French Lick Resort’s famed Pete Dye and Donald Ross courses and 9-hole Valley Links are about to have company with a fourth course set to open at the resort soon.

The Sand Creek Course at French Lick Resort is set to debut in early fall 2024, providing guests a completely new way to enjoy the game. This short course, located adjacent to the Valley Links course and driving range, will feature nine holes ranging between 35 and 90 yards. Golfers can expect to complete the course in about 75 minutes. Clubs and balls will be provided with the greens fee, and guests may use their own clubs if they wish.

The new course derives its name from the freshwater stream that winds through it, and as French Lick Resort CEO Chuck Franz explains, there were a few reasons behind integrating another nine holes into the resort golf experience. One, to satisfy a major itch for golf as the resort continues re-upping record numbers of rounds at Pete Dye, Donald Ross and Valley Links the last few years. Secondly, it revives a piece of French Lick’s past. A short course existed at the resort in the early 1900s.

Decades later, what’s old is new again.

“We’re always wanting to play into our history with different attractions and projects across property, and with the popularity of golf coming out of the pandemic, another 9 holes of some sort was always on our radar to advance us to 54 holes of golf resort-wide,” Franz said. “Dave Harner, our Director of Golf, is fantastic about growing the game, and the more people you can get on course enjoying golf here at French Lick, that’s a great thing.”

Sand Creek Course will be open year-round (weather permitting) and more special touches are in the works for the course’s first full year in 2025. The course will be lit for play after dark, piped-in music will play on the course, there will be designated family-friendly hours, and a food truck will keep guests fueled up to play all day.

“It’s a simple, easy place to play,” Harner said. “It adds to our experience in that it gives you an alternative to the championship course – a place where beginners, families, corporate groups, whether they all play golf or not, they’ll be able to play this course. It’s not a miniature golf experience but it’s not a true, serious champ golf course experience. It’s a lot of fun, and I think when people get out there and play, they’ll get hooked on it.”

Russ Apple and Brett Fleck, the head superintendents at French Lick’s Dye and Ross courses, are designing and building the new Sand Creek layout borrowing features from the resort’s two championship courses.

“It’s going to have a few miniature versions of the Dye volcano bunkers, and some of the Ross greens contours. The rock formation that we use around the lakes at Dye we’re using around the water retention area here,” Harner said. “You’ll see a few things that are common to both golf courses.”

The short course isn’t the only new attraction in this corner of French Lick Resort.

Nearby, four new pickleball courts will be opening soon, in time for the Fourth of July holiday. The courts are located next to the parking lots behind French Lick Casino and the French Lick Springs Hotel parking garage. That’ll make for a total of 7 new pickleball courts, joining the three that opened last fall at West Baden Springs Hotel.

Franz envisions more being added to this area eventually, considering the interest in outdoor activities among guests and the land available for growth.

“The Sand Creek Course was the featured project we wanted to start with, and with the new pickleball courts there as well, this area can be a little hub for a lot of things for guests to do,” Franz said. “Down the road, there are a lot of other things activity-wise that I think we can do for guests to enjoy the outdoors and be active during their visit to the resort.”

French Lick Resort is a $600 million historic restoration and casino development project that includes West Baden Springs Hotel, French Lick Springs Hotel, Valley Tower and French Lick Casino. This Midwest premier resort destination features 757 guest rooms and suites; a 51,000 square-foot, single-level casino; 45 holes of golf including the fully restored 1917-designed Donald Ross Course at French Lick and the 18-hole Pete Dye Course at French Lick; two full-service spas with a combined 36 treatment rooms totaling 42,000 square feet; meeting and event space totaling 169,000 square feet; and an array of dining and entertainment options.   

Photo Courtesy of French Lick Resort