Although more golf courses in the U.S. are closing than opening these days, as spring arrives there are at least some breaks in the industry's gloomy skies. The most sparkling of all may be the new Pete Dye Course at historic French Lick Resort in southern Indiana. (An hour's drive north of Louisville, Ky., French Lick is the hometown of basketball legend Larry Bird.)
Dye, the irascible 83-year-old architect of such celebrated layouts as TPC Sawgrass and Whistling Straits, is an Indiana native, and he was clearly energized to be working on this project. The course, scheduled to open April 24, drapes across rolling hills overlooking Hoosier National Forest. It bears many of Dye's hallmarks, including aggressive mounding, bold and deceptive bunkering, and strategic holes that vary greatly in length.
The Pete Dye Course is the latest of several recent improvements to French Lick Resort, whose mineral springs have been attracting visitors since the late 1700s. Its 1917 Donald Ross course--a wonderful complement to the more modern Dye design--underwent an extensive restoration. So, too, did the landmark West Baden Springs Hotel, one of the resort's two hotels. Built at the turn of the twentieth century in the style of a grand European spa, with a soaring atrium under a massive circular dome, the hotel reopened in 2007 after a $500 million refurbishment.
Gallery: French Lick Resort