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|Stonebridge Golf Club is just minutes from downtown New Orleans; you can see the skyline from various parts of the golf course. (Tim McDonald/WorldGolf.com)|
To wit: It's literally minutes from downtown New Orleans, it's cheap, and it's run by a bunch of friendly folks.
You can see the New Orleans skyline from several spots on the course, some of them as you peer down the canals that intersect the layout and provide both diversion and strategy.
And it certainly is popular. The golf course gets heavy play, owing to the three factors above and the additional fact that it hosts a lot of tournaments. In fact, according to Assistant Professional Jared LeFort, one of the problems they have with keeping the greens fast is the heavy traffic.
It's been that way since shortly after Hurricane Katrina hit, opening quickly after the storm to give the beleaguered, storm-stunned residents some much-needed diversion.
"We had a lot of courses that didn't re-open, but we did okay," LeFort said. "The front nine didn't get much flooding. The main damage was from the wind; there were [roof] shingles all over the course for months. We were one of the few courses that bounced back pretty fast."
About those roof shingles - they came from the surrounding houses. This is essentially a suburban layout, so don't go there expecting a wilderness experience. Houses line pretty much every hole, and some of them are so close you feel like you're barbecuing with the neighbors.
The cart paths also take you through the Stonebridge development, winding through the neighborhood streets.
The main obstacles at Stonebridge Golf Club are the 100 hazards strategically placed in the fairways and around the greens and the water that comes into play on most holes. There are few forced carries, though, with most of the water being lateral. That being said, No. 14 is a par 3 over water, and several water hazards must be avoided off the tees.
Stonebridge is advertised as a links-like layout, but of course it really isn't, like most courses that advertise themselves as such. It is built on flat terrain and very open on the interior, with a few trees scattered around.
That being said, it is a fun play with some good, challenging holes along its 7,000-yard-plus layout, particularly toward the end of the back nine. Frequent players refer to this stretch as the "oh-s**t-loop."
At the time of this writing, the greens were in good shape, though slow from a recent top dressing, but rolled very true. Also, it is a pleasure to hit off Stonebridge's lush, thick fairways; you seldom get a tight lie here.
Stonebridge is a semi-private club with green fees in the very reasonable $45-$55 range, rare for a golf course so close to a big city. It does offer a limited number of memberships for $3,000, which includes green fees, carts, range, dues and tax.
Family memberships are also available for $3,500.
It's a 27-hole facility, the 18-holer plus another nine-hole executive type course.
The Carter Plantation is a great golf resort if you want to be away from the hubbub but close to New Orleans golf courses and other attractions the city offers. The plantation is practically out in the middle of nowhere, in a peaceful and serene part of the state.
The plantation has 63 rooms and suites in nine villas, some so close to the course you could hit it with a half-wedge. Each villa contains seven guest rooms, perfect for large groups or corporate outings.
Standard amenities include refrigerators, DVD players and free high-speed Internet access. Most have verandas or balconies overlooking the course.
Others have full-sized kitchens, big-screen TVs and living and dining rooms. In addition to room service, the plantation also offers in-suite catering services.
June 27, 2008
Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.
Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.
Referred to by its hosts as a "hidden gem," the greens alone at Sterling Hills Golf Club in Camarillo, Calif. make this a stone worth turning over. Located an hour northwest of L.A., it's a pleasing, quiet and generally engaging round that will appease players of all levels.
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