includes training with a golf professional.” 

Video Analysis
The French Lick Resort Golf Academy also provides golf instruction with PGA professionals available for all level of golfers. Full swing and short game analysis is available along with cutting-edge video analysis. The Activities Center is home to a 10-station indoor driving range and indoor/outdoor putting greens. Outdoors, a short game practice green and driving range lets golfers perfect their game. “I’d say 90% of all the (golf) training done at the resort is done here at Valley Links. We have a long driving range and a course that’s great to fine-tune your skills on,” Whiteman said.

Whiteman handles numerous golfing groups each month; those looking to come “stay and play” at the resort. “My job is more of a hybrid-golf position; I do sales, planning and golf. Groups usually contact me by email or phone and we’ll discuss what they want to do. I usually handle groups of 8 or more whose purpose is to come and play, usually a golf trip for 2, 3 or 4 days; their whole agenda is about golf. I handle all of the details from getting their rooms reserved to where they would like to eat, to what course or courses they're playing on what days. And once they arrive, I make sure they have a great time.”

Valley Links Golf Course
It’s obvious that Whiteman enjoys it here and when asked what his favorite part of the job is, he smiles, “It’s always busy. I love that I get to play all three courses - that keeps me up-to-date on what’s happening and how to select courses for my groups. I get to meet the people and watch how much fun they have here. And, I get to share my passion for this property; I like that!” 

With a picturesque course like Valley Links, it’s easy to see why golfers of all ages enjoy spending time here.

Information on the course:

Valley Links Golf Course
8670 W. State Road 56 (Behind French Lick Springs Hotel)
Open daily 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
(812) 936-8042

Course Accolades:

Top 50 Ranges in the U.S.,, 2013


Monday, August 1, 2016

Celebrating National Golf Month

By Joy Neighbors

Golfers From the 1920s
August is National Golf Month! Golf has always been an important part of the history of both French Lick Springs and West Baden Springs Hotels. Today, French Lick Resort is home to three championship courses. In fact, nowhere else in the world can a golfer play courses designed by Pete Dye, Donald Ross and Tom Bendelow, all in one location!

The Resort’s Courses

Pete Dye Course
The legendary Pete Dye carved the Hoosier hillside into a scenically stunning and physically challenging golf experience in 2007. Today, the Pete Dye Course hosts numerous tourneys every year including the annual LPGA Legends Championship Tour, which is coming up this month, August 18 – 21.

Donald Ross Course
In 1917, iconic golf architect Donald Ross created his traditional course along the lay of the land, in true Scottish style. The Donald Ross Course has been home to numerous regional and national tournaments including the infamous 1924 PGA Championship.

Valley Links Course
The Valley Links Course is the oldest on the resort; a nine-hole conversion of the original 18-hole course designed by the renowned golf course architect Tom Bendelow. Today professionals, amateurs, and junior golfers all enjoy playing this beautiful family-friendly course.

The Resort’s Director of Golf

Dave Harner
Dave Harner, Director of Golf at French Lick Resort, seems to have always been involved in the sport. “I started working here as a kid, right out of high school,” Harner said. “I’ve spent 40 years at the resort. I grew up playing golf on the Donald Ross Course. I still love the vision Ross had in 1917 of the natural course. It’s very challenging but fun to play.”

Harner can rattle off course stats, championships played here, even the winners of those games, not only because it’s his job to know, but because he truly loves the game. “It’s been my life. And golf can be a life-changer. I started a caddying program here and it has helped 10 kids get scholarships into college – that changed their lives. We also have The First Tee Junior Golf Program, which teaches nine core values. When you play golf, you make better decisions in life based on these core values you learn; they’re great life lessons to learn, regardless if you ever play the game.”

Golf’s Nine Core Values

Here are The First Tee Nine Core Values:

1. Honesty - the quality or state of being truthful; not deceptive.
Golf is unique from other sports in that players regularly call penalties on themselves and report their own scores.

2. Integrity -strict adherence to a standard of value or conduct; personal honesty and independence.
Golf is a game of honesty, etiquette and composure. You are responsible for your actions and personal conduct on the golf course at all times.

3. Sportsmanship- observing the rules of play and winning or losing with grace.
You must know and abide by the rules of golf and be able to conduct yourself in a respectful manner, even in a competitive game.

4. Respect- to feel or show deferential regard for; esteem.
In golf, it is important to show respect for yourself, your partners, your opponents and the golf course as well as for the honor and traditions of the game.

5. Confidence- reliance or trust. A feeling of self-assurance.
Confidence plays a key role in the level of play that you achieve. You must have confidence in your abilities every time you play, regardless of the outcome.

6. Responsibility- accounting for one’s actions; dependable.
In golf, you are responsible for yourself and your actions on the golf course. It is up to you to keep score, repair divots, rake bunkers, repair ball marks on the green and keep up with the pace of play.

7. Perseverance - to persist in an idea, purpose or task despite obstacles.
To succeed in golf, you must learn to persevere through bad breaks and your own mistakes.

8. Courtesy - considerate behavior toward others; a polite remark or gesture.
A round of golf should begin and end with a handshake between fellow competitors. Show courtesy toward others by remaining still and quiet while they prepare and execute a shot.

9. Judgment - the ability to make a decision or form an opinion; a decision reached after consideration.
Using good judgment is critical in golf. It comes into play when deciding on strategy, club selection, when to play safe and when to take a chance, the type of shot you consider executing, as well as understanding and abiding by etiquette.

Join me each Thursday in August as we take a look at the courses, the game of golf and the effects the game has had on the resort, over the years.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

FLR Interns and Students Cap Off the Summer with Style

 By Joy Neighbors

Romanian Students
Each summer, interns and international students  travel to French Lick Resort to take part in a learning work/culture experience for three months, and this year was no exception. But what was different was the capstone project they decided on; a cultural display of what they’ve learned about hospitality.

Steven Spencer
According to Steven Spencer, Human Resources Training Coordinator, this project was to be a resort-wide cultural exchange. “We started discussing the project late last year and added the specifics about a month ago. We wanted interns and the international students to work together on this project just like they would at a real job. It’s about letting them learn each other’s culture. International students are experiencing and learning about American culture for the three months they are here and interns are now learning about other cultures from the international students.”

Country-Appropriate Table Decor
Students and interns planned a resort-wide international banquet that highlighted dishes from every country the students came from. “The interns and students worked together to plan a buffet-style menu, come up with fun facts about their countries, and create decorations and an activity that pertained to each country,” Spencer explained. “They were to treat this like a job; do cost comparisons and make smart business decisions, book the meeting space, select the decorations, order napkins and tablecloths. Some of the international students also decided to offer traditional candies and have stuffed lions on their tables because these are native to their countries.”

A Wide Array of Food
"The students only had four weeks to turn this event around and make it work. And in the hospitality industry that’s not an unusual deadline so it was a great learning experience about the real world," Spencer said. “Each week when they met, they had a goal to meet. The first week, the full menu had to be selected and students had to provide all of the recipes so there was time to assemble all the necessary ingredients. Week Two, the fun facts had to be completed and students started constructing their decorations. Week Three, decorations had to be finished, and Week Four, anything else that had to be assembled, completed or finalized was due because Wednesday, July 27 would be show time!”

Appetizing Choices
Resort chefs prepared the food from recipes gathered by the students who also assisted in the traditional preparation of certain dishes. The banquet represented all seven countries the students came from: Bulgaria, Hungary, Jamaica, Nigeria, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.

Cold Veggie Salad
The meal was served in two shifts, one from 10:30 am to 3 pm, and the next from 4 pm to 10 pm. This allowed all 900 French Lick Resort associates a chance to visit the Windsor Ballroom and enjoy the buffet. Third shift also got to take part; boxed lunches for each country were prepared so these associates could also enjoy the diverse menus.

Tables Decorated in Each Country's Colors
Marketing intern Matthew White, from Indiana State University, worked with the students from Bulgaria. White had this to say about the project, “This experience allowed us to learn how to research, problem solve, set goals, reach beyond boundaries, and work as a team. We (interns) assisted international students with compiling menus, making sure activities were laid out properly and preparing decorations. We made sure that each country was represented with a nice variety of selections. The cultural exchange was the final project demonstrating what we’ve learned.” White smiled and acknowledged that it was a lot of work to pull off in four weeks, “Hopefully, it was a wonderful experience for French Lick Resort employees to get to explore other countries.”

Steven Spencer
A Good Luck Hug
Team leader Steven Spencer hoped students and interns would take away several things, “The satisfaction of having done it and made it a success. The sense of teamwork that has developed between the international students and the interns, learning how to work together to pull an event like this off; how to learn from others. They’ve had a chance to take down borders by working together, everyone comes from a different walk of life but these students from seven countries, and the interns, learned how to make it work for everyone. They’ve also gained more resort knowledge and a real understanding of how this industry works."

Will there be more such events? "This is only the first year for this event," Spencer promised. “Next year, students will start thinking about it when they arrive. And they'll have it easier with three months to discuss and prepare for it.”

Congratulations to all students, interns and staff that took part - the end result was spectacular!