Golfing in Paradise
Louisiana’s Top Courses
Gray Plantation Golf Course
Courtesy Gray Plantation golf course
Nestled cozily among the sugar cane fields and bayous of South Louisiana rests a golf course that was recently voted as Best in the State by Golfweek magazine for the second straight year. Like many golf courses in Louisiana, it is designed using the natural topography of the land and incorporating as many native features as possible. The Atchafalaya at Idlewild is my home course, even though it can be a real bear to play.
And so there I was, staring down the fairway of the imposing 536-yard 13th hole, basically a double dogleg — first left and then slightly to the right over water — with deceptive grass pot bunkers on the left and a large white sand bunker on the right. I must admit I was feeling pretty nervous, due to a contingent of players on the adjacent 18th fairway watching me tee off. I took a deep breath, approached my ball, gave a couple of good waggles just to get the feel for my swing, reared back, kept my eye on the ball and swung down as hard as I could. Whew! The swing was on plane, good contact was made, and I looked up to see the ball sailing smack down the middle of the fairway. I finally exhaled. It was a good drive. Now what was I going to do?
Louisiana has many wonderful courses around the state, truly a sportsman’s paradise; therefore, I believe it’s time to include golf as one of the many outdoor recreational activities that Louisiana is known for, in addition to hunting, fishing and various watersports. From beautiful daily-fee municipal courses to ultra-exclusive private clubs to sprawling casino-resort courses, Louisiana has a golf course for everyone’s budget and in every region of the state. Additionally, Louisiana has created what is known as the Audubon Trail, which is our state’s answer to the hugely successful Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail established in Alabama. The Audubon Trail is a series of courses dedicated to preserving the environment and promoting the heritage of the game of golf. There are 12 designated Audubon Trail courses existing throughout the state, each one with its own unique style.
This article is a collection of some of the best courses found throughout the state of Louisiana. I have separated the list into three sections: Audubon Trail courses, private courses, and casino-resort courses. There is no particular ranking (I’ll save that for the golf magazines, of which there are a plethora), but each course has won numerous awards and accolades from various golf publications such as Golfweek, Golf Digest and Golflink.com.
Audubon Trail Courses
Name: Atchafalaya at Idlewild
Sitting directly under the elevated Acadian-style clubhouse, the ninth and 18th holes share a common green, a unique feature that adds a nice twist to one of the longest courses in the state. The front nine of the course plays into the woods of the lower Atchafalaya delta with native wildlife sometimes making appearances. The back nine is basically a links-style course with slight elevation changes and hilly terrain. It was voted the No. 1 Best Course You Can Play by Golfweek magazine for the past two years.
Location: Patterson, St. Mary Parish Region: Cajun Country. Public or Private: Public Green Fees: $58 on weekdays, $68 on weekends Length: 7,533 yards Architect: Robert Van Hagge Web site: atchafalayagolf.com
Name: The Island
A links-style course in the heart of historic Plaquemine in Iberville Parish and just about a 15-minute drive from Baton Rouge, depending on the traffic, The Island offers a serene setting on an exquisite course. The Island offers both golf-front and riverfront lots.
Location: Plaquemine, Iberville Parish Region: Plantation Country Public or Private: Public Green Fees: $34 on weekdays except for Mondays (corporate event), $44 on weekends Length: 7,010 yards Architect: Mike Young Web site: theislandgolf.com
Name: TPC (Tournament Players Clubs) of Louisiana
Only 12 miles from the bustling city of New Orleans, the TPC of Louisiana, like all TPC courses, is owned and managed by the Professional Golfers’ Association Tour. Consequently, it is the host of the PGA Tour’s Zurich Classic, the only major PGA golf tournament in Louisiana.
Location: Avondale, Orleans Parish Region: Greater New Orleans Public or Private: Public Green Fees: $89 on weekdays, $99 on weekends Length: 7,520 yards Architect: Pete Dye Web site: tpc.com
Name: Carter Plantation
Ideally situated between Baton Rouge and New Orleans and built on land once owned by Thomas Freeman, the first black to own property in Livingston Parish, Carter Plantation is home to a golf experience set through three distinct landscapes: live oaks, cypress wetlands and upland pine forests.
Location: Springfield, Livingston Parish Region: Plantation Country Public or Private: Public Green Fees: $75 on weekdays, $95 on weekends Length: 7,000-plus yards Architect: David Toms Web site: carterplantation.com
Name: Audubon Park Golf Course
The only course in Louisiana that one could arrive at via streetcar, this is a quaint little course in the middle of the Big Easy. Sitting within Audubon Park and right next to the Audubon Zoo, the course is managed by the Audubon Nature Institute.
Location: New Orleans, Orleans Parish Region: Greater New Orleans Public or Private: Public Green Fees: $30 on weekdays, $40 on weekends Length: 4,220 yards (par 62) Architect: Dennis Griffiths Web site: auduboninstitute.org
Name: Copper Mill Golf Club
This beautiful course sitting north of Baton Rouge is designed in the links style with an uncommon hole layout. The course contains three par 3 holes, three par 4 holes, and three par 5 holes on both the front and back nines.
Location: Zachary, East Baton Rouge Parish Region: Plantation Country Public or Private: Public Green Fees: $50 on weekdays, $60.00 on weekends Length: 7,049 yards Architect: Max Maxwell and Nathan Crace Web site: coppermillgolf.com
Name: Gray Plantation Golf Course
Gray Plantation was named one of the 100 greatest public courses in the United States by Golf Digest for the past three years. It was also ranked No. 3 in the state of Louisiana.
Location: Lake Charles, Calcasieu Parish Region: Cajun Country Public or Private: Semiprivate Green Fees: $50 on weekdays, $65 on weekends Length: 7,233 yards Architect: William “Rocky” Roquemore Web site: graywoodllc.com
Name: Black Bear Golf Course
Black Bear Golf Course is located in Sportsman’s Paradise off of Interstate 20 between Monroe and the historic city of Vicksburg, Miss. The clubhouse, designed as a Teddy Roosevelt-themed hunting lodge, has the look of a large, well-constructed cabin, one that you might find in the mountains of Arkansas or Tennessee. The course is near Poverty Point State Park with its 3,000-acre man-made lake, which offers a variety of fishing and watersports opportunities.
Location: Delhi, Richland Parish Region: Sportsman’s Paradise Public or Private: Public Green Fees: $36 on weekdays, $46 on weekends Length: 7,400 yards Architect: Randy Russell Web site: blackbear-golf.com
Name: Squire Creek Country Club
This private course set back in a small town in North Louisiana was ranked the No. 1 course in Louisiana by Golf Digest. With absolutely gorgeous facilities that could rival any club in the country, Squire Creek is truly a golfer’s dream come true.
Location: Choudrant, Lincoln Parish Region: Sportsman Paradise Public or Private: Private Green Fees: N/A Length: 7,105 Architect: Tom Fazio Web site: squirecreek.com
Name: Money Hill
Money Hill was named after legends that claimed Jean Lafitte and his notorious Barataria pirates hid money in this location back in the early 1800s. There was even a major search for the alleged hidden treasure back in the 1930s. Built around a 200-acre spring-fed lake and sitting on the Northshore, only 30 minutes from New Orleans, Money Hill features a par 3 16th hole with a distinctive island green.
Location: Abita Springs, St. Tammany Region: Greater New Orleans Public or Private: Private Green Fees: N/A Length: 7,131 yards Architect: Ron Garl Web site: moneyhill.com
Name: Le Triomphe Golf and Country Club
This private course, only about 15 minutes from downtown Lafayette in the heart of Cajun Country, features an impressive European-style clubhouse, second-to-none practice facilities and a wide variety of membership packages. It has been the host of the Nationwide Louisiana Open since 1992.
Location: Broussard, Lafayette Parish Region: Cajun Country Public or Private: Private Green Fees: N/A Length: More than 7,000 feet from back tees Architect: Robert Trent Jones Web site: letriomphe.com
Name: Tamahka Trails Golf Club
Tamahka Trails, owned by the Tunica-Biloxi tribe, opened in 2000 as part of Paragon Casino Resort, which was the first land-based casino allowed in Louisiana. With a sprawling practice facility and affordable green fees, it is the perfect place to find some tranquility away from the cacophony caused by casino slots and tables games.
Location: Marksville, Avoyelles Parish Region: Crossroads Public or Private: Public Green Fees: $49 on weekdays, $59 on weekends Length: 7,019 yards Architect: Steven R. Smyers Web site: paragoncasinoresort.com
Name: Cypress Bend Golf Resort and Conference Center
As part of the Cypress Bend Resort in the exquisite Toledo Bend Lake — and also a member of the Audubon Trail — this golf resort and convention center offers both a hotel and golf suites for the golf vacation. The course features 10 holes along water and six shots over water. With ample fishing and outdoor activities, the location of the resort makes it a perfect getaway for golfers and nature-lovers.
Location: Many, Sabine Parish Region: Crossroads Public or Private: Semiprivate Green Fees: $55 on weekdays, $75 on weekends Length: 6,707 yards Architect: Dave Bennett Web site: cypressbend.com
Name: Koasati Pines at Coushatta
Koasati Pines is the home course of the Coushatta Casino Resort in Kinder. It is the longest golf course in the state at 7,617 yards, and if that is not enough of a challenge, it contains three holes with split fairways and water hazards wherever you looks. A secret hole behind the clubhouse that has an island green — a par 3, 137-yard 19th hole — is the perfect place to break a tie, make a bet or try your luck before heading back into the casino.
Location: Kinder, Allen Parish Region: Cajun Country Public or Private: Public Green Fees: $50 on weekdays, $65 on weekends Length: 7,617 yards Architect: Kevin Tucker Web site: koasatipines.com
When I arrived at my ball, it was resting in the middle of the 13th fairway, and I was looking at about a 220-yard approach shot over water. I am not a professional, and my range is not that long, so I had a choice to make. I could either “tin cup” it, take out my three wood and go for the green in two or lay up and then hit a nice little pitch for my third shot safely onto the green.
So what did I decide to do? Well, when you make the trip down to Patterson to play the Atchafalaya, you’ll find out the 13th hole is named HaHa Bay. It mocks one into making a decision. Ah, so many choices –– just like golf in Louisiana, a paradise of great courses.
– Kent J. Landry
Additional information by gulfcoastgolf.com.
Kent J. Landry is a freelance writer living in South Louisiana with his wife; two kids; and dog, Axl. He’s still trying to break 100.