Golf News for Tuesday, January 29, 2008 | Courses

French Lick to host '10 PGA Professional National Championship

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- French Lick Resort Casino of French Lick, Ind., site of the 1924 PGA Championship, which marked a remarkable major winning streak by legendary Walter Hagen, has been named the site of the 43rd PGA Professional National Championship. The showcase event for PGA Professionals will be conducted in June 2010.

It will mark the first visit by the PGA Professional National Championship to Indiana, and to a resort that features courses designed by two of the game’s legendary golf architects – Donald Ross and Pete Dye.

The National Championship, featuring a nationwide field of 312 PGA Professionals, will utilize the par-70, 7,000-yard Donald Ross Course, which opened in 1917, and the par-72, 7,400-yard Pete Dye Course, which is scheduled for a grand opening in the spring of 2009. The Championship’s final two rounds will be conducted on the Pete Dye Course.

“The PGA Professional National Championship has maintained a tradition of bringing this showcase event to some of the premier courses in the country,” said PGA of America President Brian Whitcomb. “It is exciting to have the opportunity to bring the Championship to the site where Walter Hagen, one of our Association founders, elevated his legend. I can think of no better story for our finest playing PGA Professionals than to compete for the Walter Hagen Cup in Indiana.”

The Donald Ross Course, the creation of the famed Scottish architect, also has hosted the 1959 and 1960 LPGA Championship and was the home of the Midwest Amateur from the 1930s through the 1950s. Coincidentally, Dye captured the 1957 Midwest Amateur on the course.
The Donald Ross Course completed a $6 million renovation program in 2006, conducted by architect Lee Schmidt of Scottsdale, Ariz., which restored the original Ross design.

"We had photographs from 1926, two years after the PGA Championship was played, and we had Donald Ross’s original drawings on site,” said French Lick Resort Casino President Steve Ferguson. “And, we have Pete Dye, who has been so enthusiastic about this project. We have tremendous views at each location, and to have the restoration and to have a Donald Ross Course and one of the leading designers of this era in Pete Dye is a tremendous opportunity for golfers to play both approaches to golf.

The French Lick Resort Casino has undergone a $500 million historic renovation and casino development program, which includes the French Lick Springs Hotel, the new French Lick Casino and the West Baden Springs Hotel. In addition, this premier resort and casino destination features more than 100,000 square feet of meeting space; 689 guest rooms and a 42,000-square foot, single-level casino; two full-service spas with a combined 36 treatment rooms totaling 41,000 square feet and an array of dining and entertainment options.

“The Donald Ross Course shows the magic of Donald Ross,” said Ferguson. “He chose a piece of real estate to fit that course. And Pete Dye is so enthusiastic about this course, and was dedicated to fit every golfer. He developed tremendous views from all tees. Pete had a relationship with Donald Ross and you can see a lot of Ross in Pete Dye.

“The PGA Professional National Championship is a wonderful opportunity. We’re trying to impact that section of Indiana with the resort and this National Championship is important part of that plan.”

“It is a rare opportunity to be playing two courses designed by two of golf’s greatest architects, the greatest classic architect, Donald Ross, and arguably the greatest modern-day architect, Pete Dye, all on the same piece of property,” said French Lick Resort Casino PGA Director of Golf Dave Harner. “We are very pleased and excited to have this Championship come to Indiana.”

Dye, who was the 2004 PGA Distinguished Service Award winner, has been the host architect for three previous PGA Professional National Championships: in 1989-90 at PGA West-Stadium Course in La Quinta, Calif.; in 1999 at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wis.; and in 2005 at The Ocean Course in Kiawah Island, S.C.

Begun in 1968, the PGA Professional National Championship brings together the finest playing PGA Professionals representing The PGA of America’s 41 nationwide Sections. The 2008 National Championship will be conducted, June 19-22, at Reynolds Plantation in Greensboro, Ga., and the 2009 National Championship is June 25 to July 1, at Twin Warriors Golf Club in Santa Ana Pueblo, N.M.

Since 1916, The PGA of America's mission has been twofold: to establish and elevate the standards of the profession and to grow interest and participation in the game of golf.

By establishing and elevating the standards of the golf profession through world-class education, career services, marketing and research programs, the Association enables PGA Professionals to maximize their performance in their respective career paths and showcases them as experts in the game and in the $195 billion golf industry.

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