Klein on Design: No. 3 at Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort
Monday, January 4, 2010
Bradley S. Klein, Golfweek’s architecture editor, offers his opinion on one memorable hole.
Length: 641 / 554 yards, par 5
Architect: Pete Dye, 2009
Where: French Lick, Ind.
Ranking: No. 6 on the Golfweek’s Best Casino Courses list, 2009
It’s great because . . . Dye has tamed a wild piece of Indiana hilltop and hammered the holes onto the land as if they were terraced sculptures. He has saved his boldest shaping for the par 5s, all of which twist and turn, in large part blindly to the approaching golfer, who ends up stumbling with vertigo. The course starts on a disarmingly rational basis. But all hell breaks loose at the pencil-thin third hole, which climbs steadily, then suddenly twists sharply left to a green suspended over a grassy netherworld. It’s dramatic and impressive. Also terrifying. The message here is clear, even if the sight lines and depth perception are not: This is a golf course whose outrageous scale will torment even the most skilled golfer.
It would be even better if . . . there were the occasional bailout that Dye so generously allowed for on his earlier great courses (for example, PGA West-Stadium or TPC Sawgrass-Players Stadium). Nope, not here in southern Indiana. A little more visibility off the third tee would help, as would a little more width in the second-shot landing area and third-shot bailout. For all the millions of yards of earth moved in creating this stunning place, a few thousand more along the right side of the third hole would have gone a long way toward making it more playable for the everyday golfer.