When Dave Finn (our Canadian Correspondent) thinks of Louisiana, the first place that springs to mind is New Orleans. He thinks of Bourbon Street, balconies and beads. He can taste the gumbo and beignets served with chicory coffee. He can hear the jazz notes floating in the air, and the beat of feet tapping away to a Zydeco tune, but when it comes to golf, that’s only the beginning of the adventure.
Dave continues the story:
“Imagine sixteen of the state’s top golf courses stretching from New Orleans to the Arkansas, Texas and Mississippi borders. Imagine yourself following a path that will let you explore Northern Louisiana, a Sportsman’s paradise, Cajun Country, the Plantation Region and the Big Easy. Imagine challenging yourself on courses designed by legendary golf greats such as Pete Dye, Arnold Palmer, Hal Sutton, David Toms and Robert Trent Jones.
Imagine yourself following the Audubon Golf Trail as it weaves its way from The Big Easy to Baton Rouge and Monroe through bayous and wetlands, live oaks, cypress groves, and rolling hills.”
Dave followed the Audubon Golf Trail in 2017, beginning his journey at Audubon Park Golf Course. But he saved the best for last, and was thrilled to play in the 2017 Zurich Classic Pro-Am at TPC Louisiana, paired with seven-time European Tour winner Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño. To continue Dave’s story, scroll down this page to read his review.
The 18-hole layout at TPC Louisiana has hosted the Zurich Classic event on the PGA Tour since 2005 where Pete Dye’s stadium course design allows spectators to get up close and personal to the competing professionals.
Measuring an eye-watering 7,425 yards from the tips, many notable champions have lifted the Zurich Classic title in Avondale, including Bubba Watson (2011) and Justin Rose (2015). But in 2017 a new team strokeplay format came into being, featuring foursomes during the first and third rounds and four-ball during the second and fourth rounds. Jonas Blixt and Cameron Smith won the inaugural 2017 team event, beating Scott Brown and Kevin Kisner in a playoff.
After scheduling a business trip which forced me to fly into New Orleans with an afternoon arrival in late May, my thoughts immediately turned to finding a golf course to play after I touched down. Not only was TPC Louisiana one of the closest public courses to Louis Armstrong International Airport, it was very highly ranked, so it was an easy decision. Although I had never watched the Zurich Classic on television, I figured I would be very interested in doing so in the future after playing the host course.
I arrived in a rush from the airport and proceeded to make a mess of the front nine; between the heavy amount of caffeine I drank, the adrenaline from rushing to the course, and the fact that I was playing with my old driver, I struggled to keep the ball in play off the tee. It was a hot afternoon with thunderstorms in the area, so the course was empty, and by the time I completed a very ugly first eighteen, there was still an hour or so of daylight left so I decided to play a few more holes. A few more holes turned into completing the back nine again despite a brief downpour, which was great since most of my favorite holes were on that side.
My appreciation for the subtleties of this Pete Dye design is substantial. This piece of land is about as flat and uninspiring as it gets, but Dye created some marvelous holes. Massive waste areas, nasty pot bunkers, and wild green complexes abound. The best holes include #8, a devlish short par four that tempts the player to attack the green with the prevailing wind when the prudent play is to lay back, #11, a reachable par five with a strategically placed tree roughly 100 yards short of the green, #13, another wild short par four with options galore, #16, a medium length par four with the typical Dye misdirection leading to a difficult approach, and #18, a classic long par five finisher along a lake with stadium mounds galore. Dye doesn’t typically finish his courses with a par five – it’s usually a long par four – so it’s a refreshing change from the template.
Having played nearly 20 different Pete Dye layouts, I have to rank this one as one of my favorites given how unique it was. It’s well worth playing if you’re in the New Orleans area.
Played May 29, 2018
Imagine the thrill of playing in the Zurich Classic Pro-Am.
When we pulled up to the stately clubhouse at TPC Louisiana, I realized I was about to do what most golf fans only dream of doing. You see, for the first time ever, I would be playing in a PGA Tour event. Truly, I was so taken in by the entire scene that all I could think to do was snap pictures. Before I knew it, it was time to find our teams and at this point, I think I was honestly vibrating. Let’s face it, playing a Dye course is challenging in its own right, but playing with a pro ups the ante.
As I slipped ‘behind the ropes’, I realized how privileged I was to have this chance to get a taste of tournament life, something you can’t really witness from the gallery or appreciate watching the big screen. I was out of my comfort zone but excited at the same time. Fortunately, we were paired with Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, a seven-time European champion who was not only a great golfer but also a real gentleman. From the moment we stepped onto the first tee to pose for our individual pictures with him, he put us at ease. The best advice he gave us was to not focus on our scorecards but simply enjoy our day and I did! The only way I can describe how I felt when we finished our round was this was an experience of a lifetime!
Pete Dye was given the task to design a course worthy of a tour event, on 250 acres of wetlands that border the Mississippi River delta. What transpired in 2005 was a stadium layout that consistently ranks in the best golf courses you can play in America.
Even though the terrain is relatively flat, there over 100 bunkers and five ponds to contend with. The fairways are framed by tall stands of cypress and oak trees and the enormous waste bunkers will definitely catch your attention.
As a proud member of the Audubon Golf Trail, TPC Lousiana is dedicated to using indigenous vegetation and responsible management to protect the natural environment.
There are many signature holes here but my favourite stretch would be 15 through 18. The finishing hole here maybe one of the stongest on the tour. Two giant waste bunkers and a large pond protects the entire right side on this dog-leg right par-5. But there are eight more sand bunkers to avoid in order reach this peninsula green unscathed.
This semi-private course offers tee-times and packages for the general public. Golf where the pros play and I’ll guarantee you’ll see a gator or two!
Dave Finn is our Canadian Correspondent. To read more about golf in Lousiana visit his website at: http://golftravelandleisure.com/category/united-st...