Review: Belle Terre Country Club

Course Name: Belle Terre Country Club

Designer: Pete Dye (1977)

Location: LaPlace, Louisiana

History: Designed in 1977 by world-renowned golf architect Pete Dye, Belle Terre is and has always been semi-private. After a brief closure due to financial problems in 2010, Belle Terre has reopened and completely renovated their greens and drainage system.

Conditions: 7/10, With the exception of some barren spots in the rough and fairway, Belle Terre is in very good shape. The greens are smooth and fast and the bunkers are fantastic.

Value: 7/10, At peak times, Belle Terre costs $55 for a cart and 18. At twilight (after 3), this course is a fantastic deal at $25. Non-Louisiana residents will have to pay more for a round here.

Scorecard:

Tee             Par         Yardage         Rating           Slope

Gold          72           6849                73.6                133

Blue          72           6408                71.5                127

White       72           5890                69.1                121

Red           72           5409                71.7                122

Best Score: 92 (Blue Tees), 3/21/2015 with William S. and 2 LSU kids

Front 9 Best: 47 (Blue Tees), 3/21/2015 with William S. and 2 LSU kids

Back 9 Best: 45 (Blue Tees), 3/21/2015 with William S. and 2 LSU kids

Hole Descriptions: Belle Terre is an appropriate name for this fantastic Pete Dye design. Meaning “beautiful land” in French, Belle Terre snakes through lush Southeast Louisiana swampland. Wildlife is abundant, and I saw several gators and snakes when I played here. A characteristic Pete Dye course, Belle Terre utilizes the natural swampy terrain to place multiple hazards on most holes.

The 367 yard opening hole’s teebox is just a stone’s throw from the practice green and in the middle of a lagoon. While water doesn’t come into play on this hole, a tricky bunker on the left side of the fairway at 230 yards is a popular destination. This narrow green is guarded on both sides with bunkers. The 2nd hole is another straightforward medium-length 384 yard par 4 that allows you to get settled before the tough holes begin. The main difficulty on this hole comes on the approach with a slightly elevated green surrounded by two deep bunkers. The 147 yard 3rd hole is the first of several absolutely fantastic par threes. With just a short iron in hand, this hole requires a well-struck shot to a narrow hourglass-shaped green. Water directly in front of the teebox and to the right of the green shouldn’t really be in play but adds another wrinkle of intimidation standing on this teebox.

The first real challenge, the 517 yard par 5 4th is a monster par 5. Teeing up over reeds, you must hit a long, straight teeball to reach this narrow fairway lined by water on both sides. This hole remains water-lined for its entire length, forcing the player to hit three straight shots to avoid the hazard. Two bunkers line the left of the green and make for a difficult up-and-down. My least favorite par 3, the still very good 165 yard 5th hole features a long, narrow, undulating green guarded on the left by water and bunkers. Playing only 342 yards, the short par 4 6th is a slight dogleg left lined by water the entire lefthand side. A tree on the left side of the fairway really makes this a tight landing area. Beware: don’t look for balls in this water – I saw several gators poking their heads out. The 488 yard 7th is the number 1 handicap hole, but I’m not sure why.  Although this hole is lined by trees and water at intervals on the right side, three irons should be able to reach this tricky green. At 398 yards, the 8th hole is a tight dogleg right requiring a carry of 100 yards over water to reach this fairway. This fairway runs out about 90 yards short of this green. Severely underhandicapped, the number 9 handicap long 429 yard par 4 9th is a veritable challenge. With clumps of trees on both sides of the fairways, the drive is tight, but the hardest aspect of this hole is the approach. Water lines the entire left side of the green, and this green is so sloped, a two putt is no guarantee even when you’re on the surface.

The back side feels more isolated than the front, but follows a similar script with tight fairways, plenty of water hazards, and narrow back-to-front sloped greens. The 10th hole plays slightly downhill and to the left at 376 yards. Bunkers on the left at 220 yards and 275 yards on the right force the player to think critically off the tee. The 11th hole is one of the most open at Belle Terre but a water hazard directly in front of the teebox and a fast, elevated green make this hole a bit more intimidating. The shortest of the four par fives, the 481 yard 12th hole is a fantastic short par 5 that achieves what I think every short par 5 should – two great shots can yield eagles while mistakes can generate big numbers. With a carry over water required for the final 60 yards to this green, big hitters will need accuracy and length to avoid a water hazard. Playing as almost the same hole, the 13th is an 152 yard par 3 that requires a carry the entire way over water. Playing as the shortest par 4 at 331 yards, the dogleg left 14th is tight and features multiple bunkers lining this fairway. Three bunkers line the sides of this small green.

The 492 yard 15th is the final par 5 at Belle Terre and undeniably the most bland. Extremely tight and lined by houses, this straightaway hole really features no hazards except for a large bunker on the right fairway 270 yards out. My favorite hole on the entire property is the picturesque 162 yard 16th. With water lining the entire lefthand side of this hole, Pete Dye uses a rock wall instead of his patented railroad ties to border the hazard. This elongated green is guarded by two deep bunkers and runs hard back-to-front. The 404 yard 17th hole is a terrifying hole when you first step on the tee. Water lines the left side of this tight fairway while houses and OB line the right. At about 260 yards, this fairway is bisected by a creek, forcing some players to hit less than driver here. Once you cross this hazard, the hole is a bit more straightforward, but this green is still lined by bunkers on both sides with water to adjacent to these bunkers. An interesting finishing hole, the uphill dogleg left 377 yard 18th requires an accurate drive as water guards the left side of this hole and a large bunker is found at the corner of the dogleg 220 yards out on the right. From this point, the hole turns sharply left to a well-protected right-to-left sloped green guarded by bunkers on both sides and water left and long.

Best Par 3: 16th Hole, 162 yards, 10th handicap. It was hard to choose just one of these beautiful medium-length par threes, but I eventually settled on the 16th. This intimidating one-shotter features a narrow, elongated back-to-front sloped green guarded tightly on both sides by moat-like bunkers. To the left of the left bunker lies a rock wall and water hazard. My friend hit the rock wall on the fly and the ball caromed sharply into the water.

Best Par 4: 9th Hole, 429 yards, 9th handicap. I’d be lying if I said that a lot of these water-lined par fours didn’t run together. However, the finishing hole on the front stands out as a strong par 4 playing well over 400 yards. From an elevated teebox, this narrow fairway is lined on both sides by trees. This hard back-to-front sloped green is guarded on the entire lefthand side by water and guarded by two bunkers short.

Best Par 5: 12th Hole, 481 yards, 14th handicap. I have a predilection for short par fives, and few are as fun as this one. This tight tree-lined fairway is a must-hit if you want a chance to reach this green in two. The back-to-front sloped green here is heavily protected by two bunkers on the right and water short. Players will have to lay-up about 60 yards short of this green to avoid the water hazard.

General Comments: They treat you like a member here at this semi-private course, and this is evident with their fantastic practice facilities. The large, well-maintained grass driving range is continually replenished with balls and the large practice green near the 1st tee plays just like the course. I can’t comment on pace of play since I only played in a tournament.

Verdict: If you’re in New Orleans, and looking for an affordable, enjoyable Pete Dye design, this course definitely has to be on your list. It doesn’t attract tourists like TPC, but locals love Belle Terre.

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