FRENCH LICK, Ind. -- The Donald Ross Course at French Lick Resort is celebrating its centennial in 2017. The course, known in its early days as "The Hill Course," makes for one of the most dramatic Donald Ross-designed golf courses you can play in the U.S. An extensive renovation in 2006 brought it back to its standing a formidable test. The Ross Course hosted the 1924 PGA Championship, when this little outpost was in its heyday as both a wellness retreat and place to party and gamble illegally. Walter Hagen won the match play championship that year. The course also hosted the 1959 and 1960 LPGA Championships, won by Mickey Wright and Betsy Rawls, respectively.
Today's golfers are still going to be plenty challenged by the Ross Course, which plays as a par 70 that is over 7,000 yards from the championship tees. Many tees and greens are elevated, so golfers usually have a great view of the entire hole, and the many traps that guard it, but the approach shots are often uphill to sloping greens. The trick to the Ross course is that you must take enough club to account for elevation but also leave the ball below the hole or risk three-and-four putting. There are some blind tee shots, perhaps none better than the par-4 4th hole, which plays uphill over a crest and then heads back down towards one of the few non-elevated greens that sits beside a collection pond.
Another notable feature of the Ross course is three of the four par 3s are extremely long. From the back tees, three of them play over 240 yards. The 17th, meanwhile, is a chip-shot par 3 at about 145 yards but has a very interesting green.
The Ross Course is located about a mile away from the West Baden Springs and French Lick Springs hotels. It's open to the general public, or resort guests can take a complimentary shuttle to the course. There is a small but well-appointed clubhouse at the Ross Course with framed architectural blueprints of the course in the basement as well as full locker rooms. A full restaurant and bar with indoor and outdoor seating is available as well. Do note however there is no driving range onsite here. (Read Brandon Tucker's full review of the Ross Course at French Lick.)