In today's Front Nine golf page in the Beacon News, I highly recommended making The French Lick Resort in French Lick, Ind. the place you should head to for a "stay and play" golf getaway this summer.
Unfortunately, not everything can get in print, so here is what couldn't make it to black and white.
What you see here is the atrium in the lobby of the West Baden Springs Hotel, which is nothing short of a marvel. You can see some of the balconies overlooking the space, which is a great view.
(I can only speak on the West Baden, as I did not stay at the French Lick Springs Hotel - although I did visit the lobby just to check out the look. Built at the turn of the 20th century, the only way to describe it is "they just don't make 'em like this anymore.")
Back to the West Baden - I was able to stay in one of those rooms overlooking the atrium, which was spacious and included a bath with two showers. Room service was quick and the food was amazing!
I also ate at Sinclair's, a wonderful restaurant with an atmosphere you don't see very often here. "Resort casual" was the dress code, but the place carries the feel of fine dining.
Mrs. SportsBeacon took time out to visit The Spa at West Baden, and she raved about the massage and facial treatment she received. She also thoroughly enjoyed her time at The Stables, which included a guided trail ride around the hilly terrain of the hotel.
Later on in the trip, we both visited the casino - we didn't have any luck - but we enjoyed the space, and the availability of affordable tables. For those of us now used to smoke-free gambling, French Lick offers a spacious non-smoking gaming room that includes table games and computer poker games.
I made my affinity for The Donald Ross Course (below) known in my column, but I must admit - I'm a traditionalist when it comes to my golf courses. I love Ross designs, but I really do enjoy any layout built in the early 20th century. I just find that those tracks make you play golf, from tee to green, and this course does do that.
I mentioned the frustrating fairway rough, as I did lose 5 balls just off the fairway, and it wasn't just me - I found other balls near where I thought mine had landed, and other players on the course were having similar difficulty. It's never fun to be penalized with a "LB" if you just miss a fairway, so make sure to keep a sharp eye on where you see your ball land.
Aside from that, I had no complaints with the Ross. The design was sublime, as was the course's condition. It totally fits with the Resort's overall feel - a step back in time.
Then, you have The Pete Dye Course.....
This course hosted last year's PGA Professionals National Championship (won by Aurora native and Illinois golf coach Mike Small) and is definitely a championship layout in the modern era of golf.
It's big, it's beastly, and as I said in my column, you'll need your driver to be working to get around without too much stress.
You are required to take a caddy on The Dye, and while that can be intimidating (and oftentimes, an irritating mandate for most public golfers), you need it here. The visual deception that Dye is famous for can really play tricks with not only your eyes, but your mind. There are some holes where you swear it's 800 yards long, or you really don't know where to hit it - having a well-trained caddy is definitely a good thing.
I didn't find too many of the bunkers on either course, which is because I was smart enough (wink, wink) to play the right set of tees and therefore, avoided some of the hazards Ross and Dye designed for longer hitters off back tees. But, the result was narrower landing areas or mounds that could shoot your ball off on various angles - but that's golf.
(I did not get a chance to take a look at The Valley Links Course, but it's sawed off Tom Bendelow design that looks like a great way to get in a quick 9 holes or practice session while the Mrs./girlfriend is taking a historical tour or a qiuck dip in the pool).
And down there, I can say it's truly great golf.
While French Lick seems a world away in southern Indiana, it's not a bad drive once you get out of the west suburbs. The highway travel is smooth and easy, especially once you get out of Illinois and the speed limit hits 70.
If you're more inclined to fly, there are options. If flying privately, there is an airport near the Ross course. If you're flying commercially, you'd head into Louisville and then head north for about 70 minutes to get to the resort.