Category: Louisiana

November 03, 2013

Ask Travelin' Joe: From Ragin' Cajuns to Mickey Mouse

Posted at 12:40 PM by Pete Madden

By JOE PASSOV, Golf Magazine Senior Editor

Gray Plantation
Gray Plantation, Credit: Aidan Bradley


Dear Joe: I'll be taking a trip to Lake Charles, La., to visit family. I plan on playing at least one day while there. What area courses would you recommend? -- Mike Haig, Chicago, Ill.

I've got two top choices for you in Cajun country, one of my favorite places to play in the USA. First, a value-favorite: Gray Plantation ($35-$59; 337-562-1663, is a handsome, well-treed track that features water, water everywhere. Bring an extra sleeve or two; you can lose ammo on 12 holes, including the tough par-3 sixth, which demands a shot over the Calcasieu Ship Channel to a peninsula green. If you want to roll the dice after rolling the rock, try Tom Fazio's Contraband Bayou at nearby L'Auberge Casino Resort ($39-$109; 337-395-7220, This 7,077-yard par 71 features superb Bermuda greens, Fazio's striking bunkers and eight lakes throughout the layout.

Bulle Rock
Bulle Rock, Credit: Evan Schiller


Hi Joe: I'll be in Annapolis for one day, flying into Baltimore, with time for a quick round. I prefer a quality layout with great conditioning. Where should I play? -- Ed Cadenas, via e-mail

Ed, cracking blue crabs is my first priority when I'm down Chesapeake way, with golf being a (very) close second. Bulle Rock ($79-$130; 888-285-5375, in Havre de Grace is my first choice. True, it's an hour north of the airport, but with a ranking of No. 41 on our 2012-'13 Top 100 Courses You Can Play list, it's worth the journey. Bulle is a true bully (and it's pronounced that way, too). This danger-laden Pete Dye stunner has hosted the LPGA Championship five times, with Annika Sorenstam, Se Ri Pak and Suzann Pettersen among those hoisting the trophy. Conditioning? It's kept in tournament shape all year round. If you prefer something closer to Baltimore, try Waverly Woods ($54-$84; 410-313-9182, an Arthur Hills course just a 20-minute drive from Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

Hi Joe: While my kids are at Disney World, I have time for some peace and quiet on the course. I've already played Grand Cypress, a great pick. What's next? -- Luis M. Rivera, via e-mail

I don't blame you for resisting the siren call of the Mouse -- there's plenty of golf to play. I agree with Tiger, who once called the greens at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club Orlando, Grande Lakes ($60-$180; 407-393-4900, some of the best he's ever putted. Although this Greg Norman design is runway wide and flat, it's also truly tranquil, offering just the serenity you're seeking. You might also consider Rees Jones's Waldorf Astoria Golf Club ($50-$170; 407-597-3780, Hewn from pristine woodlands, it's only about three miles from Disney and offers strategic resort golf at its best. Right at the park, consider Disney's Magnolia Course ($104-$165; 407-939-4653, Don't let the hokey, mouse-ear-shaped bunker fool you—for 40 years, this track was tough enough to be a PGA Tour stop. At 7,500 yards, it's hardly child's play.

Sedona Golf Resort
Sedona Golf Resort, Credit: Evan Schiller


Dear Joe: I'm planning a trip to Scottsdale this November, but lots of courses will be overseeding. Any way around that? -- Scott Gentry, Tulsa, Okla.

If they're overseeding, head north over the hills to Sedona. The town has quaint charms that dear old Scottsdale can't match, and at 4,500 feet of elevation, there's no need to overseed; the courses have cool-season grasses. Both Sedona Golf Resort ($69-$99; 928-284-9355, and Oakcreek ($79-$99; 928-284-1660, will dazzle you with red-rock landscapes. Seven Canyons ($100-$150; 928-203-2000, is beautiful, too, but it's only open to guests of Enchantment Resort.

Our traveling correspondent has been where you're going. Heading out of town on vacation? Business trip? Travelin' Joe can suggest the best places for you to tee it up. If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at

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January 09, 2012

Alabama versus LSU: What state wins the golf battle?

Posted at 1:24 PM by Joe Passov

We’ll leave the LSU-Alabama football game breakdown to our colleagues at Sports Illustrated, but here’s our take on which state wins the golf battle.

1. Marquee Golf Course

LSU: TPC Louisiana

Alabama: Shoal Creek

TPC Louisiana has never sniffed Golf Magazine’s Top 100, private or public. Shoal Creek is a gorgeous, early Jack Nicklaus design that twice played host to the PGA Championship.

Edge: Alabama

Nick Price hits a tee shot on No. 14 at Shoal Creek in Birmingham, Ala. [Stan Badz, PGA Tour]

2. Public-Access State Golf Trail

LSU: Audubon Golf Trail

Alabama: Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail

What elevates the Audubon Trail is its superb variety as well as its lack of crowds. From the ancient Audubon Park layout in the heart of New Orleans that’s been skillfully reworked into a par-62 spread to the beauty and brawn illuminated by such remote tracks as Atchafalaya at Idlewild and Tamahka Trails to a PGA Tour site such as the TPC Louisiana, there’s something for everybody. Unlike Alabama’s Robert Trent Jones Trail, however, there’s little to tie these individual properties together, except that they’re mostly flattish, value-oriented venues awash in both man-made and natural hazards. The Trent Jones Trail, on the other hand, remains the most successful golf trail of all, with 11 separate destinations, each no more than 30 minutes from the Interstate and each within a two-hour drive from another Trail course. What most RTJ Trail courses share are functional, semi-attractive cookie-cutter clubhouses, back-to-nature settings free of homes and roads, and courses laden with elevated tees and greens, making for attractive tee shots and difficult approaches. Finally, all of these courses are brutes—hilly, with lots of large tattered-edge bunkers, multiple water hazards and huge, multi-tiered greens. So while there’s a certain sameness to the shot demands at RTJ Trail courses, they deliver sufficient variety—and superior value.

Edge: Alabama

The fourth green on the Short Course at Cambrian Ridge, Greenville, Ala., [Michael Clemmer]

3. Tournament Pedigree

LSU: PGA Tour 1922-present, 1966 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur

Alabama: Multiple PGA, LPGA and Champions Tour events, as well as several USGA and PGA Championships

Both PGA Championships at Birmingham’s Shoal Creek were memorable, with Lee Trevino slipping by Gary Player in 1984 and the racial controversy in 1990. The senior set was enamored with their return there in 2011 for the Regions Tradition tournament. Louisiana, however, boasts a long and remarkable history of New Orleans Open events on the PGA Tour, with winners that include Byron Nelson in his record-setting 1945 season, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Seve Ballesteros and Lee Westwood. Most memorable are local favorite David Toms besting Phil Mickelson in 2001, Davis Love’s playoff win in 1995 to get him into the Masters, and David Frost holing a bunker shot at the 72nd to nip the snake-bit Greg Norman in 1990. In 2011, Bubba Watson denied Webb Simpson’s first win when a breeze and a baked-out green caused Simpson’s ball to waver at address, resulting in a penalty—and prompting a rules change for 2012.

Edge: Louisiana

Bubba Watson won the 2011 Zurich Classic at TPC Louisiana. [Hunter Martin/Getty Images]

4. Best Tour Player

LSU: David Toms

Alabama: Jerry Pate

Toms has enjoyed a long, stellar career, with 13 PGA Tour wins, including his dramatic 2001 PGA Championship triumph over Phil Mickelson. Most recently, Toms captured the 2011 Crowne Plaza Invitation at Colonial. He competed on four Presidents Cup teams and three Ryder Cup teams. Pate was brilliant early, with a win in the 1974 U.S. Amateur, then sealed the 1976 U.S. Open with an incredible 5-iron to three feet at the 72nd. Injuries cut his career short, but not before he took two unforgettable plunges into greenside lakes, at Memphis in 1981 to celebrate breaking a victory drought and again in 1982 at the Players, the first held at the new TPC Sawgrass Stadium course. Fittingly, both Toms’ and Pate’s greatest major moments occurred on the 18th hole at Atlanta Athletic Club.

Edge: Even

Jerry Pate celebrates his 1982 Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass. [Lawrence Levy Archive]

David Toms at the 2011 PGA Championship at the Atlanta Athletic Club. [Craig Jones/ALLSPORT]  

And the Winner Is…

Alabama wins the golf competition by a field goal.

This story originally appeared in the Golf Magazine Front9 App. To download the weekly app, visit the Apple iTunes store.

March 03, 2011

Ask Travelin' Joe: Links golf in the U.S., New Orleans and Fort Lauderdale

Posted at 12:55 PM by Joe Passov

If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at

Tpc Dear Joe,
A group of us is heading down to New Orleans for the first time. So far we have the TPC as a site. Any other recommendations for places to play?
Kevin C.
Rochester, N.Y.

I'm astonished at how many "New Orleans" questions come my way — and happy that folks are spending some coin in a place that deserves it. Aside from the Char-grilled Oysters at Drago's on the way into town from the airport, my other Big Easy favorites are Audubon Park ($30-$40; 504-212-5290,, a short but incredibly atmospheric layout that's accessible by streetcar, and the semi-private English Turn ($155; 504-391-8018,, a Jack Nicklaus creation that played host to the PGA Tour from 1989 through 2004, and again in 2006.

I've had several recommendations (though I haven't seen it myself) for La Tour Golf Club ($49-$69; 985-532-7111, in Matthews, a David Toms/Ken Morgan design that's 45 minutes from downtown. If the reports are true about a superb collection of par 3s, firm and fast conditions and hearty Cajun fare in the temporary clubhouse, La Tour would definitely qualify as a hidden gem.

Hey Joe,
I'm planning a golf trip for my dad and two brothers. We want to play some links courses in the U.S. but need some nightlife, and possibly a casino, nearby to keep our nights busy. Any suggestions?
Patrick Flanagan
Charleston, S.C.

Sorry to break it to you, but there's little authentic links golf in the U.S., let alone a combo of links and nightlife. The closest facsimile is Oregon's Bandon Dunes ($75-$275; 888-345-6008, bandondunesgolf) with its four firm, fast-running, wind-blown, oceanside layouts. I wouldn't call it library quiet at night — there is a pool table downstairs at the Bunker Bar — but you certainly won't mistake it for Vegas. Yes, the Mill Casino is 23 miles away (the casino will provide a free shuttle) in Coos Bay, but most find that after walking 36 holes and battling the elements, you're left with only enough energy to down a dinner, quaff a beverage and find your way back to your room.

Your hometown, Charleston, has wonderful seaside golf — if not true links — and terrific nightlife, so a stay at Kiawah might be a way to beat back gas prices and air fares. My only other suggestion: Fly to Vegas, play Royal Links ($125-$250; 888-427-6678,, with holes that pay homage to those found on British Open courses and after golf party to your heart's content.

Dear Joe,
I travel to Fort Lauderdale every March for an annual family vacation. For the last three years my brother-in-law and I saddle up for a day of golf and travel (within reason) to a course that we both decide we like. Spending money on the greens is not really an issue, we just want to play courses that challenge us and maybe have a little PGA history with them. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Gary M.
Boston, Mass.

You've probably played here, but for your criteria, it's worth mentioning Heron Bay ($85-$105; 954-796-2000, in Coral Springs, which played host to the PGA Tour's Honda Classic from 1996 to 2002, when it was part of the TPC network. Winners included Mark Calcavecchia, Vijay Singh, Stuart Appleby, Jesper Parnevik and Matt Kuchar, so as far as famous footsteps go, you're set. That said, I found it to be an exhausting sand-filled slog, with gigantic greens and even larger bunkers — everywhere. However, facilities and conditioning are invariably superb, so if you don't mind a workout with your sand wedge, you'll likely find Heron Bay to be a solid value.

Another affordable option nearby is Inverrary Country Club ($35-$70; 954-733-7550, in Lauderhill. Its recently renovated East course is a 1970 Robert Trent Jones Sr. design that played host to the Honda's forerunner, the Jackie Gleason Inverrary Classic, from 1972 to 1983. Lee Trevino, Tom Weiskopf, Johnny Miller and Hale Irwin were among the victors here. But there was no greater champion than Jack Nicklaus, who won back-to-back in '77-'78, the latter in one of the greatest finishes in Tour history, when he birdied the final five holes, including a chip-in, to nip Grier Jones by one. The course itself isn't hauntingly memorable, but delivers good bang for the buck.

(Photo: TPC Louisiana)

March 04, 2010

Ask Travelin' Joe: New Orleans, San Diego and South Florida

Posted at 12:15 PM by Joe Passov

If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at

Dear Joe,
I'm going to New Orleans for a bachelor party with 20 guys and am interested in good courses in the area. Any thoughts?

Mike Ryan
Via email

Don't scoff at a par-62 course: Audubon Park ($30-$40; 504-212-5290, is 4,200 yards of lagoons, moss-drenched oaks, mounds and bunkers. It's close to downtown, next to Tulane University, it's incredibly affordable and best of all — for your purposes — it takes just three hours to play, so you can get back to the Big Easy's other bachelor party attractions.

For a more upscale experience-and bragging rights back home, try the TPC Louisiana ($79-$169; 504-436-8721,, a long, if flattish Pete Dye design that hosts the PGA Tour's Zurich Classic. It's pricey in high season, at $169 from March 5-May 16, but the $89 Twilight rate on weekends will help.

Hey Joe,
It's cold here in Toronto, Ontario, but I'm heading to San Diego, specifically La Jolla, in March with my son and brother-in-law. We definitely want to play Torrey Pines North & South. Anything else you might suggest that's close by? P.S. My son and I are both 12 handicappers. My brother-in-law, well, that's a whole other story altogether!

"Freezing" Frank Valle
Toronto, Canada

Warm up with the Grand Golf Club at Grand Del Mar Resort ($195-$215, 858-314-1930,, a short drive north from La Jolla. The Tom Fazio design weaves in and out of coastal canyons. However, it's not cheap, and you need to stay there to play there.

More accessible, if equally steep, is Aviara ($215-$235, 760-603-6900,, a classy Arnold Palmer design 20 miles to the north in Carlsbad that bursts with flowers, water features and undulating greens.

A less costly alternative is the Crossings at Carlsbad ($90-$120; 760-444-1800, This 2006 Greg Nash design suffers from a funky routing with some odd stops and starts, but also boasts a fistful of drama-filled holes, bridges that span environmental areas and Pacific Ocean views.

Dear Joe,
A buddy and I would like to plan a golf trip to South Florida in late March. We are looking at Tampa/St. Pete or Naples. Can you recommend either location vs. the other, plus courses and hotels?

Tim Herlehy
Burlington, Mass.

Naples is great, but more so if you have private club access. You'll have more options in the Tampa/St. Pete area. For the region's best golf, go with Innisbrook Resort (727-942-2000, in Palm Harbor. Home to the PGA Tour's Transitions event, Innisbrook leads off with the Copperhead course, a layout Ernie Els has called "the best we play in Florida." Its No. 2, the Island, is nearly as strong. It's a watery track dotted with cypress trees that played host to the 1990 NCAA Championship, won by Phil Mickelson. Rack rates start at more than $200 for golf, but most at Innisbrook opt for one of five golf packages that reduce the rates considerably.

The best value in the region — and maybe in all of Florida — is Cheval Golf & Country Club ($35-$45; 813-948-2114,, a private course in Lutz, just north of Tampa that offers outside play for the time being. There's real estate, but it doesn't really intrude, plus water on 17 holes and, since it's a Steve Smyers design, plenty of sand from start to finish.

October 24, 2009

Ask Travelin Joe: Louisiana's Audubon Golf Trail and Las Vegas

Posted at 3:46 PM by Joe Passov

If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at

Hi Joe,
We've played part of the RTJ Golf Trail in Alabama, and loved it. Which courses would you recommend from the Audubon Golf Trail in Louisiana?

Mark Skipper,
Cedar Park, Texas

Make Gray Plantation ($50-$65; 337-562-1663, in Lake Charles your first stop. The Rocky Roquemore layout is a top value, especially during the week, when you can play this well-bunkered test that skirts the Calcasieu River for $50.

Near the heart of the city is the short but affordable Audubon Park Golf Course ($30-$40; 504-861-2537,, a par-62 track.

Fifteen minutes from downtown is the TPC Louisiana ($110-$169; 866-NOLA-TPC,, a flat, 7,500-yard Pete Dye design that hosts a PGA Tour event, but at twilight can be played for less than $100.

Dear Joe,
I'm going to Vegas next month and would like to play an affordable course within a short cab drive of the Strip. What do you think is the best bargain in Sin City?

Chad Hartman,
via e-mail

Thanks to the stagnant economy and a dearth of giddy gamblers, Las Vegas is awash with ever-changing golf deals right now. (See, the recession isn't all bad!) Of the fistful of solid second-tier courses, I think The Legacy Golf Club ($75-$119; 702-897-2187, in Henderson meets your criteria. This burly but playable 7,233-yard, par-72 Arthur Hills design is lined with houses, but mountain and desert vistas, quality service and facilities and a memorable stretch of holes (Nos. 10-13) are highlights. Plus, it's only a 15- to 25-minute ride from the Strip, and even closer to the airport.

Ask Travelin' Joe

Our traveling correspondent has been where you're going. Heading out of town on vacation? Business trip? Travelin' Joe can suggest the best places for you to tee it up. If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at


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