French Lick Resort (Pete Dye Course)

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DaveHarnerDave Harner, the 2012 Indiana PGA Section Golf Professional of the Year and three-time Indiana PGA Section Merchandiser of the Year for Resort Facilities, is the PGA director of golf operations at the French Lick (Indiana) Resort.


trueblood-v2Deven Trueblood is the PGA head professional at French Lick (Indiana) Resort (Pete Dye Course).


There is no way that any of us, as business people, will supply added value items, such as arrival gifts, that are of greater value than the fee the guest is paying. And none of our guests really expect that from us. However, by putting some thought into the type of gift that not only enhances the experience, but also creates conversation, you move your facility up the list of potential places to play in the minds of all golfers.

At the Pete Dye Course at French Lick, we have adopted a concept for that course that is original and untried in our region. It is a high-end golf experience with a $350 price tag, plus caddie fee. The course is gated and very private, open only to resort guests. To enter the gate you must have a tee time. We wanted to find an arrival gift that would be unique to the area and that a guest would appreciate. We picked a small cigar company in Kentucky called Kentucky Gentleman Cigars and went to work. They did a custom cedar box (cedar is native to our area) and in the box we placed four of their premium cigars, four logoed shot glasses, a logoed cigar cutter, logo matches, and a bottle of Blanton’s Bourbon; a high-end, 101-proof Kentucky Bourbon. So far, the reaction to the gift is overwhelming and so in character with our region. We have even had some cigar magazines call us to get the scoop and run a feature on the concept!

Since our resort is in a remote area of southern Indiana, and the major portion of our drive-in business was from Louisville, Ky. (65 miles), Indianapolis, Ind. (100 miles), or Evansville, Ind. (85 miles), we found it difficult to attract those who will drive here to play golf on a regular basis. To combat this situation, we started promoting a 36-hole, all-day rate, that included a lunch coupon. Since we are a Resort, with Casino, the round of golf has grown into a one-day mini-vacation where the players can golf, eat, golf again, do some gaming and still be within driving distance of home. This promotion has gained our courses thousands of additional rounds per year, as well as food and beverage revenue. Our price was based on 18-hole rate, plus lunch and no charge for the second round.