Take a Break from Winter in Louisiana
Why the Bayou State Should Be Your Next Golf Trip
By Jim Grosjean
Even though we've had a temperate winter so far in the Midwest, it hasn't been conducive for golf. So if you want to break out of the winter doldrums, your only choice is to travel south. Arizona and Florida are obvious choices but be warned that green fees at many top-rated courses can tip the scales above $300.00. But a winter trip that can include warm weather, great golf, unique cuisine, world class saltwater and freshwater fishing, exciting gaming venues, and music from many distinct cultures, is waiting for your group by heading to Louisiana.
On a first trip to Louisiana, most people will gravitate to the state's largest and most popular city, New Orleans. The Golf Club at Audubon Park is a great place to start your visit. Although golf has been played on these grounds since 1898, Dennis Griffiths redesigned the course in 2001 to bring it up to modern standards. You wouldn't think that a par-62, 4220-yard course with twelve par-three holes would be much of a challenge, but the close-in lakes and 100-year-old live oak trees provide some thrills.
Speaking of thrills, Audubon Park is just twenty minutes from the famed French Quarter, where bar hopping, listening to live music, and people watching are fun evening diversions. Be sure to try one of the cocktails invented in New Orleans such as the Hurricane, the Ramos Gin Fizz, the Sazerac, the Pimm's Cup or the Brandy Milk Punch. The nearby Marriott Warehouse Arts District Hotel is an upscale property with very reasonable prices and is just a short walk to Harrah's Casino and the French Quarter. Renowned restaurants dot the Quarter and the Palace Café which offers modern Creole dishes is always excellent. Visit www.NewOrleans.com for more information.
If you'd like to play where the pros play, TPC Louisiana is 15 minutes from downtown New Orleans in Avondale. Home of the Zurich Classic since 2005, Pete Dye's TPC offers immaculate conditions with fast greens, 5 lakes, over 100 bunkers and waste areas to draw your attention. With tee options from 5,121 yards up to a stout 7,425 yards, you should be able to find your comfort zone. Golf Digest named TPC Louisiana "best new upscale golf course" upon its opening in 2004 and it has kept up those high standards throughout its lifetime.
While it's understandable that you might want to stay in the New Orleans area for the golf, the food, and the entertainment, the rest of Louisiana has plenty to offer as well. West of NOLA near the small town of Patterson is the Atchafalaya Golf Club at Idlewild. You have now arrived in Cajun Country. Live oak trees drooping with Spanish moss and cypress "knees" doubling as 150-yard markers could only be found in this lowland basin near the Atchafalaya River and the Gulf of Mexico. Famed architects Von Hagge, Smelek and Baril created the course in 2006 and by 2013 it was named a best course in the state by Golf Digest. Being a wetlands course, streams and lakes are prevalent. The area is known for its fertile land and extensive wildlife, including black bear and bald eagles. It's rare to find such an immaculate course off the beaten path. Big hitters will be challenged at 7,533 yards, but even juniors can play here with tees at 3,893 yards. Don't miss the highly- rated clubhouse restaurant with veranda views overlooking the shared 9th and 18th green.
Home base for your trip to the Cajun Coast should be Morgan City. I recommend trying to make time to visit the Rig Museum there. It's the only authentic offshore drilling rig open to the public in the world. Now anchored just off the shore of the Atchafalaya River, the rig known as Mr. Charlie was a working oil rig from 1954 until 1986. Besides functioning as an educational tour facility, training for new oil rig workers is provided here. It's a one-of-a-kind experience. At nearby Doiron's Landing the fishermen in your group can book a charter with a bona fide Bass Pro champion. You can find charters galore in any of the southern parishes of Louisiana and choose inland fishing for largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, etc. or fish the Gulf of Mexico for redfish, tuna, flounder and more at www.CajunCoast.com<./a>.
At the Farm d'Allie Golf Club near Lafayette you'll have the opportunity to play on a beautiful course that is beginning to blossom into something special. Designed by Jeff Blume, the course sits on land that was once part of the Mississippi Riverbed. Because of its previous incarnation as a farm, the land is quite fertile so golf turf and grasses flourish. Water hazards abound here and there are a few forced carries over them. The 18th hole is spectacular with a 90-degree dogleg and a lake running down the left side from tee to green. There are plenty of lodging options near Lafayette's quaint downtown and the Cajun culinary experiences are numerous. The Bon Temps Café is a standout choice, but you can find everything you need to plan a visit at www.LafayetteTravel.com.
Lake Charles is known as Louisiana's Playground and it's easy to see why. Next door neighbors the Golden Nugget and L'Auberge Casino Resort are massive, luxury properties that rival casino resorts anywhere. The L'Auberge offers everything a vacationer might want. Chef Lyle Broussard is the star of the Barstool Sportsbook Restaurant where he serves up Louisiana favorites but there are many other options from casual to fine dining. The Country Club at the Golden Nugget was the home of last year's Lake Charles Championship on the Korn Ferry Tour. It is long and wind-swept, with views of the Calcasieu River and Prien Lake. The course lost many trees due to the devastation caused by Hurricane Laura in 2020 and there is now a much more open feel to it than in years past. Laura's damage was widespread throughout Lake Charles and even today there are still blue tarps covering some roofs and in fact, repairs to the dome of the L'Auberge Hotel are only now complete. Tom Fazio's Contraband Bayou, the course at L'Auberge, also suffered the loss of trees, but it is still a great challenge and quite an interesting layout. Even though the two courses are neighbors, they are distinctly different and worthy of your time.
Hurricanes and covid had quite an effect on the opening of Mallard Golf Club in Lake Charles. However, the donated property has become an amazing track. Jeff Blume has built a course with 18 distinctive holes. He added enough interest through mounding, raised greens, and lakes and bunkers in all the right places to transform a flat piece of property with no trees into a golf playground that's a fun challenge to all golfers. There are more golf courses, more great restaurants, and more activities to keep you busy in Lake Charles. For more information, head to www.VisitLakeCharles.org.
If you would prefer to stay close to a city, but on a smaller scale than New Orleans, Baton Rouge would be an excellent choice. The capital city sits alongside the Mississippi River and is home to Louisiana State University. Stay at the beautiful L'Auberge Casino & Hotel for well-appointed rooms, casino action and entertainment, and diverse cuisine. The Tin Roof Brewery and Oxbow Rum Distillery distinguish themselves as artisans who make the finest beers and rum using only home-grown ingredients. Golfers will certainly enjoy a round at Santa Maria Golf Course, a standout muny designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. You will need to be very attentive to the 18 lakes and two natural waterways, as well as housing which is dissected by the course. The Island Golf Course in nearby Plaquemine is another standout public facility. Most of the dog legs here are left to right which would seem to favor slicers but beware of the ever-present lakes and streams that line most fairways. For more highlights and information on Baton Rouge, visit
The best place to start planning a trip to Louisiana is by visiting www.LouisianaGolfTrails.com. There you can find all the information about accommodations, restaurants, golf, and tours that you will need. They can put together the golf trip of your dreams: golf and gaming, fishing, culinary, music, craft beer, distilleries and more. Whatever you choose, you won't be disappointed.
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Revised: 01/29/2023 - Article Viewed 217 Times
About: Jim Grosjean
Travel Editor, Senior Staff Writer at Golf Talk America
Contact Jim Grosjean:
Golf Talk America - Editor