Since 1907, with the construction of The Valley Course, golf has been an important component of French Lick Resort — both as an activity offered to guests, as well as a competitive spectator sport played on our courses. Click below to relive the highlights from some of the high-profile tournaments contested at our world-class courses.
2022 Men's Big Ten Conference Championship
It took Illinois until the final day to reach the head of the pack, but a solid finish on a windswept Sunday at The Pete Dye Course at French Lick boosted the Fighting Illini to a very familiar spot atop the Big Ten.
In third place after Round 1 and second place after Round 2 of the three-day tourney, Illinois inched past Michigan State on the final day to claim its 12th Big Ten title in the last 13 years. It was the 19th Big Ten championship overall for the Fighting Illini, who earned the conference’s automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.
Illinois (885, +21) outlasted MSU (886) and Maryland (887) atop a field in which the top seven teams were separated by 10 strokes. Northwestern and Wisconsin rounded out the top 5. Competing in their home state, Purdue claimed sixth place and Indiana took ninth.
Northwestern’s David Nyfjäll claimed Big Ten medalist honors with a 1-under total of 215, the only golfer in the field to finish below par.
It was the fourth time for the Men’s Big Ten Conference Championships to be contested at French Lick’s Pete Dye Course at French Lick. The championships were first there in three successive years from 2012 through 2014.
2021 Senior LPGA Championship presented by Old National Bank®
For the third time since 2016, Trish Johnson and The Pete Dye Course at French Lick proved to be the perfect pairing.
Leading wire to wire, the Englishwoman captured the 2021 Senior LPGA Championship title, edging runner-up Becky Morgan by one stroke. Johnson opened the tourney with the best 18 holes of any round (67) and never left the top of the leaderboard after that. With a 7-under total of 209, Johnson had enough cushion to hold off Morgan (-6), Lisa DePaulo and Barb Moxness (both -4), Laura Diaz (-3) and Juli Inkster (-2).
Johnson captured the first Senior LPGA title at French Lick in 2017 and won the last Senior LPGA Championship contested on the course, as The Pete Dye Course wrapped up a four-year run of hosting the major for senior women. Johnson also won the final Legends Tour Championship at The Pete Dye Course in 2016, prior to the sanctioning of the Senior LPGA event the following year.
Johnson couldn’t forget her first foray on The Pete Dye Course years ago on The Pete Dye Course. She shot an 82 that day, but a third title on the hilly and challenging layout proves that Johnson has become friends with this Pete Dye gem.
“I always knew I would like it. I’m a huge believer in horses for courses,” she said. “You see people they just like somewhere and it gives them confidence. I was hoping that I’d do well this week.”
2021 Donald Ross Classic
Casey Danielson won the Donald Ross Classic at French Lick Resort to take Symetra Tour money lead and wrap up an LPGA Tour card for 2022.
Danielson closed with a 3-under 68 to finish at 10-under 203 on The Donald Ross Course, a stroke head of Beth Wu and two ahead of Rachel Rohanna.
Danielson earned $37,500 to push her season total to $77,034, with the final top 10 earning LPGA Tour cards. The 26-year-old former Stanford star from Wisconsin also won the Symetra Classic in May in North Carolina. She won the Donald Ross event after missing the cuts in three of her last four starts.
“With any golf career, there’s a lot of highs and lows,” Danielson said. “I definitely learned a lot from winning and got a little ahead of myself, I hate to admit it. Expectations came in and left my golf game a little bit of a mess because I wasn’t able to stay mentally present during a round.
2019 Senior LPGA Championship presented by Old National Bank®
Helen Alfredsson saved her best for last, rallying in the final round of the Senior LPGA Championship to earn a sweep of the two senior majors for 2019.
Alfredsson sizzled with a 2-under par in the final round to outduel Hall of Famer Juli Inkster and the rest of the leaders, posting a three-round total of 214 to seize the LPGA Championship title on the heels of her U.S. Senior Women’s Open win five months earlier. In a crisp and breezy final round at The Pete Dye Course at French Lick, Alfredsson was one of only two golfers to break par on the day. The final-round surge boosted Alfredsson to the winner’s circle after she’d been close to the title the prior two years, finishing runner-up in 2018 and third in 2017.
Inkster, the tourney leader entering the final round, finished three strokes behind Alfredsson in second place. Trish Johnson, the 2017 Senior LPGA champion, shared third place with Moira Dunn-Bohls. Rounding out the top 5 was Michele Redman, a former All-American and Big Ten Conference champion at Indiana University.
2019 Donald Ross Classic
Less than two months after turning pro, Patty Tavatanakit proved that she’s a quick learner on the Symetra Tour circuit. Tavatanakit sizzled with a 7-under-par 64 in the final round to overtake 36-hole leader Ssu-Chia Cheng for a three-stroke victory in the third annual Donald Ross Classic.
Tavatanakit finished 13 under par and also notched the best winning mark in the tournament’s three-year history. Cheng was the runner-up at 10-under, Perrine Delacour (-9) finished third, and four golfers shared fourth place at 8-under: Esther Lee, Min Seo Kwak, Michelle Piyapattra and Yujeong Son.
This was the second straight year a former UCLA golfer seized the Donald Ross Classic title, following Stephanie Kono’s victory in 2018. Tavatanakit, a native of Thailand and a Thousand Oaks, Calif., resident, earned a winner’s share of 33,750 in just her third career Symetra Tour start. She earned first-team All-American honors in both seasons at UCLA before opting to turn pro after her sophomore year.
2018 Senior LPGA Championship presented by Old National Bank®
Leading wire to wire, England’s Laura Davies tucked away another title in her accomplished portfolio.
Shooting 8-under-par over the 54-hole championship at The Pete Dye Course at French Lick, Davies notched a four-stroke victory to secure the 87th tournament title of her Hall of Fame career. In the process, Davies also earned a sweep of 2018’s two majors for senior women. Three months earlier, Davies captured the U.S. Senior Women’s Open by 10 strokes.
Helen Alfredsson and Silvia Cavalleri tied for runner-up honors, both at 4-under-par. The highest-finishing Americans were fourth-place Michele Redman (-1), a former Indiana University and current coach at Minnesota, and fifth-place Brandie Burton (+1). Defending champion Trish Johnson posted three consecutive rounds of 73 and finished sixth, while Hall of Famer Juli Inkster bounced back late in the tourney to tie for 12th.
2018 Donald Ross Classic
Former UCLA all-American Stephanie Kono sizzled with an 11-under-par total, and needed every bit of it to separate herself from a crowded leaderboard to win the second annual Symetra Tour Donald Ross Classic.
Kono showcased steadiness over all three rounds, sandwiching a second-round total of 66 with 68s in the first and last rounds to secure a one-stroke victory. Dottie Ardina and Karen Chung tied for second place at 10-under, with Ardina making a late charge with a 65 in the final round. Ardina’s 6-under-par 65 tied the competitive course record for women at The Donald Ross Course, and Becca Huffer, Fatima Fernandez Cano and Michelle Piyapattra also carded scores of 65 during the tournament.
2017 Senior LPGA Championship presented by Old National Bank®
The inaugural Senior LPGA Championship had a wire-to-wire winner, as Trish Johnson of England sizzled with a 67 in the opening round and finished with a 4-under-par 212 over the three rounds for a three-stroke victory.
The runner-up was Michele Redman, who played college golf at Indiana University and now coaches the women’s golf team at Minnesota. Redman was the only other woman in the field of 81 golfers to finish below par at 1-under.
The Pete Dye Course at French Lick had hosted The Legends Championship a year earlier, which Johnson also won in a six-hole playoff with 2017 Solheim Cup captain Juli Inkster. That tournament in its four-year history was the largest event on the Legends Tour.
Senior women (age 45 and over) finally got a major championship in 2017 at French Lick – and with some visibility to go with it, as all three rounds of the Senior LPGA Championship were broadcast live on the Golf Channel. The 2017 tourney was only the start of the partnership between the Senior LPGA Championship and The Pete Dye Course, which hosts the event the next four years as well.
“We’re lucky to be here,” LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said. “We’ve been launching a lot of new things, and this is one that will only build with time. This is major on all kinds of fronts.”
2017 Donald Ross Centennial Classic
Erynne Lee prevailed in the first-ever Donald Ross Centennial Classic, which needed overtime to decide as Lee outlasted August Kim on the third playoff hole. Lee, a former UCLA star in her second year on the Symetra Tour, picked up her second career victory and pocketed a $30,000 payout – the second-largest check doled out during the Symetra Tour season.
Kim, who golfed at Purdue, matched Lee at 12-under-par over the 54 regulation holes. Kim forced the playoff between the two American players with a sparkling final-round score of 64 to make up a two-stroke deficit.
2016 Indiana Open
Brett Melton’s monster final round earned him a comeback victory and a second state open title thanks to a 7-under effort of 63 in the final round. Melton, from nearby Washington, finished four strokes better than defending champ and Purdue golfer Timothy Hildenbrand. Johnny Watts, another amateur in the field of 77 finishers, took third place at 1-under.
2015 Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid®
Colin Montgomerie navigated through what he described as “a test and a half” to earn a four-stroke win over runner-up Esteban Toledo as many of the game’s greats convened at The Pete Dye Course at French Lick.
Montgomerie crowned his victory with a final-round tally of 69 on a breezy Sunday. His 8-under finish of 280 made him one of only five players under par – the fewest since 2009 at Canterbury in Cleveland when just three players cleared par.
Montgomerie, the Scotsman who collected the 2013 Senior PGA title at Harbor Shores in Michigan, also became the first player to defend his Senior PGA crown since Hale Irwin won three straight from 1996-98.
Americans Woody Austin (3-under), Scott Verplank and Brian Henninger (both 1-under) completed the Top 5 at the 76th Senior PGA Championship, which attracted upward of 40,000 spectators to French Lick and featured street fests and other activities throughout town in conjunction with the senior major. And after Montgomerie’s triumph at The Pete Dye Course, the former European Ryder Cup captain issued a promise about it, with these words etched into a plaque outside the course:
The Pete Dye Course at French Lick will become one of the iconic courses in America. It will be a course that many people from around the world, never mind America, will come and play. … Most courses are built on 150, 170, acres of land. The course covers 400, so the scale of this course is dramatic for one, the terrain is dramatic. The holes are dramatic. Every hole is on its own unique set of challenges. It’s a terrific layout.
2013-2016 The Legends Tour Championship presented by Old National Bank®
In 2013, women’s professional golf returned to French Lick Resort for the first time since 1960. Welcoming LPGA Tour pros age 45 and above, The Pete Dye Course at French Lick hosted The Legends Tour Championship for four years. The tourney’s winners from 2013-16:
2016 – Trish Johnson
2015 – Juli Inkster
2014 – Laurie Rinker
2013 – Lorie Kane
2010-2017 Alice Dye Women's Invitational
This celebration of women’s golf has ballooned into a popular annual tournament that’s spread over three days and two golf courses. Named for Alice Dye, the wife and partner in design of Hall of Fame golf course designer Pete Dye, the event has become not only a competitive event for the ladies but a major social event as well, featuring wine and canvas events, slot tournaments, lake cruises and other fun activities.
2014 Indiana PGA Southern Open Championship
Brett Melton (6-under par), Jon Hoover (4-under), Timothy Holt (4-under) and Sean Rowen (2-under) paced the field of nearly 90 golfers with Melton’s 64 leading the way in the one-day tournament.
2014 USGA Men's Team Championship
Texas picked up a record fourth title in the United States Golf Association’s biennial tournament that featured golfers from all 50 states. Each state is represented by a team of three amateur and non-collegiate golfers. Representing Indiana in the tournament were Sean Rowen, Brett Widner and Kenny Cook.
2012-2014 Big Ten Men’s and Women’s Championship
From 2012 to 2014 the Big Ten Conference Championships were contested concurrently at French Lick with the men competing at the Pete Dye Course and the women playing at the Donald Ross Course. The men’s team from Illinois captured its fifth straight Big Ten title with its victory in 2013. Here’s a list of the winners:
2012 – Illinois
2013 – Illinois
2014 – Minnesota
2012 – Michigan State
2013 – Purdue and Northwestern (tie)
2014 – Michigan State and Ohio State (tie)
2012 Indiana Open
Tied for the lead after three rounds, Stephen Conrad birdied three of his first five holes on the final day to inch away from Jeff Cook and the rest of the field at the 97th Indiana Open. Conrad finished the tournament at 1-over-par for a two-stroke victory over Chase Wright and Tyler Merkel, while Cook and David Mills tied for fourth.
2011 US Hickory Open
The sights and spirit of history permeated the Donald Ross Course at French Lick at the fourth U.S. Hickory Open, which attracted a record field of 81 players representing 27 states and three countries. In hickory tournaments, golfers use hickory clubs and usually dress the part, complete with knickers, plus-fours, dress shirts and ties straight out of the late 19th and early 20th century era.
Australian Alan Grieve – the first player to sign up for the Hickory Open – shot a 36-hole sum of 150; 75-75 to earn a five-shot victory.
2010 PGA Professional National Championship
A year after The Pete Dye Course at French Lick opened, the golf course and town relished the chance to host its first significant event. More than 300 competitors and a host of spectators descended on French Lick for a tournament broadcast by the Golf Channel.
Mike Small, the men’s golf coach at the University of Illinois, nabbed first place overall but several others emerged with a reason to be happy as well. The top 20 finishers all qualified for pro golf’s final major of the season, the PGA Championship played less than two months later at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin. Small’s victory was a record-tying third championship on his résumé.
1959 and 1960 LPGA Championship
Some of the pioneers of the early days of women’s golf etched their mark at French Lick, which hosted one of the LPGA majors in 1959 and 1960 at the “Hill Course” (now the Donald Ross Course). Betsy Rawls reigned over the field in 1959 to win the fourth of her eight major titles. Mickey Wright, who went on to claim 13 majors in her career, was the 1960 champion.
Louise Suggs, one of the founders of the LPGA in 1950 and one of the trailblazers for the modern women’s game, finished third in 1959 and second in 1960. Suggs went on to accumulate 11 major titles for her career and still ranks fourth all-time with 61 professional titles.
1958 French Lick Women’s Open
French Lick’s first venture into women’s golf and the LPGA was won by Louise Suggs over Marlene Hagge, and paved the way for the coming LPGA Championships the next two years.
1932-1960 Midwest Amateur
For nearly 30 years, French Lick was the annual stop for the Midwest Amateur. A young Pete Dye captured the title in 1957, more than 50 years before the stately course bearing his name was built nearby in French Lick.
Renowned amateur golfer Chick Evans won the inaugural championship in 1932, and other winners included Ed Tutwiler and Dale Morey.
1924 PGA Championship
Walter Hagen cemented a portion of his legacy as one of golf’s all-time greats with his PGA Championship victory in 1924. It was the first of an unprecedented four straight PGA Championship titles for Hagen and the sixth of 11 major titles overall. (That ranks third all-time in pro golf, behind the 18 of Jack Nicklaus and the 14 of Tiger Woods.) Hagen had to earn it, too. Back then, the PGA Championship format called for 12 rounds over six consecutive days, starting with a 36-hole stroke-play qualifier followed by a match-play format over the last five days.
Participants included runner-up James Barnes of England and the immortal Gene Sarazen. A young Willie Goggin also participated in 1924, and in 1959 he became the head golf professional at French Lick for Sheraton Hotels, a position he held for 10 years before his retirement.
Today, the Hagen name still graces part of the resort. Hagen’s Club House Restaurant overlooks the Donald Ross Course at French Lick with panoramic views of the course where Hagen reigned back in 1924.