Review: Audubon Park Golf Course

Course Name: Audubon Park Golf Course

Designer: Unknown (1898), Denis Griffiths (Redesign, 2002)

Location: New Orleans, Louisiana

History: Running from the banks of the Mississippi River to luxurious St. Charles Avenue in Uptown New Orleans, Audubon Park is a historical park with many attractions. In 1884, the World Fair was hosted on the property and a plaque commemorating the event can still be found near the 14th tee. In 1898, a golf course opened, making Audubon Park one of the oldest courses in all of the South. In 2002, the course was completely renovated by Denis Griffiths. This move was contentious, as many believed that the course would take up too much land and disrupt wildlife. Despite these objections, Audubon has become one of the finest short courses in the Southeast, and is certified as a Signature Sanctuary for its commitment to the environment.

Conditions: 7/10, Audubon Park is usually in great shape. These Tif-eagle greens roll true and fast and the fairways and tee boxes are usually in great shape. The only complaint I have about Audubon is the fact that it doesn’t drain particularly well, with frequent rainstorms leaving soggy fairways and water-filled bunkers.

Value: 7/10, Audubon used to be way overpriced and only offer a flat 18 hole rate, but recent twilight and 9 hole rates have made this course much more affordable. Residents of Louisiana receive a discount as well.

Scorecard:

Tee             Par         Yardage         Rating           Slope

Gold          62           4220                61.2               102

Blue          62           3776                60.0               99

White       62           3341                59.0               95

Best Score: 68 (Gold Tees), 9/3/2013 by myself

Front 9 Best: 34 (Gold Tees), 9/3/2013 by myself and 4/23/2016 with Mike K.

Back 9 Best: 32 (Gold Tees), 8/27/2013 by myself

Hole Descriptions: Audubon Park contains twelve par 3’s, four par 4’s and two par 5’s snaking around a walking path and several lagoons in picturesque Uptown New Orleans. Water comes into play on many holes, including the first five.

The opening hole is a short, well-bunkered 323 yard par 4 with water for the first 225 yards on the left collecting any snap hooks. There are multiple layers of bunkers directly in line with this green, but the right side is much more open than it appears on the tee. This large, elevated green is shared with the 16th hole and guarded by water long.

IMG_1459
Teeing off on the first hole.

The 2nd hole is a strong 148 yard par 3 featuring a large, undulating green protected by bunkers on its four corners, and water left and long. Balls can carom off the sides of this elevated green into the water. Playing 227 yards from the Gold Tees, the 3rd hole is a formidable challenge. There is water short left, but the major difficulty here is due to the fact that this diagonal, skinny green is difficult to hit. Bunkers short right are popular destinations, especially with a difficult back right pin. At only 129 yards, the 4th hole is one of the most intimidating on the course, requiring a carry over water the entire way to this back-to-front green that seems to rise out of a lagoon. Water also lines the left side of this green and any ball with lefthand spin is in danger of rolling into the water. A deep, wide bunker protects short of this green.

The 292 yard 5th hole is a reachable par 4 with water all along the right side. Three bunkers in the middle of this hole about 210 yards off the tee force the player to decide whether to lay-up short with iron or try to bomb it on the green with driver. After the uphill 167 yard 6th hole, the 7th is one of the weaker holes on the course and one that exemplifies one of the biggest problems I have with Audubon Park – the fact that they ran out of room. Is 4220 yards of cramped 18 holes really better than a strong 3500 yard 9 hole regulation course? Playing only 127 yards, this awkward hole features a small green guarded by six small bunkers. My friend made a hole-in-one here, but I can’t help but feel this is a weak hole, especially from the shorter tees.

The 187 yard 8th hole is another strong par 3 with a narrow back-to-front green on a pedestal. Three deep bunkers guard short right while a steep embankment to hardpan drops off the left side of the green. The best hole on the front side is clearly the finishing hole – a reachable dogleg right 462 yard par 5. Water lines the entire right hand side, but going further right makes this green very accessible in two, tempting the player off the tee. My only eagle ever in Louisiana came on this hole, making it even more special in my mind.

The back 9 commences with the most difficult par 4 on the course, a 360 yarder featuring an intimidating drive. A drive of about 190 yards is required to carry water, while any ball to the right will be lost in a bird sanctuary. The left side is safe, but requires a much longer carry over the water. The 137 yard 11th hole is another throwaway, semi-blind short par 3 with a large green. While I’m not a huge fan of the 11th, the 12th is one of the best par threes on the course. Playing 195 yards, this fantastic hole has an extremely narrow green guarded by two bunkers short and a steep embankment on both sides. You’ll likely lose your ball if you miss it right, and balls lost left will have a difficult uphill pitch to this elevated green. The 13th is another short par 3 at 148 yards featuring a large green guarded by two bunkers short. A bunker in the middle of the fairway shouldn’t be in play but appears much closer to the green than it actually is, adding another wrinkle of difficulty. At only 282 yards, the 14th is a tight par 4 that features a well-bunkered fairway. Bunkers are found 150 yards in the middle of the fairway, 200 yards on the right, and 240 yards on both the left and right. This hole is certainly reachable from the tee, but four deep bunkers in front of this green make this a difficult feat.

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Teeshot on the par 4 14th

After crossing the main walking path to get to the 15th, you encounter another 190 yard par 3 with houses on the right and the walking path directly on your left. Nerves often set in on this teebox when the possibility of hitting a biker or house sets in. The 16th hole plays 163 yards to a large green it shares with the 1st hole. Outside of two short bunkers, the major miss here is going long down a steep embankment into water. The 17th is Audubon’s signature hole – a difficult par 3 playing 212 yards over water. Even for balls that carry the water, it’s difficult to hit this narrow green, and awkward chips from the sides of this green are fairly common. Like the front side, the back side finishes with a great reachable par 5. Playing only 471 yards, this hole is a semi-blind off the tee thanks to mounds on the right. Water lines the left side beginning about 240 yards on the left and runs all the way to this green. Bailing out right on your layup is preferable, as you have a lot more room than it appears.

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The approach on the par 5 18th

Best Par 3: 17th Hole, 212 yards, 1st handicap. The most intimidating hole at Audubon Park, this lengthy one-shotter plays over water the whole way to a long, narrow green. The bailout area here is the left, but a bunker and tall trees just left of this green leave some difficult chips off hardpan. This is a fantastic par 3 that would be a welcome addition to any regulation course.

Best Par 4: 10th Hole, 360 yards, 7th handicap. The only unreachable par 4, this is a challenging medium-length hole I never really had a lot of success on. The drive requires a carry of at least 190 yards over water to reach a tight fairway lined by trees and OB on the right. The approach to this small green is slightly downhill and must contend with two bunkers on the front two sides of this green.

Best Par 5: 9th Hole, 462 yards, 2nd handicap. If you guessed that both the par fives on this 4220 yard course were reachable, you would be correct. This beautiful dogleg right is a great design with a narrow fairway lined by water on the right the entire way. The more you try to cut the corner here, the more water you have to carry, making this a great strategic hole. A giant crossbunker straightaway about 260 yards from the tee punishes those who bailout left, and two deep bunkers short of this elevated green are tough up-and-downs. You can see Loyola’s Ignatius Chapel in the background of this picturesque teeshot.

General Comments: While 4220 yards seems like nothing, this is not your prototypical pitch and putt. Some of these par threes have some serious teeth, especially when the wind is gusting off the nearby Mississippi River. Also, you will be able to use your driver on 6-7 holes unlike most short courses. Pace of play is usually under 3 hours, which is nice if you have time constraints. There is no range, but a large practice green near the 1st tee allows you to get a feel for the greens. I will also note that management never really seems that friendly and they take the flags out every night, meaning you can’t see the pin for the last hour of daylight.

Verdict: Located in a gorgeous part of the city, tourists flock to play this highly ranked par 62. It is one of the best conditioned courses in the area, and new pricing also makes it one that won’t break the bank. I highly recommend this course to all in the New Orleans area for a quick, enjoyable round.

 

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