Golf Buddy Trip To French Lick — In 1916

Golf Buddy Trip To French Lick -- In 1916
A report of a golf buddy trip to French Lick, from the May 29, 1916 issue of the Los Angeles Evening Herald.

Golf Buddy Trip To French Lick — In 1916

In what is surely one of the earliest reported examples of a golf buddy trip, the Los Angles Herald for May 20, 1916 reported on a cross-country car trip planned by four buddies that included a stop in French Lick for golf.

The foursome included Art Shafer, a former major-league baseball player. Shafer, better known as Tillie Shafer, was an infielder with the New York Giants from 1909 to 1913.

The trip was front page news, along with reports of a couple of murders, the firing of 150 teachers, riots in Greece and the trial of a preacher charged with “unchristianlike” conduct.

Golf Buddy Trip To French Lick -- In 1916

The foursome likely had tee times at French Lick’s Tom Bendelow course, which was constructed in 1907. The more famous Donald Ross Course at French Lick was constructed a year later, in 1917. Today, the Bendelow course is known as the Valley Links. Located adjacent to the French Lick Springs Hotel, it now is a nine hole layout.

Golf Buddy Trip To French Lick -- In 1916
Los Angeles Herald, February 27, 1910

French Lick and West Baden likely were on Shafer’s radar because the resorts there were used as a spring training facility for the Cubs, White Sox, Cardinals, Pirates, Reds, and St. Louis Browns.

French Lick had been the site of a resort hotel since at least 1845. Waters from the springs there were said to aid in a variety of ailments. The Greenbrier, in White Sulfur Springs, West Virginia similarly began as a health resort associated with springs.

The West Baden Springs Hotel was built in 1855. In 1861, the Homestead Hotel opened its first casino. The area’s first golf course was built in 1987.

The article does not say where the foursome on the 1916 golf buddy trip to French Lick stayed, but the main attraction there was the West Baden Springs Hotel, which at the time boasted the largest free-spanning dome in the United States. Hailed as the “Eighth Wonder,” the Hotel featured a casino, live theater, bowling, movies, and even palm trees. In 1902, the hotel had two golf courses, as well as other outdoor activities, such as horseback riding. Mrs. GolfBlogger, an avid cyclist, would have appreciated the indoor, double-decked oval bicycling track, called a Velodrome.

Today, the French Lick Resort Casino Complex encompasses both the West Baden Springs Hotel and the French Lick Springs Hotel.  As it was in 1916, French Lick is regarded as a premier golf destination. The resort has three courses: The aforementioned Valley Links, the Donald Ross designed Hill Course, and the Pete Dye Golf Course At French Lick. I have not had the opportunity to visit French Lick, but from all accounts, it’s quite the place for both family and buddy golf trips.


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