While I was in New Orleans for the reopening of TPC Louisiana following a $2 million renovation I received this Twitter question:
When I was in a Lyft from the Louis Armstrong Airport to Audubon Park Golf Course, the driver turned out to be an avid golfer who'd played all over the world from Ireland to Pebble Beach. I asked him if he appreciated Audubon Park as much as I do.
"No, I've never played it. I don't like those kinds of courses."
It floored me. I wanted to leave him a one-star rating on the spot. But it's another reminder that despite their recent uptick in popularity, not everyone appreciates short courses.
I love exploring cities and especially seeing how park space brings neighborhoods to life. Without question, NOLA's Uptown district wouldn't be what it is without Frederick Law Olmsted's park plan and the stewardship of the Audubon Institute. The park's golf course, encircled by a paved jogging path, occupies 81 of a total 350 acres also home to a zoo, wildlife areas and many other areas to hang out under marvelous live oaks. When it comes to golf existing in harmony with its urban surroundings I can't think of a better example in the country.
It's a short course but there are 4-6 driver holes and your mid-irons will get a workout. It is not an easy loop by any stretch and the greens can be tough to hit. On a breezy afternoon I only hit four of them. I would say if you want an authentic Crescent City golf experience, pick up the St. Charles street car on Canal St., get off at Audubon Park and walk the path around to the clubhouse. A round here during the week should take you less than three hours. And if you have time, zip up a few more stops west on the street car to Oak St. and see if you can get a seat at Jacques Imo's.
If I haven't sold you on Audubon and you would prefer to play a regulation course then yes, TPC is Position A. It is well outside the city in Avondale and the best championship-caliber course in town. I think it is underrated given Pete Dye was essentially given near-featureless, below-sea-level wetlands to build on. The environment is pretty neat with no housing, cool trees and lots of gators. It's also very walkable. I especially enjoyed the numerous short par 4s, short grass run-off areas around the greens and risk-reward par 5s. There is a nice amount of strategy and drama off the tee.
A few years ago I did a data-dive on TPC Louisiana vs. English Turn, the Jack Nicklaus design on the West Bank that was the previous host of the city's PGA Tour stop. English Turn's ratings were and still remain a little better but that's likely because its green fees are typically a shade lower (English Turn even made our US Top 50 in 2018, so golfers are finding value there). Louisiana Local Golf Advisor TwilDog1 also commented that he prefers English Turn.
TPC's non-resident peak rate can push $200, which is steep. But dynamic pricing during the weekday should hopefully cut that down and make it a better value.
Your final option if you want to stay closer to the city is the South Course at Bayou Oaks in City Park. It's a premium muni experience but while designed by Rees Jones, it's not like Torrey Pines or Bethpage, instead it's pretty forgiving with wide playing corridors and much less tactical than the Dye and Nicklaus tests.
My Twitter followers probably know by now that I am very high on New Orleans as a place to visit. While the golf is relatively unheralded I think there are just enough distinctive options to warrant a play. And considering you will feast and imbibe while in town, getting in an 18-hole walk or two is a wise idea.