By Claire Byun
City Park’s newest golf course includes a host of brand new designs, greens and features, while incorporating a few features from the two courses destroyed by Katrina.
Bayou Oaks South, which opens to the public April 21, plays in a returning 9-hole routing that runs south toward Harrison Avenue, then returning north to the clubhouse. The back 9 plays along the routing that used to define the back 9 of City Park West golf course, which was severely damaged in the hurricane.
Twelve holes include natural bayous, just like the historic courses, and 100-year-old oak trees line each hole around the 72-par course.
“This is just such a super exciting time for the park,” Bob Becker, City Park CEO, said Tuesday at a course preview.
Park officials had planned two golf courses after Katrina, when the former East and West course were destroyed. The North Course, which incorporates some of the former courses, opened in 2009 but park officials hit a few roadblocks while developing the newest course.
The South Course will be managed by the Bayou District Foundation, which oversees the North Course in the park as well. Previously, Bayou District Foundation redeveloped the St. Bernard Public Housing Development to create Columbia Parc in 2010.
Gerry Barousse, chairman of the Bayou District Foundation, said the course’s revenue will expand the foundation’s reach and improve the surrounding community. Though City Park officials have fought through federal lawsuits, protests and trespassers during construction, Barousse said the finished product is worth a second look.
“We think New Orleans is going to be surprised by the quality of golf in the park,” he said.
Bayou Oaks was designed by expert course-designer Rees Jones with input from several consultants. The first hole, a par 4, doglegs around a large set of oak trees and sits against a long stretch of water. The second hole requires a shot over a lagoon and involves a deep bunker that protects the front portion of the green.
J.T. Hannan, director of public and governmental affairs, led media on a tour of the course Tuesday and said the Bayou Oaks retained old features of the former courses. Many holes have several sets of tees so everyone, no matter skill level, can play.
“The idea is to make it as fun and playable as possible, so you come back,” Hannan said.
The third hole, a par 5, “is one of the most scenic holes” of the course, Hannan said. Golfers are required to avoid the bayou and oaks on the right, while those going for the small green will have to contend with three of the largest oaks on the course.
The sixth hole is the shortest of three successive par 4s but demands a pinpoint approach to a green protected by bunkers. The ninth hole – the longest one of the course – features nearly two dozen oak trees lining the fairway. Golfers have to navigate a “slight” double dogleg, but could successfully be managed in just three shots.
Hole 11 offers “unique strategic value and scoring opportunity” in a par 5, and golfers must navigate large oaks on either side of the hole. Once in the fairway, ambitious players can go for the green in two shots by hitting between the bayou and a massive oak tree that bisects the fairway about 100 yards short of the green.
The 12th hole is an homage to the par 4 17th hole at Eat Lake Golf Club. The greenway features the Marconi bayou running along the entire left side of the hole, with small fairway bunkers and multiple recovery areas.
Hole 16 offers golfers a drivable, risk/reward hole. Players can drive the green with a carry over the lagoon, or attempt an accurate tee shot in order to avoid two strategically placed bunkers. Hole 18 is a long par 5 that may tempt some golfers to go for two shots. The same trees that threaten the left side of hole 9 influence play on the right side of hole 18. The green complex is slightly elevated with an open entrance, and deep bunkers flank both sides of the tiered putting surface.
“For every hole there’s a different set of tees, because this is for everyone,” Hannan said.
The course’s clubhouse wasn’t finished Tuesday but officials said it should be good to go by the grand opening. A temporary cart storage tent has been erected, and new carts should arrive by April 21 as well, Hannan said.
The $26 million course was paid for with about $9.9 million from the state, $7.1 million from FEMA and $8.9 million from the Bayou District Foundation.
Out of state residents can book a tee time 90 days in advance. Louisiana residents may book a tee time 7 days in advance.
Fees at the course will range from $59 to $99 a round, including a golf cart and a bucket of balls for the driving range.
For more information, or to book a tee time, visit City Park’s golf website.