Monday, April 9, 2018

New Orleans Trip Review

Sometimes in life you end up taking a journey that you never planned on taking.  That was the case for me recently as I took a trip to New Orleans over Easter weekend.  I had never really planned on visiting New Orleans in my life but my family decided to do a big family trip to New Orleans so my wife and I organized a golf trip around our time in New Orleans.

Our first stop on the trip was Kiva Dunes in Gulf Shores, Alabama.  Kiva Dunes is a Jerry Pate design and was the original high-end destination public course in Alabama.  I was very impressed by how Pate managed to build a course that plays big yet is on a very small piece of property.  Several holes are tightly routed right next to each other but you don't notice it as much because of the use of trees and angles.  There is more than enough room off the tee and that is also impressive because of the small site.
3rd Hole

7th Hole
18th Hole
Our second stop on day one was a course just down the road from Kiva Dunes, Peninsula Golf & Racquet Club.  Peninsula is a 27 hole course designed by Earl Stone.  I played the Lakes nine at Peninsula and while I enjoyed it, I did encounter a very strange second hole which I will break down in pictures below:

The second hole is a 414 yard dogleg left but as you can see from the picture below they have put a large tree on the right side that blocks out the entire right side of the fairway.  As somebody that plays a large pull-draw I was a little flabbergasted by this.  I certainly understand that it's always okay to ask somebody to hit a fade off the tee, especially when they are playing the back tees, but something about not allowing somebody to play a draw on a dogleg left just bothered me, especially when you see what happens if you hit a straight shot down the left side.
Tee shot on 2nd Hole with tree blocking the right side of the fairway
 The picture below shows your reward for hitting a straight shot down the left side of the fairway.  You have a shorter shot into the green, but you now have to hit the ball over a tree.  The combination of the tree blocking the right side off the tee and the tree in the fairway make this one of the more unique holes I have ever played.
View from the left side of the fairway on the 2nd Hole
Day two of the trip began with a short hour drive from Mobile to The Bridges Golf Club at Hollywood Casino.  The Bridges is an Arnold Palmer design in Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi.  The reason for the name becomes obvious very quickly as there are miles of cart bridges on this course.  The site was obviously very severe and they needed the bridges to transport people to dry areas of the property between the swamps.  It is an achievement that they managed to build a course on a site like this.
4th Hole

16th Hole

17th Hole
After golf at The Bridges we made the hour drive to New Orleans.  My wife had visited New Orleans many years ago but this was my first trip to the Crescent City.  New Orleans is definitely one of the most unique cities on the planet.  If you enjoy alcohol, partying and crowds this is your type of city.  The thing I enjoyed the most was going to the world famous Cafe Du Monde at 6 am for beignets.
Cafe Du Monde
 We also visited the World War II Museum which is absolutely the most comprehensive and impressive museum I have ever seen.  They do an amazing job of taking you through every part of the war.
WWII Planes at the World War II Museum
My favorite picture my father took while walking around New Orleans
After a very interesting Easter Sunday in New Orleans I headed to the newly renovated Bayou Oaks at City Park South course on Monday morning.  The South is a Rees Jones creation.  They took 36 holes of the old City Park facility and turned it into an 18 hole Rees Jones course.  The course is your standard Rees Jones course with his signature bunkering and very pleasant golf holes.
2nd Hole

8th Hole

11th Hole
After my early morning round at Bayou Oaks my family and I did a swamp tour.  The swamp tour was more fun than I thought it would be.  Our guide was very knowledgeable about all the animals and getting up close with the alligators was a scary but enjoyable experience.

Up close with an Alligator
Really up close with an Alligator

Holding a baby Alligator
When we returned from the swamp tour, my wife and I made the six mile drive from our hotel to Audubon Park Golf Course.  Audubon Park is a community executive course in the very southern part of New Orleans.  Audubon is a par 62.  Each nine has six par 3's, two par 4's, and one par 5.  I love courses like Audubon because they bring people to the game of golf.  We need more courses like Audubon that are fun to play and not intimidating for those who are new to the game.
2nd Hole

4th Hole
18th Hole
Our final day of golf on the trip began with the number one ranked course in the state of Louisiana, The Country Club of Louisiana in Baton Rouge.  This course is a Jack Nicklaus signature design and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it.  The course was much more playable than a typical Nicklaus design.  I found out after the round they lost about 1200 trees during Katrina and there was a master plan about to be implemented that would put the trees back.  I really wish they wouldn't do that.  The course has plenty of challenge but is also very playable with lots of terrific angles that would be ruined by the tree re-planting.
3rd Hole

6th Hole

15th Hole

16th Hole
The second course on our final day was my wife's first Raynor design, Metairie Country Club in Metairie, Louisiana.  I've now played 26 courses designed by Seth Raynor.  I enjoy seeing the Raynor template holes on different sites.  Metairie is one of those courses that fall into the "good bones" category where most of the original design is gone but you can still see the traces of it.  I was told the club has talked to Jim Urbina, an expert on Raynor restoration, about doing a restoration.  I really hope it happens.
5th Hole

10th Hole

"Short" 17th Hole


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